Abstract

This paper presents results of ongoing research being carried out at the University of New South Wales into improved methods for estimating rock mass strength. In this paper the rock mass strength of Hawkesbury Sandstone is assessed. An estimate is first made based on an extensive database of intact rock strength data being collated by the author and the assumption that the rock mass strength can be determined following the GSI approach. The resulting strength envelope is then compared with nine documented case studies where stress induced failure has occurred in tunnels excavated within Hawkesbury Sandstone. The case studies cover a range of conditions:

  • construction dates from 1880s to 2006

  • spans from 3.2 to 12.5 m

  • depths from 17 to 124 m

  • excavation methods of drill & blast, roadheader and TBM.

Finite element modelling is used to assess the likely magnitudes of the stresses present at the time of failure. The finite element models are interrogated to provide the values of major and minor principal stresses in and around the mapped failure zone. Failure and stable points are then compared to the rock mass strength envelope(s) of Hawkesbury Sandstone derived using the Hoek-Brown criterion and spalling criteria. The Hoek-Brown rock mass strength envelope differentiates between the ‘failed’ and ‘stable’ zones remarkably well.

Introduction

Stress induced failures of rock masses are fortunately rare in civil tunnelling. However, when they occur they provide an opportunity to calibrate an assumed rock mass strength criterion. This paper compares an estimate of rock mass strength for the Hawkesbury Sandstone with the following cases where stress induced failure occurred in tunnels excavated within Hawkesbury Sandstone.

  • Cataract & Devines Tunnels of the Upper Canal (Upper Nepean Scheme)

  • Malabar Outfall Tunnel

  • Sydney liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) Storage Cavern

  • Northside Storage Tunnel

  • Cross City Tunnel

  • Lane Cove Tunnel

Two-dimensional finite element modelling is used to assess the likely magnitudes of the stresses present at the time of the failures. The principal stresses are then compared to the assessed rock mass strength envelope(s) of Hawkesbury Sandstone derived using the 2002 Hoek-Brown criterion (Hoek et al., 2002) and the spalling criterion suggested by Diederichs (2007).

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