Rock stress measurements using the LUT-gauge overcorning method

Abstract: With overcoring techniques, rock stresses are determined indirectly from measurements of the dimensional changes of a borehole, occurring when the rock volume surrounding the hole is isolated from the stresses in the host rock. This thesis describes the development and application of an overcoring technique. The key-component of the instrumentation that has been developed is a triaxial borehole strain cell, referred to as the LUT-Gauge. Laboratory tests were conducted to evaluate the performance of the instrumentation Special emphasis was given to determining temperature sensitivity of the measuring system since this was identified as a potential source of measurm ent error. Results indicated good instrument reliability and that the measurement error due to temperature variations typically experienced under field conditions is ± 1 MPa or less. The technique was also evaluated by a series of field tests, in which the method was applied in parallel with existing overcoring techniques. Comparison of the results obtained by the different methods showed satisfactory agreement. Analysis of the comprehensive field data collected showed that the confidence that can be attached to an overcoring test is largely governed by the mechanical characteristics of the overcored specimen. Expressed as the standard deviation of the mean stress magnitude, the scatter obtained from repeated testing within a borehole section of about 10 m in length, is found to be ± 4 MPa or less. Rock engineering investigations typically refer to a scale of hundreds of metres or more. This study has demonstrated the existence of significant variations of the stress field on this scale. These variations thus impose difficulties in the application of stress data to the analysis of problems in rock engineering, since the pointwise results obtained from stress measurements cannot be extrapolated with good confidence.

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