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Abstract

Entries in steeply pitching seams have a more complex stress environment than those in flat seams. This study targets techniques for maintaining the surrounding rock mass stability of entries in steep seams through a case study of a steep-seam entry at a mine in southern China. An in-depth study of the deformation and instability mechanisms of the entry is conducted, employing field measurement, physical simulation experiment, numerical simulation, and theoretical analysis. The study results show that the surrounding rock mass of the entry is characterised by asymmetrical stress distribution, deformation, and failure. Specifically, 1) the entry deformation is characterised by a pattern of floor heaving and roof subsidence; 2) broken rock zones in the two entry walls are larger than those in the roof and floor, and the broken rock zone in the seam-floor side wall is larger than that in the seam-roof side wall; 3) rock bolts in the middle-bottom part of the seam-floor side wall of the entry are prone to failure due to tensile stress; and 4) rock bolts in the seam-roof side wall experience relatively even load and relatively small tensile stress. Through analysis, disturbances were found to occur in both temporal and spatial dimensions. Specifically, in the initial mining stage, the asymmetrical rock structure and stress distribution cause entry deformation and instability; during multiple-seam multiple-panel mining operations, a wedge-shaped rock mass and a quasi-arc cut rock stratum formed in the mining space may cause subsidence in the seam-floor side wall of the entry and inter-stratum transpression, deformation, and instability of the entry roof and floor. The principles for controlling the stability of the surrounding rock mass of the entry are proposed. In addition, an improved asymmetrical coupled support structure design for the entry is proposed to demonstrate the effective control of entry deformation.
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