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Distinct Element Modelling for High Rock Slopes in Static and Dynamic Conditions: A Case Study

Ganesh W. Rathod 1 , A. K. Shrivastava 2 and K. S. Rao 1

  • 1 Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, PIN-110016, India

    • 2 Department of Civil Engineering, Delhi Technological University, Delhi, PIN- 110042, India

ABSTRACT: The Static and dynamic rock slope stability analyses of the left and right abutments of the proposed Chenab (J & K, India) railway bridge were performed using the distinct element code UDEC for a 359 m high rock slope. The analyses have been carried out in three stages for predicting the behaviour of the rock slope. First, an initial static loading is applied in the numerical model. Second, weathering and interlocking conditions are modelled. Third, a dynamic loading is applied to simulate dynamic earthquake conditions. Various monitoring points were installed in the model for critical observations. The displacements and velocity values observed confirms the stability of the rock slope. The study provides an illustration of how the geo-mechanical properties of a rock mass can be integrated in a discontinuum rock slope model. This model has helped to better understand the dynamics of the rockslide when subjected to static and dynamic loads.

INTRODUCTION

Stability of jointed rock mass slope depends on geometry of slope, rock mass characteristics and shear strength behaviour of the joints (Souley and Homand, 1996). Since a rock mass is not a continuum, its behaviour is dominated by discontinuities such as joints, bedding planes and faults. In general, the presence or absence of discontinuities has a profound influence on the stability of rock slopes; the behaviour of these features plays a critical part in a stability evaluation (Shen and Barton 1997, Hoek et al. 2000). Detailed information on various numerical modelling techniques for rock slopes is available in Hudson and Feng (2007). The analyses described in this paper were conducted using the two-dimensional UDEC code first introduced by Cundall (1971). Bhasin and Kaynia (2004) and Kveldsvik et al. (2009) simulated the static and dynamic loading conditions in UDEC for high rock slopes of height 800m. Stability analysis of natural slopes of left and right abutments under different pier, arch and seismic loads using UDEC is carried out along the central section (alignment) for both left and right abutments. This paper presents the results of the investigations on the stability of both slope profiles of left and right abutments of the proposed Chenab Bridge using universal distinct element methods in different loading conditions.

THE PROJECT The proposed railway line between Katra and Qazigund of Northern Railways crosses the River Chenab, which is a tributary to the Chenab River near Reasi. A railway bridge is proposed to construct between Chainage 50.4 and Chainage 51.715 Km. The Chenab bridge alignment is N120 o E towards the left abutment to N300 o towards the right abutment and the Chenab River flows

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in SW direction. The Chenab bridge, once it is constructed, it would be the Highest Bridge in the World at height of 359 m from the river bed level and the abutments of the proposed bridge are shown in Fig. 1(a). The 1,263m long bridge consists of 950 m span steel arch over the river, in tandem with a 313m long viaduct upto Salal road ‘B’ station. This bridge consists of total 18 piers resting on ground. Among them 4 piers designated as P 10 , P 20 , P 30, P 40 are on left abutment and the other 14 piers from P 50 to P 180 are resting on right abutment and sloping at 50-60 o .The loads exerted by these piers would affect the stability of the slopes. Apart from this, as the site falls under seismic zone V as per seismic zonation map of India (BIS: 1893, Part 1: 2002), the seismic loads are also to be considered in the analysis.

(a) (b)
(a)
(b)

Figure 1. (a) Abutments of Proposed Chenab Bridge (b) Geological Cross Section

FIELD OBSERVATIONS

The authors visited the different locations of construction site and gathered several geological and structural field observations. The sites where several direct shear and plate load tests were conducted in the drifts were also visited and specific observations were made on the failed rock mass. A special

visit was also made to the riverbed in order to observe the geological nature of strata between toe and below the proposed arch foundation on both the abutments. Figure 1(b) shows the geological cross section along bridge axis for right abutment. Figure 2 illustrate the strata on left and right abutments.

