A completely new code called Slope Model has been written as part of the Large Open Pit (LOP) Project. The code implements a version of the Synthetic Rock Mass (SRM) approach applied to the specific case of rock slopes. SRM allows movement on joints (sliding and opening) as well as fracture of intact rock. Thus, the large-scale rock mass behavior (which cannot be measured directly) is synthesized from the component behaviors (which can be measured).
Slope Model allows a 3D sector of a rock slope, consisting of any number of planar benches, to be simulated. The rock mass contains joint segments derived from a user-specified DFN (Discrete Fracture Network). Slope Model is designed to simulate rock masses, in which overall failure is a combination of slip and opening on joints and intact-rock failure in tension. No attempt is made to capture the nonlinear strength envelope of intact rock. Non-steady fluid flow and pressure within the network of joint segments and the rock matrix are modeled, and several aspects of fluid-rock interaction are represented, such as effective stress (for sliding behavior) and pressure response due to changes in rock geometry (e.g., bench removal).
Several small-scale examples and two large-scale case studies (Cadia south wall failure and Chuquicamata west wall toppling) are provided to demonstrate and validate aspects of Slope Model’s capabilities. As a part of the LOP project, a thorough validation program of all important features of the code is currently underway. However, it should be understood that the code is still relatively untested, and should not be applied to safety-critical cases until more confidence is established after completion of the validation program and by further comparison with known results. In principle, the code can simulate large 3D volumes of a rock slope, involving thousands of joint planes, but only a few such models have been created until now.
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