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Rock Fragmentation by Blasting – Sanchidrián (ed)

© 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-0-415-48296-7

A new principal formula for the determination of explosive

strength in combination with the rock mass strength

P.A. Rustan
CENTEK, Luleå, Sweden

ABSTRACT: The goal has been to develop a simple international acceptable technical formula that
can be standardized by explosive manufacturers and consumers and to be used for the determination of
explosive strength regarding its fragmentation capability. A literature review showed that the first well
accepted technical formula used to determine the strength of an explosive was developed by the Swede Ulf
Langefors in the 1940’s and that this formula could be regarded as a paradigm shift at the time when it was
developed. The formula includes two explosive properties; heat of explosion and the gas volume produced
per kg of explosive. The formula was mainly developed for dynamite explosives. The formula can, however,
not be used for ANFO and emulsion explosives. Therefore, in this paper it is proposed a new formula for
international standardization including, besides the two mentioned parameters, also the detonation veloc-
ity, density of explosive, density of rock and P-wave velocity in rock. Also rock structure, confinement
and initiation pattern and delay times affect the fragmentation considerably. Consumers of explosives
and manufacturers will benefit from this kind of development. An analysis of the variation range of the
individual parameters in the new developed formula is shown in the paper. For the validation of the devel-
oped formula the SHB-method (SHB = single hole blasting method) is recommended to be used, because
laboratory—or half scale fragmentation test cannot give the full answer of explosive strength.


In the 1940’s Langefors developed an empiri- 2.1 Langefors weight strength formula
cal formula for the determination of explosive
The old formula for the determination of the
“weight strength” based on the energy (heat of
strength of nitroglycerin explosives was given the
explosion) developed upon detonation of the
name “weight strength formula” and the symbol
explosive and the gas volume produced measured
“s” was used. The formula was derived by Ulf
at standard temperature and pressure (STP). The
Langefors in the 1940’s, however, the result was
formula will be shown further on in the paper. In
never published by Langefors, but the formula was
the Swedish Technical Journal submitted by Dyno
later on published by Persson et al. (1994). The for-
Nobel “Sprängnytt April 2006” in which Granlund
mula reads as follows:
(2006) showed by an example from the Boliden
Aitik mine, comparing a slurry explosive Reolit 5 Qe 1 Ve
with an emulsion explosive Titan. Inspite Titan s= + (1)
has a lower weight strength and about 50% lower 6 Qref 6 Vref
heat of explosion but about 50% higher gas volume
per kg of explosive the same drilling and blasting where s is the relative weight strength of the explo-
plan could be used. The amount of explosive could sive in comparison with a reference explosive, at
also be reduced because Titan had a lower density. that time often LFB dynamite was used in Sweden.
Granlund also stated that laboratory tests are not Qe is heat of explosion for the explosive in MJ/kg,
enough to determine the strength of an explosive. Qref is the heat of explosion for the reference explo-
This paper will explain why this is not possible and sive. Ve is the produced gas volume at STP (stand-
suggest more parameters that have to be introduced ard temperature and pressure) in m3/kg for the
for the calculation of explosive strength to make a explosive and Vref is the produced gas volume at
better estimation of its real strength regarding the STP for the reference explosive. Very interesting
fragmentation ability when blasting in rock types would be to know how the weighting factors 5/6
with different acoustic impedances. and 1/6 were derived. The heat of explosion was

