Models for analysis of shotcrete on rock exposed to blasting

Abstract: In underground construction and tunnelling, the strive for a more time-efficient construction process naturally focuses on the possibilities of reducing the times of waiting between stages of construction. The ability to project shotcrete (sprayed concrete) on a rock surface at an early stage after blasting is vital to the safety during construction and function of e.g. a tunnel. A complication arises when the need for further blasting affects the hardening of newly applied shotcrete. If concrete, cast or sprayed, is exposed to vibrations at an early age while still in the process of hardening, damage that threatens the function of the hard concrete may occur. There is little, or no, established knowledge on the subject and there are no guidelines for practical use. It is concluded from previous investigations that shotcrete can withstand high particle velocity vibrations without being seriously damaged. Shotcrete without reinforcement can survive vibration levels as high as 0.5−1 m/s while sections with loss of bond and ejected rock will occur for vibration velocities higher than 1 m/s. The performance of young and hardened shotcrete exposed to high magnitudes of vibration is here investigated to identify safe distances and shotcrete ages for underground and tunnelling construction, using numerical analyses and comparison with measurements and observations. The work focuses on finding correlations between numerical results, measurement results and observations obtained during tunnelling. The outcome will be guidelines for practical use. The project involves development of sophisticated dynamic finite element models for which the collected information and data will be used as input, accomplished by using the finite ele­ment program Abaqus. The models were evaluated and refined through comparisons between calculated and measured data. First, existing simple engineering models were compared and evaluated through calculations and comparisons with existing data. The first model tested is a structural dynamic model that consists of masses and spring elements. The second is a model built up with finite beam elements interconnected with springs. The third is a one-dimensional elastic stress wave model. The stress response in the shotcrete closest to the rock when exposed to P-waves striking perpendicularly to the shotcrete-rock interface was simulated. Results from a non-destructive laboratory experiment were also used to provide test data for the models. The experiment studied P-wave propagation along a concrete bar, with proper­ties similar to rock. Cement based mortar with properties that resembles shotcrete was applied on one end of the bar with a hammer impacting the other. The shape of the stress waves travelling towards the shotcrete was registered using accelerometers positioned along the bar. Due to the inhomogeneous nature of the rock, the stress waves from the blasting attenuate on the way from the point of explosion towards the shotcrete on the rock surface. Material damping for the rock mass is therefore accounted for, estimated from previous in-situ measurements. The vibration resistance of the shotcrete-rock support system depends on the material properties of the shotcrete and here were age-dependent properties varied to investigate the behaviour of young shotcrete subjected to blast loading. The numerical simulations require insertion of realistic material data for shotcrete and rock, such as density and modulus of elasticity. The calculated results were in good correspondence with observations and measurements in-situ, and with the previous numerical modelling results. Compared to the engineering models, using a sophisticated finite element program facilitate modelling of more complex geometries and also provide more detailed results. It was demonstrated that wave propagation through rock towards shotcrete can be modelled using two dimensional elastic finite elements in a dynamic analysis. The models must include the properties of the rock and the accuracy of the material parameters used will greatly affect the results. It will be possible to describe the propagation of the waves through the rock mass, from the centre of the explosion to the reflection at the shotcrete-rock interface. It is acceptable to use elastic material formulations until the material strengths are exceeded, i.e. until the strains are outside the elastic range, which thus indicates material failure. The higher complexity of this type of model, compared to the engineering models, will make it possible to model more sophisticated geometries. Examples of preliminary recommendations for practical use are given and it is demonstrated how the developed models and suggested analytical technique can be used to obtain further detailed limit values.