Skip to Main Content
Strong circumstantial evidence suggests that lightning has initiated 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.