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Paul Heslop Jacobs Engineering

Christopher Caruso Jacobs Associates

The issues associated with using Geotechnical Baseline Reports on tunneling projects
have been the subject of extensive debate for several years. This paper attempts to
summarize these issues and it presents research to show that despite the ongoing
debate, there appears to have been limited changes or improvements made to address
these problems over the last 5 to 10 years. The paper then provides recommendations
to help mitigate some of the issues identified, which include recommending changes to
what baselines should be used and how they should be presented. In particular it recommends only developing baselines that directly address specific aspects of ground
behavior and/or other possible claims, as opposed to simply providing baselines for
individual rock properties, which are often inconsistent, open to misinterpretation or
have no direct relevance to a potential claim.

Geotechnical Baseline Reports are commonly used on large tunneling projects to help
mitigate the risks associated with unforeseen ground conditions. However, despite
being commonly used there is still an extensive and ongoing debate regarding their
effectiveness and there are still many perceived problems associated with using them.
The intent of this paper is to provide recommendation on how GBRs for rock tunnel projects can be improved. In the first part of the paper we identify and discuss the
perceived problems with using GBRs. We then investigate and identify the causes of
these problems before providing recommendations on how these problems and issues
can be mitigated. The paper focuses specifically on hard rock tunneling projects, however many of the issues identified and recommendations provided are considered to
be equally applicable to other ground conditions. It is hoped that this research will subsequently help to improve the effectiveness of future Geotechnical Baseline Reports.


In preparing this paper we wanted to understand why GBRs were not being more
effectively in helping to reduce claims and mitigate risks on many of the recent high
profile tunnel projects within the US. As a basic concept GBRs should work well, so we
wanted to understand how they could be improved and what are the type and extent
of the problems being encountered when using GBRs. We started our research by
undertaking an extensive literature review of technical papers and magazine articles,
all published over the last 5 years, which discussed the various problems with using
GBRs. This allowed us to compile a list of the perceived problems associated with
GBRs as shown in Table 1. In the industry, a wide range of problems have developed
and we discuss the reasons for and extent of these problems in more detail below.


Geotechnical Considerations

Table 1. Summary of problems associated with geotechnical baseline reports for rock
tunnel projects

Conceptual Issues

Baseline Definition Issues

Is a GBR a risk transfer or risk sharing tool?

Many believe GBRs are not used to help
share risk as intended, but are used to transfer
ownership of the ground risk from the owner to
the contractor.
GBRs often only provide baselines for individual rock properties and they do not specifically
address construction or design issues.

GBRs only baseline individual rock

properties they do not baseline
ground behavior or construction
The GBR is often not consistent with GBRs should be consistent with specifithe rest of the Contract documents. cations, drawings and any other contract
It is often unclear what statements
Extensive interpretation is often provided (i.e.,
in a GBR can be relied upon as a
geological sections and/or factual tables) as
Appendices and it is unclear if these form part
of the baseline.
GBRs do not provide baselines
While this appears to represent a comprehenthat are relevant and they do not
sive GBR which should protect the Owners,
adequately describe the condiexperience shows it often provides more probtions to be expected. Many GBRs
lems and chance of errors, contradiction or
also baseline an extensive array of
misinterpretation by the Contractor (see Table
geotechnical parameters, including
2 for more information).
many baselines that are not relevant
to tunneling.
Baselines often conflict with other
This can occur when multiple baselines are
baselines or with other information
provided that address the same or similar
provided in the report.
issues, such as providing Q, RQD and RMR
values to describe the same rock type.
GBRs often include overly conserGBRs that present conditions that are more
vative baselines and/or baselines
adverse, arbitrary and/or unrealistic often
that are not consistent with the site
are perceived as an attempt by the Owner to
investigation data.
unfairly transfer risk to the Contractor. Lists of
relevant rock tunnel baselines are shown in
Table 5 and Table 6.
Baseline statements are often indefi- GBR statements often use the terms like may,
nite, ambiguous or qualitative.
could and possible, which make it difficult for
the Contractor to rely upon the statements.
The assumptions used in developFor example, many ground classification
ing many baselines are often not
schemes such as the Q System (Barton, 1974)
provided, leading to uncertainty and require certain assumptions to be made,. i.e.,
the selection of an appropriate SRF value.
However, this is often not provided with the
baseline, leaving it open to debate later.
How should a baseline be quantified Providing multiple baselines for the same
or presented? Consultants tend to
property leads to confusion and uncertainty
provide a full range of possibilities.
regarding what constitutes a change in a
i.e., maximum, minimum, averages, baseline. For example, if a single UCS value at
ranges and graphical techniques
one location is outside of the specified range
such as contouring.
but the average of all samples is close to the
average, is this different?
(table continues)

