Salt mechanics gained importance as an engineering discipline when the hydrocarbon storage industry began constructing caverns in salt and the U.S. Government undertook studies of radioactive waste disposal in salt formation. Since 1972, RESPEC has specialized in salt mechanics. Our first corporate contract was to perform salt mechanics research for the radioactive waste disposal program, and our over 30-year continuous involvement in this Heater Installation at Avery Island,Louisiana, to Simulate Radioactive Waste particular industry continues with our work for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. Throughout this period, we extended our application of salt mechanics principles to industrial projects involving salt and potash mining and hydrocarbon and hazardous waste storage in salt. Today, salt mechanics services are provided to 30 clients in the mining and storage industries each year in the following areas:
Underground openings in salt present significant challenges to engineers in charge of ensuring their stability. When compared to hard rocks such as limestones or granites, rock salt is weak, but salt's creep characteristics enable openings to be created in salt rocks that are inherently stable. Creep provides a deformation mechanism whereby damage-inducing stress states around roof failure in bedded salt mine openings are favorably redistributed and damage already sustained by the salt can be healed. On the other hand, creep continually reduces the size of the underground openings, which can cause operational problems such as loss of storage volume in caverns, or headroom in mines, or damage to cemented casings. Salt mechanics applications typically involve structural modeling using numerical methods to calculate the unique effects and consequences of creep and to provide information on opening stability.
RESPEC performed the geotechnical engineering characterization for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) in the former Homestake Mine located in Lead, South Dakota. The DUSEL is planned to be a National Science Foundation- (NSF-) sponsored Major Research Equipment Facility Construction (MREFC). The geotechnical engineering effort included the initial ...
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MINING & ENERGY MISSION
Developing and applying technology with scientific judgment based on our geoengineering and geosciences’perspective to utilize the world’s energy and mineral resources.---------------------------------------