Defining Stress Changes Ahead of a Tunnel Face and Design of a Data Acquisition System

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Virginia Tech

With increasing world population, demand for underground construction is expected to accelerate in the future. Design of tunnels in rock is still largely empirical, while rock failure in underground mines and tunnel construction continues to claim lives. A seismic method to aid in increasing safety during excavation is tomography. Seismic tomography is a non-invasive technique to map the stress changes induced by mining ahead of the active face. Seismic tomography maps the velocity distributions of elastic waves traveling through a rock mass. The velocity distributions mapped in the tomograms can relate to anomalies in the rock such as fracture zones and highly concentrated stresses. In order to develop a relationship between stress and elastic wave velocity, laboratory tests in a controlled environment are required. In the current study tomographic tests were conducted on Berea sandstone and Five Oaks limestone samples. The stress redistribution in the sandstone samples could be imaged by mapping velocity distributions. On an unconfined test the sandstone sample acted much like a coal mine pillar where the stress redistributes to the least confined area. On a sandstone test where the sample was indented by a steel platen the velocity contrast was seen directly under the load and the velocity remained almost unchanged over the rest of the sample. For the limestone tests, the stress redistribution could not be mapped in the tomograms. The ability to map the stress distribution in the tomograms were attributed to the elastic and non-elastic characteristics of the stress-strain curve. For sandstone, a porous rock, the stress redistribution could be mapped and for limestone, a stiff rock, the stress redistribution could not be mapped. A field data acquisition system to apply tomography to ground control problems in a mine was designed and calibrated. Data acquisition hardware were assembled and programmed in LabVIEW to collect seismic data in a mine. The design of a geophone array that will fit into a miniature 5.08 cm (2 in) diameter borehole is presented.

tunneling, instrumentation, data acquisition, tomography, stress redistribution, laboratory testing