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22nd International Mining Congress and Exhibition of Turkey-IMCET11 Ankara, Turkey may 11-13, 2011

Comparison of RMR and SRC systems for determination of


support requirements
Ali Entezari1, Ali Farhadian2, Hossein Mirzaei3
1- M.Sc. student of mining engineering. Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran
2- Haraz Rah consulting engineers group.
3- Department of mining, petroleum and geophysics, Shahrood University of Technology, Iran

ABSTRACT The rock mass classification methods such as RMR and Q system are widely
used in analysis of structure stability and support requirements of underground excavations. In
dealing with high tectonized regimes, the RMR system, predicts a lighter support in
comparison with those actually installed. To overcome this problem, the SRC system was
developed by considering some extra parameters related to geological conditions. In this
study, the SRC system employed to evaluate the stability and design of support system for
QazvinRasht railway tunnel which is situated in weak rock masses under high tectonic
stresses. The results obtained from 20 sections of tunnel, showed that supports proposed by
SRC were much closer to the reality than those proposed by RMR.
1 INTRODUCTION
Rock mass classification systems are very
useful tools to investigate the stability of
underground openings and designing support
systems. Various rock mass classification
systems such as RMR, Q, RMi and GSI had
successful applications in the preliminary
design stage of different projects (Bieniawski
1989, Barton et al. 1974, Hoek et al. 1995,
Palmstrm 2000).
Despite the widespread application of the
mentioned empirical methods, they cannot
adequately calculate stress distributions,
support performance and deformations
around the tunnels. Therefore it is necessary
to evaluate their results in comparison with
the results monitored in practice. The RMR
system is used broadly in many rocks
engineering projects and showed acceptable
results (Palmstrm 2009, Singh, B. & Goel,
R.K. 1999). The predictions of this
classification system (preliminary support

design) in dealing with weak rocks under


high tectonic conditions are not agreed with
the really installed support, (Gonzalez de
Vallejo 2003).
The Qazvin-Rasht Lot 2 railway project is
consisted of 14 tunnels. The seventh tunnel
of this project is now excavating. In this
tunnel, in some sections, the installed support
based on the estimations of RMR system,
were not stable and large scale collapses
were occurred, as an example one of these
collapses is shown in Figure 1. It seems that
the underestimation of RMR in this tunnel is
related to the high tectonic condition and thin
overburden. Surface Rock Classification
(SRC) is a new rock mass classification
system (Gonzalez de Vallejo 1983, 1985),
developed from the RMR to take into
account in-situ stress, data from outcrops and
tunnel construction conditions such as
excavation method and distance to adjacent
excavation.

143

Entezari A., A. Farhadian, Mirzaei H.

Figure 1. Collapse of tunnel roof in Qazvin-Rasht seventh tunnel.


Application of SRC system is situations
with high horizontal tectonics stresses, low
rock strength, thin overburden and highly
anisotropic rock behavior show successful
results, (Gonzalez de Vallejo 2003).
Therefore, in this paper, the SRC system
will be employ to determine rating of rock
masses in different sections of tunnel and
designation of required support system. Then
obtained results will be comparing with
RMR results.

2 QAZVIN-RASHT RAILWAY
TUNNEL
The Qazvin-Rasht Lot 2 railway project is
located in the Qazvin province as showed in
Figure 2. This project contains 14 tunnels. In
this study the seventh tunnel with the length
of 594.8 m is considered. Tunnel has a semicircular (horseshoe) shape and its cross
section area is approximately 104 m2 (for
two rail lines), with dimensions of 12.5 m
width and 9.4 m height as shown Figure 3.

Figure 2. The location of Tunnels.

22nd International Mining Congress and Exhibition of Turkey-IMCET11 Ankara, Turkey may 11-13, 2011

Figure 3. The shape of tunnel cross section and its dimensions.


2.1 Geology
The tunnel site is located in western Alborz
orogeny. The type of rock masses is mainly
of andesite and also in some parts of basalt.

