Corona-discharge-initiated mine explosions

H. K. Sacks, Thomas Novak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Strong circumstantial evidence suggests that lightning has iltitiated methane explosions in abandoned and sealed areas of underground coal mines. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) investigated several of these occurrences within recent years. The investigated explosions occurred at significant depths, ranging from 700 to 1200 ft. Data from the National Lightning Detection Network indicated a strong correlation between the times and locations of the explosions with those of specific lightning strikes. This paper proposes that corona discharge from a steel borehole casing is the most likely mechanism responsible for these ignitions. A recently investigated mine explosion and fire at a depth greater than 1000 ft was selected for this study. Computer simulations were performed, using data collected at the mine site. CDEGS software from Safe Engineering Services & Technologies, Ltd, and MaxwellSV from Ansoft Corporation were used for the simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1316-1322
Number of pages7
JournalIEEE Transactions on Industry Applications
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Paper PID-05-02, presented at the 2004 Industry Applications Society Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, October 3–7, and approved for publication in the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRY APPLICATIONS by the Mining Industry Committee of the IEEE Industry Applications Society. Manuscript submitted for review October 15, 2004 and released for publication June 9, 2005. This work was supported by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, under Contract 200-2002-000589, Reduction of Mining Electrical Hazards Through Improved Engineering Controls.


  • Coal mining
  • Lightning
  • Methane explosions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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