Robust thin layer coal thickness estimation using ground penetrating radar

Strange, Andrew Darren (2007) Robust thin layer coal thickness estimation using ground penetrating radar. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


One of the most significant goals in coal mining technology research is the automation of underground coal mining machinery. A current challenge with automating underground coal mining machinery is measuring and maintaining a coal mining horizon. The coal mining horizon is the horizontal path the machinery follows through the undulating coal seam during the mining operation. A typical mining practice is to leave a thin remnant of coal unmined in order to maintain geological stability of the cutting face. If the remnant layer is too thick, resources are wasted as the unmined coal is permanently unrecoverable. If the remnant layer is too thin, the product is diluted by mining into the overburden and there is an increased risk of premature roof fall which increases danger.

The main challenge therefore is to develop a robust sensing method to estimate

the thickness of thin remant coal layers. This dissertation addresses this challenge by presenting a pattern recognition methodology to estimate thin remnant coal layer thickness using ground penetrating radar (GPR). The approach is based upon a novel feature vector, derived from the bispectrum, that is used to characterise the early-time segment of 1D GPR data.

The early-time segment is dominated by clutter inherent in GPR systems such as antenna crosstalk, ringdown and ground-bounce. It is common practice to either time-gate the signal, disregard the clutter by rendering the early-time segment unusable, or configure the GPR equipment to minimise the clutter effects which in turn reduces probing range. Disregarding the early-time signal essentially imposes a lower thickness limit on traditional GPR layer thickness estimators.

The challenges of estimating thin layer thickness is primarily due to these inherent clutter components. Traditional processing strategies attempt to minimise the clutter using pre-processing techniques such as the subtraction of a calibration signal. The proposed method, however, treats the clutter as a deterministic but unknown signal with additive noise. Hence the proposed approach utilises the energy from the clutter and monitors change in media from subtle changes in the signal shape.

Two complementary processing methods important to horizon sensing have been also proposed. These methods, near-surface interface detection and antenna height estimation, may be used as pre-validation tools to increase the robustness of the thickness estimation technique.

The proposed methods have been tested with synthetic data and validated with real data obtained using a low power 1.4 GHz GPR system and a testbed with known conditions. With the given test system, it is shown that the proposed thin layer thickness estimator and near-surface interface detector outperform the traditional matched filter based processing methods for layers less than 5 cm in thickness. It is also shown that the proposed antenna height estimator outperforms the traditional height estimator for heights less than 7 cm.

These new methods provide a means for reliably extending layer thickness estimation to the thin layer case where traditional approaches are known to fail.

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ID Code: 16356
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Chandran, Vinod, Sridharan, Subramanian, & Ralston, Jonathon
Keywords: ground penetrating radar, finite-difference time-domain, coal mining, coal-rock interface, thin layer, thickness estimation, higher order spectra, bispectrum, signal processing, matched filter, pattern recognition, classification
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Department: Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Andrew Darren Strange
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:01
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:46

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