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To the east of the current coal operations conducted in Goonyella, Queensland are areas that have been proposed for potential mining. The area that has been defined and focused on is the Goonyella Middle seam. It is apart of 3 major seams that exist in the region. The provided datasets and maps allowed for the determination of major hazards that could be exposed when attempting to mine the coal. The brightness profile of the coal increases with depth showing that the better quality is lower in the ground. Open-pit mining was ruled out due to the depth and underground mining was determined to be the best alternative. The use of longwall mining could be used in the beginning stages but may need to be re-evaluated based on the conditions of the roof and walls. Changing the mining method may be necessary as per the data given. The position of the longwall would be as close to the bottom of the seam as possible where the highest quality would be extracted and the lower to be left behind as roofing. Close monitoring of geological structures and measuring stresses throughout the mining process would be needed to ensure minimal risk. The area exhibits thrust faults, normal faults and slickensides. All of these structural features would have to be routinely measured with respect to stress and pressure on the given rocks being removed or displaced. Though longwall mining is proposed based on the given interpretation and data it may be under varying stresses and the extent of plane alteration is not definable within the strata. Furthermore, the impacts of a new coal mine having on the environment need to be considered when implementing development.



The Goonyella Middle seam has sedimentary features and structures that may pose potential risks when managing the extraction of its coal. The coal deposits seen within the region are specifically known as the Late Permian Moranbah Coal Measures. (Johnston and Kelleher, 2005). Interpreting the depositional setting and its respective stratigraphic units helped to further define geological hazards. The properties of the coal found at the seam provided an indication of structural integrity and stability when attempting mining processes. Data from drill cores and subsequent analysis of units contributed to the overall interpretation of its environmental setting. The implications of these mining processes having on the environment were also identified and discussed.  The variations seen in the seam and overlying intervals poses relationships that conclude geological processes.  Provident hazards were determined using geological interpretation of the Goonyella Middle seam. 


Locality and Intervals


The area is located in Queensland, Australia about 20-30km north of the town Moranbah. The region/suburb is called Goonyella and extends into North Goonyella. The nearest accessible port is around 220km's East at Mackay. (Google Earth, 2013). An example of a major open-cut mine that 'exists' today is run by the company BHP (subsidiary to BMA). They extract coking grade coal from the mine located 30km north of Moranbah. The mine, also known as, the 'Goonyella Riverside Mine' extracts its coal from three major seams. (Johnston and Kelleher, 2005).  The plotted area to be examined has three major seams present. These have been labeled 'Upper', 'Middle' and 'Lower' Goonyella seams with five minor seams between these layers. A volcanic ash sedimentary unit known as a 'tuff' has also been identified and used to correlate vertical movement of the layers during deposition. The presence of this tuff can also be indicative of the type of environment.  The sedimentalogical models devised in 1993 by Falkner and Fielding outlines the specific depositional settings of the stratigraphic units. They further concluded that the features found attribute to an Upper delta plain environment with tidal inundations occurring on occasion. (Esterle and Fielding, 1996) (Falkner and Fielding, 1993). The major trunks of the delta flowed south into the Bowen basin where axial drainage systems were eroded and established. The tuff and 'volcanolithic' sandstones confirm the presence of resurgent volcanic activity to the east of the basin. (Esterle and Fielding, 1996).


Data and Methods


The datasets were acquired for analysis of the Goonyella Middle (GM) seam. These included wireline logs with gamma, brightness, density and sound variables and maps of borehole locations. Table 1 below outlines the data obtained from the readings of five of the boreholes. The identification of sedimentary units became apparent with further interpretation. Contouring maps showing the varying structures with depths and faults were devised to further understand sedimentary thicknesses and structural components. Isopachs were correlated manually and provided insight into unit boundaries. Cross-sections were then used to combine the information gathered and represent the findings proportionally with respect to different datum. Potential hazards of units and features were proposed and negotiated. The result of the latter data analysis provided a 3-dimensional structure that was easier to visualize.

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