Areas of intense mine drainage that are subjected to numerical modelling require the construction of a complex model structure that will properly reflect actual conditions. This paper presents the process and results of constructing such a structure for the Olkusz Zinc and Lead Ore Mining Area, an area situated in a cone of depression the extent of which reaches 500 km2. This size range calls for a selection of appropriate external boundaries, properly separated from these of the mine drainage area. The complex geological structure of the Olkusz area, associated with considerable variation in the thickness of rock formations, discontinuities of rock levels and occurrence of numerous faults, must be schematised so that calculation layers can be identified. The faults in the study area have to be reflected in the regional model structure, although only those faults that actually affect groundwater flows should be selected. The model structure needs to include detailed recognition and reflection of hydraulic contacts between aquifer levels, together with a selection of hydrogeological parameters that are different for particular formations. Only a complex structure built in such a manner may be the foundation of further model studies.
Salt was excavated at the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine for over 700 years. Underground mining operations terminated in 1996, by which time almost 2,400 chambers and 245 km of galleries had been created underground, situated on 9 levels and a few interlevels. In 1978, the mine was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, which stated that parts of the mine with historical value had to be preserved for future generations. In order to preserve the most valuable chambers and galleries, activities aimed at establishing a protection pillar for excavations were conducted in the conservation area on Levels I-V. The need of large scope preserving works created the necessity to conduct a new and truly comprehensive geomechanical analysis. Such an analysis could only be done by means of advanced numerical modelling codes. Three-dimensional calculations were performed by means of FLAC 3D finite difference code. Rock mass stability assessment in the vicinity of excavations was carried out on the basis of the distribution and range of the so called failure zones. This comprehensive geomechanical analysis allows for verification and give the directions for future preservation and closure works in the “Wieliczka” mine.
Stability of mining openings requires consideration of a number of factors, such as: geological structure, the geometry of the underground mining workings, mechanical properties of the rock mass, changes in stress caused by the influence of neighbouring workings. Long-term prediction and estimation of workings state can be analysed with the use of numerical methods. Application of 3D numerical modelling in stability estimation of workings with complex geometry was described with the example of Crystal Caves in Wieliczka Salt Mine. Preservation of the Crystal Caves reserve is particularly important in view of their unique character and the protection of adjacent galleries which are a part of tourist attraction included in UNESCO list. A detailed 3D model of Crystal Caves and neighbouring workings was built. Application of FLAC3D modelling techniques enabled indication of the areas which are in danger of stability loss. Moreover, the area in which protective actions should be taken as well as recommendations concerning the convergence monitoring were proposed.