As most readers are aware, Itasca is proud of its accomplishments in consulting, contract research and software development. We believe that these three activities complement each other in a unique and important way. A good example of this synergy is represented by the recent commercialization and public release of MINEDW. MINEDW has been the main numerical groundwater flow analysis tool for Itasca Denver for the last twenty years, and it is used at more than 50 mines throughout the world for solving mining-related hydrogeological problems in diverse hydrogeologic and climatic conditions. Details on MINEDW can be found in the software section below.

In other software news, we are proud to report that due to increasing demand, we added extra sections of FLAC and FLAC3D to our annual spring training courses. These popular courses provide an opportunity for clients to get hands-on training and meet Itasca engineers, as well as other users of our software. The next training courses will be held in the fall. We hope you’ll consider attending.

Additionally, Itasca Consulting Group is conducting a survey to gauge interest in conducting code training courses outside of their Minneapolis headquarters. You can take the survey here.

— Loren Lorig, Chief Executive Officer


Hybrid Stress Blast Model

Since 2001, Itasca has been a member of the Hybrid Stress Blast Model (HSBM) project with the goal of developing a numerical model of the rock blasting process. The software created by Itasca, called Blo-Up, uses a unique combination of continuous and discontinuous numerical methods to represent the key processes occurring during blasting.

Sample output from Blo-Up showing the predicted muckpile shape resulting from a 20 hole bench blast.

Briefly, Blo-Up is a three-component coupled model of rock blasting; a coupled modeling approach was chosen because no single numerical technique was found to adequately describe all the physical phenomena occurring during blasting. The three components are (i) a continuum geomechanics model for the early-time detonation and near-field crushing; (ii) a brittle discrete element model for stress wave propagation, fracturing and burden movement; and (iii) a gas product model for burden acceleration by gas expansion, fracture flow and atmospheric venting.

Itasca presently is involved in the HSBM Validation Project, which seeks to prove the quality of Blo-Up model predictions in real world blasting. Field-scale bench and underground blasting tests currently are being used to validate and improve the model. The goal of the software is to provide blasting engineers a high-quality predictive model of blast outcomes. Application areas include mine to mill optimization, grade movement predictions and pit wall damage studies.

Read more on the HSBM project:

Sellers, E., J. Furtney, I. Onederra and G. Chitombo. (2012) “Improved Understanding of Explosive – Rock Interactions Using the Hybrid Stress Blasting Model,” in SHIRMS 2012 (Proceedings of the Second Southern Hemisphere International Rock Mechanics Symposium, South Africa, May, 2012).

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The release of FLAC3D 5.0 is fast approaching. Users of 4.0 have the opportunity to pre-purchase the upgrade to version 5.0 now with substantial savings. The new version features speed increases of up to 20%, faster structural element logic due to multi-threaded calculation capability, interactive 2D extruder, increased exporting capability, increased plotting functions, FISH improvements and more. A complete description of what’s new is available. In addition, the Itasca website features movies, and an extensive publication list that will help you become acquainted with FLAC3D, its capabilities and its soon-to-be-released new version.

Current Updates:









MINEDW simulates open-pit and underground mining for dewatering design and input to slope-stability analysis, excavation and subsequent pit-lake infilling to represent different mining schedules, as well as the interaction between groundwater and surface water. MINEDW is different from other codes used for mine dewatering in that it was written especially for its intended purpose rather than being adopted from codes written for other purposes (e.g., water supply or basin analysis). Unlike other codes with rigid meshes, the MINEDW mesh can collapse according to mine plans to replicate the ever-changing dimensions of the actively-mined pit. MINEDW is also unique among flow codes in its ability to easily simulate mine geometry, hydraulic property changes, and active drainage, such as wells and horizontal drains. Its three-dimensional graphics allow for visualization of geology, the model domain, pit geometry, groundwater heads and pore pressures at various time stages. The MINEDW user-friendly interface helps make it easy to set up a model (i.e., create the mesh, and define properties and boundary conditions).

Cross sections of the MINEDW model domain simulating open-pit excavation a) before mining, and b) during mining. Click here or on the image to enlarge in a new window.

Visit our website to learn more about MINEDW, or better yet, contact Itasca Denver directly at 303-969-8033 or email at

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Itasca Consulting Group, Inc.

