Numerical Verification of Empirically Designed Support for a Headrace Tunnel

Mian Sohail Akram, Luqman Ahmed, Muhammad Fahad Ullah, Faisal Rehman, Muhammad Ali


In this paper, we used two empirical rock classification systems of rock mass rating (RMR) and rock quality tunnelling index (Q-system) for the support design of a tunnel in District Battagram, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Along the tunnel route, the rocks of Precambrian namely Gandaf Formation, Karora Formation and Besham Complex were exposed. During the field investigations, two shear zones were marked in the schist of Karora Formation. The discontinuities parameters collected during the field investigations, results of laboratory testing and material constants determined from RocData version 5.0 software were used during the empirical classification and numerical modelling. The support was designed for the rock mass units from RMR and Q. The quantification of the thickness of plastic zone and total displacement around the tunnel were achieved by the numerical modelling of RS2 9.0 software in both unsupported and supported conditions. The empirically designed support was installed in the model prepared in the RS2 software. According to the results, the empirically designed support when installed in models prepared in RS2 significantly reduced the plastic zone around the tunnel. The reduction in the plastic zone and displacement around the tunnel verified the support design by empirical methods. The present research concludes that empirical designed support can be used for the complex geology of Pakistan.


Engineering Geology; Rock Mass Classification; Numerical Modeling; Ground Conditions.


Palmström, Arild. “Combining the RMR, Q, and RMi Classification Systems.” Tunneling and Underground Space Technology 24, no. 4 (July 2009): 491–492. doi:10.1016/j.tust.2008.12.002.

Terzaghi K. Rock defects and loads on tunnel supports. Massachusetts, Harvard University, USA: Howard University Press; 1946.

Lauffer H. Classification for tunnel construction (in German). Geologie und Bauwesen. 1958;24 (1):46-51.

Pacher F, Rabcewicz Lv, Golser J. Zum derzeitigen Stand der Gebirgsklassifizierung im Stollen-und Tunnelbau. Straßenforschung. 1974 (18).

Wickham, G.E., H.R. Tiedemann, and E.H. Skinner. “Support Determinations Based on Geologic Predictions.” International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences & Geomechanics Abstracts 12, no. 7 (July 1975): 95. doi:10.1016/0148-9062(75)90446-5.

Lowson A, Bieniawski Z, editors. Critical assessment of RMR based tunnel design practices: a practical engineer’s approach. Proceedings of the SME, Rapid Excavation and Tunneling Conference, Washington, DC; 2013.

Bieniawski, Z. T. "Rock mass classification in rock engineering applications." In Proceedings of a Symposium on Exploration for Rock Engineering, 1976, vol. 12, pp. 97-106. 1976.

Barton, N., R. Lien, and J. Lunde. “Engineering Classification of Rock Masses for the Design of Tunnel Support.” Rock Mechanics Felsmechanik Mcanique Des Roches 6, no. 4 (December 1974): 189–236. doi:10.1007/bf01239496.

Barton, N. “Some New Q-Value Correlations to Assist in Site Characterisation and Tunnel Design.” International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences 39, no. 2 (February 2002): 185–216. doi:10.1016/s1365-1609(02)00011-4.

Palmstrom, Arild, and Håkan Stille. “Ground Behaviour and Rock Engineering Tools for Underground Excavations.” Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 22, no. 4 (July 2007): 363–376. doi:10.1016/j.tust.2006.03.006.

Genis, M., H. Basarir, A. Ozarslan, E. Bilir, and E. Balaban. “Engineering Geological Appraisal of the Rock Masses and Preliminary Support Design, Dorukhan Tunnel, Zonguldak, Turkey.” Engineering Geology 92, no. 1–2 (June 2007): 14–26. doi:10.1016/j.enggeo.2007.02.005.

Ozsan A, Basarir H, Cilsal M. Engineering geological investigations along the Ankara subway extension. Proceedings of the International Association for Engineering Geology and the Environment IAEG. 2006.