The tunnel portal is consisted of Eocene


andesite rocks with two major and two minor
joint set. Geological profile of the tunnel is
given in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Geological profile of Qazvin-Rasht seventh Tunnel


2.2 Engineering Geology
The tunnel starts from 64+0.32 to 64+626.8
and the azimuth of its axe varies from 349 to
357. The strike of major joint sets is in
eastern north to western south, and western
north to eastern south, which are

perpendicular to each other. Joints with


N30E direction are the most frequent joints
in the site. The average dip of these joints is
almost 90. A stereographic representation of
major joint sets is shown in figure 5. These
145

Entezari A., A. Farhadian, Mirzaei H.

joints are the major joints for about 20 m of


tunnel length, 64+ (473-493).
The other major joint sets have a N40W
strike and are of complete different
geometry. Part of them with a dip of 40-50
and dip direction toward east north; while the
other part has a low dip of approximately 1030and dip direction toward west south. The
minor joint sets are not of noticeable

importance. Rocks which are located in


middle part of tunnel are highly tectonized.
In parts near the portal outlet, some faults
are cutting the trough tunnel direction and
had a great effect on stability of tunnel as
they caused a great collapse in this region.
Clay infilling and infiltration of water into
the joints are of other bad parameters that
affect the stability and made many problems
during the excavation.

Figure 5. Stereographic representation of major joint sets in a cross section of tunnel.


2.3 Excavation method
As the tunnel has a cross section area of
approximately 104 m2 (for two rail lines), it
is classified as large scale excavation. The
method used for this tunnel is NATM with
two phases of heading and benching. The
cutting height is 9.4 m of which 5 m
excavate during the heading and the left 4.4
m in benching phase. The excavation method
in both phases is drilling and blasting and
also in some sections road header is used.
Drilling performed by the use of jumbo drill
machines and the drill pattern had 80
boreholes with 3 m length.
3 ROCK MASS CLASSIFICATION
SYSTEMS
In this paper SRC classification system is
employed and rock mass rate is evaluated
and compared with the results of RMR
system. The RMR system is considered 6

parameters (Uniaxial compressive strength,


RQD, Spacing of discontinuities, Condition
of discontinuities, Groundwater conditions,
Orientation of discontinuities) to determine
rock mass rating. The RMR system is well
defined in literature and we focus on SRC
methodology.
3.1 SRC Method
The surface rock classification (SRC) system
(Gonzalez de Vallejo 1983, 1985) was
developed from the RMR index to take into
account in-situ stress, data from outcrops and
tunnel construction conditions.
The SRC is well introduced in Gonzalez
de Vallejo's paper, and here only the main
table which gives the base SRC ratings is
presented, and a brief overview is made up to
clear the minds about this issue.
Five parameters are included in SRC (Tab.
1). In the case of using the data obtained
from outcrops, the correction factors must be

22nd International Mining Congress and Exhibition of Turkey-IMCET11 Ankara, Turkey may 11-13, 2011

employed and there is also some correction


factors related to construction process that
can be found in Gonzalez de Vallejo's paper
on SRC. By applying these correction

factors, the SRC value will differ


significantly, that says the construction
method has changed rock mass conditions.

Table 1 - Geomechanics rock mass classification SRC, de Vallejo (2003).

5.State of Stresses

4.Groundwater

3.Condithion of
Discontinuities

2.Spacing 1.Intact Rock


or RQD
Strength

Rock Quality Indices

Range of values

Point-Load test (MPa)

>8

8-4

4-2

2-1

>250

250-100

100-50

50-25

20

15

>2
100-90

2-0.6
90-75

0.6-0.2
75-50

0.2-0.06
50-25

<0.06
<25

25

20

Slicken-sided
surfaces.
Continuous
joints. Joints
open 1-5mm.
Gouge
materials.

Slicken-sided
surfaces.
Continuous
joints. Joints
open <5mm.
Gouge
materials.

