Design and Construction of Tunnels in Swelling Rock
Organization: The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
Jan 1, 1984
Swelling ground is one of the most feared problems in tunneling. Although usually not causing sudden failures during construction, the very large and longlasting deformations give contractors and designers the impression of facing an inevitable phenomenon against which there is no technical defense. Examples are concrete liners up to 1 m (3 ft) thickness that have been cracked or crushed, tunnel inverts that are heaving at 0.1 m (0.3 ft) per week during construction and continue to heave during decades. This paper summarizes essential components of design construction procedures where tunnels in swelling rock can be built to perform satisfactorily. It is important to point out that design and construction cannot and should not be separated. The way the tunnel will be built has to be an integral part of the design. Swelling can be defined as time dependent volume increase and is distinguished from squeezing, another time dependent phenomenon occurring in tunneling. Squeezing involves exceeding the shearing resistance while swelling usually does not. Swelling of rock masses can occur as swelling of the intact rock, swelling of wall rock, of gouge and of filler in the discontinuities of a rock mass, and as a combination of the above. Swelling mechanisms have been discussed elsewhere (ISRM 1983).