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Analysis of the Hydro-fracture Potential Around Water Tunnels in Rock

Emad Iskander URS Corporation, Columbus, Ohio

ABSTRACT: The seepage forces generated around pressurized water tunnels in rock are investigated using the analysis tools of geomechanics. The theoretical background of the two-phase material behavior is explained and the equations of motion and continuity are presented. Applications on two case studies typically occurring in practice deal with the required minimum rock cover for a pressurized tunnel and the separation between two tunnels carrying different heads. The rock mass behavior as described by the Mohr-Coulomb and Hoek-Brown material models is investigated by numerical analyses and the results are compared. The effect of key material parameters on the safety factors and the associated modes of failure is discussed. INTRODUCTION Water tunnels running in rock to convey water to hydro-power or treatment plants are usually surcharged with a high internal pressure, depending on the alignment and hydraulic boundary conditions. In highly pressurized tunnels, welded steel liner is used to resist the ring tension arising from the internal pressure. However, for intermediate to low pressures a cast in-place concrete lining is normally used. Frequently it is desired that the concrete lining be unreinforced for economy and ease of construction and the rock mass surrounding the tunnel is relied on to provide the required connement for the internal water pressure. This latter case has a major implication for the tunnel alignment. The rock mass must have a minimum thickness of the conning ring around the tunnel to ensure an adequate safety factor under the different operating conditions. This means that the pressurized water tunnel must maintain a safe distance from the nearest free boundary, be it the ground surface or a neighboring underground opening. The required minimum rock cover and/or distance from close by tunnels/caverns will affect the tunnel alignment and the project economy. A plain concrete lining will typically crack radially under ring tension, allowing the internal water to migrate outside the lining. In the absence of a waterproong membrane, the internal water pressure will change the pore water pressure around the tunnel and create a eld of seepage forces acting outwards. The internal water pressure in this case is applied as a continuous volumetric force distributed over the rock mass and not as surface pressure on the tunnel walls. This case could cause further variations of the failure modes. The described problem is usually investigated by numerical analyses using either the nite element or nite difference methods. The following discussion presents the basic theory used to describe the physical phenomenon and two case studies showing some of the more frequent failure modes associated with hydro-fracture. Simplied hand calculations are drawn for comparison and to check the results of the numerical models. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND To study the above mentioned effects, two-phase material formulation as described by the theory of mixtures is necessary. Details of the derivation are given in eq. (1) and (2). The material has two coupled constituents (solids and uid). The balance of mass and forces is drawn to derive the equations of continuity and motion. In addition, inelastic behavior according to the ow theory of plasticity has to be assigned to the solid phase to predict the strength reserves and determine the factor of safety against failure. The seepage force is perceived as a volumetric viscous interaction between the solid and uid phases. According to Darcy, this force is directly proportional to the velocity of uid relative to the solid phase. .s 2 f 1 . q i = n k i ( u if u i ) (1)

where qi is the seepage force in Cartesian direction xi, n is the voids ratio, f is the unit weight of uid, ki . is the permeability in the i -direction and u if and .s u i are the absolute velocities of the uid and solid phases respectively. If an average uid velocity v f relative to the solid phase is introduced such that: . f .s f i = n ( ui ui ) (2)


then the equation of motion for the uid phase produces a direct relation between, the uid velocity and hydraulic gradient. Neglecting the inertia forces (dynamic effects), this delivers Darcys well known equation for the diffusion velocity: pi f i = k i --- + a i f


where p is the pressure of the uid and a i is the direction cosine of the gravity vector in the Cartesian i-direction. A comma denotes partial derivation with respect to coordinate xi. Finally, the balance of mass results in the equation of continuity: . .s f p i, i + u i, i n ----f = 0 K (4)

lem and statical boundary conditions assign values of the uid pressure to specic points on the boundary and eventually inside the domain. In the second step, the seepage forces derived from the calculated ow eld using eq. (1) are applied on the decoupled deformation problem to nd the stress and deformation states. Being fully known, the seepage forces are added to the right hand side of the equation of equilibrium and the system unknowns include only the deformation degrees of freedom of the solid phase. CASE STUDIES The described procedure readily lends itself to a numerical solution by the nite difference or nite element methods. The analyses shown below were carried out using FLAC 2D. The deformation problem is analyzed by plane strain non-linear nite difference calculations using both the classic MohrCoulomb and Hoek-Brown models. Successive reductions of the rock strength parameters are made to nd the actual margin of safety under the seepage forces. For the MohrCoulomb model, both the cohesion C and tan , the angle of internal friction, are divided by a single trial value of the safety factor. This calculation is carried out automatically in FLAC by an iterative searching algorithm using a bracketing technique. However, FLAC does not offer the same automatic calculation for other material models. The factor of safety for the Hoek-Brown model was found manually using the following proposed approach. Detailed description of the Hoek-Brown failure criterion is given in (3). In 2D problems, the effective major and minor principal stresses for stress points on the failure criterion are related by the following equation:
a 3 + s 1 = 3 + ci m ----- - ci