How Geotechnical Baseline Reports Can Be Prepared 345

Practical Implementation

Table 1. Summary of problems associated with geotechnical baseline reports for rock
tunnel projects (continued)


How should the baselines be


If baselines are exceeded, there is often no

guidance given in the GBR as to what should
be done and what the Contractor can be compensated for, i.e., direct or in-direct costs.

How should the baselines be

measured and verified during

The baselines should be presented in a way

that are easily measurable during construction,
considering the proposed means and methods.

In addition to this literature review we then independently reviewed twenty-five (25)

recent GBRs that were prepared for large rock tunnel projects within the US over the
last 10 year. We also reviewed a number of GBRs from international tunneling projects
in order to compare and identify any differences. In reviewing these GBRs we wanted
to see how effective they were in describing the anticipated ground conditions. We also
wanted to understand what baselines are typically being provided, how relevant these
baselines are, and how they are typically being presented. This review work allowed us
to verify the extent of the problems which were identified in our literature review. It was
necessary to employ a certain degree of judgment in attempting to quantify how effective these baselines, as we were not involved in preparing these reports ourselves. In
selecting GBRs to review, we sought reports prepared by a wide range of consultants
and clients from various geographical locations across the US, to avoid any bias and
to get a representative picture of how GBRs for rock tunnels are currently being prepared. Based on our research, we have reduced the problems with GBRs into three
basic types.

Problems Associated with How the Baselines Are Defined and Presented
Our research shows that a common problem with GBRs is that many of the baselines
provided are poorly defined. The baselines are not clearly presented; they can often
be ambiguous, overly conservative, and irrelevant, they can also be inconsistent or
conflict with other contract documentation such as drawings or specifications. Figure1
was prepared following our review of existing GBRs and helps to show the significance
of these problems.
Figure1 shows a list of baselines that were provided in the Rock Tunnel GBRs
we reviewed; it also shows the frequency with which these baselines occurred. It also
shows for several of the key baselines (i.e., UCS and Joint Orientation) how realistic
or useful the baselines were. We can confirm that baselines are often presented with
very wide ranges, which make them of limited use in practice. Our research shows
that many of the key rock properties for design and construction are also not always
provided; in fact we found that very few GBRs reviewed provided a comprehensive list
of relevant baselines. For example Q values, which are a key design and construction
parameter for describing rock quality, were only provided in fewer than 25% of GBRs
reviewed. In Table 2 we show the relevance and importance of these baselines in terms
of design and construction issues.
Our research also highlighted that the way in which baselines are presented is
extremely important in helping to reduce ambiguity or contradiction. Baseline values
can be presented in a variety of different ways including maximum, minimum and


Geotechnical Considerations

Figure1. Distribution of baseline properties in geotechnical baseline reports reviewed

average values; they can also be defined using ranges and/or even graphically using
graphs, geological sections, or contours. The problem with using multiple approaches
is that several baselines are provided for the same property, often leading to confusion. Our research also highlighted the importance in a GBR to clearly identify what
statements are baselines and what statements are not. This is especially important if
sections including interpretation or discussion based on previous tunnel experience
are provided. We found only 36% of the GBRs reviewed clearly identified and defined
what were contract baselines. We also found that only 48% of reviewed GBRs provided any type of glossary to help define the terms used in the report and only 29% of

