Influence of fault zone on the respect distance and margin for excavation: a case study of the F4 fault in the Jijicao rock block, China

  • Peixing ZhangEmail author
  • Xiaozhao Li
  • Zhen Huang
  • Yangsong Zhang
  • Xihe Yao
Original Paper


A high-level radioactive waste repository requires a rock mass to have good retardation properties. However, because a fault zone can be a potential seepage conduit for nuclides, its influence on the hydraulic conductivity of that fault zone must be assessed. Key sets of fractures were found based on an assessment of the statistical characteristics of fracture orientations and the tectonic analysis of a representative north–east fault in the Jijicao rock block in the Beishan region of Gansu Province, China. The trace midpoint density of each set was calculated using ArcGIS, a geographic information system, and a model of the hydraulic conductivity in the fault zone was developed based on a water pressure test and calculations, such that the respect distance and margin for excavation of this fault could also be determined. The calculated results show that the fault core and host rock are less conductive when the damage zone is 10- to 100-fold more conductive due to its greater density of fractures. The density is stable at 100 m, while the key set is stable until 65 m, and the calculated hydraulic conductivity is stable until 25 m; these results are consistent with the results of water pressure analysis.


High-level radioactive waste repository Fault zone Respect distance Margin for excavation Trace midpoint density Water pressure test Hydraulic conductivity 



This study was financially supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, No.2013CB036001), the National Defense Key Program (No. [2015]297), the Postdoctoral Innovative Talent Support Program of China (BX201700113), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41702326), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province (20171BAB206022), and the State Key Laboratory for GeoMechanics and Deep Underground Engineering, China University of Mining & Technology (SKLGDUEK1703). The support received for this project from the Beijing Research Institute of Uranium Geology is greatly appreciated.