Here summation is implied for repetitive indices, and K f is the modulus of compressibility of the uid phase. The specic problem at hand is essentially one of stationary type in which no change of uid pressure or solid deformations occur over time, i.e., fully drained condition. Such conditions are reached after the consolidation process has come to a steady state. This means that all rates in the equation of continuity disappear, and it is then reduced to the known equation of Laplace describing the stationary ow eld in a rigid porous medium. i, i = 0


If a hydraulic head is dened to describe the potential energy as a scalar function of the uid pressure and the gravity potential: p = ---f + x i a i (6)


then with eq. (3), the Laplace equation takes the more familiar form in two dimensions: k x -------- + k y -------- = 0 2 2 x y
2 2


In this special case, the ow and deformation problems are decoupled and the ow eld could be found independently in a rst step. Only the uid phase is considered within the geometry dening the prob-

Where ci is the uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) of the intact rock, m, s and a are material specic parameters dened as functions of the rock mass classication given by the Geological Strength Index (GSI). It can be seen that s corresponds to the cohesion while m resembles the internal friction. In order to shrink the yield surface in a manner similar to the Mohr-Coulomb model, the parameters ci, m and s are uniformly divided by the trial value of the safety factor, but not a or GSI. The result is a series of concentric curves depending on the safety factor as shown in Figure 1. It is noted that this approach reduces the tensile strength linearly, but


Figure 1. Reduction of the Hoek-Brown criterion by a safety factor the uniaxial compressive strength of the rock mass is reduced over-proportionally since it is a function of both the cohesion and friction. Minimum Rock Cover Figure 2 shows the right half of the idealized system utilizing symmetry around the tunnel vertical axis. A 10 m diameter unlined tunnel has 25 m of rock cover above the crown, while the soil cover is neglected. The groundwater table is assumed at 3 m below rock surface. The rock properties assumed for the HoekBrown model correspond to an average schist:
d = 25 kN/m3, ci = 40 MPa, mi = 5.0, GSI = 50

The corresponding Mohr-Coulomb parameters are found from a straight line tting to the Hoek-Brown yield line: E = 5000 MPa, = 0.3, C = 500 kPa, = = 40 A tension cut-off is assumed at a nominal tensile strength of 5 kPa for the latter model and the porosity n = 0.3. An internal water pressure of 1000 kPa is applied inside the tunnel, which changes the distribution of the pore water pressure as shown in Figure 2. The corresponding ow eld and the hydraulic head are shown in Figure 3. The imposed statical boundary condition of zero pore water pressure 3 m below the ground surface is signicant for the results. It conforms with the real conditions in a large and conductive aquifer where the excess pressure inside the rock mass does not lead to a change of the phreatic line. The factor of safety for this case using the Mohr-Coulomb model is found to be 7.3, which means that the rock strength parameters C and can be reduced simultaneously by a maximum of this value while still maintaining equilibrium. This is a different statement than saying that the internal pressure can be increased 7.3 times before failure. By

inspection, the maximum water pressure that could safely be applied inside the tunnel was found to be around 1600 kPa, i.e., a max. possible load factor of 1.6. The failure mode corresponding to the 7.3 times reduction of strength is shown in Figure 4, where the mechanism is clearly delineated by the contour lines of the shear strains and the displacement vectors. A wedge starts from the tunnel spring lines and extends to the ground surface and has an upwards movement under the uplift force induced by the tunnel pressure. The Hoek-Brown model gives similar results. The factor of safety was 8.0 with an associated ow rule, which gave a similar failure wedge. However, a constant-volume ow rule would lead to a factor of 6.8, with a signicantly narrower wedge as shown in Figure 5. Since this mode approaches an active type of failure according to Mohr-Coulomb, inclined lines at 45 - /2 from the vertical could be assumed to roughly dene the failure wedge. If the total weight of the wedge is compared with the total uplift force, which is the pressure times tunnel diameter, this uplift balance gives a factor of safety around 4.8. The rest is accounted for by the material cohesion. Comparing the internal tunnel pressure with the vertical in-situ rock stress at the tunnel depth, however, would be meaningless as only forces could be brought in an equilibrium balance, not stresses. If the phreatic line is placed at the rock surface, little qualitative change will occur to the ow eld or the pore pressure distribution. However, it is found that the maximum pressure that could safely be applied inside the tunnel was considerably reduced to 1075 kPa. The hydraulic head is thus allowed to extend upwards to shallow layers which have limited weight to counteract the uplift. The max. strength reduction factor for this case with a Mohr-Coulomb model is 3.5, with a local mechanism developing near the ground surface as shown in Figure 6. A shallow part of the rock directly above the tunnel pops up in a typical case of tensile failure. This is a direct result of imposing the additional tension cut-off at a nominal strength. With the Hoek-Brown model, the system fails with a deep wedge again as shown in Figure 7 with a signicantly higher safety factor of 4.5. The difference is caused by the increased capacity of rock to resist tension. Interaction of Two Neighboring Tunnels Another case where the risk of hydro-fracture could be present is when a pressurized tunnel is passing near an underground opening. If such opening is also unlined or has a cracked lining, it will act as a drain, attracting the ow vectors and setting a eld