10

10-25
Occasional
seepage

25-125
Frequent
seepage

>125
Abundant
seepage

7
5-3
-5

4
<3
-10

0
-

Uniaxial
compressive
strength (MPa)
Rating
Spacing (m)
RQD (%)

15
rough
Very rough Slightly rough Slightly
surfaces.
Not
surfaces. Not surfaces. Not
Roughness
continuous
continuous
continuous
Continuous
joints.
joints. No
joints.
Separation
Separation
separation.
Separation
1mm. Soft or
Filling
Hard joint
>1mm.
wall.
Hard joint wall. weathered
joint walls.
30
25
20
Rating
Rating

Inflow per 10 m
tunnel length(1/min)
General conditions
Rating
Competence factor
Rating
Tectonic structures
Rating
Stress relief factor
Rating
Neotectonic activity
Rating

None
Dry

<10
Slightly moist

15
10
>10
10-5
10
5
Zones near thrusts/faults of
regional importance
-5
>200

200-80

-5
None or
unknown
0

Gonzalez de Vallejo, during comparative


analysis between different types of supports
used in tunneling and the recommendations
obtained from rock mass classifications as
RMR and Q, suggests that:
-for good and fair quality rocks, either the
RMR or Q systems can be used.
-in week rocks under significant in-situ
stress, the SRC classification can predict the

Compression
-2

80-10

<10

-8

-10

Not applicable

25-5 5-1 <1


2

Tension
0
Slopes
200-80
79-10
-10
-13

Low

High

-5

-10

<10
-15

rock behavior during excavation better than


the RMR.
-use of a particular classification system
should consider both the rock mass type and
the parameters involved in the classification
because different classifications are not
equivalent. Therefore correlations between
rock
mass
classifications
are
not
recommended for poor and very poor quality
rocks. SRC is based on the parameters as
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Entezari A., A. Farhadian, Mirzaei H.

listed below: Intact rock strength, spacing of


the discontinuities or RQD, condition of
discontinuity, groundwater inflow, and state
of stress.
The last parameter is made up of the
following parameters:
Competence factor, Fc, is defined as ratio
between uniaxial intact rock strength and
vertical stress.
Tectonic structures: considered when
significant faults or tectonic structures are
present in the area.
Stress relief factor: age of the main tectonic
orogeny (in years
) that has affected

the region (Alpine or Hercynian orogeny),


divided by maximum thickness of the
overburden during its geological history (in
meter). This factor is estimated from regional
geological data, (Gonzalez de Vallejo 2008).
Seismic activity: considered if the area has
a history of significant seismic activity.
In SRC method similar to RMR method,
rock mass rated from 0 - 100 and then rock
mass class and suggested support system is
selected with the use of Guidelines for
excavation and support of 10 m span rock
tunnels according to the RMR System, which
is introduced by Bieniawski in 1989.

Table 2 SRC Class number selection, de Vallejo (2003).


Class number
Rock quality
Rating

I
Very good
100-81

4 COMPARISON OF RMR AND SRC


SYSTEMS
In this study, 40 sections of the tunnel with
the length of approximately 558 m from
excavated part of the project were
considered. The ratings of surrounding rock
mass in different sections were determined
using RMR and the mentioned SRC
classification methods. Then the class of
rock mass in each section was recognized
according to its rating value for both
methods and the required support system was
designed by the results of the RMR and SRC
methods and compared with the actually
installed support systems.
4.1 RATING OF ROCK MASSES
In SRC method, the score of each parameter
was determined with the use of Table 1 and
the rating of rock mass was calculated from
all of affecting parameters. Then the base
SRC rating was adjusted by considering the
other rock engineering factors according to
the correction factors, which are provided in
Gonzalez de Vallejo's paper on SRC.
The results of rating of rock mass for both
classification methods for different sections
are listed in Table 3.

II
Good
80-61

III
Fair
60-41

IV
Poor
40-21

V
Very poor
20

4.2 SUPPORT DESIGN AND


COMPARISON OF THE RESULTS
For different sections, the classes of
surrounding rock mass and suggested
support systems for both systems were
selected from Table 2, which is based on
RMR's class selection, due to their
corresponding rating values and listed in
Table 3. Then to evaluate the accuracy of
these
classification
methods,
their
recommended support systems were
compared with actually installed support
systems.
According to the results of RMR and SRC,
in sections with thin overburden and high
tectonic conditions, RMR suggested lighter
support systems in comparison to SRC.
In table 3, abbreviations L, M, H and VH
stands for Light, Medium, Heavy and Very
Heavy steel sets. Very Heavy is inserted for
rating lower than 10, Heavy for lower than
20, medium for lower than 30 and light for
lower than 40, except for support in practice
column, which shows the real support type
installed in tunnel.

