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Design of pervious pressure tunnels

By A. J. Schleiss

Reprinted from WATER POWER & DAM CONSTRUCTION May 1986


article presents the summarized results of a study carried out by the author on the
into account seepage forces and secondary permeability in lining and rock. The UUUIILUUIII

traditional tunnel statics" which assume lining and rock as impervious, is discussed. New

pervious pressure tunnels are recommended.

the that as long as the

compared with the rock
is in lining, accordmctv
lining transmits only mechanical nounoarv
mass. If the is """"UH'P'Upermeable
Fig. 2) the pressure
the outside of the lining. In the
",..,,,,,,I,-t,,~C}t-,,",,,,, continues to be used, because ofthe and its reach depends on internal pressure
uncertainties in describing in situ behaviour. in the rock. A single rock mass element
!\/lr,.. "".,",u,"'" there are no adequately realistic criteria for Fig. 2) is loaded on all sides by a U"?'U'r1'O

n""rrnp",lhlp pressure tunnels. This article presents a new design resulting force (the seepage nrpee11,'p
which takes into account the pressures and dimension, like a body quantrtatrve
influence of fracture deformation on permeability seepage pressures on pressure tunnels
rock masses. Until now, these papers have given no inducement
ing new design procedures for pervious pressure tunnels.
Problematic nature of pressure tunnels Fractures and pores, which cause the of the rock
U/-,',<4n,<");;,, water on an impervious mass, are deformed by the forces.
nenaves as a load; uniformly distributed and rock mass around the pressure tunnel will be ' .... r» ..""·"",,'r1
perpendicular the surface (Fig. la). If the medium is internal pressure. This change in permeability, in turn,
permeable, water infiltrates cavities (pores, cracks, fissures, and the seepage flow and therefore, the seepage forces. This
and again exerts a surface pressure (Fig. 1b). In this case mechanical-hydraulic coupling is shown schematically in Fig.
water pressure is gradually reduced by friction within the 3. Due to the latest scientific findings, in rock mechanics and
cavities. The force applied to the structure is transmitted along above all in rock hydraulics, such coupled can be
lines of seepage as a body force I. A permeable medium is solved theoretically", Inspite of this,
therefore not loaded by the purely mechanical effect of water coupling is rarely considered in pressure tunnel
the boundary loading, but by hydraulic body forces.
forces can be illustrated for a concrete-lined pressure The porous, thick-walled cylinder
tunnel (Fig. Differential equation for the radial The state of
The traditional' 'pressure tunnel statics" theory is based on stress due to internal water pressure in a porous cylinder, with
homogeneous, isotropic material behaviour, is radially
symmetrical. In contrast to the impervious cylinder, the
elementary volume of the permeable cylinder is loaded not only
by radial and tangential stresses but also by pore pressure (Fig.
4). The efficiency of this water pressure can be reduced by
factor y/(O ~ Y/ ~ 1). In the past the factor Y/ was often equated with
the superficial porosity of the material". In the meantime,
experimental work has shown that Y/ is equal to unity, if rupture
conditions are considered" 8. 9 The same is valid in highly
r1n'pr>t",An for the

1: Effect of pressure on an impervious and pervious

rock hydraulics

/ 7](p +

(per cent)

elementary volume combined with the plain strain relations

derived from Hooke's law gives the following relation for the
unknown radial displacement u(r):

~ + du 1 + d2u y/dp (1+v)(1-2v)

... (1)
r dr r dr2 dr E(1-v)