GEOLOGICAL AND STRUCTURAL FEATURES

The railway alignment passes through the Shiwaliks and Pre-Tertiary rocks overlain by unconsolidated sediments of recent to sub-recent periods. The primary lithological units are dolomitic limestone with different degree of fracturing and occasssional weathering. Cherty, bouldery, brecciated and massive dolomite or dolomitic limestones of Sirban formations are mostly present in the area. The top layers are moderate to highly weathered but invariably the dolomite is fractured resulting into blocky mass. Mapping with reference to the alignment on the left and right abutments yielded that the strata are characterized by prominent sub-horizontal foliation joint and

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(a)

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(b)

Figure 2. Strata on Abutment of Chenab (a) Left Abutment (b) Right Abutment

two sub-vertical joints which are very pronounced sets. Few random joint sets are also present occasionally. The attitude of the formations of the left and the right abutments are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Characteristics of Major Discontinuities Set on the Left and Right Abutments

   

Left Abutment

 

Right Abutment

Feature

Strike

Dip Amount

Dip Direction

Strike

Dip Amount

Dip Direction

Rail Line Alignment

N120 0 -N300 0

   

N120 0 -N300 0

   

Foliation Joint

N140 0 -N320 0

0

  • 21 N145 0 -N325 0

N050 0

 

0

  • 28 N050 0

Joint Set (J 1)

N150 0 -N330 0

0

  • 65 N150 0 -N330 0

N240 0

 

0

  • 65 N240 0

Joint Set (J 2 )

N075 0 -N255 0

0

  • 80 N075 0 -N255 0

N165 0

 

0

  • 80 N165 0

Foliation planes and other joint sets are very clear in the drifts made in the left and right abutments at expected arch foundation levels. Presence of minor shear zones was noticed and the fracturing was more in the right abutment. The overburden is very less at the right abutment than the left. General dip of the minor shear fractures is towards slope direction. Brownish staining is noticed at some locations on the joint surfaces. The drifts that were excavated through drill and blast are stable without any support.

GEOTECHNICAL CHARACTERIZATION

The stratigraphy of rock and discontinuity pattern on either side of abutment is more or less similar. Open pits at the proposed pier locations and the drifts on either abutment have also provided vital information about the rock mass condition. Several plate load tests and insitu direct shear tests and laboratory studies were also conducted by different agencies for ascertaining the rock mass, intact rock and joint properties. The available results were pooled together and a major exercise was conducted to obtain a more realistic and representative engineering behaviour for intact, rockmass and rock joints. Though, there is no unique value for a property and vary from location to location, the most appropriate values from the reported information and literature are chosen for the analysis. The geotechnical characteristics adopted for the left and the right abutments in this study are presented in Table 2.

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Table 1. Representative Geotechnical Characteristics of Chenab Intact Dolomite

Sr. No.

 

Property

 

Value

1

Water Absorption, %

 

0.46

 

2

Density, g/cc

 

2.762

 

3

Sp. Gravity

 

2.81

 

4

Porosity, %

 

1.30

 

5

Sonic Wave Velocity Dry, km/sec

 

4.60

 

Sat., km/sec

4.68

6

UCS (Dry), MPa

 

160.50

 

7

UCS (Sat.) MPa

 

115.25

 

8

σ t , MPa

 

16.86

 

9

Point Load Index, MPa

 

14.12

 

10

E t (50), MPa

 

4.41

x 10 4

11

ν

0.22

 

12

c, MPa

22.50

 

13

φ , Degree

 

58

0

14

Deere

Miller

Classification

(Deere

and

CM/BM*

Miller, 1966)

 

15

V p , m/sec

 

6350

 

16

V s , m/sec

3580

 

17

Hoek-Brown Constant ‘m’

 

40

* M- Average Modulus Ratio, B- Strong Strength Class, C- Medium Strength Class

SEISMICITY OF THE AREA

Seismic activity in the region around the Chenab bridge site is mainly associated with Main Boundary Thurst and Main Central Thrust. Historical recordings reveal that the area is seismically very active and the site lies in seismic zone V as per the seismic zoning map of India (BIS: 1893, Part 1: 2002). Site specific design earthquake parameters for the Chenab bridge site were estimated by Basu (2004) based on regional and local geology, earthquake occurrences in the region around the site, and the seismotectonic setup of the area. The maximum ground acceleration considered for dynamic analysis is 0.31g (MCE) and 0.16g (DBE).

STABILITY ANALYSIS

For all but very weak rock materials, the analysis of rock slope stability is fundamentally a two-part process. The first step is to analyse the structure of the site to determine if the orientation of the discontinuities could result in instability of the slope under investigation. If so, the second step requires either a limit-equilibrium stability analysis or numerical modelling. Since the height of slope is high and the site falls under very active seismic belt, it was decided to analyse the slope numerically to investigate the stability of slope which comprises of rock mass that could potentially slide under static and dynamic forces.

NUMERICAL MODELLING

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The distinct element method (UDEC) simulates the progressive failure of slopes using an iterative calculation procedure (Bhasin and Kaynia, 2004). The discontinuities in the numerical model are considered as planar features oriented normal to the plane of analysis. Mohr-Coulomb model was adopted the present study. Figures 3 and 4 show the jointed slope models for left and right abutments respectively. The explicit solution algorithm in UDEC permits either dynamic or static analysis (Itasca Manual, 2004). For dynamic calculations, user-specified velocity or stress waves can be input directly to the model either as an exterior boundary condition or interior excitation to the model.

