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Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 60 – 74 www.elsevier.com/locate/enggeo Prediction of fragmentation and yield curves with
Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 60 – 74 www.elsevier.com/locate/enggeo Prediction of fragmentation and yield curves with

Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 60 74

Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 60 – 74 www.elsevier.com/locate/enggeo Prediction of fragmentation and yield curves with


Prediction of fragmentation and yield curves with reference to armourstone production

John-Paul Latham a, , Jan Van Meulen b , Sebastien Dupray c

a Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom b Boskalis, PO Box 43, 3350 AA Papendrecht, Holland, The Netherlands c CETE de Lyon, LRPC, Groupe Mécanique des roches, 69674 Bron Cedex 01, France

Received 8 March 2006; received in revised form 16 May 2006; accepted 23 May 2006 Available online 1 August 2006


Armourstone production involves aspects of blast design and yield prediction. How they differ from methods drawn from experience in mining and aggregates blasting operations is examined. A number of possible blast fragmentation models and associated prediction methods are described, several being outlined in full. Their applicability to armourstone production and yield curve prediction is discussed by comparing model results based on a hypothetical armourstone blast design in a rock mass with realistic properties for an armourstone quarry. It is suggested that appropriate models for armourstone yield prediction will require some form of an in-situ block size distribution assessment. Such approaches rule out the standard application of the Kuz Ram model. The recently reported Swebrec function and associated prediction model, developed by the Swedish Blasting Research Centre, provides a promising replacement for the Rosin Rammler based models for representing armourstone blast yield curves. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Armourstone; Yield curve; Blasting; Fragmentation; Model; Quarry

1. Engineering context

Efficient production of construction materials and the quest for improved quarrying techniques have a strong link with civil engineering, engineering geology and rock mechanics as explained in a companion paper ( Latham et al., 2006 ). The CIRIA/CUR (1991) rock manual on coastal and shoreline engineering included brief references to some possible methods for armour- stone production and yield curve prediction. In its second

Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 2 7594 7327. E-mail addresses: j.p.latham@imperial.ac.uk (J.-P. Latham), j.a.vanmeulen@boskalis.nl (J. Van Meulen), sebastien.dupray@equipement.gouv.fr (S. Dupray).

0013-7952/$ - see front matter © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

edition (CIRIA, CUR, CETMEF, 2007) it has sought to update and expand on the special problems faced by practicing engineers wishing to plan on the basis of predicted armourstone yields, but such a publication cannot include a satisfactory discussion of the related research, much of which is very recent. Engineers working for the first time on an armourstone project, face many potential pitfalls. Most will therefore wish to obtain maximum assistance from geologists for those aspects of blasting that the production engineer cannot control. Understandably, research literature on rock excavation by blasting is spread amongst the mining and rock mechanics journals. This paper is thus a response to the need to describe and compare the most promising prediction techniques often applied to higher energy

J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074


aggregates and mine production methods and see how they fare when applied to the low energy fragmentation blasts associated with armourstone production as is the concern of civil engineers. The quantification of the percentages of blocks bounded by joints or bedding planes within a rock mass and of sufficient size to be useful in breakwater armour layers was addressed in a recent companion paper ( Latham et al., 2006 ). The prediction of the in-situ block size distribution (IBSD) was presented as a vital first step towards better prediction of the blasted block size distribution (BBSD), commonly termed the yield curve or fragmentation curve in quarrying and mining. The motivation for this study of the factors governing the yield curves of armourstone quarries supplying break- water projects comes from two sources. First, the production engineer needs tools (i.e. BBSD models) to help achieve the blasting objectives and there are not many of these in existence that were designed for low fragmentation blasting. Se cond, the breakwater design- er is fully aware that a much more cost effective design can be specified given an accurate prediction of the quarry yield. The Espevik quarry shown in Fig. 1 excavates a slightly metamorphosed granite gneiss. It was originally opened with the intention of fully exploiting its armour- stone potential while having the option of selling the undersize as aggregates. The type of IBSD and BBSD analysis methods discussed later in this paper and its companion were vital elements in winning the case for the investment to go ahead and open the quarry. Special

armourstone blasting techniques were developed with low benches of 10 m, 4.5 m burden and 3.0 m spacing. Based on a Bond Ram analysis (described later), the predicted yield was greater than 50% exceeding 1 t assuming a specific charge of 0.23 kg/m 3 . The actual average production over several weeks of armourstone blasts generated the following: 10 t, 83% passing; 5 t, 60% passing, 3 t, 49% passing; 1 t 40% passing an even higher percentage of armourstone than predicted. In this paper, we introduce the subject of rock blasting in sufficient detail to present the main differences between various BBSD prediction models potentially suited to the range of low energy blasts associated with armourstone production. We begin with a brief introduction to those blasting factors that concern armourstone and aggregates production. The fragmentation process is briefly de- scribed to better understand the basic differences between aggregates and armourstone blast design and practical measures often found useful to maximise the yield of armourstone are listed. Starting with the widely employed KuzRam model and ending with a model based on a new three-parameter function, the Swebrec function, for the yield curve which replaces the RosinRammler equation, various models are presented. Practical methods for the assessment of blastpiles (muckpiles) to check and feed- back for further calibration of predictions are also given. The differences between various models predicting the BBSD curves for a given hypothetical armourstone blast design and a given IBSD assessment provide the basis of a discussion on suitability of approaches for armourstone blast yield prediction.

of approaches for armourstone blast yield prediction. Fig. 1. The Espevik Quarry in Norway, as seen

Fig. 1. The Espevik Quarry in Norway, as seen during loading of a 20,000 t barge in January 1992, see text.


