Excavation unloading‐induced fracturing of hard rock containing different shapes of central holes affected by unloading rates and in situ stresses

C. Zang, D. Li, F. Feng, K. Peng, S. Chen, W. Huang
Energy Science & Engineering
Crack propagation, excavation unloading, FEM/DEM, in situ stresses, sectional shape, unloading rate

Slabbing failure and strain rock burst are the main failure patterns during the excavation and construction phases of deep tunnels in hard and brittle rock, which cause unexpected equipment damage and casualties. This study presents a numerical simulation with an unloading central hole within a hard rock specimen in the laboratory scale. A combined finite element/discrete element method (FEM/DEM) reproduces the crack initiation, propagation, and coalescence around the central hole during the entire failure process. The influence of sectional shapes, unloading rates of holes, and in situ stresses on the failure characteristics and mechanical response of typical hard and brittle rocks were investigated by analysis of the failure pattern, displacement distribution (average velocity) of monitoring elements, and released strain energy value. The numerical results indicate that the sectional shapes, unloading rates, and in situ stresses have a significant impact on the severity of destruction and failure range in hard rock under the excavation unloading conditions. Slabbing failure (stable failure) is always the dominant failure pattern around a circular hole, which shows higher bearing capacities and self‐stabilization. With the increase in unloading rates, more visible cracks are generated around the holes, and the displacement and average velocity of discrete blocks are further raised. This is particularly evident in rock specimens with holes having vertical walls, leading to intense unstable failure (strain rock burst) accompanied by a large amount of strain energy released. In situ stresses affect considerably the stability of the surrounding rock during the excavation unloading process. With constant in situ stress, the order of destruction severity around the central hole according to its sectional shape is cube > trapezoid > U‐shape > ellipse > circle. The destruction intensity is further aggravated with the increase in lateral pressure coefficient, and the failure regions are always observed in the roof and floor of the central hole. This study confirms that strain rock burst tends to be induced in hard and brittle rock tunnels with polygonal roadway section under high unloading rates and lateral pressure coefficients.

Keywords: crack propagation, excavation unloading, FEM/DEM, in situ stresses, sectional shape, unloading rate,

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