given much more weight than the gas volume. May strengths of explosives is normally not included at
be that a change of the weighting factors could all in the calculations. We are therefore normally
improve the accuracy of the formula. My intuitive working on a very rough level in the calculation of
guess, after Granlund has given the examples with fragmentation.
Reolit and Titan in Aitik, is that that the weight- The conclusion is that the weight strength has
ing factors should be changed to 1/2 for each. For not been used on an international level for calcu-
the calculation of the strength of explosives this lation of fragmentation. It is only the detonation
empirical formula was of large importance when velocity that we can find being used in a fragmenta-
it was developed. tion formula developed from half scale fragmenta-
Several researchers, inclusive Granlund, have tion tests in different rock types by Bergman et al.
verified that this formula can not be used for (1974).
slurry, ANFO and emulsion explosives because Important parameters lacking, not mentioned in
the fragmentation capacity for these explosives is the Granlund’s paper, are the density of the explo-
much higher than what can be calculated by the sive ρe, the density of the rock mass ρr and the sound
weight strength formula. wave velocity in the rock mass cp. These parameters
The energy of the explosive delivered into are needed to calculate the energy transformation
the rock mass is also affected by other param- from explosive to the rock mass according to the
eters like blasthole diameter, confinement of acoustic impedance ratio ZR of two adjacent con-
the blasthole, water content in surrounding rock tacting materials. For the contact acoustic imped-
mass, density of explosive after packing into the ance of rock and explosive one obtains;
blasthole etc. Blasthole diameters in the 1940’s
in Sweden were normally less than 52 mm com- ρecd
pared with today’s international blasthole diam- ZR = (2)
eters up to 500 mm.
Granlund is discussing in his paper three inter-
esting parameters; heat of explosion, gas volume where ZR is the acoustic impedance ratio (dimen-
and detonation velocity. sionless), ρe is the density of the explosive in
kg/m3, cd is the detonation velocity of the explo-
sive in (m/s), ρr is the density of the rock mass
2.2 Empirical formulas for calculation in kg/m3, and finally cP is the longitudinal wave
of fragmentation velocity in the rock mass in (m/s). ZR should be
Traversing a large number of literature references equal to 1 for maximum energy transfer from the
and formulas used for fragmentation calculations explosive to the rock mass according to classical
I found the following parameters being used in these wave transmission theory. Atchison & Pugliese
formulas with the most common mentioned first. (1964) at USBM (United States Bureau of Mines)
have shown that the theory is applicable also for
− Specific charge q (powder factor) (kg/m3 or kg/t). energy transmission from the reacted explosive to
− Weight of equivalent amount of TNT correspond- the surrounding rock mass. Some smaller devia-
ing to the amount of explosive being used in the tion from this rule was later on shown by Leinz &
blasthole, e.g. Kuz-Ram formula (Cunningham Thum (1970). This will be shown further on in
1983). this paper.
− Weight strength is mainly used in Langefors equa- From this we can learn that to quantify explo-
tion for determination of burden and spacing. sive strength regarding fragmentation, it is needed
Later on SveDeFo developed a formula for cal- at least four explosive properties (heat of explosion,
culation of fragmentation where weight strength gas volume per kg, density of explosive and deto-
was included. It was an expansion of the Lange- nation velocity) and two rock mass properties (rock
fors formula for calculation of burden. density and P-wave velocity in the rock mass).
− Heat of explosion Q, e.g. Bergman (1974).
− Detonation velocity of the explosive, e.g.
Bergman (1974). 2.3 Heat of explosion in the “Langefors weight
− P-wave velocity in the rock mass, e.g. Bergman strength formula”
(1974) and Rustan & Vutukury (1983). Many more
references to P-wave velocity are given in Rustan The heat of explosion used in the Langefors for-
(1998), under the entry “acoustic impedance”. mula (Equation 1) must be followed by informa-
− Decoupling ratio, e.g. Bergman (1974). tion on how fast the energy is released, because if
the energy is released extremely slow no fragmen-
The most common used parameter is the specific tation will occur at all. An important parameter
charge, defined as the mass of explosive per cubic lacking in the old Langefors formula (Equation 1)
meter of rock or ton of rock. The use of different is therefore energy released per time unit or indi-

rectly detonation velocity. The detonation veloc- lacking in the Langefors weight strength formula
ity (m/s) is a unit for energy release per time (Equation 1).
because 1 m of explosive detonated corresponds If an explosive is packed to a too high density
to a defined quantity of explosive but because or is initiated wrongly the explosive can be dead
the detonation velocity depends on the blasthole pressed (too high density is achieved) and detona-
diameter it is not easy to calculate the explosive tion will not occur or the energy for initiation is
strength if the diameter of the blasthole is not not enough. It is therefore the environmental con-
known. Also the confinement of the blasthole, ditions in the field that determines how much of
the water content in the rock mass will affect the the energy content of the explosive can be used for
detonation velocity. From full-scale field studies fragmentation.
we know that the detonation velocity normally
varies from one blasthole to another in spite that 2.5 Borehole pressure
the blastholes are located in the same surrounding
environment. The borehole pressure pb (MPa) is about 4 times
The conclusion from this is that the detonation smaller than the detonation pressure and is calcu-
velocity is of outmost importance for the strength lated according to a similar formula as detonation
of an explosive and can therefore not be neglected pressure.
in an explosive strength formula. An important
task for the explosive manufacturers has been, pb ≈ ρecd210 −6 (4)
since 1950’s, to be able to calculate the detonation 8
velocity unconfined and confined (metal tubes)
at different blasthole diameters with the help of where ρe is the explosive density in kg/m3 and cd is
computer codes. the detonation velocity of the explosive in m/s. The
Let us now look on how the detonation velocity borehole pressure is defined as the pressure in the
influences the detonation- and borehole pressure blasthole at maximum expansion of the diameter
because this determines the dynamic and quasi- of the blasthole.
static pressure on the rock mass and thereby the In Equations 3 and 4 it is possible to rewrite
fragmentation degree. them to the product of acoustic impedance of
the explosive (ρe⋅cd) multiplied by the detonation
2.4 Detonation pressure velocity of the explosive cd. Therefore the explosive
density and detonation velocity is of large impor-
According to Atchison & Pugliese (1964), at USBM, tance for the blasting result and fragmentation and
the detonation pressure is the most important therefore both these parameters must be included
factor for the calculation of the maximum ampli- in a weight strength formula.
tude of the vibrations in the vicinity of the explo- The borehole pressure increases from zero up
sive in the surrounding rock mass. This zone is to maximum pressure and thereafter the pres-
also called the shock zone. The amplitude of sure decays and is believed to be useful for frag-
the ground vibrations at larger distances from mentation until the blast gases have expanded
the blasthole are mainly determined by the total about 10–20 times. After that it is believed that
amount of charge in the blasthole. When several the influence from blast gases on fragmentation
holes are used with delays between the blastholes, is negligible. This is also mentioned in the paper
that hole that have the largest amount of explo- by Granlund and has also been noticed by other
sive will determine the maximum amplitude of researchers. If the surface under the pressure ver-
the ground vibrations. The detonation pressure sus time curve is calculated, the maximum useful
pd (MPa) is the pressure that acts in the reaction energy for fragmentation can be calculated. The
zone of the explosive and this zone is called the borehole pressure versus time is also dependent on
Chapman-Jouget plane. The detonation pressure the properties of the surrounding rock mass.
in this zone can approximately be determined by It would be very interesting if borehole pressure
the following formula, and its change with time could be measured in the
field to a low cost. However, cheap measurement
pd ≈ ρecd210 −6 (3) devices do not exist on the market today.
2 If we know the pressure-time curve for a spe-
cific blasthole, we would also know the influence
where ρe is the density of the explosive in kg/m3 and of the explosive on the rock mass or we could also
cd is the detonation velocity of the explosive in m/s. say that we have a fingerprint on how the explo-
The knowledge of the explosive density and deto- sive acts on the rock mass. The shape of such a
nation velocity is therefore necessary in a strength pressure-time curve is dependent on blasthole
formula for explosives. Both these parameters are diameter, stemming material and length, joint

