16:00-16:30 Africa Rocks-Earthquake research in deep South African gold mines

Prof Raymond Durrheim, University of Witwatersrand

Prof Hiroshi Ogasawara, Ritsumeikan University

Dr Eldridge Kgaswane, Council for Geoscience


Earthquakes have caused some of the deadliest and costliest disasters of the 21st century. Natural earthquakes and associated tsunamis pose a significant risk to inhabitants of regions close to the boundaries of tectonic plates, such as Japan; while mining-induced earthquakes are a major risk in deep mines, such as South African gold and platinum mines. However, deep mines also provide a unique laboratory to study the build-up of stress in the rock and the sudden and sometimes catastrophic release of energy when the rock fails. Since 1994, Japanese and South African scientists and engineers have collaborated in research aimed at reducing the risk posed by earthquakes. Two main strategies have emerged. Firstly: to manage the build-up of stress in the rock. This is possible for mining-induced earthquakes, but not for natural earthquakes. Secondly: to reinforce mining excavations and buildings so that they do not collapse when subjected to strong shaking. Efforts have also been made to predict when and where a damaging earthquake will occur, but reliable prediction remains a distant and perhaps impossible goal. The talks will present the achievements of completed collaborative projects and the goals and challenges of current research.

Prof. Ray Durrheim,University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Professor Raymond Durrheim (PhD, University of the Witwatersrand, 1990) holds the South African Research Chair in Exploration, Earthquake & Mining Seismology at Wits University.  He is co-director of the AfricaArray research and capacity-building programme, which operates a network of 50 geophysical observatories in sub-Saharan Africa, and is a principal investigator of the ICDP project “Drilling into seismogenic zones of M2.0 – M5.5 earthquakes from deep South African gold mines” (DSeis, 2016-present). He was co-leader of the Japanese-South African collaborative project “Observational studies in South African mines to mitigate seismic risks” (JST-JICA SATREPS; 2010-2015).

Prof. Hiroshi Ogasawara,Ritsumeikan University, Japan.

Professor Hiroshi Ogasawara (PhD, Kyoto University, Japan, 1989) is Vice Dean (FY2016-7) of the College of Science and Engineering, Ritsumeikan University.  He has carried out seismological research in South African gold mines since 1992, and is now principal investigator of the ICDP project “Drilling into seismogenic zones of M2.0 – M5.5 earthquakes from deep South African gold mines” (DSeis, 2016-present).  He was co-leader of the Japanese-South African collaborative project “Observational studies in South African mines to mitigate seismic risks” (JST-JICA SATREPS; 2010-2015).

Mr Eldridge Kgaswane,Council for Geoscience, South Africa

Dr Eldridge Kgaswane (PhD, University of the Witwatersrand, 2013) has been in the employ of the Council for Geoscience (as a seismologist) since 2001. He is primarily involved in structural seismology, seismic monitoring and instrumental seismology. He provides technical assistance to the electronic lab for the siting of new seismic stations and the analysis of calibration and instrumentation (state-of-health) test results. He also carries out research into new analytical methodologies in structural seismology and seismic monitoring. He has been involved in a number of internal and collaborative projects e.g. Kaapvaal project (SASE), AfricaArray, SIMRAC, MHSC, and Disaster Management (part of Microzonation project).