Fig. 3. UDEC Model for Left Abutment Fig. 4. UDEC Model for Right Abutment
Fig. 3. UDEC Model for Left Abutment
Fig. 4. UDEC Model for Right Abutment

LOADING CONDITIONS Static Loading

This case simulates the prevailing rock conditions at the site where the rock mass is observed to be

stable. Initially, the jointed rock slope model was equilibrated under gravity. All the blocks in the jointed model were discretised into deformable triangular finite difference zones where the motion of the block is calculated at the grid point of the triangular elements.

Dynamic Loading

In this case, dynamic excitation is applied to the rock slope to simulate earthquake conditions. The analysis starts from the end of static analysis with the calculated in situ stresses. A simple harmonic acceleration with well defined characteristics was used as input. A sinusoidal shear wave was applied to the model base and allowed to propagate upwards. The sinusoidal shear wave was applied for a period of 5 seconds and it's magnitude was estimated as

  • V max

=

a

max

=

a

max

 

ω

π f

2

Where, a max is the peak ground acceleration, V max is the ground motion velocity, f is the frequency in Hz and ω=2πf is the angular frequency

CASES CONSIDERED FOR THE ANALYSIS Left Abutment (Katra Side)

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All four joint sets are considered. The depth of foundation is assumed as 10 m. The six Monitoring Points (MP) 1 to 6 were installed in the model at a depth of 10 m i.e. at foundation level and six (7 to 12) MP installed at ground level. Total four cases i.e. CL11, CL12, CL13 and CL14 were analyzed for the left abutment and the details are given Table 3.

Right Abutment (Reasi Side)

The total of seven MP used in the model, out of which two were installed at ground level and rest at

foundation level at a depth of 10 m. Total four cases i.e. CR11, CR12, CR13 and CR14 were analyzed for the right abutment.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The numerical analysis was carried out for different cases considering various loading conditions, rock properties and presence of joint sets. Based on the observed velocities, displacements and stresses at monitoring points, the stability of the slopes was evaluated and results are given in Table 3. The cases with pier and seismic loads are considered to be the most critical and are discussed here.

Table 2. Factor of Safety Values Obtained for Different Cases

Sr.

Side

Case

Rock Type

Joint Spacing,

Pier

Seismic

Factor of

No.

Notation

m

Loads

Loads

Safety

   
  • 1 Jointed Rock

CL

11

 

20

--

--

1.94

 
  • 2 Jointed Rock

CL

12

 

20

Yes

--

1.91

 

LEFT

  • 3 Jointed Rock

CL

13

 

20

--

Yes

Safe

 
  • 4 Jointed Rock

CL

14

 

20

Yes

Yes

Safe

   
  • 5 CR 11

Jointed Rock

20

--

--

1.95

 

RIGHT

  • 6 CR 12

Jointed Rock

20

Yes

--

1.90

 
  • 7 CR 13

Jointed Rock

20

--

Yes

Safe

   
  • 8 CR 14

Jointed Rock

20

Yes

Yes

Safe

Left Abutment: Jointed Rock with Pier and Seismic Loads (Case CL14)

This is the dynamic loading case with all pier loads and the results are shown in Fig. 5. The X & Y velocities are approaching to zero for all points except the point no. 12. The X displacements at point 2 is 50 cm which is the highest value calculated in the model. The Y displacements at all monitoring points varies between 10 to 30 cm and shows the upward movement of blocks at point 4 and 9. The XX and YY stresses at P40 are calculated as -0.18 x 10 7 Pa and 1 x 10 7 Pa respectively. The maximum shear displacement of 30cm is observed at point 3. The shear stresses at points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are calculated for this dynamic case and found to be zero at the end of analysis. However there are locations where nominal shear stresses developed in the slope. The shear velocities observed are approaching to zero confirms a stable state of the slope. The shear stresses

and displacement values are very low which indicates that there is no movement of blocks and the slope is stable. The strength/stress ratios (localized FoS) calculated using Mohr – Coulomb and Hoek and Brown approaches in terms of contours in the slope. The minimum ratio observed from both methods is around two. It is also very common that movement of random blocks on the surface

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due to delineation of joints and no surface cover. However, stability of left abutment will further improve if one considers the horizontal loads.

