Examination of Geological Influence on Machine Excavation of Highly Stressed Tunnels in Massive Hard Rock

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Villeneuve, Marlene
Rock Mechanics , Numerical Modelling , Geological Engineering , Tunnel Boring Machine , Brittle Rock , Stress , Constitutive Model , Alpine Tunnel , Geomechanical Characterisation , Tunnelling
A combined geological and rock mechanics approach to tunnel face behaviour prediction, based on improved understanding of brittle fracture processes during TBM excavation, was developed to complement empirical design and performance prediction for TBM tunnelling in hard rock geological conditions. A major challenge of this research was combining geological and engineering terminology, methods, and objectives to construct a unified Geomechanical Characterisation Scheme. The goal of this system is to describe the spalling sensitivity of hard, massive, highly stressed crystalline rock, often deformed by tectonic processes. Geological, lab strength testing and TBM machine data were used to quantify the impact of interrelated geological factors, such as mineralogy, grain size, fabric and the heterogeneity of all these factors at micro and macro scale, on spalling sensitivity and to combine these factors within a TBM advance framework. This was achieved by incorporating aspects of geology, tectonics, mineralogy, material strength theory, fracture process theory and induced stresses. Three main approaches were used to verify and calibrate the Geomechanical Characterisation Scheme: geological and TBM data collection from tunnels in massive, highly-stressed rock, interpretation of published mineral-specific investigations of rock yielding processes, and numerical modelling the rock yielding processes in simulated strength tests and the TBM cutting process. The TBM performance investigation was used to identify the mechanism behind the chipping processes and quantify adverse conditions for chipping, including tough rock conditions and stress induced face instability. The literature review was used to identify the critical geological parameters for rock yielding processes and obtain strength and stiffness values for mineral-specific constitutive models. A texture-generating algorithm was developed to create realistic rock analogues and to provide user control over geological characteristics such as mineralogy, grain size and fabric. This methodology was applied to investigate the TBM chipping process to calibrate the Geomechanical Characterisation Scheme. A Chipping Resistance Factor was developed to combine the quantified geological characteristic factors and laboratory strength values to predict conditions with high risk of poor chipping performance arising from tough rock. A Stress-Related Chip Potential Factor was developed to estimate conditions with high risk of advance rate reduction arising from stress-induced face instability.
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