Since long ago rock bursting has belonged to the most hazardous of events causing damage to material and loss of human life in underground cavities. Nevertheless, attempts to understand the physical principles of rock bursting from the point of view of the mechanical and material sciences seem to be of fairly recent origin. The following article deals especially with rock bursting in coal mines. After a general introduction, approaches based on a specific property of the excavated material called “proneness-to-bursting” are reviewed. This is followed by a survey of structural approaches to the problem. Finally, an elementary structural model is presented, leading to simple approximate conditions for the risk of initiating rock bursts, or for its efficiency.

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