Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Mining Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Braden Lusk


The first step in many mining operations is blasting, and the purpose of blasting is to fragment the rock mass in the most efficient way for that mine site and the material end use. Over time, new developments to any industry occur, and design and implementation of traditional techniques have to change as a consequence. Possibly the greatest improvement in blasting in recent years is that of electronic detonators. The improvements related to safety and increased fragmentation have been invaluable. There has been ongoing debate within the explosives industry regarding two possible theories for this. Shorter timing delays that allow interaction between adjacent shock waves or detonation waves, or the increase in accuracy associated with electronic detonators. Results exist on the improved accuracy of electronic detonators over that of electric or non-electric, but data on the relationship between the collision of dynamic stress waves and fragmentation is less understood. Publications stating that the area of greatest fragmentation will occur between points of detonation where shock waves collide exist, but experimental data to prove this fact is lacking.

This dissertation looks extensively at the head on collision of shock (in the rock mass) and detonation (in the detonation column) waves with relation to fragmentation through a number of small scale tests in concrete. Timing is a vital tool for this collision to occur and is the variable utilized for the studies. Small scale tests in solid masonry blocks, 15 x 7⅞ x 7⅞ inches in size, investigated shock and detonation wave collisions with instantaneous detonation. Blocks were wrapped in geotextile fabric and a wire mesh to contain the fragments so that in situ tensile crack formations could be analyzed. Detonating cord was used as the explosive with no stemming to maintain the shock pressure but reduce the gas pressure phase of the fragmentation cycle. Model simulations of these blocks in ANSYS Autodyn looked at the stress and pressure wave patterns and corresponding damage contours for a direct comparison with the experimental investigation.

Detonation wave collision in a single blast hole was found to positively influence the fragmentation and throw of the material. Mean fragment size decreased compared to tests with no detonation wave collision. Area of greatest throw occurred at the point of detonation collision where a buildup of gas pressure exited the block from one location. Head on collision of shock waves did not positively influence the muck pile. Largest fragments were located at the point of shock collision. The lack of particle velocity with relation to shock collision in previous literature could be attributed to the increased particle size here. Directional particle velocities could actually increase the strength and density of the rock at this location, decreasing the degree of fragmentation rather than increasing it.