J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074

2. Factors affecting blasting for armourstone and aggregates

Certain aspects of armourstone production require attention to details that are not usually emphasised in the extensive literature on blasting, e.g. Persson et al. (1993) , JKMRC (1996) , Jimeno et al. (1997) . The focus of armourstone production is on larger blocks than for normal fragmentation blasting. The aim of any blast is to produce rock of the size and form that will facilitate subsequent operations such as crushing and lead to minimum overall costs. The blast design is a significant process in securing desired fragmentation but there are many difficulties to overcome, not least because there are many factors affecting fragmentation beyond the control of the blast engineer. These factors were investigated by Lilly (1986) and Lizotte and Scoble (1994) and considered in the formulation of a blastability index by Latham and Lu (1999) . Uncontrollable factors : geological characteristics of the rock mass or effects of rainfall

discontinuity spacings and orientation (bedding, joints, faults, cohesion across planes). In-situ block size distributions can be assessed using the techniques described elsewhere (e.g. Latham et al., 2006 )

strength and elasticity (rock type, weathering characteristics)

density, porosity, permeability

presence of water in blastholes, fractures and joints

spatial variations of geology and rock types in general

Controllable factors:

properties and detonation methods of the explosives used, including delay timings

blast design (configuration and drilling pattern).

Successful blasting engineers work to clearly defined objectives such as: the required size distribution results, ease of blastpile digging, minimum disruption to next blast, etc. They apply theoretical understanding of the rock fragmentation process and rock characteristics, knowledge of the effects of using different explosives and detonation techniques, the environmental constraints and lastly, experience and expertise in combining these which may include the assistance of blasting software. The most important fragmentation objectives for armourstone blasts are:

blasting for improved yields of heavy blocks in spe- cially set aside faces of aggregates quarries

blasting for improved or reduced yields of heavy blocks in dedicated quarries.

The economics of the second case are constrained by a need to produce, as far as is possible, only the material demanded by the design. This may require that secondary breakage is embraced fully as a means of production when setting the blasting objectives. (This is the theme of the final section of the companion paper, Latham et al., 2006).

2.1. Fragmentation processes

The way in which in-situ bedding, jointing and other discontinuities slice up the natural rock mass into blocks of predefined shape distributions and size distributions prior to blasting is illustrated in virtually every exposure of rock. The concentrated release of energy from ex- plosives detonated in confined blastholes, transforms the IBSD to a BBSD of finer material (Fig. 2). To summarise the consensus of blasting research based on references such as those mentioned above; the sudden very high phase transformation pressures in the blast detonation causes shock wave transmission, compressive crushing near the borehole walls, radial tensile fracturing and slabbing tensile cracking at free faces. Fracturing and fragmentation is accompanied by detonation gas flow into cracks, extending them further. The explosive gas, assisted by gravity, heavesthe blocks away from the face and into the blastpile. The ability to achieve a desired BBSD depends on knowledge of the IBSD, the strength and persistence of the natural geological flaws and:

other uncontrollable factors such as strength, elastic- ity and density that contribute to the inherent ease of breakage or blastability of the rock,

blast energy mobilised through the blast design.

2.2. Comparison of armourstone and aggregates blast


Design of an aggregates blast aims to minimise excess oversize (and expensive secondary breakage) keeping the average BBSD to < 10% exceeding about 3 t while ensuring not too much rock is reduced to useless fines by excessive blast energy. Typically, a specific charge for ANFO explosives of 0.4 to 0.7 kg/ m 3 (kg of explosive per cubic metre of in-situ rock) is used in a two or three row shot with delays to achieve sufficient breakage. Blasting engineers working on armourstone operations for the first time will soon become aware of the fundamental differences in fragmentation results compared with aggregates blasts.

J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074


Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 60 – 74 63 Fig. 2. Illustration of

Fig. 2. Illustration of theoretical scenarios for an aggregates blast and an armourstone blast applied to the same rock mass. IBSD and BBSD are represented by RosinRammler curves.

Fig. 2 is a schematic diagram showing the essential differences in yield curves. Rosin Rammler coeffi- cients were used to illustrate blast curves corresponding with typical results from the aggregates industry and breakwater contractors. The theoretical curves are defined later in the text. In terms of practical blast design, many simple steps to improve armourstone production are discussed below. The most fundamental for an armourstone blast , is a low specific charge:

0.2 kg/m 3 is often used and even lower values may help achieve the objectives. For a rapid insight into the practical and technical factors governing production in an armourstone quarry dedicated to producing break- water materials, see Van Meulen (1998) .

2.3. Suggestions for improving the yields of armourstone

Generally, the proportion of armour-sized blocks in the blast increases with increasing intact tensile strength, increasing Young's Modulus and increasing disconti- nuity spacing. Normal blasting practice (e.g. for aggre- gates and ores) aims to achieve high fragmentation blasts. By contrast, greater percentages of armourstone can be achieved by adjusting common practice through consideration of the following list based on the original research by Wang et al. (1991) . Note, blast terminology is provided in Fig. 3 .

1. A low specific charge. Generally, a specific charge as low as 0.11 to 0.25 kg/m 3 can be used. If possible, the explosive used should have lower velocity of deto- nation, (VOD). For such low specific charges, main- taining high drilling accuracy is more critical to avoid insufficient rock break out.

2. The spacing to burden ratio should generally be less than or equal to 1 with burden larger than the dis- continuity spacing in a jointed rock mass. Ratios as low as 0.5, more typically associated with pre-splitting, have been successfully applied to armourstone operations.

3. If the bench is either too high or too low, armourstone production will be poor. For an initial estimate, bench height could be selected as two to three times the burden. In planning bench levels, the rock mass from which most armourstones might be produced, such as thickly bedded layers, should be located nearly at the top of the bench alongside the stemming section of the holes.