frequency in the rock mass, burden, the crushing regarding explosive strength. According to my
ability of the rock in the vicinity of the blasthole. opinion Langefors weighting factor for heat of
Therefore the conclusion is that measurements explosion seams to be too large and should be
have to be undertaken for the actual used blasthole reduced to 2/3 for heat of explosion and 1/3 for
diameter, burden and stemming that is used in the gas volume.
fragmentation process. Based on this knowledge Granlund (2006) makes a parallel comparison
the single hole blasting in full scale was developed between two explosives used in the Boliden Aitik
and tested in a limestone quarry on Gotland, mine 20 years ago, Reolit, an aluminized water gel
Sweden in 1986 (Rustan & Nie 1987). Explosives explosive made sensitive by trotyl, and the emul-
can therefore first be classified after being tested sion explosive used today Titan. If the traditional
in single hole blasts in full scale at that blasthole calculations are done according to Langefors for-
diameter and burden that actually is going to be mula for weight strength the following values are
used in the field. reached, see Table 2.
The blasthole diameter, used at that time, was
250 mm and the blast plan was 7.5 m burden
2.6 Gas volume in Langefors weight strength
and 9.5 m spacing. If the bulk strength of Reolit
(Equation 1)
A6 is set to 1.00 the calculated strength of Titan
The gas volume produced by the explosive must would only be 0.89. If the explosives were going
be very interesting as a strength parameter because to be used in the same blast plan this would not
the larger the gas volume produced, the larger is the be possible. More holes would be needed if Titan
pressure that will act on the blasthole wall and the was going to be used and the cost for drilling and
larger the fragmentation effect will be on the sur- blasting would increase. Field tests showed how-
rounding rock mass. The gas volume produced is ever that Titan could be used in the ordinary blast
normally calculated theoretically at standard pres- plan, and also, due to different explosive densities
sure and temperature and this volume is different lower specific charge was achieved with Titan.
from the actual produced volume in the blasthole The specific charge for Titan was only 86% of
at higher temperature and pressure. Reolit A6 slurry. The conclusion is that Langefors
The gas volume produced by an explosive in full weight strength formula (Equation 1) is not appli-
scale can therefore not be determined by a small cable for explosives developed after the formula
scale lab tests. It is important for the blast gases was developed.
how fast they are developed and how long the gas Besides heat of explosion and gas volume in
pressure will stand in the blasthole. If the blast the Langefors formula, also detonation velocity
gases are produced very slowly the gases would
leak out through joints into the atmosphere and
less pressure will be left for fragmentation. Table 1. Comparison of properties between Dynamex A
The real produced gas volume could be deter- and ANFO (Brännfors 1973).
mined a little more accurate in a pond tests, under
water, because here the actual diameter of the Heat of explosion Gas volume at STP
explosive can be used. The volume of the produced Explosive (kJ/kg) (l/kg)
gas under water can here be determined. The vol-
ume of the gas bubble produced in the pond test Dynamex A 5125 655
ANFO 3895 975
can be measured and the volume is representative
of the volume of blast gas produced. The con- STP = standard temperature and pressure.
finement of the explosive detonated under water
is, however, different to that in rock blasting and
therefore these results are not fully representative
Table 2. Comparison of the strength of Reolit A6,
for blasting in rock.
trotyl slurry, used in the Boliden open pit Aitik mine
If the strength of Dynamex A and an ANFO— 20 years ago with the Titan emulsion explosive used
explosive are compared we will find that the today (Granlund 2006).
strength is about the same in spite the heat of
explosion is 32% larger for Dynamex A. The gas Heat of Gas volume
volume produced at STP is 49% larger for ANFO explosion at STP Density
compared to Dynamex A according to Brännfors Explosive (MJ/kg) (l/kg) (kg/m3)
(1973), see Table 1.
The only explanation why ANFO is so strong Reolit A6 4.52 638 1450
is that the gas volume is 49% higher than for
Titan 3.20 908 1250
Dymamex A. Therefore heat of explosion emulsion
and gas volume are both important properties