How Geotechnical Baseline Reports Can Be Prepared 347

Table 2. Relevance of geotechnical properties for design and construction


Geotechnical Considerations

GBRs provided any information on what assumptions or classifications had been used
in developing the baselines.
Problems Associated with the Practical Implementation of the Geotechnical
Baselines During Construction
A commonly overlooked yet vitally important part of any GBR should be a discussion
on how baselines should be measured and evaluated during construction. This is a
common problem encountered when using GBRs in practice. Only 16% of the GBRs
reviewed discussed how baselines should be measured during construction and only
20% discussed any allowable tolerances to the baselines.
For example, consider two baselines commonly provided for rock tunnels, the UCS
of the rock and the amount of rock cover above the tunnel. In practice, how are UCS
values to be measured in the event that a differing site condition exists related to rock
strength? In order to justify the rock strength, are additional borehole and core samples
required to be taken along the alignment and, if so, when, where, and how many tests
are needed? If point load testing can be used on collected representative rock samples,
what correlations should be used to determine equivalent UCS values? In order to verify or demonstrate changes in rock cover, are additional boreholes required? If probe
hole data can be used, then when, where and how many probes should be used?
Problems Associated with the Concept or Intent of the Geotechnical
The principal purpose of a GBR as defined in the UTRC Geotechnical Baseline Reports
for Underground Construction (1997), is to set baselines for geotechnical conditions
anticipated to be encountered during underground and subsurface construction, in
order to provide clear indications in the contract for resolution of disputes concerning
subsurface conditions.
GBRs are needed because there needs to be a fair way to manage the ground
risks, especially for design build projects. Traditionally, on these projects the Owners
essentially pass on the ground risks to the Contractor, who relies on a contingency to
help mitigate these risks. However, due to the competitive nature of these contracts
Contractors often find themselves with insufficient contingencies and are unable to
complete these projects if they incur significant cost increases resulting from any
changes in the ground conditions.
A commonly reported problem is that GBRs are often used as a risk transfer tool
as opposed to a risk management tool. This typically manifests itself through the use
of overly conservative and/or unrealistic baselines. Based on our research, it is clear to
see that this is still true. As illustrated in Figure1 many of the most common baselines
provided, such as the UCS, Cerchar Abrasivity, RQD, hydraulic conductivity, and joint
orientation, have often used, in our opinion, conservative and/or unrealistic ranges for
the baselines. We believe this is the single biggest problem with using GBRs by far.
There needs to be a greater effort in getting all parties to understand the importance of
approaching GBRs in a fair and reasonable way. It takes all parties to understand their
roles and responsibilities, otherwise the concept and approach is destined for failure. If
GBRs are not prepared properly, it is our opinion that a bad GBR is worse than having
no GBR at all.
Another conceptual issue raised is the lack of focus on design and construction
issues when it comes to developing baselines. Our research shows that there is still a
tendency to focus on describing and providing baselines only for individual rock properties. For example GBRs typically provide baselines for rock permeability and not
groundwater inflow, or rock quality and not initial support requirements, or rock strength
and not cutter wear. Figure1 shows that this is still true; there is still a tendency to focus

How Geotechnical Baseline Reports Can Be Prepared 349

on rock properties that are obtained from the site investigation as opposed to specific
construction or design issues.


In 1997 the UTRC report stated the following:
Improvements are needed to overcome the following shortcomings in contractual geotechnical interpretative reports:
Baselines may not adequately describe the conditions to be expected.
Baseline statements are often indefinite, too broad, ambiguous or qualitative,
resulting in disputes over what was indicated in the contract.
Baselines may present conditions that are more adverse than indicated by the
data, or just plain arbitrary and unrealistic, without discussion or explanation
for such apparent discrepancies.
Discussion often repeats material on drawings or specifications
Baseline statements are sometimes in conflict with the drawings or
The effects of means and methods of construction on ground behavior are not
well described
Based on our research these recommendations from 16 years ago are still true
today and this demonstrates that as an industry there is still scope for improvement in
how we prepare and use GBRs. The problems with GBRs highlighted in the first part
of this paper are associated with a variety of different reasons, including the general
approach and intended use (or misuse) of these reports, the way in which the data is
presented and the way in which the baselines are measured and used in practice. We
have provided recommendations on how these problems can be addressed; these are
summarized in Table 3 and discussed in more detail below.
In terms of solving the conceptual problems there is no simple fix, this simply
requires a change in mindset and approach and an acceptance that all parties involved
need to play their part in making GBRs work. If the Owner, Contractor or Consultants
do not work openly with a spirit of fairness, GBRs will continue to be of limited use.
Consultants should work with Owners to develop meaningful baselines and Owners
should understand that by providing realistic baselines they are in fact reducing the
cost and eliminating the need for contingencies. If different ground conditions are
encountered later this should not be seen as error but as an adjustment to what is the
true cost of the project. Consultants should present baselines that reflect their own
understanding of the expected ground conditions; they should avoid the approach of
providing conservative baselines in the belief that they are helping the Owner to eliminate ground related claims.
The recently revised GBR guideline (Geotechnical Baseline Report for Construction,
2007, ASCE) specifically addresses this issue and the need to provide more realistic
baselines. Although beyond the scope of this paper international experience particularly in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia show how the use of two stage GBRs or
the use of balanced baselines could be useful tools in helping to ensure that ground
risks are shared fairly between the Owners and Contractors and help to ensure that
GBRs are used more effectively. For example the use of two stage GBRs are now
standard practice on all current MTRC tunnel project in Hong Kong. Two stage GBRs
allow the Contractor as part of his bid to provide his own interpretation of where he
believes the baselines should be set and to identify were he thinks are the areas of


