Why Does Geology Modelling Matter?

Recently, our mining customers have been making use of 3D numerical modeling software in geotechnical appraisals. Using Dassault Systèmes SIMULIA’s ABAQUS software, GEOVIA implemented this solution at an underground coal operation, to assess the geotechnical stability of structural supports, under the influence of gravity loading and geological structures.

Stress calibration on Underground 3D model



SIMULIA ABAQUS is a finite element method numerical modeling package that offers powerful and complete solutions for both routine and sophisticated engineering problems, covering a vast spectrum of industrial applications including natural resources. The finite element method (FEM) is a numerical technique for finding approximate solutions to boundary value problems using differential equations.

Typically, the method involves dividing the domain of the problem into a collection of sub-domains, with each sub-domain represented by a set of element equations to the original problem, followed by systematically recombining all sets of element equations into a global system of equations to perform the final calculation.

Can it be implemented in the Mining or Geotechnical Domain?

Yes, ABAQUS can be implemented in Mining/Geotechnical domains including pit wall stability, surface subsidence, support analysis, underground layout simulation and stress analysis, study of access, shaft, portals and declines, pillar stability, ground support Integrity, tunneling and earthworks tailing dam and dump stability analysis.The figure below shows some typical geotechnical examples.

Some typical geotechnical examples


SIMULIA provides realistic simulation solutions that allow accurate predictions of rock deformations and rock-structure interactions. Time-dependent deformations including consolidation of the rock can be predicted accurately, as the solution is based on a fully coupled system involving stress and pore fluid diffusion.

Our customers have completed a number of projects in ABAQUS, such as:

  • Underground long wall mine stability studies and pillar width assessments. These studies provide the technical information to make informed decisions about their mining scenario, which in turn increases safety, reduces risk and maximizes mineral reserves.
  • Assessments of multiple underground methods (e.g. room and pillar, short wall and long wall) can be validated to identify the an underground layout for a site, with respect to safety and reserve considerations.
Open pit and underground proof of concept


Most geotechnical simulation packages available in the market today provide solutions from 2D to 3D, often in 2 and half D space, where technological limitations mean only part of the problem can be assessed within a single model. ABAQUS’s proven simulation technology is a complete solution where you can define the entire problem in an immersive 3D environment, providing efficient and reliable results. Most of these packages also operate on the assumption of simplified geological features.

We believe that accurate definition and simulation of actual geological features and designs can be prepared in specialist mining software packages, such as GEOVIA Surpac. The figure below illustrates the concept of model conversion, from GEOVIA Surpac to SIMULIA ABAQUS.

Surpac geological surfaces converted to ABAQUS model


The figure below demonstrates the principle of modelling a stratified faulted deposit in SIMULIA ABAQUS, with vertical stresses applied (e.g. gravity loading). There are still some challenges in using such models for simulation, but with ABAQUS, we can ask the right questions to change how we simulate.

3D FEA Model and Simulation (right) of an Underground stratified deposit using SIMULIA
Shoaib Zia

Shoaib Zia

Mining Knowledge Consultant, GEOVIA (CEng MIMMM) at Dassault Systèmes
Shoaib is a Chartered Engineer and Professional Member of IOM3 in the UK, with a Masters Degrees in Mineral Resource Management from the University of Exeter (UK) and Applied Earth Science from Technical University Delft (Netherlands). Shoaib's engagements include numerous geotechnical engineering, numerical modeling and mine planning projects both in the UK and overseas. Apart from GEOVIA software, Shoaib is also proficient in SIMULIA Abaqus.