and explosive density must be included. There 4. Throw. Maximum throw and the movement of
are therefore four explosive parameters we must the gravity point for the round and how this
include in the new proposed formula. There is depends on the burden.
however no simple interrelation between these four 5. Composition of blast gases and its dependency
parameters. If that would be the case, it would be on blasthole diameter, stemming, water content
possible to exclude some parameters. General we in the rock mass and confinement etc.
could, however, say that an increase of any of this 6. Backbreak and its dependency on burden.
parameters will increase the weight strength but 7. Angle of breakage and its dependency on burden.
there are upper limits as shown earlier for the den- 8. Breakage at the bottom of the bench and its
sity (dead pressing of explosive). dependency on burden.
9. Critical burden.
2.7 Conclusion For a certain blast, it is important to determine
The relation between heat of explosion, gas vol- which of the parameters are the most impor-
ume, detonation velocity and explosive density and tant. A property of an explosive good for some
the blast result in the form of fragmentation has to result parameter could be bad for other result
be examined in different rock types with different parameters.
acoustic impedances. Single hole blasting in full To believe that small scale tests could give us
scale (SHB-FS) is recommended for that purpose, the full answer are in many cases not possible and
see section 3.2 in this paper. A final weight strength the earlier mentioned single hole blasting method
formula must therefore include all the four men- in lab scale, SHB-LS, was therefore used to com-
tioned parameters. pare with the results from single hole blasting in
full scale SHB-FS (Rustan & Vutukuri 1983, Rus-
tan & Nie 1987). The latter method is described
more in detail in the following. Many result
3 THE BASIC MECHANISM OF ROCK parameters were found similar in model and full
At rock blasting we have three important parts
regarding the ability to fragment rock. 3.2 Single hole blasting in full scale, SHB-FS
1. The properties of the explosive and how these In full scale blasting tests with multiple blastholes
properties influence the detonation pressure. is complicated because many parameters can be
This determines the amplitude of the shock varied like burden, spacing, delay times etc and this
wave in the crushing zone close to the explo- will affect the fragmentation. It is therefore neces-
sive and the borehole pressure that determines sary to have a simple standardized test method
the fragmentation process and throw of the and therefore single hole blasting with only a vari-
detached material. ation of burden was selected as the test method.
2. The effectiveness of the energy transformation Normally the tests should be made in a vertical
from the explosive to the rock mass is important bench face and blasted to a smooth surface. These
for ground vibrations and fragmentation. kinds of tests were first performed at the Storugns
3. The rock mass reaction on the shock wave in the limestone quarry in 1986 on Gotland. The quarry
near field zone and the outgoing pressure wave belonged to Nordkalk AB. The earlier mentioned
in the surrounding rock massive. result parameters 1 to 9, but not blast gas volume,
were measured at blasting with ANFO-explosive
in 95 mm diameter holes.
3.1 Definition of the result parameters of interest The result was very useful for understanding
in rock blasting the working ability of an explosive in rock and
According to my opinion it is not possible to clas- to explain for the blaster in the field the blasting
sify explosives after a simple numerical scale. One process and how it is affected by the size of the
reason is that there are several different result burden. The idea was that the explosive manu-
parameters when blasting in rock. Here some are facturers in collaboration with the customers
mentioned: should test the explosives with this method and
use it as a routine test method. The logical conse-
1. Fragmentation and its dependency on burden. quences of such a change in test method implies
2. Ground vibrations and its dependency on that personal working in the lab should go out
burden. in the field and do more tests there instead of
3. Air pressure waves and its dependency on working in the lab. This would have vitalized the
burden. whole civil explosive manufacturing industry.