4. A large stemming length, larger than the burden, is usually recommended.

5. A small blasthole diameter of less than 100 mm is recommended.

recommended. 5. A small blasthole diameter of less than 100 mm is recommended. Fig. 3. Geometric

Fig. 3. Geometric blast design parameters.


J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074

6. One row of holes is found to be better than multi-rows. If permitted, holes should be fired instantaneously rather than using inter-hole delaying, but may cause high undesired ground vibration.

7. A bottom charge of high energy concentration is needed for the bottom to cleanly break away.

8. A decoupled column charge of ANFO packed in plastic cartridges (sausages) is often effective when a 300 3000 kg mass range is the main product size required, the explosives are then evenly distributed giving quite even fragmentation.

9. A decked charge, to break up the continuity of ex- plosives, will be necessary in most situations when armourstone greater than 3 t is required. The material for decking can be either air or aggregates.

The most common objective of an armourstone bench blast is to achieve a BBSD with the maximum percentage of the largest blocks possible. Such a blast is to cause the minimum of new fractures while having sufficient energy concentration to fully loosen the in-situ blocks and bring the rock face down cleanly. The best achievable BBSD curve will lie close to and just to the left of the upper part of the IBSD curve, spreading out considerably at lower sizes. Where the mean discontinuity spacing gives vast in-situ blocks, blast design must ensure sufficient breakage to limit the proportion of blocks above 20 t, which is about the limit for practical handling. It is interesting to note that a lower percentage of armourstone recovery can often be more economical, even though more rock is eventually excavated and therefore more is left behind as over-production be- cause of poorer rates of production. Excavation of the blastpile and keeping good faces and toes becomes more difficult the greater the yields of heavy armourstone and the lower the specific charge. The rate of output from excavators, loaders and selection plant also becomes slower.

3. Prediction of yield curves

It is not uncommon for disputes to develop over liability for unforeseen materials production costs where contracts are based upon dedicated armourstone quarries. Average yield curves derived from back analysis that represent results of materials tonnages supplied to a breakwater project as different classes of stone (e.g. core, underlayer, various armour classes etc.), often reveal that in practice, the final percentage of armourstone blocks (e.g. >3 t) was less than the predicted curves suggested. Prediction of blasted block size distributions, BBSDs (fragmentation curves, yield curves) is the subject of

significant research effort as the possible error in pre- diction remains very high. Accuracy is limited because the geological conditions cannot easily be determined for every blast and the implementation of the blast design may suffer from practical constraints. For dedicated armourstone quarries, early prediction of quarry yield curves, whether by trial blasts, or by scanline and borehole discontinuity surveys together with blast modelling, plays a vital part in breakwater design optimization. Described below are four approaches to fragmentation prediction:

Kuz Ram model, implemented in many software applications

Bond Ram models

EBT model

Kuznetsov Cunningham Ouchterlony (KCO) models

3.1. Kuz Ram model

Cunningham brought Kuznetsov's (1973) work up to date, introducing the Kuz Ram Model in 1983. Later revisions to Kuz Ram, Cunningham (1987) , included improved estimation of the rock mass factor A based on Lilly's (1986) blastability index. There are four im- portant equations that by simple substitution of para- meters, give the BBSD curve. The use of the Kuz Ram, or similar models, requires caution. Factors of recog- nised importance such as detonation delay timing are not included in Kuz Ram (a large literature on timing effects exists, some indications are given by Chung and Katsabanis (2000) ) while the effect of rock mass structure, and the burden to spacing ratio needs careful consideration (Konya and Walter, 1990 ). (i) Rosin Rammler Equation : is the cumulative form of the Weibull distribution and provides the basic shape of the BBSD to be expected, in terms of the 50% passing sieve size in the blastpile, D b50 and Rosin Rammler uniformity index for sizes, n RRD , giving the fraction passing, y, corresponding to a certain sieve size D y ( Rosin and Rammler, 1933 ).

y ¼ 1 exp f0 : 693 ð D y = D b50 Þ n RRD g ð 1 Þ

After D b50 and n RRD have been determined from Eqs. (2) and (3) below, substitution of D y values will return fraction passing values from which the complete BBSD curve can be deduced. For a BBSD prediction focused on armourstone sizes of say, 0.1 m to between 1 and 2 m, the Rosin Rammler equation is considered the most attractive simple choice. It should be noted that where data from sieved or photo-analysed blastpiles deviate surprisingly from the Rosin Rammler fitting

J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074


function near the maximum sizes, this could be due to the inherently poor sampling of the coarsest fraction which can throw the measured results out from the average production in question. Shortcomings of the Rosin Rammler equation include:

It has been reported to sometimes give a poor fit to blastpiles with high yields of armourstone sizes ( Lizotte and Scoble, 1994 ).

It fails to give a clear maximum size because the function is asymptotic to the 100% passing value.

It is commonly unable to describe with reasonable accuracy the fines content below sizes of about 50 mm in a blast ( Ouchterlony, 2005a ); of particular concern for predicting the detailed nature of the quarry run and the resultant behaviour of core materials derived from the quarry.

(ii) Kuznetsov Equation : gives D b50 (in m not cm) as a function of ( A , V, Q, E), which locates the position of one point on the BBSD curve. Essentially, this suggests that average size is controlled by specific charge

D b50 ¼ 0 :01 d Að V = Q Þ 0: 8 d Q 0 :167 d ð E = 115 Þ 0: 633

ð 2 Þ



= rock factor; = 1 for extremely weak rock, A = 7 for medium rock, A = 10 for hard, highly fissured rock; A = 13 for hard, weakly fissured rock. Several schemes similar to rock mass rating systems now exist for improved estimation of A. For example, Lilly's (1986) original blastability algorithm was adopted by Cunningham (1987).


