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Application of discrete element modelling in Mandai Project, Singapore

H.L. Ong ST Architects & Engineers K.H. Tan ST Architects & Engineers S.G. Chen ST Architects & Engineers

ABSTRACT: This paper presents the application of discrete element code (UDEC) in the Mandai project, Singapore. Firstly, the main considerations in the UDEC modeling are discussed. Special techniques to enable UDEC meet the requirements in the project are described. The geological condition is then briefed. Finally, typical case studies are carried out to show the overall procedure of the UDEC modeling in the project. 1 INTRODUCTION The Mandai project consists of many rock tunnels/caverns with various spans and small separation distance among the tunnels/caverns. The project is located in heavily fractured granite and, therefore, the discrete element code, UDEC, is employed to investigate the caverns stability at various critical locations. Many efforts have been put in the numerical investigation to meet the requirements of the project. E.g., the partial deformation having been occurred before the installation of rock support cannot be simulated by the original UDEC but it is made possible by developing programs in FISH language. The original UDEC is a two-dimensional program and cannot solve three-dimensional problems. By proposing the two -step modeling concept, two perpendicular tunnels can be modeled. This paper presents the application of discrete element code (UDEC) in the Mandai project, Singapore. Firstly, the main considerations in the UDEC modeling are discussed. The geological condition is then briefed. Finally, typical case studies are carried out to show the overall procedure of the UDEC modeling in the project. 2 CONSIDERATIONS IN UDEC MODELING As the UDEC is discontinuity-based two dimensional program, there are some aspects to be specially looked at such as modelling cycle, model size and joint geometry, and 3D effect modelling. 2.1 Modelling cycle Similar to other programs, the UDEC modeling is able to follow the construction procedure such as the generation of in situ stress, excavations and supports of multiple tunnels. Each stage in the modeling is actually an individual modeling upon the numerical convergence at the previous stage and requires reaching force equilibrium at the current stage. The save file can be used to transfer data to next stage. Some values can also be modified, e.g., setting zero deformation after the generation of in situ stress. The in situ stress distribution in jointed rock mass would not be uniform due to the presence of rock joints. The generation of the in situ stress can be performed in two ways. One is to adopt the trad itional way in which the equivalent in situ stress is applied to one horizontal side and one vertical side at the far field boundary while the another two sides of the model are fixed. This way takes a longer time to achieve numerical convergence to obtain the in situ stress in the rock mass. The better way is to employ the special feature in the UDEC in which the uniform in situ stress is directly input to the rock mass and a consolidation stage is followed until reaching force equilibrium. The stress remains and will be transferred to next stage. The deformation is reset to zero since no deformation is considered before excavations. Upon the generation of the in situ stress, the excavations and supports of multiple tunnels as well as service loads can be modeled. Care must be taken that the modeling at each stage starts only when the modeling at the previous stage is completely converged. Otherwise, unbalanced force will be trans-

ferred to the next stage to induce an inaccurate result. The UDEC is based on dynamic analysis by applying static relaxing damping to enforce force equilibrium to solve static problems. Two methods can be used in the UDEC to check whether numerical convergence is reached. One is to print the unbalanced force-time curve. Only when the curve tends to be horizontal as well as the unbalanced force becomes very small, the modeling can be considered converged. The another is to set several historical measurement points in the model to monitor the values changing with time. When all the historical curves turns to be horizontal, the modeling can be considered converged. 2.2 Model size and joint geometry The computational model would reflect the joint geometry but not be so large that the modeling becomes very difficult. 2.2.1 Model size and boundary condition Tunnels are always located in an infinite or semiinfinite region while the computational model has a limited size. In continuity-based numerical modeling, it is common to take the model size at least five times the tunnel dimension to satisfy the modeling accuracy. For UDEC modeling, the model size would be even bigger due to the presence of rock joints. However, a bigger model implies more rock joints being introduced and longer running time is needed. In fact, since the joint element (contacts) occupies more computer memory and thus the modeling with a big model becomes very difficult and even impossible. A usually adopted solution is to reduce the amount of the rock joints in the model by simplifying the joint geometry based on an equivalent concept. E.g., it is often used to enlarge the joint spacing, say one joint instead of ten joints, to represent actual joint geometry by inputting equivalent joint parameters. Another way often used is to keep the actual joint geometry at closer area and treats the rock mass at farther distance as a continuous medium. It sounds reasonable as joints at farther distance have less contribution but it makes the mesh generation uneconomical to waste running time. The better way might be to employ the hybrid DEM/BEM scheme proposed by Brady et al. (1984 & 1987) that has been built in the UDEC. By employing the hybrid DEM/BEM scheme, the model can be much smaller. 2.2.2 Hybrid DEM/BEM scheme The hybrid DEM/BEM scheme is specially designed to model jointed rock mass in an infinite or semiinfinite region, which has been built in the UDEC.

