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Drilling Active Faults in South African Mines



NELSAMThe physics of earthquake processes has remained enigmatic due partly to a lack of direct and near-field observations that are essential for the validation of models and concepts. DAFSAM proposes to reduce significantly this limitation by conducting research in deep mines that are unique laboratories for full-scale analysis of seismogenic processes. The mines provide a ‘missing link' that bridges between the failure of simple and small samples in laboratory experiments, and earthquakes along complex and large faults in the crust. There is no practical way to conduct such analyses in other environment. To unravel the complexity of earthquake processes, this project is designed as integrated multidisciplinary studies of specialists from seismology, structural geology, mining and rock engineering, geophysics, rock mechanics, geochemistry and geobiology. The scientific objectives of the project are the characterization of near-field behavior of active faults before, during and after earthquakes.

(Photo ©:NELSAM)



Africa, South Africa, North West, Tau Tona gold mine located in West Rand



26° 24' 58'' S, 27° 25' 38'' E (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • Begin of drilling in September 2004


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • Ze'ev Reches, University of Oklahoma, ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics
  • Yehuda Ben-Zion, University of Southern California at Los Angeles, Department of Earth Sciences
  • Thomas A. Dewers, Sandia National Laboratories, Geomechanics
  • Malcolm J. Johnston, U.S. Geological Survey at Menlo Park, Earthquake Hazards Program, Northern California
  • Thomas Jordan, University of Southern California at Los Angeles, Department of Earth Sciences
  • Hiroshi Ogasawara, Ritsumeikan University, College of Science and Engineering, Department of Physical Sciences
  • Ewan Sellers (?), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Miningtek
  • Steve M. Spottiswoode, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Miningtek
  • Gerrie van Aswegen, Institute of Mine Seismology
  • Susan Jane (Sue) Webb, University of the Witwatersrand, School of Geosciences
  • Mark D. Zoback, Stanford University, School of Earth Sciences, Department of Geophysics


Partners and Contractors



DAFSAM, Earthquakes, Faulting, ICDP-2005/14, Mining, NELSAM, Seismology, South Africa, WITWATERSRAND


Current State





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