= charge concentration per blast hole (kg); to calculate, consider borehole volume filled and density of explosive.


volume of rock broken per blast hole (m 3 )


relative weight strength of explosive (ANFO =

Q / V

100, TNT = 115); Specific Charge (kg/m 3 ), a general measure of explosive power in the blast

Spathis (2004) pointed out an implicit assumption in Cunningham's KuzRam application of Kuznetsov's original equation. The assumption is increasingly invalid for lower n RRD values typical of armourstone blasts because the mean size differs more significantly from the median size as n RRD decreases. Spathis plotted the correction needed as a function of n RRD which indicates that for n RRD as low as 0.8, the characteristic size would be 1.8 times too large if Eq. (2) is used without the correction.

(iii) Cunningham's uniformity index algorithm :

Cunningham (1987) developed an empirical equation that determines n RRD i.e. the steepness of the BBSD curve, as a function of blast design geometry with terms independent of those in Eqs. (1) and (2). Note, there is no significant body of evidence from physically measured sieved distributions to support

this equation, although it remains widely used as a tool. The first term typically takes a value of 1.5 and is a base term about which the other terms for hole patterns, drill deviation, different column and base

charges and charged proportion of bench, are all

correction terms.

n RRD ¼ ð 2 : 2 14 B = d Þ d f 0 : 5 ð 1 þ S = BÞg 0 :5 d ð 1 W = BÞ

d ðð abs ððBCL CCL Þ = L ÞÞ þ 0 :1 Þ 0 :1 d L= H

ð 3 Þ



= borehole diameter (mm)


= burden (m),


= spacing (m),


= bottom charge length (m),


= absolute value of


= column charge length (m),


= total charge length above grade (m),


= bench height or hole depth (m).


= standard deviation of drilling error (m),

(iv) Rock factor A: This section provides a guide to

setting parameters of the rock mass from which the rock mass factor A, needed for the Kuz Ram and KCO

models, can be estimated. It would be a very rare rock

mass that could achieve A-values above 14 and for rock to be considered for armourstone, it is considered likely

that A would fall in the range of 9 14.

A ¼ 0 :06 ð RMD þ JF þ RDI þ HF Þ ð 4 Þ


RMD = Rock mass description = 10 if powdery or friable, = JF if vertically jointed, = 50 if massive rock

JF = Joint Factor = Joint Plane Spacing term (JPS) + Joint Plane Angle term (JPA)

JPS = 10 if average Principal Mean Spacing, PMS (e.g. cube root of product of three principal mean spacings) < 0.1 m, 20 if average PMS is within range 0.1 m to 1 m, 50 if average PMS > 1 m.

JPA = 20 if dipping out of face, 30 if striking perpendicular to face, 40 if dipping into face

RDI = Rock Density Influence = 0.025 ρ r (kg/m 3 ) 50


J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074

HF = Hardness factor = E / 3 if E < 50, or UCS /5 if > 50, depending on uniaxial compressive strength UCS (MPa) or Young's Modulus E (GPa).

3.2. Bond Ram models

Da Gama (1983) applied Bond's Third Theory of comminution to blasting using Bond's relation, (Eq. (5) below) to fix the 80% passing size in the blast. Bond's relation was applied together with the Rosin Rammler Eq. (1), and Cunningham's uniformity coefficient in Eq. (3), by Wang et al. (1992a,b) . They called this combined approach the Bond Ram model. It is termed BRM(A) in this paper while another more recent approach by Chung and Katsabanis (2000) is termed BRM(B).

3.2.1. BRM(A) Bond equation : based on Bond's third theory of Comminution, the reduction in the 80% passing size during blasting is expressed in terms of the blast energy q ei and a material property, W i as follows:

q ei ¼ 10 d W i d 1 = M D b80 Þð1 = M D i80 Þg

ð 5 Þ

To apply BRM(A), q ei and W i values together with D i80 from IBSD information are substituted in Eq. (5) and D b80 is determined. Substituting y = 0.8 and D y = D b80 , together with n RRD , determined from Eq. (3), in Eq. (1), then gives D b50 , from which the complete BBSD curve of RosinRammler form can be deduced where:

D b80 and D i80 are the 80% passing sieve sizes, after blasting and in-situ respectively (in microns)

q ei is the energy required for fragmentation and is a function of ( E , V, Q, ρ r ). It can be estimated from

q ei ¼ 0 : 00365 E ð Q= V Þ = q r

ð 6 Þ

where E = weight strength of explosive (%) relative to ANFO and ρ r = rock density in t/m 3

W i (in kW h/t) is analogous to Bond's Work Index for grinding but is here calibrated for blasting ( Da Gama, 1983 ) as follows:

W i ¼ 15 : 42 þ 27 : 35 ðD i50 = B Þ

ð 7 Þ

where B = burden (m), D i50 = 50% passing in-situ block size (m) and the empirical fit coefficients have the appropriate units.

Note: in grinding, work index values are known from tables for grinding of different ores, or they are deter-

mined by grinding experiments. Such index values may be misleading if used directly in blast models without a correction factor.