Known single hole blasting tests in full scale were where E is the Young’s modulus of the rock in (Pa)
so far undertaken by Nitro Nobel in Sweden, by and υ is Poisson’s ratio dimensionless, and ρr is the
Mohanty in Canada and by Bilgin et al. (1993) density of the rock mass in kg/m3. Therefore all the
in Turkey. three parameters given in Equation 5 are impor-
The start to use SHB-FS test could be regarded tant parameters at rock blasting.
as a paradigm shift in the history of development The P-wave velocity cp is roughly a measure of
of explosives, because this test method would be the strength of the rock mass, because the velocity
the only possible way to classify explosives in its is affected not only by the intact rock properties
used blasthole diameter, confinement, saturation but also the joint frequency and their conditions in
of rock mass and geometry used at blasting. The the rock mass. The fact that the density of rock is
cost for testing of explosives would increase but important in rock blasting is very natural because
in the long run the method would give the best it is needed more energy to move something with
answers to what we are seeking for. high density than a lower density.
The explosive manufacturers should therefore, At rock blasting in Swedish bed rock, the rock
in collaboration with blasting research institutes, density is normally not varying much and therefore
take part in SHB-FS tests. The explosive data mainly the variation in P-wave velocity is determin-
gained in testing of explosive properties in the ing the blastability of the rock. It is relative simple
lab can only be used for a rough relative indica- to determine the sound velocity in the field. Rock
tion of the strength of explosives and cannot be with joints has a lower P-wave velocity than a rock
used in sail against customers regarding the result mass with few joints.
parameters 1 to 9. The model tests have also given a base data to
develop unique empirical formulas, e.g. of how the
critical burden Be (mm) depends on the acoustic
3.3 Single hole blasting test in lab, SHB-LS
impedance of the rock I (kg/m2s) and how the tan-
At Luleå University of technology single hole blast- gent of the angle of the size distribution curve n
ing tests were undertaken already in 1983 in dia- for the rock material in a double logarithmic sieve
mond cut blocks with the size 100 × 300 × 300 mm analysis diagram (Accumulated material passing
(Rustan & Vutukuri 1983). The blastholes were versus square mesh size) depends on the rock mass
drilled perpendicular to the blocks (blasthole acoustic impedance I (kg/m2s) etc.
length 100 mm) so the geometry was more like
slab blasting than bench blasting where we have
a confined bottom. Detonating cord was used Bc ≈ 68.5 − 1.69 ⋅10 −6 I (6)
as an explosive and the burden was varied up to −9

and over the critical burden. Tests were originally n = 0.54e33 ⋅ 10 I

made in six different rock and rock like materials 5.18 ⋅10 ⋅ I 0.588
and the result from blasting in Storugns limestone k50 = (8)
q 2,14
was very similar to that later on found in SHB-FS
tests in Storugns limestone quarry on Gotland in θ = 131 + 6.98 ⋅ 10 −3 c p + (0.580 − 3 ⋅ 10 −4 ⋅ c p )B (9)
Sweden. The following parameters of the blocks
were determined: compressive strength, ten-
sile strength, fracture toughness, shear strength, Bc is the critical burden in (mm) and I is the acous-
P-wave velocity, Young’s modulus and Poisson’s tic impedance in (kg/m2s), n is the fragmentation
ratio. The tested materials were four Swedish rock gradient (dimensionless), k50 is the mean fragment
types Kallax gabbro, Öjeby granite, Storugns lime- size in (mm), θ is the angle of breakage in degrees,
stone, Henry quartzite and two artificial materials cp is the P-wave velocity in (m/s) and B is the bur-
Siporex (a light concrete similar in structure to a den in (mm).
volcanic tuff) and magnetite concrete. The frag- The importance of the acoustic impedance ratio
mentation was best be correlated to the acoustic explosive/rock has also been shown in model tests
impedance of the rock mass where the acoustic by Leinz & Thum (1970), see Figure 1.
impedance is the product of sound velocity (P- As explosive, a mixture of PETN and wax was
wave velocity) in the rock mass cp (m/s) multiplied used in the lab tests. The properties of the rock
by the rock density ρr (kg/m3). The sound velocity material were varied according to Figure 1, from
in a specific material can be determined by the fol- a low strength rock like “marl” to a high strength
lowing derived formula, rock like “basalt”. A small deviation from the
acoustic impedance theory could here be observed
because the energy transfer increased even if the
E⎡ 1− υ ⎤
cp = (5) impedance ratio explosive/rock is less than 1, see

ρr ⎣ (1 + υ )(1 − 2υ ) ⎥⎦ left diagram in Figure 1.

Rock types tested: 1) Basalt, 2) Limestone, 3 Greywacke, 4) Granite 1, 5) Granite 2, 6) Sandstone, 7) Tuff and 8) Marl.

Figure 1. Left diagram: The amount of energy in % (range 20–70%) transferred from the explosive to rock versus the
acoustic impedance ratio for explosive/rock (range 0–6). Right diagram: The amount of energy in % (range 20–70%)
transferred from the explosive to rock versus the dynamic E-modulus (range 0–1200 × 103 kp/cm2). The two diagrams are
based on cylindrical test samples and with a linear charge placed in the centre of the cylinder (Leinz & Thum 1970).

