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Amann F.,ETH Zurich | Undul O.,Istanbul University | Kaiser P.K.,Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation
Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering | Year: 2014

Brittle fracture processes were hypothesized by several researches to cause a damage zone around an underground excavation in sulfate-rich clay rock when the stress exceeds the crack initiation threshold, and may promote swelling by crystal growth in newly formed fractures. In this study, laboratory experiments such as unconfined and confined compression tests with acoustic emission monitoring, and microstructural and mineralogical analyses are used to explain brittle fracture processes in sulfate-rich clay rock from the Gipskeuper formation in Switzerland. This rock type typically shows a heterogeneous rock fabric consisting of distinct clayey layers and stiff heterogeneities such as anhydrite layers, veins or nodules. The study showed that at low deviatoric stress, the failure behavior is dominated by the strength of the clayey matrix where microcracks are initiated. With increasing deviatoric stress or strain, growing microcracks eventually are arrested at anhydrite veins, and cracks develop either aligned with the interface between clayey layers and anhydrite veins, or penetrate anhydrite veins. These cracks often link micro-fractured regions in the specimen. This study also suggest that fracture localization in sulfate-rich clay rocks, which typically show a heterogeneous rock fabric, does not take place in the pre-peak range and renders unstable crack propagation less likely. Sulfate-rich clay rocks typically contain anhydrite veins at various scales. At the scale of a tunnel, anhydrite layers or veins may arrest growing fractures and prevent the disintegration of the rock mass. The rock mass may be damaged when the threshold stress for microcrack initiation is exceeded, thus promoting swelling by crystal growth in extension fractures, but the self-supporting capacity of the rock mass may be maintained rendering the possibility for rapidly propagating instability less likely. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Wien.

Underground construction in rock prone to swelling behaviour may result in long-term problems, especially in the invert, if the structure cannot resist swelling pressures. Swelling phenomena are not only a consequence of ground conditions but are strongly influenced by excavation and construction procedures. Evidence of brittle failure observed in the field will be presented and analyzed to prove that brittle failure is the trigger effect of swelling phenomena in shale and clay-anhydrite rocks. Brittle fractures have also been observed in laboratory swelling tests. Brittle failure can create cracks that form pathways for water, leading to changes in the stress-state, and as a consequence trigger swelling phenomena. In clay-anhydrite rock, the swelling pressure is caused by the crystallization pressure of gypsum. The excavation and construction procedures used for the tunnel are a decisive factor for controlling swelling behaviour. © 2010 Ernst & Sohn Verlag für Architektur und technische Wissenschaften GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin.

Amann F.,ETH Zurich | Kaiser P.,Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation | Button E.A.,Geoconsult Pvt. Ltd. India
Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering | Year: 2012

The brittle failure behavior of an over-consolidated clay shale (Opalinus Clay) in undrained rapid triaxial compression was studied. The confining stress levels were chosen to simulate the range of confining stresses relevant for underground excavations at the Mont Terri Underground Research Laboratory, and to investigate the transition from axial splitting failure to macroscopic shear failure. Micro-crack initiation was observed throughout the confining stress range utilized in this study at a differential stress of 2.1 MPa on average, which indicates that friction was not mobilized at this stage of brittle failure. The rupture stress was dependent on confinement indicating friction mobilization during the brittle failure process. With increasing confinement net volumetric strain decreased suggesting that dilation was suppressed, which is possibly related to a change in the failure mode. At confining stress levels ≥0.5 MPa specimen rupture was associated with axial splitting. With increasing confinement, transition to a macroscopic shearing mode was observed. Multi-stage triaxial tests consistently showed lower strengths than single-stage tests, demonstrating cumulative damage in the specimens. Both the Mohr-Coulomb and Hoek-Brown failure criteria could not satisfactorily fit the data over the entire confining stress range. A bi-linear or S-shaped failure criterion was found to satisfactorily fit the test data over the entire confinement range studied. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

Yong S.,ETH Zurich | Kaiser P.K.,Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation | Loew S.,ETH Zurich
International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences | Year: 2013

In this study, the rock mass response ahead of an advancing test tunnel in the Opalinus Clay at the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory (Switzerland) was investigated. Characterisation of the excavation-induced damage zone at Mont Terri is a challenging task due to the anisotropic and heterogeneous nature of the shale: pronounced bedding leads to intact rock anisotropy and prevalent small-scale tectonic shears lead to rock mass heterogeneity. Rock mass damage ahead of an experimental tunnel or niche was characterised through single-hole seismic wave velocity logging, borehole digital optical televiewer imaging, and geological drillcore mapping. Three-dimensional elastic stress analyses were completed and showed that rock mass degradation can be correlated to changes in the maximum to minimum principal stress ratio (i.e., spalling limit). Numerical results showed that close to the niche boundary, unloading lowers stress ratios, which correspond with decreasing seismic wave amplitudes and velocities; thus, indicating that strength degradation resulted from increasing crack-induced damage. Considerations of tectonic shears and distance from a previously stressed volume of rock were necessary in understanding both the damage state and extent ahead of the face. By integrating field and numerical data, the investigation showed that geological structures (i.e., bedding and bedding-parallel tectonic shears) were most influential near the entrance but played a lesser role as the niche deepened. Additionally, a portion of the niche is located in the perturbed zone of the intersecting Gallery04. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Yong S.,ETH Zurich | Kaiser P.K.,Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation | Loew S.,ETH Zurich
International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences | Year: 2010

The Opalinus Clay is currently under investigation as a potential host rock for deep geological disposal of nuclear waste at the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory in Switzerland. Bedding in the Opalinus Clay at Mont Terri is ubiquitous and highly persistent leading to mechanical transverse isotropy. Adding to the complexity at the Rock Laboratory is the frequent occurrence of small-scale tectonic shears.This paper explores the influences of millimetre-thick tectonic shears and bedding on the development of induced fractures mapped in the EZ-B field experiment at the research facility. A series of numerical analyses were carried out by increasing the geological complexity of the host rock and comparing the redistributed stress field with geological maps of the induced fractures. The analyses show that if tectonic shears are not kinematically constrained, mobilisation of the shears can play a key role in the development of the induced fracture network and therefore, be a primary factor in the development of the excavation damaged zone. This illustrates that under certain conditions rock mass heterogeneity (in this case, resulting from the tectonic shears) may dominate over rock matrix anisotropy (in this case, resulting from bedding) and must be considered when predicting the induced fracture network of the excavation damaged zone. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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