3.2.2. BRM(B) Chung and Katsabanis (2000) demonstrated that Eq. (3) gave n RRD values consistently too high compared to results they studied from sieved blastpiles of small scale blasts. They suggested linking D b50 determined from Kuznetsov's Eq. (2) with D b80 determined from Bond's theory, as a means to obtain n RRD in the RosRam equa- tion, Eq. (1), thus providing an alternative to Cunning- ham's Eq. (3). In so doing, n RRD , as given analytically by 0.842/ (lnD b80 lnD b50 ) together with D b50 given from Kuznetsov's equation, were found to provide RosRam coefficients in Eq. (1) that generated final BBSD prediction curves fitting closer to field data. This BondRam approach was proposed by Chung and Katsabanis (2000). However, they assumed the 80% passing in-situ size to be infinite which is an unnecessary restriction when an estimated IBSD curve, suggesting D i80 perhaps of 1 to 2 m, has been derived. Here, the use of realistic (not infinite) D i80 in Eq. (5) is suggested. The consequent increase in n RRD values obtained from using realistic in- situ sizes compared with applying their assumption can be quite significant. This may provide a partial explanation for the low n RRD values of the two sieve-measured full- scale quarry examples quoted by Chung and Katsabanis which gave predicted n RRD of 0.77 and 0.73 when the measured values were 0.81 and 0.85 respectively. It is worth noting that when using this approach, the uni- formity index is no longer given as a function of blast design geometry as implied by Eq. (3). It would appear to be a promising yield prediction approach for armourstone production and is termed BRM(B) in this paper. It should be pointed out that to produce more accurate BondRam predictions, further calibration of an appro- priate value for W i is recommended for quarry bench blasting of armourstone. Da Gama (1983) suggested the use of Eqs. (6) and (7), a relation from empirical studies on a small data set of blasts in a basalt quarry. From a back analysis of case histories, results presented in Lu and Latham (1998) suggested a somewhat lower range of values e.g. W i = 6.7 ± 1.1 kW h/t for one particular Car- boniferous limestone quarry and W i = 10± 4 kW h/t for host rock from various ore mining blasts. Lower values of W i imply greater ease of blasting into small pieces. Blasti- ng engineers wishing to adopt the Bond equation for blasting are advised to consult recent research, e.g. Kariman et al. (2001) to constrain the wide choice from the high values suggested by Da Gama for basalt (25 kW h/t) and the significantly lower value of

J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074


Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 60 – 74 67 Fig. 4. Use of

Fig. 4. Use of a three point method to characterise fragmentation and demonstrate the decrease in D 50 with increasing specific charge data from quarry analysis by J Van Meulen.

10 kW h/t as suggested above and recently by Chung and Katsabanis (2000), or calibrate their own case-specific W i that provides a consistently good fit to observed frag- mentation in the quarry.

3.3. EBT Model

Lu and Latham (1998) developed an energy-block- transition (EBT) model for BBSD prediction based on relating the area between the IBSD and BBSD curves to the energy consumed in transforming bigger blocks to smaller ones. First, the IBSD curve is predicted (see methods suggested in Latham et al., 2006 ) giving the mean in-situ block size, k ai . A measure of the intrinsic blastability of the rock mass, known as the EBT- coefficient, B i must then be obtained, together with the energy input, q ei , see Eq. (6). Procedures for doing so are described in Latham and Lu (1999) where a blastability designation BD 10/ B i was proposed for obtaining B i . Alternatively, they recommended that when procedures for deriving BD needed to be made much simpler, the schemes for calculating rock factor A could be used, where B i = 10 A / 13. The mean blasted block size, k ab can then be obtained from the EBT model, Eq. (8) as follows:

q ei ¼

k ai k ab



k ai þ k ab


0 :5

ð 8 Þ

A predicted BBSD curve can then be obtained. Further to the discussion by Spathis, 2004 , it should be noted that k a is the mean and as such will not be well approximated by the median for low uniformity indices. The reader can find relations relating median and mean for different distributions in statistics texts but the Spathis paper is an ideal starting point.

3.4. KCO model

In recognition of the poorer fit in the fines region of the two-coefficient Ros Ram and power law equa- tions, more complex equations with four or five curve fitting coefficients have been introduced. These curve shapes can overcome the underestimate of fines often found with Rosin Rammler curves and are designed to account for more complex combinations of breakage mechanisms such as fine-scale crushing near the borehole, fines development occurring along propagating branching cracks, and the coarser frag- mentation by tensile cracking ( Djordjevic, 1999; Kanchitbotla et al., 1999 ). More recently, and with no reduction in curve fitting accuracy compared with the four- and five-coefficient equations, Ouchterlony (2005b) proposed a 3-parameter cumulative size distribution function, termed the Swebrec function, given here as Eq. (9)

y ¼ 1 = f 1 þ ½ ln ð D bmax = D y Þ = ln ð D bmax = D b50 Þ b g

ð 9 Þ

where D b50 is given from Eq. (2), (where the rock mass

factor A found from Eq. (4) is required), and b is called the curve undulation parameter. Ouchterlony suggests

D bmax which is the upper limit to the blasted fragment

sizes can be taken as equal to the largest in-situ block

size, D i100 or either the burden or spacing if smaller than

D i100 . When introducing the correct blast parameters

into Eq. (9), the equation becomes a BBSD prediction model. The KCO (Kuznetsov Cunningham Ouchterl- ony) model was proposed as a suitable name for the model. Ouchterlony has proposed two methods for predicting the value for b . The first is to adopt Cunningham's n RRD from Eq. (3) but to also introduce an effect recognised by Ouchterl- ony, that the size distribution's slope at the D b50 point is


J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074

also dependent on D b50 itself. A good approximation for


was found to be:


¼ n RRD d 2 d ln2 d ln ð D bmax = D b50 Þ

ð 10 Þ

The second is to use an empirical equation derived from sieved results from several full-scale blasts where


ð 11 Þ

b ¼ 0 : 5 D

b50 is in mm, ( Ouchterlony, 2005a ):