The differential equation contains another unknown, namely

the gradient of pore pressure in the cylinder, which, in the
radially symmetrical case, is proportional to the hydraulic
gradient. According to the permeability properties of the thick-
walled cylinder, one can imagine different pore pressure
distributions (Table 1). If the cylinder has a high porosity, theory
would, potentially, lead to a logarithmic pore pressure
distribution. If the permeability is caused by a great number of
radial cracks, the pressure distribution would be linear,
assuming laminar flow in the cracks. In a cylindrical zone of . - impervious cylinder (ry = 0)
highly fractured rock mass, pore pressure distribution would be pervious cylinder (ry 0.9 and rl = 1.0)
somewhere between these two assumptions. linear pressure gradient
--Iogarithmical pressure gradient
Fig. 5: Radial stresses in a thick-walled cylinder under internal and
Deformations and stresses. Inserting one of the pressure external pressure.
gradients from Table I in Eq. 1, gives the well known
inhomogeneous Euler differential equation. The general solution
is found by superposition ofthe homogeneous with a particular in the tension zone (see Fig. 5). On the other side, in an
solution. Eliminating the integration constants by the boundary impervious cylinder (YJ = 0) only radial compressive stresses are
conditions Or(n) = (1-YJ)Pi and Or(ra) (1-YJ)P a, deforma- possible. The linear pore pressure distribution causes greater
tions and stresses can be calculated. For the logarithmic and radial stresses (tension) than the logarithmic distribution. With
linear pore pressure distribution the corresponding relations are YJ< 1 the radial tensile stresses are somewhat reduced compared
summarized in Table 11. If the cylinder is impervious, ie, YJ = with YJ = I and displaced in the compressive zone towards the
0, the relations in Table 11 are reduced to the well-known Lame internal boundary of the cylinder. The maximum of the radial
formula. tensile stress is located throughout in the inner third of the
Fig. 5 shows the radial stress distribution in a thick-walled cylinder, but not at the inner surface as in the impervious cylinder
cylinder for logarithmic and linear pore pressure. If the pore (compressive stress).
pressure is fully effective (YJ = 1), the radial stresses lie entirely In Fig. 6, it can be seen that the tangential tensile stresses in
the permeable cylinder are always higher than in the impervious
Table I Distribution of pore pressure, pressure gradient and water
losses for thick-walled porous and cracked cylinders.
cylinder. Again the linear pore pressure distribution results in
higher tangential tensile stresses. The same can be noted for the
porous cylinder longitudinal stresses, whereby contrary to the impervious
cracked cylinder cylinder, considerable tensile stresses occur in the longitudinal
of cylinder
pore pressure Pi In(ra/r)+Pa In(r/ri) direction.
distribution per) p p
Influence of mechanical boundary loads. Mechanical
pressure gra- dp pa-pi dp pa-pi boundary loads pF(ri) and pF(r a) in addition to the water pressure
dientdp/dr dr ra-ri dr r'ln(r a/ fi) only change the boundary conditions. Therefore the
(Pi-Pa)2rc' K resulting stresses and deformations can be calculated for the
water losses q q impervious cylinder. The effect of mechanical loads at the
q Qw'g'ln(r a/ri)
internal and external surface can be considered in Table 11 by
(potential flow) (potential flow) adding the following expressions:
internal n .. o c:",,, .. ,,
function of the
boundary stress is
would develop
r /r. greater the lining trnckness
higher is the tensile
tends to from the
is the rock mass.
similar to cooling of the
varying the ratio
in tensile stress between lining and rock if ~ . The
boundary stress lining-rock is not influenced by the ratio
if Kc/K r > l.
The natural tensile strength of the oounoarv 11n"n ....._ ..r'f>v
normally very small. High tensile
transmitted to the if the lining is nrestressed
... (4)

... (5)

Computation of pressure tunnels

Around a pressure tunnel there are zones with different
mechanical and permeability properties (lining, grouted zone,
cracked and fractured zones, etc). Ifthe zones are approximately
radially and have a homogeneous isotropic material
behaviour, they could be modelled with thick-walled cylinders. lining fair,
Furthermore, it is assumed that fractured roC;k masses behave Fig. 8: Concrete-lined pressure tunnel. Mechanical boundary-
stress between lining and rock versus lining thickness for different
ratio of elasticity modulus.

rock zone.
at the inner (due
strength of concrete. The
the tensile
stresses and the pressure gradient seepage flow is
The head at the outside ofthe cracked lining (pa) or rock
mass is the continuity condition. Normally, the
head in the cracked zones (ie, unreinforced linings) is
neatunbte and therefore nearly the whole internal pressure
becomes effective the boundary of the uncracked zones +
(Pi ::::; p, ::::; Pf). The total width of the cracks in the lining has to
correspond with the tangential displacement of the rock mass.
This relation allows the estimation of crack width (Eq,
(2a) = u(ra)2rr/n . . . (7)
New cracks develop only in unfractured (bulky) rock mass.
Otherwise the existing fractures are opened radially so much that
they loose any contact. In such cracked or fractured zones the
relation between width and tangential displacement is given by linear pore pressure gradient