4 IMPORTANT PARAMETERS eliminate one of the parameters. When studying 12

FOR EXPLOSIVE STRENGTH different explosives given by Persson et al. (1994,
table 4.12) and a variation of the relative heat of
In the following the parameters important for the explosion ratio from 0.8 to 1.35 or 169% and a
explosive strength regarding its fragmentation abil- variation of gas volume ratio was found from 0.7
ity in rock will be analysed. The weathering of the to 1.05 or 150% the correlation between the two
rock type and joint conditions is very important parameters was not enough for an elimination of
for the real outcome of fragmentation in the field. one of the parameters.
We might introduce a new term for the combined Normally there is also a tendency that a higher
effect of explosive strength and rock strength, and explosive density is associated with a higher heat of
to distinguish it from weight strength, I suggest it is explosion or influence of rock mass measured as a
called the effective weight strength of the explosive. strain energy factor see Persson et al. (1994, table
The parameters needed in such formula are ana- 4.11). A correlation was found, based on 21 values,
lysed regarding its possible variation as follows. but the scatter was too large to eliminate one of the
two parameters.
4.1 Analysis of explosives parameter variation Another hypothesis was that the detonation
velocity can be correlated with heat of explosion.
1. Velocity of detonation may vary from about By using the 21 explosives data given by Persson
1000 to 8000 m/s—a variation of 800% (Wetter- et al. (1994, table 4.14) we can conclude that this is
holm 1959). not possible because of too large scatter.
2. Gas volume, may vary from about 420 to A good relation was however found between
975 l/kg a variation of 232%. heat of explosion and the density of explosive for
3. Heat of explosion, or energy, may vary from 13 explosives according to Persson et al. (1994,
about 2650 to 5125 kJ/kg a variation of 193%. table 4.14) and if this is valid for most used explo-
4. Density of explosive may vary from about sives it would be possible to eliminate one of the
900–1500 kg/m3 a variation of 167%. six parameters in Equation 10.
There is a tendency that when the heat of explo-
4.2 Rock parameter variation
sion decreases for an explosive, the gas volume will
increase. If there is a good correlation between 1. Low acoustic impedance range is defined from
these two parameters it should be possible to 0 to 5 × 106 kg/m2s. The lowest value found

so far is 1.12 × 106 kg/m2s and this value was For comparison of the fragmentation effect of
measured in light weight concrete which in its different explosives, a common used water resistant
structure is like a soft volcanic lava. Most rock explosive must be used as a reference explosive and
types in Sweden will be in the medium acous- I would therefore suggest ANFO as a reference
tic range or 10 × 106 kg/m2s to 15 × 106 kg/m2s explosive. It can be found all over the world, but it
and this makes a variation of 50%. The high- has to be charged carefully into watertight plastic
est value found so far is 21.6 × 106 kg/m2s for sleeve to avoid damage of the explosive by water.
Divrigi hematite in Turkey. This makes a total A test procedure for single hole blasting is sug-
variation range of 1929% (Rustan 1998). gested in Appendix.
2. Rock mass density in situ could vary from 800
to 4900 kg/m3 or 613%.
3. P-wave velocity (sound wave velocity) could 5 THE USE OF COMPUTER CODES
vary in rock from 1000 to 5000 m/s, a variation TO DETERMINE EXPLOSIVE
of 500%. STRENGTH
With these enormous variations in parameter The derivation of computer codes for calculation
values it is fully clear that a weight strength defi- of explosive strength is based on chemical and
nition of explosive strength by Langefors is not physical laws. Normally the models are, however,
enough to make a prognosis of fragmentation. It not tested if they are correct for a large number of
must be combined with the rock properties given explosives and rock masses and in a large amount
above. of different blasthole diameters. The codes are
I would therefore suggest the following princi- normally used to calculate the detonation veloc-
pal formula for calculation of the resulting effect ity and how it varies with the blasthole diameter
of explosive in the rock mass. Let us call this the and different confinement for a certain explosive.
effective weight strength. The following principal The work with computer codes is, according to
formula is suggested seff. my opinion, lacking a clear research strategy. For
example the blasting process needs to be described
QαVg β ρeγ cdλ by different sub models and each sub model has
seff = (10) to be tested according its accuracy. First after this
ρrε cϕp
have been done, the sub models can be combined
to model the the explosive action.
Where Q is explosive heat in (MJ/kg), Vg is the gas In the formulas used today, the rock mass is
volume produced (m3/kg) at STP, ρe is the density of regarded as a compressible media but close to the
the explosive in (kg/m3), cd is the detonation veloc- blasthole wall it is a plastic crushing zone of the rock.
ity of the explosive in (m/s), ρr is the density of the This zone will act as a damping zone on the shock
rock mass in (kg/m3), and finally cP is the longitu- waves and this has to be modelled if the final result
dinal wave velocity in the rock mass in (m/s). The should be correct. Such work is now performed by
exponents must be determined from field tests by ITASCA (Ouchterlony 2006).
multiple regression analysis. The effective weight At the Fragblast 8 Symposium in Santiago,
strength is the combined effect of explosive and Chile, the last news regarding the development of
rock properties under the high stress interaction by computer codes for explosive calculations “Vixen
blasting. The numerical value should e.g. be used Detonation Code” was presented. The code was
in formulas for the calculation of mean fragment developed by Dyno Nobel in cooperation with
size k50 and the fragmentation gradient n (the slope African Explosive Limited (Cunningham et al.
of the fragmentation curve in a double logarithmic 2006). The model is calculating the detonation
sieve analysis diagram (amount of material passing velocity and its dependency of blasthole diam-
versus the square mesh size of the sieve). eter and confinement and the borehole pressure
Totally there are therefore needed 6 parameters variation with time and these parameters are used
to describe the effective weight strength in rock to calculate fragmentation of the rock mass by a
fragmentation, instead of the two parameters PFC3D material model of the rock mass (a three
defined by Langefors given in Equation 1, namely dimensional particle flow model of the rock mass).
heat of explosion and gas volume. Cunningham is of the opinion that the code can
Rock blasting is not a precise science because characterize a large group of explosives and that
in the field, it is difficult to make tests where the it is today a powerful and practical working tool.
parameters are kept constant. The most difficult Numerical modelling will be the future but
parameter to control is the detonation velocity, for the sake of understanding rock blasting in
and especially when water sensitive explosives are a pedagogic way we must include the relevant
used. parameters as shown in Equation 10.

