Numerical simulation in underground construction – what are the benefits and how can we trust the results?

Emeritus Professor Gernot Beer

It is sometimes not clear what the benefits of numerical simulations are that are sometimes carried out in underground construction projects. Two questions arise: Is it really worth the effort to perform sophisticated 3D simulations or can we obtain similar results with much simpler models? Can we really trust the results that come out of simulations involving Millions of Elements and take many hours and even days to run?

Drawing on over 30 years of experience, about half of it gained at CSIRO, doing simulations for Australian mining companies, the speaker will present case studies that showed definite benefits and – as a counter argument – ones that turned out to be a waste of time and where the credibility of the results can be questioned. Examples will include simulations in underground mining and in civil engineering (tunnels and caverns) projects, starting with work dating back to the time the speaker began simulations for Mount Isa mines in 1982. It will also be shown, how the simulation technology has evolved over the years and what is possible today. At the end of the talk the speaker’s vision of the future of numerical simulation will be presented.

Speaker Biography

Gernot Beer is emeritus professor of structural analysis at the Graz University of Technology, Austria and currently conjoint professor at the University of Newcastle. Before becoming head of the institute of structural analysis in 1993 he worked at the CSIRO, Division of Geomechanics in Brisbane as Senior Principal Research Scientist. He was involved in providing simulation advice for companies in Australia, Chile, Iran, Kuwait, Austria and Canada and served on a panel of experts together with Prof. Ted Brown.

He has coordinated the world’s largest research project on underground construction (EC project TUNCONSTRUCT) and has written 3 books on the subject of numerical simulation.

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