Rasouli, M. “Engineering Geological Studies of the Diversion Tunnel, Focusing on Stabilization Analysis and Support Design, Iran.” Engineering Geology 108, no. 3–4 (October 2009): 208–224. doi:10.1016/j.enggeo.2009.07.007.

K.C., Prem Krishna, and Krishna Kanta Panthi. “Engineering Geological Design of Underground Works for Upper Madi Hydroelectric Project.” Hydro Nepal: Journal of Water, Energy and Environment 9, no. 0 (November 20, 2012). doi:10.3126/hn.v9i0.7069.

Ayberk Kaya. “Analysis of Support Requirements for a Tunnel Portal in Weak Rock: A Case Study from Turkey.” Scientific Research and Essays 6, no. 31 (December 16, 2011). doi:10.5897/sre11.1691.

Panda, Malaya K., S. Mohanty, B.M.P. Pingua, and A.K. Mishra. “Engineering Geological and Geotechnical Investigations Along the Head Race Tunnel in Teesta Stage-III Hydroelectric Project, India.” Engineering Geology 181 (October 2014): 297–308. doi:10.1016/j.enggeo.2014.08.022.

Akgün, Haluk, Serkan Muratlı, and Mustafa Kerem Koçkar. “Geotechnical Investigations and Preliminary Support Design for the Geçilmez Tunnel: A Case Study along the Black Sea Coastal Highway, Giresun, Northern Turkey.” Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 40 (February 2014): 277–299. doi:10.1016/j.tust.2013.10.018.

Elarabi, H, and A Mustafa. “Comparison of Numerical and Analytical Methods of Analysis of Tunnels.” Geotechnical Aspects of Underground Construction in Soft Ground (August 4, 2014): 225–231. doi:10.1201/b17240-42.

Gadri Larbi. “Study of Fractured Rock Masses Deformation in Boukhadra (Tebessa) Underground Mine Empirical and Numerical Approach (N-E Algeria).” Journal of Geology and Mining Research 4, no. 2 (March 2012). doi:10.5897/jgmr11.041.

Kanik, Mustafa, and Zulfu Gurocak. “Importance of Numerical Analyses for Determining Support Systems in Tunneling: A Comparative Study from the Trabzon-Gumushane Tunnel, Turkey.” Journal of African Earth Sciences 143 (July 2018): 253–265. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2018.03.032.

Kanik, M., Zulfu Gurocak, and Selcuk Alemdag. “A Comparison of Support Systems Obtained from the RMR89 and RMR14 by Numerical Analyses: Macka Tunnel Project, NE Turkey.” Journal of African Earth Sciences 109 (September 2015): 224–238. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2015.05.025.

Gnilsen R. Underground structures design and instrumentation. Chap Numerical Methods) Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers. (1989). doi:10.1016/c2009-0-08690-5.

Negro A, De Queiroz P. Prediction and performance: a review of numerical analyses for tunnels. Geotechnical aspects of underground construction in soft ground. 2000:409-18.

Jing, L. “A Review of Techniques, Advances and Outstanding Issues in Numerical Modelling for Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering.” International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences 40, no. 3 (April 2003): 283–353. doi:10.1016/s1365-1609(03)00013-3.

Barla, G. “Applications of Numerical Methods in Tunnelling and Underground Excavations: Recent Trends.” Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering: From the Past to the Future (July 29, 2016). doi:10.1201/9781315388502-7.

Yang B, Utilib S, Jonesc B. Numerical analysis of TBM tunnelling in sand using a state parameter model. International Conference on Geomechanics, Geo-energy and Geo-resources; 28, 29 SEPTEMBER; Monash University, Melbourne, Australia 2016.

Maji V, Adugna A. Numerical modeling of tunneling induced ground deformation and its control. Int Journal of Mining & Geo-Engineering. 2016;50(2):183-8.

Das, Ratan, P.K. Singh, Ashutosh Kainthola, Suman Panthee, and T.N. Singh. “Numerical Analysis of Surface Subsidence in Asymmetric Parallel Highway Tunnels.” Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering 9, no. 1 (February 2017): 170–179. doi:10.1016/j.jrmge.2016.11.009.

