The influence of different supports on the properties of the excavation damaged zone along the FE tunnel in the Mont Terri Underground Rock Laboratory
Hua Shao, Benjamin Paul, Xuerui Wang, Jürgen Hesser, Jens Becker, Benoit Garitte, Herwig Müller, 2017. "The influence of different supports on the properties of the excavation damaged zone along the FE tunnel in the Mont Terri Underground Rock Laboratory", Radioactive Waste Confinement: Clays in Natural and Engineered Barriers, S. Norris, J. Bruno, M. van Geet, E. Verhoef
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Permeability and its spatial distribution around an underground opening in a geological formation are important for the interpretation of thermal, hydraulic and mechanical findings from an in situ demonstration experiment. Within the site characterization programme of the Full-scale Emplacement (FE) experiment, permeability measurements with nitrogen gas have been conducted from six short boreholes. Four of them were located in a section without shotcrete support and two in a section with a three-layer-shotcrete lining. As expected, the extension of the zone with an increased permeability was larger (up to 2 m) in the area without shotcrete support than that in the section with a shotcrete lining (less than 1.5 m).
The water content in the sections with or without shotcrete linings also showed different behaviour over long-term monitoring. The water content in the deep borehole section in the area with a shotcrete lining stayed almost constant, while the water content in the deep borehole section in the area without shotcrete tended to continuously decrease. In general, the water content close to the tunnel is influenced by the seasonal change in the temperature and relative humidity within the tunnel, especially in the section without a shotcrete lining.
Analysis of the abovementioned observations/findings was done by performing FEM (finite-element method) calculations with OpenGeoSys (OGS) software using a coupled hydromechanical model. Owing to the high stiffness of shotcrete, the displacement in the section with a shotcrete lining was smaller. This, in turn, results in a smaller extension in the excavation damaged zone (EDZ). However, shotcrete has a relatively high suction capacity and high initial water content: thus, the interface between the shotcrete and the Opalinus Clay becomes more saturated. Therefore, the excavation-induced fractures in the Opalinus Clay close to the shotcrete can be sealed by swelling. The water content decreases continuously, as a result of desaturation occurring during the operational phase and the associated change in porewater pressure.