The hybrid DEM/BEM adopts the manner similar to the FEM-based approach of the hybrid FEM/BEM scheme (Manolis & Beskos 1987). In the hybrid DEM/BEM scheme, the near area (DE region) is modeled by the DEM and farther zone (BE region) is modeled by the BEM as shown in Figure 1. The rock joints are introduced only in the DE region and the rock mass in BE region is treated as an equivalent continuous elastic medium.
Boundary elements (BE region)

DE region

Figure 1. Hybrid DEM/BEM scheme model. The scheme manipulates the direct boundary constraint equation to yield a stiffness matrix to find out the reactions at the interface of DE and BE regions. The reactions are then conversely applied to the interface nodes, which are emerged to the total force for each block in contact with the interface. The achieved interface nodal displacements and forces at the interface are then used to determine stresses and displacements at interior points in the DE domain. The capability of the hybrid DEM/BEM scheme was verified in modeling tunnel excavation in an infinite rock mass (Chen & Zhao 2001). 2.2.3 Joint geometry Many researchers prefer to use the commands JSET or VORONOI in the UDEC to generate regular joints due to lack of geological information and the operation being much easier. However, using these commands hardly reflects the actual geological condition of joint geometry. Site mapping indicates that rock joints are usually neither regular nor continuous and some random joints are always observed. Although the deviation of joints in strike and dip angle can also be taken into account, using such co mmands often produces some blocks with very small size that makes the modeling uneconomical and even crashing. Therefore, in practice, manual generation of joint geometry by experienced geologist is

strongly recommended to produce a reasonable and economical computational model. Care should be also taken in some artificial lines including excavation outline, material interface and some extra lines for easier mesh generation. These lines are not actual rock joints but can only be treated as joint elements in the UDEC model. In practice, a joint type so called glue joint having very high stiffness and no failure is applied to present these artificial lines. As stated previously, the blocks are subdivided into triangular finite difference elements to present the deformability of rock material. Practice found that the mesh size of the finite difference elements does not affect the modeling accuracy apparently comparing to continuity-based numerical methods as most deformation occurs at rock joints rather than rock material. This may be the reason that some discrete element methods treat blocks as rigid with no deformation (Cundall & Hart 1993). 2.3 3-D effect modeling The UDEC is a two -dimensional program and no 3D space can be physically involved. In practice, the rock supports (rockbolt and shotcrete) are usually applied after the excavation of the section and some deformation has occurred before the installation of the rock supports. It was found that at least 25% of full deformation (stress release) would have been released depending on the distance of the support section away from the working face (Chen et al. 2001). The 3-D effect for rock support can be achieved manually in the UDEC modeling by adjusting the stress release with programming of the built in FISH language. The concept follows the construction procedure that partial stress is released first and the remaining stress is then released after the rock support is installed. Taking into account the possible creep deformation of hard rock, 50% and 75% of stress is often assumed to release before the installation of rock support for shotcrete and rockbolts, respectively. On the other hand, UDEC is a two-dimensional code and the model represents a very long tunnel perpendicular to the model in case of the plane strain option. In the case of two tunnels intersecting perpendicularly with each other, the problem is actually a three-dimensional and a 3-D modeling would be required. As 3-D modeling is very expensive and time-consuming, engineers seem to prefer to run a 2D modeling. The mode is cut so that the model is perpendicular to the concerned tunnel (or primary tunnel) and crosses though the longitud inal section of the another tunnel (or secondary tunnel). In fact,

such a model is obviously not correct as it actually represents two parallel tunnels. A concept called two-step modeling is proposed to model two perpendicular tunnels. In the first step, an individual modeling is performed for the secondary tunnel as a usual modeling by cutting the model perpendicular to the secondary tunnel. The displacements at crown and bottom are recorded and will be converted to an equivalent velocity so that the same final deformation d is achieved as
Table 1. Rock material properties
Properties Rock Material 3 Density (kg/m ) UCS (MPa) Youngs modulus ( GPa) Poissons ratio Point load index ( MPa) Tensile strength ( MPa) Value 2650 163.83 65.87 0.24 8.7 11.71