0: 25


d ln ð D bmax = D b50 Þ

Ouchterlony (2005b) shows how the function pre- sented in Eq. (9) fits BBSD sieving results from a wide range of rock types and blast conditions remarkably well and plugs into the Kuz Ram model with ease, improving predictive capability in the fines range and the cut-off at the upper limit, especially if a good D i100 estimate can be substituted for D bmax . Ouchterlony sug- gests that D bmax could be set at the minimum of burden, spacing or in-situ maximum size. It is suggested that the KCO model offers great potential to improve on the KuzRam model in most bench blasting operations. Its suitability for armourstone blasts also looks quite promising. For armourstone blast prediction, as with all prediction models, it should be applied with caution, especially as it has been developed for blasts with relatively higher specific charges and bur- den to spacing ratios than is common for armourstone blasts. It should also be noted that many unconventional blasting methods such as decoupling and simultaneous detonation are used for armourstone blasts. Accuracy of the KCO model and the function given by Eq. (9) has not been examined as thoroughly in the 80100% passing size range (where it is most critical for armourstone prediction), as it has for the medium and smaller sizes considered more important for productivity in high fragmentation blasts.

4. Assessment of mass distributions

4.1. Direct screening and block measurement methods

It may sometimes be practical to count the number of blocks N in the entire potential armourstone oversize material in a blast, and to perform measurements of block dimensions from a representative sample of say N / 5 blocks. The sizes can be converted to masses using shape factors based on blockiness concepts (e.g. see Gauss and Latham, 1995 ). Knowing the total rock mass in the blast and estimating the total mass in the oversize, the upper part of the BBSD can be plotted, and may be merged with photo-scanline or image analysis results. In a production with no crushing, it is possible to assess the proportions in a blast if it is all processed. The sorted

material volumes are logged during production through the selection plant (e.g. trommel screen). Provided the coarsest proportion from the blast can be estimated, for example by counting blocks in heavy grading classes or as described above, a curve based on assessment at three points can be drawn. In Fig. 4, three important points on the yield curve were used to chart the change in BBSD while reducing specific charge. Screen analysis of full- scale production blasts, clearly more reliable than image analysis for assessments, were reported in Stagg and Otterness (1995) and in Ouchterlony (2005a,b).

4.2. Image analysis

A discussion on predicted fragmentation would be

incomplete without some mention of assessment methods to examine actual fragmentation. Automated image anal- ysis methods are becoming more widespread for deter- mining blastpile size distributions in mining and quarrying operations. Digital photos taken while piles are being loaded, (so as to represent the full depth of the pile) and taken from above loaded trucks, provide input that readily available image analysis software will convert into size distributions using sophisticated correction algorithms. A blind trial of various commercial image analysis software packages (Latham et al., 2003) gives a snapshot of their performance. Fig. 5 shows images with known size dis-

tributions of the type often used to calibrate image analysis software. Franklin and Katsabanis (1996) compiled a monograph of papers and references to such methods.

At least half a dozen commercial automated sizing

systems are now in widespread use, not only for blast yield assessment, but also for production control of processed minerals. There is potential for wider use of such systems in quality control of gradings, e.g. barge deliveries of light gradings.

4.3. Photo-scanline methods

An alternative manual photographic method ( Lu and Latham, 1996 ) that is simple and can be undertaken without software is to superimpose scanlines directly on the scaled photographs. The method was employed by McKibbins (1996) to assess the armourstone blast ( 4000 t) shown in Fig. 6 . Many scanlines are drawn on each photo with directions chosen to minimise bias. Care is needed to correct for perspective distortion. A single length distribution from measurements of seg- ment lengths defined by intersections between the par- ticle edges is created from all the photos making up a representative sample. It is invariably found that the cumulative form of this length distribution has a Rosin

J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074


Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 60 – 74 69 Fig. 5. Typical size

Fig. 5. Typical size distributions with similar appearance (representative of gradations in blastpiles if scale divisions= 1 m). P44: n RRD = 0.7, D 63.2 = 800 mm, D 50 460 mm, P41: n RRD = 0.9, D 63.2 = 350 mm, D 50 240 mm. The same distributions are shown in Fig. 2 Note, for high fragmentation blast geometry in Eq. (3), the Kuz Ram model often predicts n RRD > 1.0. With low n RRD laboratory piles it is very difficult to make up a sample big enough to properly represent the larger sizes present in a perfect RosinRammler distribution in effect, even the artificially made up piles have a partly bimodal distribution due to large size censoring.

Rammler form. The best fit photo-scanline Rosin Rammler parameters n RRDp , D 63.2p , for uniformity and characteristic length can be obtained from a linearized plot. To convert the Rosin Rammler to a linear form, substitute the left hand side of Eq. (12) as the variable Y and log D p as the variable X and apply linear regression of Y on X to obtain the gradient and intercept which give

n RRDp and D 63.2p .

log ½ln ð 1 = ð 1 y ÞÞ ¼ n RRDp d logD p n RRDp d log D 63: 2p

The calibration equations to convert from segment length distribution coefficients to n RRD and D 63.2 are:

ð 12 Þ

D 63:2 ¼ 1 : 119 D 63 :2p

ð 13 Þ

n RRD ¼ 1 : 096 n RRDp 0 :175


14 Þ

As for any assessment of blastpiles that only sample the surface-visible blocks, the results are likely to give coarser BBSD predictions than is representative of the

entire pile. Taking many sample photographs during blastpile loading is preferable.