Figure 2. Pore water pressure distribution

Figure 3. Flow eld and hydraulic head


Figure 4. Mohr-Coulomb model, associated ow rule, failure mode by a deep wedge

Figure 5. Hoek-Brown, constant volume ow rule, deep narrow wedge


Figure 6. Mohr-Coulomb, failure mode by shallow rock bursting

Figure 7. Hoek-Brown, failure wedge extends deeper


Figure 8. Pore water pressure around two tunnels of seepage forces that undermines the rock pillar separating the two openings. Figure 8 shows one such case with two 10 m diameter tunnels separated by a rock pillar one diameter wide. The geometry, overburden, phreatic line and material parameters are as in the rst example. The right tunnel is pressurized with 1000 kPa while the left one is drained. This is the case where a new tunnel is being constructed beside an operating one. The pore pressure distribution is shown in Figure 8. The existence of the drained tunnel at such close vicinity introduces a new failure mode that occurs at a strength reduction factor of only 2.2 using the Mohr-Coulomb model. The mechanism is shown in Figure 9. The rock pillar exhibits large horizontal deformations and strains in direction of the hydraulic gradient. Combined with the vertical pressure from the overlying rock masses, high principal shear stresses are induced and lead to the shown type of failure. With the Hoek-Brown model, the safety factor increases slightly to 2.45 and the corresponding failure mode is that of mere shallow spalling on the right hand side of the empty tunnel. It cannot be speculated that higher strength reserves might be available without the help of an analysis tool capable of investigating post-failure stages. CONCLUDING REMARKS The material properties have a dominant importance on the mode of fracture to be expected and the associated margin of safety. Most signicant are the cohesive and tensile strength of rock, i.e., the inherent capacity to resist shear stresses without conning pressure. The shallow bursting mode of Figure 6 was found to be highly sensitive of the assumed tension cut-off. Generally, it is fair to expect that the Hoek-Brown model will indicate a higher resistance because of the absence of an articial cut-off. As the projects feasibility and economy will depend on the outcome of such analysis, qualied choice of a representative material model and careful evaluation of rock properties will play a major role in the design process. It is required to describe the rock behavior realistically while still maintaining an acceptable comfort level. A point of special interest in this evaluation is the material softening due to large seepage forces (hydraulic jacking). If the induced hydraulic gradients are of such a magnitude that could force the rock ssures to open, a critical state of progressive collapse could be triggered. Wider ssures would in turn increase the permeability locally around the tunnel, and thus lead to even steeper hydraulic gradients. The cycle may take only a short time before reaching a state where the rock strength reserves are exhausted.


Figure 9. Hydro-fracture failure mechanism

A further case of softening is the change in the rock physical properties due to exposure to fresh water, as is the case of tunnels in shale. The signicant weathering due to such process substantially decreases the cohesion and hence the total resistance. REFERENCES Zienkiewicz, O.C., Tang, C.T., Bettess, P.: Drained, undrained, consolidation and dynamic behavior assumptions in soils, Gotechnique, 30, 1980, 385395.

Zienkiewicz, O.C., Humphson, C., Lewis, R.W.: A unied approach to soil mechanics problems including plasticity and visco-plasticity, Chapter 4 in Gudehus, G. (Ed.) Finite Elements in Geomechanics, John Wiley & Sons, London, 1997. Hoek, E., Carranza-Torres, C., Corkum, B.: HoekBrown failure criterion2002 edition, Proc. NARMS-TAC Conference, Toronto, 1, 2002, 267273.