d = v t n


where d is the displacement, v is the equivalent velocity, t is the time step and n is number of forward cycles. In the second step, the model is cut perpendicular to the primary tunnel while the longitudinal section of the secondary tunnel is also present in the model. When the longitudinal section is excavated, a boundary condition of velocity calculated from Equation 1 is immediately applied to the excavation profile boundary. The excavation of the primary tunnel is modeled as usual. 3 GEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND The project is located in granite heavily fractured by three joint sets. Site investigation showed a P-wave velocity of the granite ranging from 4545 m/s to 6100 m/s with a mean value of 5446 m/s and a Swave velocity ranging from 2906 m/s to 3472 m/s with a mean value of 3235 m/s. Laboratory tests on rock material provided the rock material properties as listed in Table 1. Three dominant joint sets were observed from the site including two sub-vertical joint sets with same dip angle of 70-90o and dip d irection towards ENE-NE and WNW -NW, respectively, and one sub-horizontal joint set. The joints are generally slightly rough, undulating with occasionally thin layers of clay and has a typical joint spacing of 1~3 m. Laboratory tests on rock joints provided average rock joint properties as listed in Table 2. During the construction, site tests were conducted and properties of rock joints subjected to Barton-Bandis model were re-evaluated as listed in Table 2 for numerical modeling.

4 CASE STUDIES Optimal design on the rock separation distance between tunnels/caverns benefits in minimising the land area required. No such data on rock tunnels is documented and thus numerical modelling using the discrete element code; UDEC (Itasca 2000) is carried out to investigate the stability of rock separation between tunnels and of the intersection of two perpendicular tunnels.
Table 2. Properties of rock joints
Properties MC model Cohesion ( KPa) Friction angle ( ) Roughness BB model Normal stiffness, GPa/m Shear stiffness, GPa/m Aperture at zero load, mm Roughness coefficient, JRC Wall compres. strength, MPa Friction angle, degree Length in laboratory scale, m

of the rock separation once an explosion happens in the left tunnel. Figure 5 shows the expected explosion load due to the potential explosion. The modelling methodology comprises of two stages: (1) the excavation of the two tunnels and (2) the explosion wave travelling between the two tunnels. The stress existed before the explosion is calculated by taking account of the in situ stress and its redistribution due to the excavation of the tunnels.

Joint 1 175 35 11

Joint 2

Joint 3

1E3 4.25 0.308 8 103 28 0.1

5.1E2 3.92 0.472 8 76 26 0.1

1E4 6.3 0.240 12 150 31 0.1

4.1 Stability of rock separation due to excavation A typical case is to model two tunnels, one directly above the another as shown in Figure 2. The separation distance is one of main concerns in the rock support design. The UDEC modelling simulating actual construction sequence is carried out to examine the possibility of constructing these two tunnels at such close separation distance. Actual construction sequence starts with excavating the upper tunnel and applying the rock support (rockbolt and shotcrete). The lower tunnel is then excavated and supported. Finally the expected traffic load during the operation of the tunnels is taken into account in the modelling. Much effort was put into improving the numerical modelling to reflect actual situations of the current project. For example, partial deformation having occurred before the installation of rock support is considered by developing programs in FISH language. Figure 3 shows the displacement distribution after the completion of the two tunnels and the expected traffic loads. The modelling result suggests that the two tunnels are stable with the proposed rock support design. 4.2 Stability of rock pillar due to an explosion The second typical case is to examine the safety of the rock separation between two tunnels where one is beside the another as shown in Figure 4, due to a potential explosion. The main concern is the safety

Figure 2. Two tunnels with proposed rock support

Figure 3. Resulted displacement distribution This stress distribution in the rock mass and will be trans ferred to the second stage. Fixed boundary condition is applied to the four sides of the model not to allow any deformation in this stage. The rock support including rockbolt and shotcrete is then applied to the two tunnels. The second stage simulates the explosion wave propagating in the rock mass starting from the left tunnel. Viscous boundary is applied to the four sides of the model to allow the

wave to go through with no disturbance. Due to the existence of the rock joints and tunnels, wave transmission and reflection will be multiplied. Ten measurement points between the two tunnels and three measurement points at the right sidewall of the right tunnel are set in the rock mass to monitor historical velocity during the second stage of the modelling. The peak particle velocity (PPV) is then used to assess the rock failure and the stability of the rock separation.

