Rock mass mechanical properties are strongly controlled by the fractures they contain. Their determination raises strong issues for many rock-engineering applications, like underground repository safety assessment, support design, slope stability or mine caving. To compensate the impossibility to perform direct in-situ measures of these properties at appropriate scales, empirical approaches classically aim to determine the rock mass equivalent properties from simple indicators. Here we propose an approach based on the complete representation of the rock mass as an intact rock with a population of discrete fractures through it (the Discrete Fracture Network). The core of the approach is the definition, at the rock mass scale, of the deformation induced by each fracture locally, including the fracture mechanical and geometrical parameters, the remote stress conditions and the interactions with the rest of the fracture population. Depending on the conditions, the resulting scaling and anisotropic effects can be critical. The method is applied to the Forsmark site in Sweden. We show that two main scaling regimes occur, where the shift from the one to the other is controlled by the ratio between the intact rock modulus, the typical fracture stiffness and the DFN size distribution. Beyond the scaling issue we quantify the resulting level of anisotropy.

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