Geotechnical Considerations

Baseline Definitions

Conceptual Issues

Table 3. Recommendations for preparing geotechnical baseline reports for rock tunnel
Be clear about what is a baseline.
We recommend allowing the Contract
to rely on all information within the
report, including any geological plans
and sections. It is recommended to
limit interpretation or make this consistent with the baseline statements.
Prepare baselines that relate directly
to a construction or design issue, as
opposed to simply providing a list of
individual rock properties. Care should
however be taken to incorporate the
impact of the Contractors means and

This should eliminate confusion and help avoid
contradiction and confliction. Often the extensive interpretation provided in the GBR conflicts
with the actual baselines provided.

We are never going to be able to accurately

describe all ground encountered but it should be
possible to provide a minimum criterion for key
aspects of the tunnel support and construction.
For example provide baselines for groundwater
inflow instead of rock permeability, or baseline
a minimum initial support or rock quality (Q values) instead of simply providing individual joint
or rock properties.
Provide reasonable baselines based
Avoid unnecessary or overly conservative
on the understanding of the interpreta- baselines. Contractors should have the right to
tion and expected ground behavior.
expect that the baselines presented are reasonAvoid playing contractual games in
able. Unrealistic or ultraconservative baselines
an attempt to minimize claims.
that shift unreasonable risk to a contractor
should be discouraged and are contrary to the
overall intent of the GBR.
Consider the use of alternative
The use of a 2 step GBR allows the Contractor
contractual approaches when using
as part of his tender to show how he has
GBRs, including the use of a 2 stage interpreted the risk and where he believes fair
GBR or by using Balanced Baselines baselines should be set. This allows the impact
(Doyle, 2006).
of the proposed means and methods to also be
In the spirit of partnering Balanced Baselines
could be used as a way to share the risk and/
or reward and to encourage a fair and open
approach to determining baseline.
See Table 4 for discussion and recommendations on how specific baselines can be
Only provide one baseline for any rock This will help to reduce contradicting and dupliproperty or design/construction issue. cate baselines.
Use Rock Mass Types or Classes to
The use of Rock mass classes allow you to
characterize the rock along the align- group different rock types with similar properties
ment, as opposed to lithology.
and behavior together. This allows variations in
rock properties to be better defined and helps to
eliminate variations.
Do not baseline properties that can be For example it is not recommended to provide
heavily influenced by the quality of the baselines for rock over-break.
contractors means and methods.
Be careful in providing baselines that
It is not recommended to provide baseline of
require interpretation or assumptions. properties where there is the need for interpretation or where there is the need to make
assumptions. For example if Q baseline values
are specified then the SRF values to assume
should be provided.
(table continues)

How Geotechnical Baseline Reports Can Be Prepared 351

Table 3. Recommendations for preparing geotechnical baseline reports for rock tunnel
projects (continued)

Practical Implementation

Show GDR test data where possible
to show that you are being consistent
and transparent.

It is recommended to be transparent and show
the data that has been used to help develop the
baselines. If the baseline provided is different
from the testing data then these differences
should be clearly explained.
Clearly specify how during construcIt is important to clearly specific the type and
tion the baseline rock properties will
frequency of any testing that is required to
be measured. This testing should start evaluate the various baselines. This will help to
from day one and baselines should
eliminate any uncertainty or misinterpretation in
be continually assessed by the Owner the event of a change condition.
or CM during construction even when
ground conditions are as expected.
Clearly specify how during construcThe baselines should clarify the what in the
tion the baseline rock properties will
question conditions materially different to
be evaluated and clearly identify what what? Just because the ground is different this
costs or delays will the Contractor be
does not necessarily mean that this will impact
compensated for.
the Contractor.
Require the Contractor to develop
contingency measures to address
what would happened if there was a
differing site condition at the start of
the project.