Figure 6. Modelling results of PPVs versus di stance At the thirteen measurement points in the modelling, the PPVs are recorded as shown in Figure 6. Comparing the modelling results with safe level of 230 mm/s, it can be seen that 15 m of rock mass (or
Original Ground surface


15 m

ROCK Current Ground surface

Left tunnel Measurement points

Right tunnel

Primary tunnel

Secondary tunnel

Secondary tunnel

Figure 7. Intersection of two perpendicular tunnels Figure 4. A rock separation between two tunnels
10.0 8.0 6.0

Pressure (MPa)

more than half the total separation distance) is within the safe level. It suggests that the separation distance between the two tunnels is adequate to avoid damage at the right tunnel when there is a potential explosion in the left tunnel. 4.3 Modelling two perpendicular tunnels

4.0 2.0 0.0 0 200 400 600

Time (milisecond)

Figure 5. Explosion load generated in the left tunnel


The third typical case is to model the excavation of the intersection of two perpendicular tunnels (primary and secondary tunnels) as shown in Figure 7. The current ground surface above the tunnels was resulted from previous quarry constructions. According to the logging data, the thickness of overburden soil is 15 m, which is not introduced in the model, but is taken into account in the calculation of the in situ stress. The quarry construction has also removed about 17 m thickness of rock and now the tunnels have only an overbu rden of 7 m. The modeling follows the construction sequence. Firstly the in situ stress is calculated in which the rock above the current ground surface soil is also introduced in the model as shown in Figure 8. This rock is then removed to simulate the quarry construction. Upon the consolidation, the two tunnels are finally excavated. As mentioned earlier, if the two tunnels are directly introduced in the model as shown in Figure 8 without any treatment, it represent a long tunnel with a poor section that obviously does not reflect the actual case of two perpendicular tunnels. The modeling based on such a model would not provide any creditable result.

Peak particle velocity (mm/sec)



230 mm/sec


0 -35








Distance (m)

The two-step modeling is employed in this case. In the first step, only the secondary tunnel is introduced in the model and the deformation distribution is obtained as shown in Figure 9. The displacements at crown and bottom are converted into velocities that are then used in the second step. In the second

dary tunnel is deleted and the velocities that obtained form the first step are immediately applied to the excavation profile to simulate the excavation of the secondary tunnel. The excavation and support of the primary tunnel is then carried out as usual. Figure 9 shows the final displacement distribution from the modeling. By using the two-step modeling concept, a reasonable displacement distribution is obtained and the modeling of two perpendicular tunnels construction is succeed. 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS The UDEC is successfully applied in the Mandai project in various critical situations. It was used not only to model static and dynamic problems, but also to model two perpendicular tunnels by using the two-step modeling concept. The two-step modeling concept can actually used to model multiple (two or more) tunnels perpendicular with each other. It would be noted that the two-step modeling concept is just an approximate way to model perpendicular tunnels when 3D code is not available. It could be also an alternative at the preliminary modeling of tunnel design. On the other hand, the application of the velocity boundary condition in the second step modeling may need engineers judgement on deciding the range as the displacement of the second tunnel is changing near the intersection. According to 3D-effect research result (Chen et al. 2001), the velocity boundary condition would not cover the segment with one to two times the span of the secondary tunnel far from the wall of the primary tunnel.

Figure 8. Joint geometry and tunnels layout in the computational model

Figure 9. Displacement distribution around the secondary tunnel at the first-stage modeling

REFERENCES Brady B.H.G., Coulthard M.A. and Lemos J.V. (1984) A hybrid distinct elementboundary element method for semi-infinite and infinite body problems. Proc. Computer Techniques and Applications Conference, North-Holland Publishers, pp. 307-316. Brady B.H.G. (1987) Boundary element and linked methods for underground excavation design. Analytical and Computational Methods in Rock Mechanics (edited by Brown, E.T.), Chapter 5. Chen S.G. and Zhao J. (2001) Modelling of tunnel excavation and support using DEM/BEM scheme. Journal of ComputerAided Civil and Infrastructure Engineering (in press). Chen S.G., Ong H.L., Tan K.H. and Zhao J. (2001) A study on working face effect in tunnel excavation. Progress in Tunneling after 2000, proceedings of the AITES-ITA

Figure 10. Final displacement distribution after the two perpendicular tunnels being excavated step, both tunnels are introduced in the model as shown in Figure 10. The element within the secon-

world tunnel congress 2001, Milan, Italy, June, pp. 199-206. Cundall P.A. and Hart R.D. (1993) Numerical Modelling of Discontinua. Comprehensive Rock Engineering (Edited by Hudson, J.A.), Vol. 2, pp. 231-243. Itasca Consulting (2000) UDEC user manual. Manolis G.D. and Beskos D.E. (1987) Boundary element methods in elastiodynamics, Unwin Hyman, pp. 282. Tan K.H., Ong H.L. & Chen S.G. (2001) Design issues of rock caverns at Mandai. Underground Singapore 2001, Singapore, November.