6 CONCLUSIONS − The new effective weight strength formula will
be a powerful and pedagogic tool to teach stu-
− It is not possible to classify the strength of an dents which are the most important parameters
explosive in lab- or half scale because the strength for calculating the effective weight strength in
is dependent of many other factors at the use of full scale blasting.
the explosive like blasthole diameter, confinement
of blasthole, packing degree of explosive, density
of rock, P-wave velocity of rock and water con- REFERENCES
tent in the rock mass.
− It is also not possible to rank explosives after Atchison, T.C. & Pugliese, J.M. 1964. Comparative stud-
some scale regarding the explosive influence in ies of explosives in limestone. USBM RI 6395.
rock because there are so many different result Bergman, O.R., Wu, F.C. & Edl, J.W. 1974. Model rock
parameters at blasting that might be of interest. blasting measures effect of delays and hole patterns
You have to know what result parameter is the on rock fragmentation. Engineering and Mining J. 175
most important. (June): 124–127.
− A new principal formula has been suggested Bilgin, H.A., Paşamehmetoğlu, A.G., & Özkahraman, H.T.
in the paper for the calculation of the effec- 1993. Optimum burden determination and fragmenta-
tion evaluation by full scale slab blasting. Proc. 4th Int.
tive weight strength which here is defined as Symp. on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, Vienna, 5–8
the combined effect of explosive and rock mass July, pp. 337–344.
strength. The formula needs 6 parameters and Brännfors, S. (ed.). 1973. Bergsprängningsteknik. Stock-
to the already suggested and used parameters holm: Esselte Studium. (In Swedish).
by Langefors explosion heat and gas volume Cunningham, C.V.B. 1983. The Kuz-Ram model for pre-
the following four parameters has to be added; diction of fragmentation from blasting. Proc. 1st Int.
detonation velocity, explosive density, rock Symp. on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, Luleå, Swe-
density and P-wave velocity. It would be fine if den, 22–26 August, pp. 438–453.
the detonation velocity and its dependency of Cunningham, C.V.B., Braithwaite, M. & Parker, I. 2006.
Vixen Detonation Codes: Energy input for the High
the blasthole diameter could be included in the Stress Blasting Model (HSBM). Proc. 8th Int. Symp.
formula. on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, Santiago, Chile,
− There is a relation between heat of explosion 7–11 May.
and explosive density and it might be perhaps Granlund, L. 2006. Viktstyrka, Energi, Gasvolym
possible in the future to eliminate one of these och VOD—passé?! (Weight strength, gas volume
two parameters. and VOD—passé?! Sprängnytt 1, Vol. 20 April. (In
− P-wave velocity can be calculated if Young’s Swedish).
modulus Poisson’s ratio and the rock density are Leinz, W. & Thum, W. 1970. Ermittlung und Beurleitung
known. der Sprengarbeit von Gestein auf der Grundlage des
spezifischen Sprengenergieaufwandes. Westdeutscher
− Resources should be focused on finding accu- Verlag, Köln und Opladen. Forschungsbericht des
rate and simple methods to measure borehole Landes Nordrhein-Westfahlen, Nr 2118.
pressure during long time in full scale. The Ouchterlony, F. 2006. Personal communication, October
knowledge gained by measurement of borehole 2006 and December 2008.
pressure should be used to develop more accu- Persson, P.A, Holmberg, R. & Lee, J. 1994. Rock Blast-
rate models to calculate borehole pressure and ing and Explosives Engineering. Boca Raton, FL: CRC
its dependency on time. Press.
− More SHB-FS (single hole blasting tests in Rustan, A. & Vutukuri, V.S. 1983. The influence from
full scale) must be done under controlled con- specific charge, geometric scale and physical proper-
ties of homogenous rock on fragmentation. Proc. 1st
ditions and with those hole diameters which Int. Symp. on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting, Luleå,
are interesting in full scale blasts. These tests Sweden, 22–26 August, pp. 115–142.
have to be undertaken with different explosives Rustan, A. & Nie, S.L. 1987. New method to test rock
and extreme variations of heat of explosion breaking properties of explosives in full scale. Proc.
and explosive gas volume, detonation veloc- 2nd Int. Symp. on Rock Fragmentation by Blasting,
ity, explosive density, rock density, and P-wave Keystone, Colorado, 23–28 August, pp. 36–47.
velocity in different rock types and with extreme Rustan, A. (ed.). 1998. Rock Blasting Terms and Sym-
variation of rock acoustic impedance. Thereby bols. A dictionary of symbols and terminology in rock
a data bank is achieved over different explosives blasting and related areas like drilling, mining and rock
mechanics. Rotterdam: Balkema.
and its influence on surrounding rock mass. Wetterholm, A. 1959. Explosives, Charging, Firing.
The result from these test blasts can later on be In K.H. Fraenkel (ed.), Manual on Rock Blasting.
used for development of a new effective weight Vol. 3, Ch. 16-01: 14. Atlas Copco AB, Stockholm
strength formula and more precise computer and Sanvikens Jernverks AB, Sandviken. Stockholm:
codes. Esselte AB.