Vlachopoulos, Nicholas, and Ioannis Vazaios. “The Numerical Simulation of Hard Rocks for Tunnelling Purposes at Great Depths: A Comparison between the Hybrid FDEM Method and Continuous Techniques.” Advances in Civil Engineering 2018 (2018): 1–18. doi:10.1155/2018/3868716.

Abdolkader, Tarek M, Ahmed Shaker, and A N M Alahmadi. “Numerical Simulation of Tunneling through Arbitrary Potential Barriers Applied on MIM and MIIM Rectenna Diodes.” European Journal of Physics 39, no. 4 (May 1, 2018): 045402. doi:10.1088/1361-6404/aab5cf.

Kazmi AH, Jan MQ. Geology and tectonics of Pakistan: Graphic publishers; 1997.

Ulusay, R., ed. “The ISRM Suggested Methods for Rock Characterization, Testing and Monitoring: 2007-2014” (2015). doi:10.1007/978-3-319-07713-0.

Deere, D. U., and R. P. Miller. “ENGINEERING CLASSIFICATION AND INDEX PROPERTIES FOR INTACT ROCK” (December 1, 1966). doi:10.21236/ad0646610.

Singh, Bhawani, J.L Jethwa, A.K Dube, and B Singh. “Correlation between Observed Support Pressure and Rock Mass Quality.” Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 7, no. 1 (January 1992): 59–74. doi:10.1016/0886-7798(92)90114-w.

Goel, R.K., J.L. Jethwa, and A.G. Paithankar. “Indian Experiences with Q and RMR Systems.” Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology 10, no. 1 (January 1995): 97–109. doi:10.1016/0886-7798(94)00069-w.

RocScience Software. Toronto, Canada, 2014.

Panthee, Suman, P.K. Singh, Ashutosh Kainthola, and T.N. Singh. “Control of Rock Joint Parameters on Deformation of Tunnel Opening.” Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering 8, no. 4 (2016); 489–498. doi:10.1016/j.jrmge.2016.03.003.

Eberhardt, E. “Numerical Modelling of Three-Dimension Stress Rotation Ahead of an Advancing Tunnel Face.” International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences 38, no. 4 (June 2001): 499–518. doi:10.1016/s1365-1609(01)00017-x.

Jing, L., and J.A. Hudson. “Numerical Methods in Rock Mechanics.” International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences 39, no. 4 (June 2002): 409–427. doi:10.1016/s1365-1609(02)00065-5.

Verma D, Thareja R, Kainthola A, Singh T. Evaluation of open pit mine slope stability analysis. International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering. 2011;4(4):590-600.

Vermeer P, Möller S, Ruse N, editors. On the application of numerical analysis in tunneling. 12th Asian Regional Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (12 ARC), Singapore; 2003.

Kainthola, Ashutosh, Dhananjai Verma, S. S. Gupte, and T. N. Singh. “A Coal Mine Dump Stability Analysis—A Case Study.” Geomaterials 01, no. 01 (2011): 1–13. doi:10.4236/gm.2011.11001.

Singh, T. N., S. P. Pradhan, and V. Vishal. “Stability of Slopes in a Fire-Prone Mine in Jharia Coalfield, India.” Arabian Journal of Geosciences 6, no. 2 (May 13, 2011): 419–427. doi:10.1007/s12517-011-0341-4.

Fenner, Richard. Untersuchungen zur erkenntnis des gebirgsdrucks. Glückauf, 1938.

Singh, Bhawani, and Rajnish K. Goel. Rock mass classification: a practical approach in civil engineering. Vol. 46. Elsevier, 1999.

Stephansson, O. “Rock Stress in the Fennoscandian Shield.” Rock Testing and Site Characterization (1993): 445–459. doi:10.1016/b978-0-08-042066-0.50024-0.

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.28991/cej-03091182


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Mian Sohail Akram, Luqman Ahmed, Muhammad Fahad Ullah, Faisal Rehman, Muhammad Ali

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.