Laboratory Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity Logging for Determination of Elastic Properties from Rock Core

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Blacklock, Natalie
Laboratory Ultrasonic Testing , Elastic Modulus , Rockburst Hazard , Drill Core Assessment
During the development of deep underground excavations spalling and rockbursting have been recognized as significant mechanisms of violent brittle failure. In order to predict whether violent brittle failure will occur, it is important to identify the location of stiffness transitions that are associated with geologic structure. One approach to identify the effect of geologic structures is to apply borehole geophysical tools ahead of the tunnel advance. Stiffness transitions can be identified using mechanical property analysis surveys that combine acoustic velocity and density data to calculate acoustic estimates of elastic moduli. However, logistical concerns arise since the approach must be conducted at the advancing tunnel face. As a result, borehole mechanical property analyses are rarely used. Within this context, laboratory ultrasonic pulse velocity testing has been proposed as a potential alternative to borehole mechanical property analysis since moving the analysis to the laboratory would remove logistical constraints and improve safety for the evaluators. In addition to the traditional method of conducting velocity testing along the core axis, two new methodologies for point-focused testing were developed across the core diameter, and indirectly along intact lengths of drill core. The indirect test procedure was implemented in a continuous ultrasonic velocity test program along 573m of drill core to identify key geologic structures that generated transitions in ultrasonic elastic moduli. The test program was successful at identifying the location of geologic contacts, igneous intrusions, faults and shear structures. Ultrasonic values of Young’s modulus and bulk modulus were determined at locations of significant velocity transitions to examine the potential for energy storage and energy release. Comparison of results from different ultrasonic velocity test configurations determined that the indirect test configuration provided underestimates for values of Young’s modulus. This indicated that the test procedure will require modifications to improve coupling of the transducers to the core surface. In order to assess whether laboratory testing can be an alternative to borehole surveys, laboratory velocity testing must be directly assessed with results from acoustic borehole logging. There is also potential for the laboratory velocity program to be used to assess small scale stiffness changes, differences in mineral composition and the degree of fracturing of drill core.
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