APPENDIX 3. The stemming length should preferably be that
one actually being used in the pit or quarry.
Suggested method for testing new explosives
Stemming length in different rock types may
by single hole blasting in full scale (shb-fs)
vary dependent on the strength of rock mass
from 12 to 30 times the blasthole diameter
Goal (Rustan 1998). Stemming length and type of
The purpose of single hole explosive strength stemming should be noted and presented.
blasting is to find primarily the rock mass frag- Coarse material >15 mm should be used as
mentation properties and how it depends on the stemming because it is more effective. The size
combination of explosive and rock properties. distribution of the stemming material should
For the sake of comparison between different be presented.
explosives and rock types it is necessary to do the 4. Initiation should be made at the bottom of the
test in a manner that is standardized. New explo- blasthole and the primer strength and weight in
sives should at least be tested in the typical rock kg should be noted and presented in the result.
types where they are going to be used but testing
in rock masses with a large variation of acoustic
impedances is preferred because of the full under- The following measurements should be done:
standing of how the rock mass acoustic impedance 1. Rock mass properties must be recorded accord-
influences the fragmentation of the rock mass. The ing to the RMR or Q-system. This will include
term rock mass is used here instead of rock type mapping of the rock structure on the vertical
because the weathering of a certain rock type may bench face and also on the top of the bench if it
change the fragmentation properties completely. is cleaned before blasting.
Sometimes suitable rock masses for a wide acoustic 2. Measurement of fragmentation by sieving or
impedance range may not be found in the own coun- manual digital analysis. The boulders must be
try and therefore international cooperation may be measured by hand.
necessary for testing in wished rock masses. 3. Measurement of broken volume and angle of
breakage and calculation of the real specific
Performance charge.
1. The actual hole diameter that is needed in the 4. Measurement of weight of explosive used in in
open pit or quarry should be used. The single the bottom, column of the blasthole and the
blasthole must be vertical and if necessary sub primer. The column charge must have the same
drilling should be used and the length noted. (In explosive as the bottom charge, because only
some quarries sub drilling is not needed because one explosive can be tested in one blast.
a weakness plane may be at the bottom of the 5. Measurement of back break, crater diam-
bench). The actual blasthole diameter must be eter and volume of crater at the top of the
measured, because nominal diameters could be blasthole.
changed by the wear of the bit. Total amount of 6. Measurement of maximum throw length and
explosive and primer charged must be measured direction and the gravity point of the rock pile
and noted. after blasting.
2. The blasthole must be charged by only one kind 7. Measurement of ground vibrations, preferable
of explosive, the tested explosive, or the refer- at half the bench height, behind the blast in ver-
ence explosive (ANFO). The letter explosive tical boreholes at four different distances e.g. 5,
has been chosen because it can be manufactured 10, 20 and 40 m behind the blasthole. Measure-
on site all around the world. A plastic sleeve ments inside the rock is to prefer compared to
(important) must be used inside the blasthole on the top surface because of more reliable data
to avoid excessive explosives penetrating into will be gathered.
surrounding caves or open cracks in the rock 8. If possible high speed video of the blast should
mass. be made to study the throw of the rock mass.