This will help everyone to understand the cost

and schedule impacts involved and help to
reduce delays caused by differing site conditions .This should ultimately help save time and
eliminate debate and uncertainty.

concern. In reviewing the resulting tender submissions the Owner can assess more
clearly how the Contractors have used the baselines as part of their proposal and can
chose to adopt the revised version.
Balanced baselines are an approach proposed by (Doyle 2006). If balanced baselines are used in addition to Contractors receiving extra payment if the conditions are
more adverse than those in the baseline, it is suggested that the Owner should also
receive a reduction in the contract price, for any less adverse site conditions that are
encountered. In this situation both the Contractor and the Owner would have balanced
risks in regards to subsurface site conditions. In addition to these ideas the use of
Geotechnical Contingency Funds can also help to ensure the partnering and effectiveness of GBR reports, a good example of the use of this approach is on the Port of
Miami Tunnel Project.
In terms of addressing the structural problems associated with GBRs, such as providing more relevant baselines and clarifying how we present baselines to help eliminate ambiguity and contradiction we believe that this can be more easily addressed.
Specific recommendations on how baselines can be presented and used during construction of rock tunnels are shown in Table 4.
We also recommend when developing future baselines for rock tunnel that we
focus more on the behavior of the ground and specific design and construction issues,
as opposed to simply providing a list of rock properties. Consulting Engineers and
Geologists have understandably difficulty trying to develop specific numerical baselines for a wide range of geotechnical properties. This often results in the development of wide ranges for the various baselines. It is unlikely that we can ever expect
to accurately describe miles of varying rock conditions, so it is recommended to focus
on design and construction requirements which could be easier to quantify. This recommendation was in fact made in the UTRC (1997) report; a checklist was provided


Geotechnical Considerations

Table 4. Design and construction considerations for GBRs (taken from UTRC Report 1997)
Design Considerations
Description of ground classification
schemes used.
Criteria and methodologies used for the
design of ground support and ground stabilization, including ground loadings.
Criteria and basis for final design.



Environmental performance considerations 0%

such as limitations on settlement and lowering of groundwater levels.
The manner in which different support
requirements have been developed for
different ground types, and the protocols to
be followed in the field for determination of
ground support types for payment, reference to specifications for detailed descriptions of methods/sequences
The need and rational for ground perfor50%
mance instrumentation included in the
drawings and specifications.

Construction Considerations
Required sequence of
Anticipated ground behavior
in response to construction
Rational behind ground
Identification of specific construc- 75%
tion difficulties.
Rational behind baselines for
groundwater inflow to be encountered during construction.


Identification of sources of delay,

faults, gas, obstructions etc.


outlining what should be provided in a GBR, where in addition to providing baselines

for ground characterization, it is also recommended addressing the following design
and construction issues. Based on the results of our research we have also added an
estimate in Table 5 and Table 6 of how frequently these considerations were provided
in the GBRs we have reviewed.
Contractors are often frustrated because they feel that they are not always provided with the baselines they need, the results of our analysis clearly show this to be
true (see Figure1 and Table 4). Owners also feel taken advantage of when individual
baselines are used to justify claims in a manner not intended or the baselines are
not respected in the dispute resolution process. These concerns can be helped by
Consultants providing more relevant baselines and baselines that address the design
and construction considerations highlighted in Table 4, Table 5, and Table 6. We should
only baseline rock properties that are necessary for a contractor to evaluate means and
methods, estimate ground behavior for his initial and/or permanent support requirements and develop a construction schedule.
Finally it is recommended that we pay more attention to how baselines should be
measured and assessed during construction. In the GBRs we reviewed, measurement
and payment was discussed in less than 20% of the GBRs. It is important to clearly
state how baselines are to measured using the expected means and methods, it is also
important to explain how any changes in baselines will be evaluated. If a baseline is
exceeded it is important to understand how this has impacted the work, and what cost
or delays may occur.

In summary our research has highlighted a wide variety of problems can be encountered with using GBRs on rock tunnel projects and we have shown that many of these
issues are continuing to occur on recent projects. To help mitigate these issues the
following recommendations and conclusions have been made.

