Time-dependency of Rocks and Implications Associated with Tunnelling
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The formulation of a geotechnical model and the associated prediction of the mechanical behaviour is a challenge engineers need to overcome in order to optimize tunnel design and meet project requirements. Special challenges arise in cases where rocks and rockmasses are susceptible to time-effects and time-dependent processes govern. Progressive rockmass deformation and instability, time-dependent overloading of support and delayed failures are commonly the result of time-dependent phenomena. The research work presented in this thesis serves as an attempt to provide more insight into the time-dependent behaviour of rocks. Emphasis is given on investigating and analyzing creep deformation and time-dependent stress relaxation phenomenon at the laboratory scale and in-depth analyses are presented. This thesis further develops the understanding of these phenomena and practical yet scientific tools for estimating and predicting the long-term strength and the maximum stress relaxation of rock materials are proposed. The identification of the existence of three distinct behavioural stages during stress relaxation is presented and discussed. The main observations associated with time-dependent behaviour are employed in numerical analyses and applied at the tunnel scale. A new approach for simulating and capturing the time-dependent behaviour coupled with the tunnel advancement effect is also developed and analyzed. Guidance is provided to increase the understanding of the support-rockmass interaction and the main implications and significance of time-dependent behaviour associated with rock tunnelling are discussed. The work presented in this thesis advances the scientific understanding of time-dependent rock and rockmass behaviour, increases the awareness of how such phenomena are captured numerically, and lays out a framework for dealing with such deformations when predicting tunnel deformations. Practical aspects of this thesis are also presented, which will increase their usage in the associated industries and close the gap between the scientific and industry communities.