5. Comparison of BBSD prediction models

The purpose here is not to explore the range of validity of each model, and compare it with well documented case histories. (With the equations given above, the reader can simply implement the model formulae and compare yield curve results for various local quarry and blasting con- ditions using a spreadsheet). Instead, a hypothetical case of one potentially reasonable armourstone blast design, applied to a hypothetical rock mass viable for armour- stone is considered to illustrate some of the models dis- cussed above. The chosen hypothetical rock mass is equivalent to a widely jointed but not especially massive rock mass typical of a competent limestone of density 2.7 t/m 3 . It is given a rock factor A of 10 with an IBSD analysis as given in Table 1. A somewhat less steep IBSD might be appropriate for a more massive rock mass with locally disturbed fractured areas.

massive rock mass with locally disturbed fractured areas. Fig. 6. Photographic image of a blastpile in

Fig. 6. Photographic image of a blastpile in the Hulands Quarry, Co Durham UK, used for photo-scanline analysis. The surface of the blast pile contains many blocks from the stemming section and is somewhat coarser than the material beneath.


J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074

Table 1 Assumed IBSD for illustration

Fraction passing

Mass (kg)

D sieve (m)

























Example applications of the KuzRam model are shown for a suggested armourstone blast design with parameters as shown in Table 2 and the results of the model in terms of RosRam yield parameters are as shown in Table 3. Interestingly, for these chosen charge length to borehole length ratios, burden and spacing val- ues, it appears that Cunningham's Eq. (3) is in this case successful in the sense that it gives a reasonably low uniformity index in the same range commonly observed for armourstone blasts. In applying KuzRam to uncon- ventional blasts, it is often difficult to judge how best to convert the subtleties of special armourstone techniques such as air-decking, decoupling, delay timings into model parameters. In selecting the values given in Table 3, the blast assumes a fully coupled long base charge with no column charge as such, but a long stemming length. To address the idea that the upper rock mass blocks are simply liberated in armourstone blasts, McKibbins (1996) attempted a BBSD prediction by summing block sizes given by the IBSD of the upper stemmed part of the blast (assumed to be liberated and untransformed in the blast), with those block sizes transformed by a blast model for the lower charged part of the hole. This composite model approach gave less satisfactory results than the BondRam approach.

Table 2 Suggested armourstone blast parameters

KuzRam model input parameters

Suggested armourstone blast

Rock factor A ( )


Specific charge Q / V (kg/m 3 )


Spacing/ burden ()


Borehole diameter (m)


Burden (m)


Spacing (m)


Charged column length (m)


Bench height (m)


No. of holes


Volume of rock blasted (m 3 )


Explosive weight strength


Charged explosive (kg)


St. dev. of drill error (m)


Table 3 Parameters for KuzRam models


KuzRam SFB

Shifted KuzRam SFB (sKR)



V b50 (m 3 ) M b50 (kg) D b50 (m) n RRM () n RRD ()











A very important observation is that because of the low

value of n RRM for many armourstone blasts used on breakwater projects (n RRD typically from 0.7 to 0.9, see Latham et al., 2006), a significant shift in sizes is predicted with the Spathis correction. Within this range of n RRM , the routine application of KuzRam gives yield sizes that are

a factor of about 1.8 too large because of significant

differences between mean and median for such wide distributions (see Spathis, 2004). The shift is shown in Fig. 7, however both yield prediction curves appear unrealistic when compared with the reasonable IBSD curve we have assumed for the rock mass. To apply the standard BondRam model BRM(A), the blast in Table 1 uses the same uniformity index as in the KuzRam model. The Bond equation requires input from IBSD at 80% passing together with the blast input energy and importantly, the Work Index. Two example values,

W i = 24 and W i = 10 kW h/t are examined in Fig. 8, the former derived from Da Gama's calibration, the latter being closer to expected values for a blast in competent limestone, see Table 4. When adopting the Bond Ram model, sBRM(B), the blast geometry approach to finding n RRM via Eq. (3)

is discarded. In our hypothetical example, both of the

sBRM(B) slopes shown in Fig. 8 have higher uniformity than were found using BRM(A) and Eq. (3), which is opposite to the original finding of Chung and Katsabanis (2000) where higher specific charge blasts ( 0.8 kg/m 3 ) were considered. Substituting a lower Work Index shifts the 80% passing value fractionally more. Because in both cases the M b50 is pinned by Eq. (2) it therefore gives a slightly steeper yield curve. Note, to obtain M b50 the Spathis correction has been applied. Without it, the results for BRM(B) would appear impossibly steep for this example. It is interesting to note that although the M i80 value has been used in the analysis, there is an unsatisfactory lack of convergence of the initial top mass M i100 and the final top mass M b100 for all but the sBRM(A) W i10 curve. This effect would be less pronounced and the BBSD results more generally acceptable had the chosen IBSD been given a less steep curve.

J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074


Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 60 – 74 71 Fig. 7. Application of

Fig. 7. Application of the KuzRam model to the hypothetical blast and rock mass parameters (Table 2), showing how the correction identified by Spathis (2004) results in a major shift in the final predicted yield curve (sKR). Neither result appears compatible with the suggested IBSD curve.

The Swebrec function and KCO model removes this problem by setting the before and after top masses equal but the uncertainty at the 100% value is always quite large. The KCO methodology takes no further notice of the predicted IBSD curve's actual form except in a rather subjective manner through the JPS score for the rock factor A . The two Swebrec function curves take two quite different paths between M b50 and M b100 depending upon whether the new empirical KCO or the first KCO model is used to obtain the undulation parameter b (see Fig. 9 and Table 5 ). Note that in both cases the Spathis correction has been applied to obtain M b50 . The data set used by Ouchterlony (2005b) to calibrate the empirical relation Eq. (11) may not be sufficient to represent low energy blasts typical of armourstone with the same level of confidence as for aggregates and mine blasts. Speculating, an undulation parameter giving a yield curve about half way between

the two shown would seem more reasonable for such an armourstone blast. The wide variation between prediction model results shown in Figs. 7 9 , for one set of blast design data, is testimony to the difficulty of BBSD prediction, espe- cially for the case of armourstone production.

