Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Mines prepare for impact of earthquakes

Nevada’s gold mines have taken steps to prepare for the effects of earthquakes, at a time when technology is also making advances in how to predict them.
Earthquakes pose a serious threat to miners, both underground and open pit, as our report in the latest Weekend Edition of the Elko Daily Free Press pointed out. Mines have shut down operations and evacuated miners in response to earthquakes as a safety precaution.
Everyone remembers when a copper-gold mine in Chile collapsed in 2010 a few months after a major earthquake, trapping 33 miners. Efforts to save the miners stretched out for a record 69 days, resulting in their miraculous survival. The drama drew global attention and prompted the motion picture titled “The 33.”
The recent increase in earthquake activity in Nevada is a good reason to heighten concern about the potential for disaster, not only in mines but in our cities. The 6.0 quake that hit Wells in 2008 was a wake-up call that resulted in significant property damage but fortunately no injuries.
Recent earthquake swarms also raise concern, such as the prolonged one last year in the northwest corner of our state. More recently, a similar swarm has struck in the past month along the Nevada-Arizona border, oddly not far from where all the shaking began in last year’s Hollywood movie “San Andreas.”
Disasters may make good entertainment but there is nothing fun about the real thing as it is happening. That’s why mining companies take precautions such as the ones described in our article. Still, there is only so much they can do without the ability to know when an earthquake will strike.
Current Time0:00
Duration Time0:00
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
Advances in prediction technology are being made at the University of Nevada, Reno Seismological Laboratory, which last week hosted the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting.
The university has set up a network of high-definition cameras around Lake Tahoe to detect ground movement.
“The system, which piggybacks on the Nevada statewide seismic network, is used for early detection of wildland fires, extreme weather and earthquakes around Lake Tahoe and northern Nevada — and has already proven its worth in a short time,” reported the university.
Other developments in recent years include a computer algorithm that may soon be able to predict ground movement using a series of stress measurements. A seismologist came up with the idea after using a popular app that can identify songs over the Internet.
And last year, a study combined technology with one of the most primitive earthquake predictors – the behavior of animals. The Smithsonian Institution and the Wildlife Conservation Society used a network of animal-trap cameras to illustrate how wildlife avoided an area of pending earthquake activity for three weeks prior to a quake.
There are many instruments that can measure ground movement and our mines have employed some of them to ensure the safety of personnel. We hope that their efforts, combined with knowledge from UNR’s seismological lab and other researchers, mean that rural Nevada’s gold mines will never be the scene of a blockbuster motion picture about rescuing miners from a cave-in.

You may also like:

No comments :

Post a Comment