  1. Agosta F, Prasad M, Aydin A (2007) Physical properties of carbonate fault rocks, Fucino basin (Central Italy): implications for fault seal in platform carbonates. Geofluids 7(1):19–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson J (1999) SR 97: Data and data uncertainties, compilation of data and evaluation of data uncertainties for radio-nuclide transport calculations. SKB Technical Report TR-99-09. Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. (SKB), StockholmGoogle Scholar
  3. Bauer JF, Meier S, Philipp SL (2015) Architecture, fracture system, mechanical properties and permeability structure of a fault zone in lower Triassic sandstone, upper Rhine graben. Tectonophysics 647-648:132–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruhn RL, Parry WT, Yonkee WA, Thompson T (1994) Fracturing and hydrothermal alteration in normal fault zones. Pure Appl Geophys 142(3–4):609–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Caine JS, Evans JP, Forster CB (1996) Fault zone architecture and permeability structure. Geology 24:1025–1028CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen L, Wang J, Zong ZH, Liu J, Su R, Guo YH, Jin YX, Chen WM, Ji RL, Zhao HG, Wang XY, Tian X, Luo H, Zhang M (2015) A new rock mass classification system Q HLW for high-level radioactive waste disposal. Eng Geol 190(2):33–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen WM, Wang J, Jin YX, Zhao HG, Li YF, Zhong X (2009) Geological feature of Jijicao block in Beishan pre-selected area for the disposal of high level radioactive waste. World Nucl Geosci 26(2):109–113,118Google Scholar
  8. Chester FM, Logan JM (1986) Implications for mechanical properties of brittle faults from observations of the punchbowl fault zone, California. Pure Appl Geophys 124(1–2):79–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Doughty PT (2003) Clay smear seals and fault sealing potential of an exhumed growth fault, Rio Grande rift, New Mexico. AAPG Bull 87(3):427–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Evans JP, Forster CB, Goddard JV (1997) Permeability of fault-related rocks, and implications for hydraulic structure of fault zones. J Struct Geol 19(11):1393–1404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fisher QJ, Knipe RJ (1998) Fault sealing processes in Siliclastic sentiments, in faulting, fault sealing and fluid flow in hydrocarbon reservoirs. Geol Soc London Spec Publ 147:117–134Google Scholar
  12. Gao J, Yang CH, Wang GB (2010) Discussion on zoning method of structural homogeneity of rock mass in Beishan of Gansu province. Rock Soil Mech 31(2):588–592, 598Google Scholar
  13. Guo L, Li XZ, Zhou YY, Zhang YS (2015) Generation and verification of three-dimensional network of fractured rock masses stochastic discontinuities based on digitalization. Environ Earth Sci 73:7075–7088CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Haneberg WC, Mozley PS, Moore JC, Goodwin LB (1999) Fault zone architecture and fluid flow: insights from field data and numerical modeling. In: Haneberg WC, Mozley PS, Moore JC, Goodwin LB (eds) Faults and subsurface fluid flow in the shallow crust. American Geophysical Union, Washington D.C., pp 101–127Google Scholar
  15. Ishibashi M, Yoshida H, Sasao E, Yuguchi T (2016) Long term behavior of hydrogeological structures associated with faulting: an example from the deep crystalline rock in the Mizunami URL, Central Japan. Eng Geol 208:114–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jin DL, Yuan DJ, Li XG, Zheng H (2018) An in-tunnel grouting protection method for excavating twin tunnels in beneath an existing tunnel. Tunn Undergr Space Tech 71:27–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kamb WB (1959) Ice petrofabric observations from blue Glacier, Washington, in relation to theory and experiment. J Geophys Res 64(11):1891–1909CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Knipe RJ (1993) The influence of fault zone processes and diagenesis on fluid flow. In: Horbury AD, Robinson AG (eds) Diagenesis and basin development. AAPG Stud Geol 36:135–151Google Scholar
  19. Knipe J, Lloyd GE (1994) Microstructural analysis of faulting in quartzite, Assynt NW Scotland: implications for fault zone evolution. Pure Appl Geophys 143(1–3):229–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Laslett GM (1982) Censoring and edge effects in areal and line transect sampling of rock joint traces. Math Geol 14(2):125–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lee YM, Jeong J (2011) Evaluation of nuclide release scenarios for a hypothetical LILW repository. Prog Nucl Energy 53(6):760–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee YM, Choi HJ , Kim K (2016) A preliminary comparison study of two options for disposal of high-level waste. Prog Nucl Energy 90:229–239Google Scholar
  23. Lei GW, Yang CH, Wang GB, Chen SW, Wei X, Huo L (2016) The development law and mechanicalcauses of fault influenced zone. Chin J Rock Mech Eng 35(2):231–241Google Scholar
  24. Li P, Lu WX, Yang W, Li J (2007) Determination of hydraulic conductivity tensor of fractured rock mass in reservoir. J Hydr Eng 38(11):1393–1396Google Scholar
  25. Li SC, Liu B, Xu XJ, Nie LC, Liu ZY, Song J, Sun HF, Chen L, Fan KR (2017) An overview of ahead geological prospecting in tunnelling. Tunn Undergr Space Tech 63:69–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Li XZ, Zhou YY, Wang ZT, Zhang YS, Guo L, Wang YZ (2011) Effects of measurement range on estimation of trace length of discontinuities. Chin J Rock Mech Eng 30(10):2049–2056Google Scholar
  27. Matonti C, Lamarche J, Guglielmi Y, Marié L (2012) Structural and petrophysical characterization of mixed conduit/seal fault zones in carbonates: example from the Castellas fault (SE France). J Struct Geol 39(3):103–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mauldon M (1998) Estimating mean fracture trace length and density from observations in convex windows. Rock Mech. Rock Engng. 31(4):201–216Google Scholar