6. Discussion

Experience to date does not point to a single best prediction method for armourstone. The best practice is somewhat clearer for prediction in higher fragmenta- tion blasts for mines and aggregates quarries. This is because the number of documented studies with high accuracy in the blastpile assessment (accuracies associated with sieving a sample of the full-scale blast or a well controlled image analysis campaign using several magnifications), together with detailed

using several magnifications), together with detailed Fig. 8. Application of two different Bond – Ram models

Fig. 8. Application of two different BondRam models showing results broadly compatible with the IBSD, and a large dependence on the Work Index value (W i ) assumed, see text.


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Table 4 Parameters for BondRam models



model parameters (A) W i10 and results

(A) W i24

(B) W i10





Work index (kW h/t) Specific charge (kg/m 3 ) V i80 (m) M i80 (kg) D i80 (m) V b50 (m 3 ) M b50 (kg) D b50 (m) n RRM () n RRD ()









































a Note, the Spathis (2004) correction has been applied.

IBSD and rock mass analysis, has been growing. However, even the large amount of case studies reported remains a relatively small database if all the blast design variables are to be investigated. Field data in the literature from low energy blasts, where the objective is often simply to liberate in-situ blocks for use as armourstone, are much scarcer. If a reasonably confident estimate of rock mass factor A can be made, but discontinuity spacing is poorly known, the Kuz Ram model will provide a complete prediction curve but with a value for n RRD that has a reputation in general blast designs for being too high, thus generally under-predicting the amount of fines produced. To take advantage of the known importance of the in- situ discontinuities, it is invariably worth the investment in IBSD data and at least, to estimate the maximum and typical in-situ block volumes. Drawing upon the IBSD

Table 5 Parameters for KCO models

Swebrec function inputs

KCO Eq. (10)

New KCO Eq. (11)


b50 (m 3 )




b50 (kg)




b50 (m)




RRM ()



RRD ()







bmax (m)



methods and conclusions of ( Latham et al., 2006 ), the weighted joint density method of Palmström (2001) using drill core data appears to be a suitable first approach in poorly exposed green field sites when scanline surveys and photographic face mapping are impossible. If a thorough site investigation can reveal the essential variations of the in-situ rock mass properties, the IBSD curve giving 100, 80 and 50% passing values will help the blast prediction considerably. The BondRam and EBT models make good use of the whole IBSD and if the work index W i or B i is well calibrated for the rock mass in question, these approaches look promising as they do not rely on an accurate determination of maximum in-situ size. The BondRam model focuses on the 80% passing sizes, which in practice, have great significance for armourstone production. Also, M b80 can potentially be determined with more accuracy than M b100 during early assessment stages of the actual production, from which further calibration and refinement of models can take place. The KCO model approach appears to be suitable for predicting the smaller sizes (below 50 mm) of any blast which has great implications for quarry waste in break- water projects as discussed in Latham et al. (2006) . It also appears that if IBSD analysis methods are used to

. It also appears that if IBSD analysis methods are used to Fig. 9. Swebrec function

Fig. 9. Swebrec function and application of two forms of the KCO model ( Ouchterlony, 2005a,b) showing compatibility with the IBSD, see text.

J.-P. Latham et al. / Engineering Geology 87 (2006) 6074


provide a reasonably confident estimate of D i100 = D- b100 = D bmax it may work well for armourstone blasts. It is suggested that there may be advantages to resetting the Swebrec function so that it operates with a D b90 or D b95 for the input parameter, because of the increasing lack of confidence with the determination of the IBSD and thus BBSD as they approach the 100% value. However, this raises the further problem of how to relate

D i95 to D b95 .

At present, with the KCO model one must chose from two approaches offered for setting the undulation parameter b. It has been seen how each one can give very different proportions of large blocks for the part of the curve between D b100 and D b50 . Future research results to test the simpler empirical Eq. (11) and the successful setting of objective values for rock mass factor A and D bmax will help evaluate the use of the three parameters in the Swebrec function and whether the new KCO model is indeed the best on offer for armourstone blast prediction.

8. Concluding remarks

The Kuz Ram model is not appropriate for predic- tion of BBSD for armourstone blasts because no refer- ence to the IBSD is given to constrain the location of the Rosin Rammler curve. Typical armourstone blasts have lower uniformity coefficients than high fragmentation blasts and therefore it is vital that the correction iden- tified by Spathis (2004) is applied to all uses of the Kusnetsov equation in BBSD models for armourstone production. Blastability approaches such as the Bond Ram and EBT models have the advantage of using IBSD infor- mation in the relationship that governs the location of the BBSD curve, however, the intrinsic blastability co- efficients suggested for use with different rock masses remain poorly calibrated for these blastability models. The introduction of the Swebrec function, and the KCO model by Ouchterlony (2005a) has advanced considerably our ability to predict the fines content in routine blasts. In allowing the slope of the curve at D b50 to be a function of D b50 the curve takes a more realistic path. For armourstone blasts, yield curve prediction with the KCO model looks promising but now requires further validation with case histories. We are a step closer to making predictions for ar- mourstone blast yield curves with the confidence needed by practitioners. A summary of experience (see Table 3 , Latham et al., 2006 ) learned by breakwater contractors working with production engineers when opening armourstone quarries, will continue for some years to be a primary source from which to predict yield curves.


This paper extends the content of work presented in the Rock Manual (CIRIA/CUR/CETMEF, 2007 ) and is printed with kind permission of CIRIA/CUR/CETMEF. The authors are grateful for comments provided during review and the motivation provided by the Rock Manual team.


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