(2a) u(rf)x2rr/n ... (8)

Contrary to concrete linings (Eq. 7), the fractures in rock masses
are enlarged only by a part of the tangential displacement. This
reduction, due to the elastic compression strain, is considered
in Eq. 8 with the factor x, which is approximately 1 Er/Eh.
Normally the rock modulus Eh (measured from hand-piece)
exceeds considerable the rock mass modulus Er and therefore x
is near 1.
The cracked or fractured zones in rock will expand as far as
the natural compressive rock stresses surrounding the tunnel are
greater than the stresses from the internal pressure. If the natural
rock stresses cannot restrict the cracked zone, the bearing
f"H'V""1h, of the rock masses is exceeded.

number of cracks weak zones and +------"-

in an unreinforced concrete
transition floor-wall.
It can be medium rock
reduces the
~ .. £,,'tin~ (per cent) r-r-:- -,-- -,

in linings and could therefore reduce

cracks. Grouting is most effective in 400 1--... ..- ----------+- --..... 1
rock masses (see Fig. 11 right).
economical depth of grouting is
about 1 to 2 radius of the tunnel. The
influence of grouting quality is more
important than the grouting depth (see
Fig. 11). Therefore it is better to lessen
the distance between the boreholes than
to lengthen the boreholes.

Mechanical-hydraulic coupling
Influence of fracture deformation on
secondary permeability. Due to internal.
water pressure around the -nmnel, the
width of the fracture will increase. In the
following it is assumed that the natural
rock stresses exceed the stresses due to
internal pressure. Thus the fractures are
able to transmit restricted tensile
stresses, otherwise a "cracked" zone
(see "Influence of cracks") would be
The coupling between stresses or
deformations and rock mass permea-
bility is based on the following statement: In a fixed circle Naturally the coupled calculation is only sensible if the permea-
around the tunnel the total sum of change in fracture width bility properties of the rock masses are known adequately.
is equal to the tangential displacement due to internal water
pressure. Assuming laminar, parallel flow in the fractures this Design criteria for pervious pressure tunnels
relationship is: For designing pervious pressure tunnels, three criteria are
K(r) Km + --=---'-'--- ... (9) • Avoiding cracks in the lining;
3( 1 1 )2 • Limiting water losses;
6Vw ttr 7i; + 7h • Ensuring the bearing capacity of the rock masses.
Which one of these criteria governs the design in a particular case
With the above equation the change in permeability in fractured depends on the respective boundary conditions.
rock masses is proportional to the cube of the radial displacement
u(r) and inversely proportional to the square of fracture density Avoiding cracks in lining. Cracks in the lining caused by
(l/b, + l/b2)2. Eq. 9 is only valid for high fracture density (see internal water pressure can be prevented either by reducing
earlier section). forces in lining or by increasing resistance of the lining.
Measures for reducing forces in lining are: increasing thickness
Thick-walled cylinder with stress-dependant permeability. of lining , rock grouting, drainage and controlled commencement
Assuming Darcy flow, the pressure gradient dp/dr in the of operation. These measures are successful only at relatively
cylinder with variable permeability K(r) is derived from the small internal pressure head (Pi < 20 bar) and good rock quality
continuity condition: (Ei/E, < 3). At higher pressure heads cracks can be avoided
1 only by increasing lining resistance, which is possible by
dp prestressing. Different prestressing techniques have been
dr - (Pi pal r, . . . (10) developed: prestressing by rock grouting'? or gap

This pressure gradient, combined with Eq. 9 and inserted in

Eq. 1, gives a differential equation which can be solved only with
a numerical method, for example with the finite difference E
method. Fig. 12 shows the calculated distribution of radial
displacements in a thick-walled cylinder; the permeability is
dominated from two fracture sets. The mechanical-hydraulic
coupling results in an increase of radial displacement compared
with the cylinder with constant permeability. The difference is
obvious above all towards the outside.