How Geotechnical Baseline Reports Can Be Prepared 353

Table 5. Recommendations and checklist for how rock tunnel baselines can be
presented (1 of 2)

Geological Interpretation

Rock Type
Top of Rock/
Rock Cover

Rock Mass


Rock Mass Properties &


Intact Rock Properties

(i.e., Hard
Unit Weight

Provide clear descriptions of the rock
units, using a recognized rock classification system.
Tabulate the minimum rock cover
expected along the alignment, not recommended to provide contour plots, especially if they are computer generated.
Different rock types should be grouped
into Rock Mass Classes if they have
similar characteristics and behavior. Rock
Mass Classification schemes such as
RMR, Q and/or GSI should be used to
define each Rock Class.
A standard weathering classification
scheme should be used (i.e., ISRM) and
each grade should be clearly defined for
example by using SPT(N), RQD or TCR
testing results.
Provide a range of values; this will typically include an assessment of the Quart


Provide a realistic range of unit weights.

Modulus (E)


Provide a clear range of realistic UCS

strength values (It is not recommended to
allow correlations with Point load testing).
Provide a clear range of realistic tensile
strength values.

Index (CAI)
(Angle of
Friction &
Rock Mass
Modulus &




Testing and
Rock Mapping

Probing and
Additional Site
Rock Mapping &
Additional Site

Rock Mapping &

Additional Site

Field Sampling

Field Sampling
Field Sampling
Field Sampling

Provide a clear range of E values, be

clear about how E vales were measured
i.e., Secant modulus E50
Provide a clear range of CAI values.

Field Sampling


Provide a clear range of strength

properties for the rock mass; be clear to
specify how these were derived and what
assumptions have been made.

Field Sampling


Provide a clear range of E values, be

clear about how the E values were measured or derived.

Field Sampling

Field Sampling

(table continues)


Geotechnical Considerations

Table 5. Recommendations and checklist for how rock tunnel baselines can be
presented (1 of 2) (continued)

Rock Mass Properties & Classifications (continued)


Rock Mass

GSI and
Hoek &
Q System

Provide a clear range of seismic velocity
values, be clear about how seismic velocity values were measured or derived.
Provide a clear range of rock mass
permeability for each rock mass class,
although it may be advisable to provide
joint aperture and/or inflow estimates.
Provide a clear range of GSI values for
each rock mass class, state clearly any
assumptions made.

Rock Mass
Rating (RMR)
Rock Mass
Index (RMi)




Rock Jointing

Number &
Orientation of
Joint Sets

Joint Shear


Joint Spacing High

& Persistence

Provide a clear range of Q values (without SRF and Jw component) for each rock
mass class, state clearly any assumptions
Provide a clear range of RMR values for
each rock mass class, state clearly any
assumptions made.
Provide a clear range of RMi values for
each rock mass class, state clearly any
assumptions made.
Provide a clear range of RQD values for
each rock mass class, state clearly any
assumptions made.
Provide a clear number and range of
orientations for the discontinuities in
each rock mass class, state clearly any
assumptions made. Recommended for
joint orientation to only specify general
dip directions i.e., NE and avoid using
stereonets to display results as they are
open to interpretation.
Provide a clear range of c and phi values
for each rock mass class, state clearly
any assumptions made.
Provide a clear range of joint spacing and
persistence values for each rock mass
class, state clearly any assumptions

Testing and
Additional Site
Additional Site

Rock Mapping

Interpretation during mapping

Rock Mapping

Rock Mapping

Rock Mapping &

Additional Site
Rock Mapping &
Additional Site

Rock Mapping &

Additional Site
Rock Mapping &
Additional Site

How Geotechnical Baseline Reports Can Be Prepared 355

Rock Jointing

Table 6. Recommendations and checklist for how rock tunnel baselines can be
presented (2 of 2)
Joint Conditions
(including water)


Specific Ground Risks




Number, Location High

& Orientation

Provide a clear range of joint condition
descriptions; where possible provide joint
aperture, alteration, roughness and waviness data for each rock class. This data
must be consistent with the data used to
develop any rock mass classification systems such as Q, RMR or GSI estimates.
Provide the number and location of know
faults on the geological sections and
clearly define their orientation.