  29. McCaig AM (1988) Deep fluid circulation in fault zones. Geology 16(10):867–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McGrath AG, Davison I (1995) Damage zone geometry around fault tips. J Struct Geol 17(7):1011–1024CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Micarelli L, Benedicto A, Wibberley CAJ (2006) Structural evolution and permeability of normal fault zones in highly porous carbonate rocks. J Struct Geol 28(7):1214–1227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Molli G, Cortecci G, Vaselli L, Ottia G, Cortoppassi A, Dinelli E, Mussi M, Barbieri M (2010) Fault zone structure and fluid-rock interaction of a high angle normal fault in Carrara marble(NW Tuscany, Italy). J Struct Geol 32:1334–1348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Munier R, Hökmark H (2004) Respect distances. Rationale and means of computation. SKB R-04-17. Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. (SKB), StockholmGoogle Scholar
  34. Munier R, Stenberg L, Stanfors R, Milnes AG, Hermanson J, Triumf C-A (2003) Geological site descriptive model. A strategy for model development during site investigations. SKB R-03-07. Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. (SKB), StockholmGoogle Scholar
  35. Pere T, Aro S, Mattila J, Ahokas H, Vaittinen T, Wikström L (2012) Layout determining features,their influence zones and respect distances at the olkiluoto site. POSIVA report 2012–21. Posiva Oy, OlkiluotoGoogle Scholar
  36. Rawling GC, Goodwin LB, Wilson JL (2001) Internal architecture, permeability structure, and hydrologic significance of contrasting fault-zone types. Geology 29(1):43–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sibson RH (1996) Structural permeability of fluid-driven fault-fracture meshes. J Struct Geol 18(8):1031–1042CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Storti F, Billi A, Salvini F (2003) Particle size distributions in natural carbonate fault rocks: insights for non-self-similar cataclasis. Earth Planet Sc Lett 206(1):173–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB (2011) Long-term safety for the final repository for spent nuclear fuel at Forsmark: main report of the SR-Site project. SKB Report TR-11-01. Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. (SKB), StockholmGoogle Scholar
  40. Vollmer FW (1995) C program for automatic contouring of spherical orientaition data using a modified Kamb method. Comput Geosci 21(1):31–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Walker D, Gylling B (1998) Site-scale groundwater flow modelling of Aberg. SKB Technical Report TR 98–23. Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. (SKB), StockholmGoogle Scholar
  42. Walker D, Gylling B (1999) Site scale groundwater flow modelling of Ceberg. SKB Technical Report TR 99–13. Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. (SKB), StockholmGoogle Scholar
  43. Walker RJ, Holdsworth RE, Imber J, Faulkner DR, Armitage PJ (2013) Fault zone architecture and fluid flow in interlayered basaltic volcaniclastic-crystalline sequences. J Struct Geol 51(6):92–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wang P, Li XZ, Zhang YS, Zhao XB, Zhou YY, Fu AX, Wu WB (2013) Gis based geostatistical analysis of fracture density of granite rock in Beishan area Gansu Province. J Eng Geol 21(1):115–122Google Scholar
  45. Yang CH, Bao HT, Wang GB, Mei T (2006) Estimation of mean trace length and trace midpoint density of rock mass joints. Chin J Rock Mech Eng 25(12):2589–2592Google Scholar
  46. Yoshida H, Takeuchi M, Metcalfe R (2005) Long-term stability of flow-path structure in crystalline rocks distributed in an orogenic belt, Japan. Eng Geol 78(3):275–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yoshida H, Maejima T, Nakajima S, Nakamura Y, Yoshida S (2013a) Features of fractures forming flow paths in granitic rock at an LPG storage site in the orogenic field of Japan. Eng Geol 152:77–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Yoshida H, Metcalfe R, Ishibashi M, Minami M (2013b) Long-term stability of fracture systems and their behaviour as flow paths in uplifting granitic rocks from the Japanese orogenic field. Geofluids 13(1):45–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yoshida H, Nagatomo A, Oshima A, Metcalfe R (2014) Geological characterisation of the active Atera fault in Central Japan: implications for defining fault exclusion criteria in crystalline rocks around radioactive waste repositories. Eng Geol 177(14):93–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zhang WG, Goh ATC (2015) Numerical study of pillar stresses and interaction effects for twin rock caverns. Int J Numer Anal Met 39(2):193–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhang L, Einstein HH (1998) Estimating the mean trace length of rock discontinuities.Rock. Mech Rock Eng 31(4):217–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhao XG, Wang J, Cai M, Ma LK, Zong ZH, Wang XY, Su R, Chen WM, Zhao HG, Chen QC, An QM, Qin XH, Ou MY, Zhao JS (2013) In-situ stress measurements and regional stress field assessment of the Beishan area, China. Eng Geol 163(16):26–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zheng J (2016) Digital method to acquire geometric parameters of discontinuity and research on 3D network model. Nanjing University of Science & Technology, NanjingGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhou YY, Li XZ, Guo L (2012) Delineation of major joint sets for Gansu Beishan area. J Disas Prev Mitig Eng 32(Supp 2):188–193.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peixing Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xiaozhao Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhen Huang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Yangsong Zhang
    • 4
  • Xihe Yao
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Earth Sciences and EngineeringNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.NJU-ECE Institute for Underground space and GeoenvironmentNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.School of Resources and Environment EngineeringJiangxi University of Science and TechnologyGanzhouChina
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringNanjing University of Science and TechnologyNanjingChina

Personalised recommendations