Our April/May training courses have finished. In order to accommodate the overwhelming interest in FLAC and FLAC3D we added a second course for each code. We will hold another set of introductory training courses in October – watch our training page for dates, pricing and registration information to be available soon.

Training Survey

We receive requests from time to time to conduct our software training classes in venues other than our Minneapolis headquarters. Should we receive enough interest, we would be happy to put together training classes in other regions, such as the East or West Coast, USA. Click here to indicate your interest in attending a regional software training class.

Itasca Consultants GmbH

Itasca Consultants GmbH is hosting an introductory training course for FISH in Gelsenkirche, Germany this June. See Itasca Consultants GmbH’s website for details and registration.

FISH – June 6

Itasca Consultants GmbH also has Itasca info days at the following locations:

ITASCA info day, Technical University Vienna, Austria, June 15, 2012
ITASCA info day, University Freiberg, Germany, November 15, 2012

Itasca Houston, Inc.

Itasca Houston, Inc. is hosting petroleum geomechanics training courses in Houston, Texas this June. See Itasca Houston’s training page for details and registration.

General Geomechanics for Petroleum Applications - June 11-12
Hydraulic Fracturing for Unconventional Resources - June 13-15
5-day Combined Course - June 11-15

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Senior Engineer

Itasca is seeking a Senior Engineer in its Minneapolis office. Itasca is a growing international engineering company. The successful candidate will be responsible mainly for directing numerical analysis project work done by others and would interact with both Itasca engineers and clients on a regular basis. The projects are world-class providing exceptional professional opportunities working with highly regarded staff in our U.S. and international offices. Some travel may be involved. The candidate should have a strong background (approx. 5 to 10 years) in geomechanics modeling with Itasca codes in mining applications and a demonstrated capability to mentor staff and direct projects. All candidates must have a Ph.D. degree in a related discipline. Please send a cover letter and resume to and include the reference number ICG12-01 in the e-mail subject line.

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Itasca will be attending:
9th International Conference on Acid Rock Drainage (ICARD) – May 21-25 in Ottawa, Canada. Presentation by Braden Hanna.
Eurock 2012 Symposium – May 28-30 in Stockholm, Sweden. Booth and presentations.
MassMin – June 10-14 in Sudbury, Ont. Canada. Booth and presentations.
ARMA – June 24-27 in Chicago, IL. Booth and presentations.
JNGG 2012 – July 4-5 in Bordeaux, France. Booth and presentations

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Recent Staff Publications

Furtney, J., E. Sellers and I. Onederra. (2012) “Simple Models for Gas Flow and Burden Movement During Blasting,” presented at the 38th ISEE Annual Conference (Nashville, February 2012).

Garza-Cruz, T. V., and M. Nakagawa. (2012) “On a Hybrid Method to Characterize the Mechanical Behavior of Thin Hollow Glass Microspheres,” Gran. Matter, January, DOI 10.1007/s10035-012-0315-6.

King, M. S., W. S. Pettitt, J. R. Haycox and R. P. Young. (2012) “Acoustic Emissions Associated with the Formation of Fracture Sets in Sandstone Under Polyaxial Stress Conditions,” Geophys. Prospect., 60(1), 93-102, doi:10.1111 / j.1365-2478.2011.00959.x.

Pierce, M. E., and C. Fairhurst. (2012) “Synthetic Rock Mass Applications in Mass Mining,” in Harmonising Rock Engineering and the Environment (Proceedings, 12th ISRM Int. Congress, Beijing, October 2011), pp. 109-114, Q. Qian and Y. Zhou, Eds. London: CRC Press.

Sellers, E., J. Furtney and I. Onederra. (2012) “Field-scale modelling of blasting in Kimberlite using the Hybrid Stress Blasting Model,” presented at the 38th ISEE Annual Conference (Nashville, February 2012).

Sjöberg, J., F. Perman, C. Quinteiro, L. Malmgren, C. Dahnér-Lindkvist and M. Boskovic. (2012) “Numerical Analysis of Alternative Mining Sequences to Minimise the Potential for Fault Slip Rockbursting,” in Deep Mining 2012 (Proceedings, Sixth Int. Seminar on Deep and High Stress Mining, Perth, March 2012), pp. 357-372, Y. Potvin, Ed. Perth: Australian Centre for Geomechanics.

A listing of the 2011 staff publications can be found here.

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