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Modeling of damage, permeability changes and pressure responses during excavation of the TSX tunnel in granitic rock at URL, Canada

Abstract

This paper presents numerical modeling of excavation-induced damage, permeability changes, and fluid-pressure responses during excavation of a test tunnel associated with the tunnel sealing experiment (TSX) at the Underground Research Laboratory (URL) in Canada. Four different numerical models were applied using a wide range of approaches to model damage and permeability changes in the excavation disturbed zone (EDZ) around the tunnel. Using in situ calibration of model parameters, the modeling could reproduce observed spatial distribution of damage and permeability changes around the tunnel as a combination of disturbance induced by stress redistribution around the tunnel and by the drill-and-blast operation. The modeling showed that stress-induced permeability increase above the tunnel is a result of micro and macrofracturing under high deviatoric (shear) stress, whereas permeability increase alongside the tunnel is a result of opening of existing microfractures under decreased mean stress. The remaining observed fracturing and permeability changes around the periphery of the tunnel were attributed to damage from the drill-and-blast operation. Moreover, a reasonably good agreement was achieved between simulated and observed excavation-induced pressure responses around the TSX tunnel for 1 year following its excavation. The simulations showed that these pressure responses are caused by poroelastic effects as a result of increasing or decreasing mean stress, with corresponding contraction or expansion of the pore volume. The simulation results for pressure evolution were consistent with previous studies, indicating that the observed pressure responses could be captured in a Biot model using a relatively low Biot-Willis’ coefficient, α ≈ 0.2, a porosity of n ≈ 0.007, and a relatively low permeability of k ≈ 2 × 10−22 m2, which is consistent with the very tight, unfractured granite at the site.

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Acknowledgments

Funding to the LBNL research team and the first author was provided by the Swedish Nuclear Waste Power Inspectorate (SKI). Funds for modeling work by other research teams were provided by the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), and the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB). It is emphasized that the views expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and cannot necessarily be taken to represent the views of any of the organizations listed above.

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Correspondence to Jonny Rutqvist.

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Rutqvist, J., Börgesson, L., Chijimatsu, M. et al. Modeling of damage, permeability changes and pressure responses during excavation of the TSX tunnel in granitic rock at URL, Canada. Environ Geol 57, 1263–1274 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00254-008-1515-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00254-008-1515-6

Keywords

  • Coupled processes
  • Excavation disturbed zone
  • Damage
  • Permeability
  • TSX