In Switzerland, the Opalinus Clay is under consideration as a potential host rock for deep geological storage of nuclear waste. The Swiss concept involves high-level waste containers emplaced in small-diameter drifts of roughly 3 m. At the Mont Terri Underground Rock Laboratory, a short mine-by experiment (EZ-B) was executed in 2005 with the objective of characterising the excavation-induced damage through an interpretation of integrated field data. The damage zone was found to consist of two parts. Fracture mapping from drillcores and televiewer images revealed a thin inner zone of macroscopic fracturing (20 cm) and devoid of borehole instabilities as well as coinciding with the lowest P-wave characteristics (normalised amplitudes and velocities). The outer zone (50–80 cm) was defined by increasing P-wave characteristics and evidence of borehole instabilities. Supplementing the data interpretation, a simplified numerical elastic stress analysis indicated that the rock mass in the sidewalls and upper western haunch are the most susceptible to spalling. In these regions, stress levels only just reach a spalling limit around 0.05 in the inner fractured zone, suggesting that the zone of macro-fracturing around the niche is not significant. It is postulated that the physical manifestation of the relatively weak bedding plane strength is dominated by bedding-perpendicular displacement as opposed to bedding-parallel shear.
Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 5, 2017
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