Meet the Muir Wood Speaker

Peter K. Kaiser

About the Speaker

Dr. Peter Kaiser is a graduate of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Since 1987 until his recent retirement, he was Professor and Chair for Rock Engineering and Ground Control at the Bharti School of Engineering of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. In 2000, he was seconded to the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) as Founding Director and then as Director of the Rio Tinto Centre for Underground Mine Construction (RTC-UMC). He also holds an Adjunct Professorship at the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Dr. Kaiser is the author of more than 300 technical and scientific geomechanics publications. He has received many awards including awards from the International Society for Rock Mechanics, the Canadian Geotechnical Society and the Canadian Institute of Mining. He is a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) and the Canadian Academy of Engineers and, in 2013, was awarded the Julian C. Smith Medal of for his "Achievements in the Development of Canada" and was named the “Tunneller of the Year” by the Tunnelling Association of Canada. He was recently selected to present the 2016 MTS lecture at the 50th U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium in Houston, Texas, where he plans to cover a complementary topic “Underground rock engineering to match the rock - A fresh look at old problems”. He is a specialist in applied research for underground construction and mining. His interests lie in geomechanics, mine design, rock engineering and the application of innovative technologies to increase mine safety and productivity. He brings extensive experience from both the industrial and academic sectors, having served as consultant to numerous consulting companies, mines, and public agencies. He has supported contractors, mining companies and public sector clients during Coroner’s inquests and litigations on four continents.


About the Muir Wood Lecture

Ground Support for Deep Underground Construction
Challenges of managing highly stressed ground in civil and mining projects

For the economic and safe construction of deep tunnels, a contractor has to be presented with efficient and effective support systems, i.e., support classes that can be rapidly installed and are effective in managing stress-fractured ground. For this purpose, it is necessary to properly anticipate the actual rock mass behaviour and to provide flexible but reliable means of ground control. In mining, mining-induced stresses changes further damage rock near excavations and excessive rehabilitation often causes undesirable delays and costs. In these situations, a deformation-based support design approach is needed to prevent overloading of the rock support system by excessive deformations and to sequence the support installation for optimal support performance.

In conditions where stress-driven failure produces a zone of fractured rock near an excavation, engineering for constructability basically involves three aspects: (1) retention of broken rock near the face; (2) control of deformations due to the bulking of fractured rock, and (3) dissipation of energy if failure occurs in a violent manner. In practice, robust engineering approaches that handle these three aspects well facilitate cost-effective construction processes by ensuring that all construction tools work well. Within this framework, the lecture will focus on the following technical topics:

  • overcoming challenges in rock mass strength determination for deep excavations;
  • understanding limitations of standard rock support design approaches;
  • overcoming challenge of deformation control in tunnels experiencing static and dynamic failure processes; and
  • selecting efficiently and effective support systems for economic construction.

The author draws on experiences in deep mining and Alpine tunnelling where static and dynamic failure processes caused shallow and deep-seated rock mass failure. Findings from collaborative research and “real world” experiences will be merged to highlight sound engineering design practices that respect the reality of construction and the demand for workplace safety.

The primary conclusion highlights the need for improvements in better anticipating the rock mass behaviour at the tender stage and the need to design ground control measures from a perspective of practicality and deformation compatibility.