Dr. Karl Zipf


Phone: 303.3842371

Office: BB237 

Email: rzipf@mines.edu


Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. Mining Engineering, 1988
University of Arizona, M.S. Mining Engineering, 1978
Lehigh University, B.S. Civil Engineering and B.S. in Geological Sciences, 1975

Dr. Zipf is an experienced research engineer with expertise in health and safety issues in mining, gas explosion experimentation, structural testing and analysis, atmospheric monitoring in coal mines, numerical modeling in rock mechanics, fracture mechanics of rock, and ground control in mining. Notable research accomplishments include –

  • Providing the scientific basis for new coal mine sealing regulations.
  • Designing and constructing the world’s largest gas explosion test facility for studying detonation in methane-air mixtures.
  • Designing a new structural testing and analysis procedure for coal mine seal design using a 3-million-pound test frame.

Dr. Zipf joined CSM in early 2015 after retiring from federal service at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the former US Bureau of Mines where he conducted research on numerous mine safety issues. While at NIOSH, Dr. Zipf conducted research on methane-air explosions, structural testing, atmospheric monitoring, and structural design of seals. He developed structural design criteria for built-in-place refuge alternatives to replace underground refuge chambers. He was lead author or contributing author of reports that influenced mine safety regulations such as coal mine seals and built-in-place refuge alternatives. He also conducted ground control studies of highwall mining, multiple seam mining, and input parameters for numerical methods applied to rock mechanics.

Prior to federal service with NIOSH, Dr. Zipf taught Mining Engineering at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia and the University of Missouri in Rolla. Earlier in his career, Dr. Zipf worked as a consulting engineer with Morrison-Knudsen Co. and Wahler Associates on numerous geotechnical studies for oil shale, coal and gold mines. He developed his interest in the industry after working as a miner at the former Bethlehem Steel Co. Grace Mine, an underground iron ore mine, and the former Amax Climax Mine, an underground molybdenum ore mine.

Zipf, R.K., “Engineering practices for safe, inert atmosphere in sealed areas of coal mines,” Mining Engineering, accepted, in press, 2015.
Mohamed, K.M. and R.K. Zipf, “Testing and analysis of cement foam materials for coal mine seals,” Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, Vol. 336, pp. 467-482, 2014.
Zipf, R.K., Gamezo, V.N., Mohamed, K.M., Oran, E.S., Kessler, D.A., “Deflagration-to-detonation transition in natural gas-air mixtures,” Combustion and Flame, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.combustflame.2014.02.002, available online, 12 pp., March 2014.
Thimons, E.D., Bauer, E.R., Sapko, M.J., Zipf, R.K., Schall, J., Rubinstein, E., Finfinger, G.L., Trackemas, J.D., Patts, L.D., LaBranche, N., “Recommendations to facilitate the use of built-in-place refuge alternatives in mines,” Report of Investigations 9XXX, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, 106 pp, 2014.
McMahon, G.W., Rullan-Rodriguez, J.A., Holmer, M.S., Walker, R.E., O’Daniel, J., Britt, J.R., and Zipf, R.K., “Structural Analysis and Design of Seals for Coal Mine Safety,” US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Report ERDC TR-13-DRAFT, 272 pp., 2014.
Zipf, R.K., Marchewka, W., Mohamed, K., Addis, J., and Karnack, F., “Tube bundle system for monitoring of coal mine atmosphere,” Mining Engineering, Vol. 65, No. 5, pp 57-63, 2013.
Zipf, R.K., Gamezo, V.N., Sapko, M.J., Marchewka, W.P., Mohamed, K.M., Oran, E.S., Kessler, D.A., Weiss, E.S., Addis, J.D., Karnack, F.A., Sellers, D.D., “Methane-Air Detonation Experiments at NIOSH Lake Lynn Laboratory,” Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, doi:10.1016/j.jlp.2011.05.003, available online, 8 pp., May 2011.
Zipf, R.K., M.J. Sapko and J.F. Brune, “Explosion Pressure Design Criteria for New Seals in U.S. Coal Mines”, NIOSH IC 9500, 76 pp. 2007.
Zipf, R.K., “Pillar Design to Prevent Collapse of Room-and-Pillar Mines”, Ch. 59 in Underground Mining Methods: Engineering Fundamentals and International Case Studies, W. Hustrulid and R. Bullock, Ed., Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Littleton, CO, pp. 493-511, 2001.

Licensed Professional Engineer in Colorado (# 24093)
Professional Engineers Exam Committee of SME – Chair 2004 and 2009.
National Society of Professional Engineers – 2003 Federal Engineer of the Year
NIOSH Alice Hamilton Award for Excellence in Occupational Safety and Health – 2008

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Last Updated: 08/04/2017 08:23:15