22nd International Mining Congress and Exhibition of Turkey-IMCET11 Ankara, Turkey may 11-13, 2011

Table 3 - Comparison of RMR and SRC results.

Section
No. Class Value
1
IV 24

SRC
Support
Steel Ribs (M)

Class Value
IV 40
III 51

IV

27

Steel Ribs (M)

IV

32

Steel Ribs (L)

III

54

IV

32

Steel Ribs (L)

III

54

IV

32

Steel Ribs (L)

III

58

IV

27

Steel Ribs (M)

III

58

18

Steel Ribs (H)

III

44

18

Steel Ribs (H)

III

44

9
10
11
12
13

V
V
V
V
V

14
4
9
9
11

14

III

42

IV
IV
IV
IV
IV
III

35
35
33
33
38
50

15

III

50

III

50

16

III

60

III

60

17

III

50

III

60

18

III

50

III

60

19

III

60

Steel Ribs (H)


Steel Ribs (VH)
Steel Ribs (VH)
Steel Ribs (VH)
Steel Ribs (H)
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete

III

60

20

IV

32

Steel Ribs (L)

III

50

5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUTIONS


In this study, approximately 558 m of
excavated part of the Qazvin-Rasht tunnel
was considered and the results of the widely
used rock mass classification method, RMR
and new developed rock mass classification
system, SRC were evaluated and the required
support system for tunnel were predicted by
both of systems and compared with the
actually installed support system. The SRC
system was developed on the basis of RMR
with some additional parameters. The main
difference between these two classification
methods is that SRC brings together the

RMR
Support
Steel Ribs (L)
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete

Support
in practice
Steel Ribs (H)
Steel Ribs (M)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (M)
Steel Ribs (M)
Steel Ribs (H)
Steel Ribs (VH)
Steel Ribs (VH)
Steel Ribs (VH)
Steel Ribs (H)
Steel Ribs (L)
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Mesh +10cm
shotcrete
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)
Steel Ribs (L)

RQD and Spacing parameters as one


parameter and it adds Stress State to the
classification. The State of Stress
parameter includes: competence factor,
tectonic structures, stress relief factor and
neotectonic activity. So it is expected that in
underground structures under high tectonic
and high in-situ stress conditions, the SRC
show proper results. Comparison of the
results of the mentioned two classification
method for the Qazvin-Rasht tunnel shows
that:
In the sections of tunnel in which the
tectonic structures affect the behavior of
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Entezari A., A. Farhadian, Mirzaei H.

surrounding rock mass, the rating of SRC


is smaller than RMR. So SRC propose a
heavier support system than RMR, which
is more proper than RMR designation in
comparison with actually installed support
systems.
In some sections of tunnel in which the
overburden thickness is low the SRC
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Barton, N.R., Lien, R., Lunde, J., 1974. Engineering
classification of rockmasses for the design of
tunnel support. RockMech. 4, 189239.
Bieniawski, Z.T., 1989. Engineering Rock Mass
Classifications. Wiley, New York.
Gonzalez de Vallejo, L.I., 2003, SRC rock mass
classification of tunnels under high tectonic stress
excavated in weak rocks, Engineering Geology,
69, pp. 273285.
Gonzalez de Vallejo, L.I., and Hijazo, T., 2008. A

new method of estimating the ratio between


in situ rock stresses and tectonics based on
empirical and probabilistic analyses, Engineering
Geology, 101, pp. 185194.
Hoek, E., Kaiser, P.K., Bawden, W.F., 1995.
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Rock. Balkema, Rotterdam. Pp. 215.
Singh, B. and Goel, R.K., 1999, Rock Mass
Classification, A Practical Approach in Civil
Engineering, Elsevier, pp 34-46.
Palmstrm, A., 2000. Recent developments in rock
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Mechanics and Tunnelling Technology. 6 (1), 1
19.
Palmstrm, A., 2009. Combining the RMR, Q, and
RMi classification systems, Tunnelling and
Underground Space Technology, Volume 24,
Issue 4, pp. 491-492.

prediction of support is nearly equal to


actually installed supports.
In the parts of tunnel in which tectonic
conditions dont affect the stability, the
ratings of RMR and SRC are nearly
similar to each other.