Pressure tunnel with stress-dependant permeability. As

mentioned before, in the radial-symmetrical case, pressure
tunnels can be modelled with several thick-walled cylinders.
Detailed studies of the main parameters have shown that the
radius r (m) ra
effect of mechanical-hydraulic coupling is insignificant in
Fig. 12: Distribution of radial displacement in a thick-walled,
calculating pure mechanical data such as stresses and fractured cylinder. Comparison of deformation-dependent with
deformations of pressure tunnels. However for the quantitative constant permeability.
description of water losses and reach of seepage flow pattern it (Assumed parameters: E/Pi 1000, U 0.2, Ko = 10- 6 m/s,
is essential to use a stress-dependant permeability (see Fig. 13). "L1/bi 10,y/ x 1.0)
The consideration
mathematical rennement

Laboratory of

Ee/Er 3.0;

and active

losses. of a
pressure tunnel is dictated and depth under
water table as well as long as the safety of the
nr~'CC'lT'''' tunnel is not the allowable amount of water 6. BROWN, E. T., AND BRAY ,J. W., "Rock-support interaction calculations
determined only by economic considerations. Besides for pressure shafts and tunnels. " ISRM Symposium Aachen , Vol. 2; 1982.
limiting water losses should ZIENKIEWICZ, O. "Stress of hydraulic structures including pore
r!1c,,,,,t,,,,,,,'r<:>t',nn of some (anhydrite, rI'\'I'lrwl1t"" pressure effects." 1963.
8. ROBINSON, L. H. , "Some interpretation of pore fluid
etc) or washing out of joint-fillings">'. In addition, effects in rock failure." 11th Rock Mechanics, Berkeley,
water losses reaching the natural ground surface have California, USA; 1969.
occasionally in the past produced landslides-l-":". Water losses 9. SERAFIM, J. L., "Influence of joint water in the stability of structures in rock
can be limited avoiding cracks in the concrete lining (see drainage measure." Proceeding ISRM-Symposium: Percolation through
fissured rock, Stuttgart T4 (General Report) 1972.
above) and to some extent by reinforcing as well as rock 10. WITTKE W., Felsmechanik, "Grundlagen fur wirtschaftliches Bauen im
grouting. If these measures are not effective, special sealings Fels.' Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Tokyo; 1984.
such as plastic sheeting or thin steel tubes have to be used 27 ,13,2o . 11. G. , "Wirkung des Kluftwasserdruckes auf einen
Felskorper. Felsbau 2 No. 1984.
12. SCHLEISS, A., "Bemessung von Druckstollen. Teil I: Literatur,
Bearing capacity ofrock masses. If the stresses in rock due to Grundlagen, Felshydraulik insbesondere Sickerstromungen durch
internal water pressure are greater than the natural stresses, the Auskleidung und Fels." Mitteilung der Versuchsanstalt fur Wasserbau,
tunnel will probably fail because the expansion of the "cracked" Hydrologie und Glaziologie an der ETH Zurich, Switzerland, No. 78; 1985.
rock zone cannot be limited. Considering a single fracture, for 13. SEEBER, G., "Power conduits for high-head plants." Water Power & Dam
Construction, June 1985; July 1985.
example in the tunnel roof, this hydro-fracturing is often 14. BouvARD, M., "Les fuites des galeries en charge en terrain sec. Role du
compared with the effect of a hydraulic press": 13. Assuming revetement, des injections, du terrain." In Houille Blanche, No. 4; 1975.
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normally reduced to a criteria of minimal overburden28,29,3o . But and grouting considering the formation of cracks in the lining and rock. "
such rule-of-thumb criteria are bound up with the local Hvdrotechnical Construction, No. 3; March 1977.
geological situation and therefore are not generally applicable. 17. KUNJUNDZIC, IVANOVIC, K., 0., AND
Of course the natural stresses in rock masses can be influenced
storage hydroelectric
locating the tunnel deep enough 18. KIESER, A., "Druckstollenbau.
capacity of 19. H., 'Vorspanninjektion
'rI'\1'\""rUl'Ar.c tunnels with No.
of influence around the tunnel
Scandinavia. "

in Druckstollen.' und
tngenieurueotogte . Supplement IV; 1968.
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phy." Water Power & Dam November;
30. SHARP, J. C., AND GONANO, C. P., ing
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