Right Abutment: Jointed Rock with Pier and Seismic Loads (Case CR14)

This is the dynamic loading case with all pier loads. The X and Y velocities are approaching to zero for all points. The X displacements at point 2 is 50cm which is the highest value calculated in the model. The results for this case are shown in Fig. 6. The Y displacements at all monitoring points varies between -20 to 70 cm and shows the upward movement of blocks at point 4. The XX and YY stresses at P50 are calculated as 2 x 10 6 Pa and 0.8 x 10 7 Pa respectively. The maximum shear displacement of 35cm is observed at point 5. The shear stresses at points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are calculated for this dynamic case and found to be zero at the end of analysis. However there are locations where nominal shear stresses developed in the slope. The shear velocities observed are approaching to zero confirms a stable state of the slope. The shear stresses and displacement values are very less which indicates that there is no movement of blocks and the slope is stable. The strength/stress ratios (localized FoS) calculated using Mohr - Coulomb and Hoek and Brown approaches in terms of contours in the slope. The minimum ratio observed from both methods is around two. It is also very common that movement of random blocks on the surface due to delineation of joints and no surface cover. However, stability of left abutment will further improve if one considers the horizontal loads.

(a)
(a)
(b)
(b)
(c)
(c)

Figure 5. UDEC Results for Case AL14 a) X- Velocity b) Y- Velocity c) Shear Velocity

(a)
(a)
(b)
(b)
(c)
(c)

Figure 6. UDEC Results for Case AR14 a) X-Velocity b) Y-Velocity c) Shear Velocity

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CONCLUSIONS

491

The vertical dimensions of left and right abutment considered in modelling are 418 m and 390 m respectively. And the corresponding horizontal dimensions are 650 m and 450 m. A numerical analysis is carried out for both abutments using UDEC considering joint sets and stiffness characteristics. Both static and dynamic analysis is carried out considering different loading conditions. The dynamic cases for both the abutments were considered to be the most critical. The shear displacements, shear velocities, shear stresses, XX and YY stresses at all monitoring points for both left and right abutments, show that the slopes are stable in static and dynamic conditions. The stability of the abutments will further improve when horizontal loads considered in the analysis. UDEC analysis revealed left and right slopes are stable with respective factor of safety under different loading conditions. A critical observation is attempted at P 1 and P 10 arch foundation. The shear displacements, shear velocities and shear stresses at all monitoring points for both left and right abutments are within the acceptable limits and shows that the slopes are stable in static and dynamic conditions.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Authors greatfully acknowledge the help received from Konkan Railway Corp. Ltd. India, Northern Railway India and Scott Wilson UK during different stages of the study.

REFERENCES

Basu, S. (2004). “Site-specific design earthquake parameters for Chenab Bridge, J & K." Indian Institute of Technolgy Roorkee, India, Report No. EQ:2004-13. Bhasin, R., and Kaynia, A. M. (2004). “Static and dynamic simulation of a 700-m high rock slope in western Norway.” Engineering Geology 71, 213-226. BIS: 1893–2002. Part 1: 2002 “Bureau of Indian Standards, Criteria for Earthquake Resistant

Design of Structures, General Provisions and Buildings.” Cundall, P. A. (1971). “A computer model for simulating progressive large scale movements in blocky rock system.” Int. Proc. Symp. ISRM, Nancy, France, Vol. I, Paper 11-8, 128-132. Deere, D.U., and Miller, R.P. (1966) “Engineering classification and index properties for intact rocks.” Tech. Report No. AFNL-TR- 65-116, Air Force Weapons Lab., New Mexico. Hoek E., Read J., Karzulovic A., and Chen, Z. Y. (2000). “Rock slopes in civil and mining engg.” Intl. Conf. on Geotech & Geo Engg., 19-24 Nov, 2000, Melbourne, 1-17. Hudson, J. A., and Feng, X. T. (2007). “Updated flowcharts for rock mechanics modelling and rock engineering design.” Int. J of Rock Mech and Min Sci, 44, 174-195. Itasca Manual (2004). “Dynamic analysis.” User’s guide UDEC version 4.0. Kveldsvik, V., Kaynia, A. M., Nadim, F., Bhasin, R., Nilsen Bjørn and Einstein, H. H. (2009). “Dynamic distinct-element analysis of the 800 m high Åknes rock slope.” Int. J of Rock Mech and Min Sci, 46, 686-698. Shen, B., and Barton, N. (1997). “The disturbed zone around tunnels in jointed rock masses.” Int. J of Rock Mech and Min Sci, 34, 117-125.

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Souley, M., and Homand, F. (1996). “Stability of jointed rock masses evaluated by UDEC with an extended Saeb-Amadei constitutive law.” Int. J of Rock Mech Min Sci Geomech Abstr, 33,

233-244.

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