Settlement of fill with particular reference to opencast coal mining sites

  • D.A. Patterson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A study of information available on the settlement characteristics of backfill in restored opencast coal mining sites and other similar earthworks projects has been undertaken. In addition, the methods of opencast mining, compaction controls, monitoring and test methods have been reviewed. To consider and develop the methods of predicting the settlement of fill, three sites in the West Midlands have been examined; at each, the backfill had been placed in a controlled manner. In addition, use has been made of a finite element computer program to compare a simple two-dimensional linear elastic analysis with field observations of surface settlements in the vicinity of buried highwalls. On controlled backfill sites, settlement predictions have been accurately made, based on a linear relationship between settlement (expressed as a percentage of fill height) against logarithm of time. This `creep' settlement was found to be effectively complete within 18 months of restoration. A decrease of this percentage settlement was observed with increasing fill thickness; this is believed to be related to the speed with which the backfill is placed. A rising water table within the backfill is indicated to cause additional gradual settlement. A prediction method, based on settlement monitoring, has been developed and used to determine the pattern of settlement across highwalls and buried highwalls. The zone of appreciable differential settlement was found to be mainly limited to the highwall area, the magnitude was dictated by the highwall inclination. With a backfill cover of about 15 metres over a buried highwall the magnitude of differential settlement was negligible. Use has been made of the proposed settlement prediction method and monitoring to control the re-development of restored opencase sites. The specifications, tests and monitoring techniques developed in recent years have been used to aid this. Such techniques have been valuable in restoring land previously derelict due to past underground mining.
Date of Award1986
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorK. Starzewski (Supervisor)


  • Settlement of fill
  • opencast coal mining sites

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