Testing and
Mapping &
Additional Site

Mapping &
Additional Site
Fault Thickness & High
Provide a clear range for a fault thickness Rock
and strength properties, state clearly any Mapping &
assumptions made i.e., if true or apparent Additional Site
thickness has been used.
Insitu Stress
Provide a clear value for assumed insitu
Additional Site
(including Ko)
vertical stress and a range of values for
Investigation &
horizontal stress (including Ko ranges),
Field Sampling
state clearly any assumptions made.
Provide a clear range of groundwater
Additional Site
levels along the tunnel alignment, state
clearly any assumptions made. This
should include any allowance for flood
levels and seasonal variations should be
Provide a clear range of groundwaField Sampling
ter inflow values for each rock mass
class, state clearly any assumptions
made. Values for immediate flush flows
and steady state conditions should be
Slake Durability
If appropriate provide a range of values to Field Sampling
Required address the potential for slaking for each (Testing)
rock mass class.
Swelling Potential As
If appropriate provide a range of values to Field Sampling
Required address the potential for swelling for each (Testing)
rock mass class.
Solution Features As
Recommend to identify the length of
Additional Site
and Voids
Required tunnel that may be impacted by the pres- Investigation
ence of solution features and voids. Avoid
trying to identify specific void volumes as
this tends to result in the development of
conservative baselines.
(table continues)


Geotechnical Considerations

Table 6. Recommendations and checklist for how rock tunnel baselines can be
presented (2 of 2) (continued)

Ground Behavior

Ground Failure

Rock Loading

& Volume of

Ground or

Provide a clear discussion of anticipated

excavation techniques, including any limitations or potential problems for specific
means and methods.
Provide a clear discussion of anticipated construction sequences, including expected maximum unsupported
excavation lengths, standup time and
the need to use of split heading/bench
Provide a clear discussion of anticipated
initial support requirements, including the
need for pre-support, face, crown and
wall support and final lining support.
If appropriate provide discussion to
Required address the potential for contaminated
ground and/or groundwater.



(natural or



Construction Considerations

Testing and
Provide a clear range of expected ground Rock Mapping
behaviors for each rock mass class,
state clearly any assumptions made.
Recommended to use an acceptable
ground behavior classification scheme
such as that proposed by Terzaghi 1977.
Provide a clear range of expected
Rock Mapping
rock loading for each rock mass class,
state clearly any assumptions made.
Recommended to use an acceptable
classification such as that proposed by
Barton 1974 (Q System).
Not Recommended to provide baselines for these properties are
they are strongly related to the quality of the Contractors means and

Initial Support


Provide a clear statement on the classification (i.e., OSHA) of the tunnel in terms
of gassy or non-gassy.
If appropriate provide discussion to
address the potential for encountering
either natural (i.e., boulders) or madmade (i.e., foundations) obstructions.
The location of these should be clearly
identified and a description of the obstruction provided. In the case of boulders
avoid specifying the size and number of
actual boulders as this tends to result in
overly conservative baselines, it is recommended to identify a length of tunnel that
may be impacted by this.



Field Mapping
& Site
Investigation &
Field Sampling
Field Testing

and additional Site

How Geotechnical Baseline Reports Can Be Prepared 357

GBRs should in addition to characterizing the expected ground condition also

provide baselines for specific design and construction issues.

Realistic and relevant baselines should only be provided (see Table 5 and

Table 6).

Baselines should be clearly presented and repetition and confliction should

be avoided.

Assumptions or terminology used should be clearly provided; this should

include providing a glossary of terms and any other references or testing used
in developing the baselines.
Discussion should be provided on how baselines are to be measured considering the expected means and methods to be used.
Discussion should also be provided on how the baselines will be evaluated in
the event of a change condition.
Finally GBRs are intended to be a risk sharing not a risk transfer tool, it is therefore
important that all parties involved understand their role. GBRs are intended to be a
true measure of ground behavior based on a reasonable interpretation of the available
data not simply a conservative description of the site investigation data. Based on our
research we found the best GBRs were those that provided a realistic interpretation of
the expected ground conditions that included an assessment of ground behavior and
construction implications.

ASCE. 1997. Geotechnical Baseline Reports for Underground Construction
Guidelines and Practices, The Technical Committee on Geotechnical Reports of
the Underground Technology Research Council (Yellow Book).
ASCE 2007. Geotechnical Baseline Report for Construction: Suggested Guidelines,
The Technical Committee on Geotechnical Reports of the Underground Technology
Research Council (Gold Book).
Black, R.J. 2009. The New Economic Reality: Implications for the Construction Industry
in Hong Kong, Hong Kong Construction Association.
Doyle. J. 2006. Balanced baselines a fairer allocation of uncertain risk.
Freeman, T., Klein, S., Korbin, G., and Quick, W. 2003. Geotechnical Baseline
ReportsA Review. 2003 RETC Proceedings.
Geotechnical Baseline Reports: A Beneficial Tool, or a Scourge on the Industry? TBM:
Tunnel Business Magazine, August 2009.