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Available online at ScienceDirect Procedia Engineering 191 ( 2017 ) 504 – 511 Symposium

Available online at


Procedia Engineering 191 ( 2017 ) 504 – 511

ScienceDirect Procedia Engineering 191 ( 2017 ) 504 – 511 Symposium of the International Society for

Symposium of the International Society for Rock Mechanics

Measuring, Monitoring and Prediction of Vibration Effects in Rock Masses in Near-Structure Blasting

Kari Avellan*, Erika Belopotocanova, Mika Puurunen

KAREG Consulting Engineers, Töölöntorinkatu 11B, 00260 Helsinki, Finland


Blasting and the transmission of vibration involve numerous variables which makes it impossible to predict the levels of vibrations. Therefore an effective blast design and optimization require a multitude of variables be integrated into a single instance. In prior research the existence of the strong relation between PPV and damage to structures has been well established. Besides PPV, the frequency is one of the most important factors controlling the response of structures. This paper presents a case

history of Olympic Stadium renovation in Helsinki, Finland with a focus on blasting near the Olympic Stadium Tower. It will be concluded whether the current vibration criteria, measurement and approach are suitable and sufficient for near-structure blasting.

© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of EUROCK 2017.

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of EUROCK 2017

Keywords: near-structure blasting; blasting design; PPV prediction; monitoring; measurement; rock masses; vibration; damping effect

1. Introduction

Blasting and explosions in the vicinity of retaining structures raise two principal areas of concern. First, an air blast spreads outward over the ground surface from the point of near surface explosion. These shocks waves induce stress waves in the ground producing dynamic stresses on the structures. In addition to that, the stress waves originating from the point of an underground explosion and moving directly through the ground. These waves induce stresses in any wall or underground structure along their path [1]. There are many variables and “site factors” that collectively result in the formation of a complex vibration waveform. Many parameters of both controlled and uncontrolled nature influence the amplitude of ground vibration

* Corresponding author. Tel.:+ 358-949-3411. E-mail address:

1877-7058 © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license


Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of EUROCK 2017


Kari Avellan et al. / Procedia Engineering 191 (2017) 504 – 511


(safety, distance from the source, rock properties, local geology, surface topography, explosive quantity and properties, geometrical blast design, operational parameters, such as initiation point and sequence, delay intervals patterns, firing method, etc.) [2, 4]. In order to control and protect the excited structures from deleterious effect of ground and air vibration, standards and regulations have been established. These regulations vary from country to country depending on the type and construction material used. In addition, many damage criteria and propagation equations have been designed that derive varying degree of success [4, 6]. This paper presents a case history of Olympic Stadium renovation in Helsinki, Finland with the focus on blasting near the Olympic Stadium Tower. It will be concluded whether the current vibration criteria, measurement and approach are suitable and sufficient for urban environment and near-structure blasting.

2. Ground vibration measurement

Ground vibration measurements serve two purposes: (1) to derive predictive equations of generation and propagation, and (2) to assess the potential for damage to nearby structures. The propagation of ground vibration waves is a complex phenomenon. Even in short distances from the blast source, rocks and unconsolidated material are anisotropic and non-homogeneous. These difficulties restrict theoretical analysis and derivation of a propagation law and consequently research workers have concentrated upon empirical relationships based on field’s measurements. There have been considerable studies on vibration and air blast effects from surface mining operations, but there has been little research done on construction blasting and even less on the particulars of near-structure blasting. Case history data taken alone has not so far provided an adequate basis for identifying thresholds for vibration-induced damage [2]. Data from systematic studies using a carefully controlled vibration source in the vicinity of buildings has therefore been used as the basis for defining damage thresholds. There is a lack of reliable data on the threshold of vibration-induced damage in buildings also in countries where national standards already exist [3]. Consequently, the current national regulations do not reflect the type of blasting and blasting effects generated by near-structure blasting. Despite the fact that the measurement techniques have developed significantly, the evaluation, forecast and interpretation of the vibration measurements often result in unsatisfied declarations. One of the key reasons is the fact that there is no standardized concept of reference values or limits for various types of buildings [2, 4].

3. Blasting and the transmission of vibration

As mentioned earlier, blasting and the transmission of vibrations from the blast involve numerous variables so it is impossible to theoretically predict the levels of vibration produced by a blast. A systematic, critical comparison of single proceedings formulating “charge-weight” distance relations is applied to increase the precision and statistical reliability of the calculation methods as well as the prediction of vibration. Alternatively, in some cases a detailed engineering analysis (the response spectrum technique) may be useful in evaluating the vibration of a building. This technique includes the effect of frequency and damping and can be used for any type of time history, however has so far been applied mainly to seismic effects and shock. It is essential the following factors be considered and evaluated in building response to vibrations:

3.1. Peak Particle Velocity (PPV)

PPV is the maximum instantaneous velocity of a particle at a point during a given time interval. While the disturbance caused by a vibration source propagates away from that source with a certain wave velocity, ground particles vibrate with a variable particle velocity. At given location along the propagation path the motion may be defined in terms of three mutually perpendicular components (usually vertical, transverse and longitudinal or radial). In order to ensure the PPV is correctly measured, all three components have to be measured simultaneously.


Kari Avellan et al. / Procedia Engineering 191 (2017) 504 – 511

3.2. Peak Particle Velocity prediction

The strain imposed on a building at foundation level is proportional to the PPV, but is inversely proportional to the propagation velocity of the shear or compression waves in the ground. Since the propagation velocity increases with ground stiffness, a higher PPV measured with harder ground conditions may induce the same strain as a lower PPV measured with softer ground, provided that it occurs significantly far away from a resonance [5]. Thus where a structure closely follows the movement of the ground, it may be possible to allow a higher PPV with hard ground conditions. Basic prediction of PPV can be achieved using Oriard’s formula, which follows:





1/ 2






where, PPV = Peak Particle Velocity (mm s -1 ), K = Confinement Factor, D = Distance (m), SD = Scaled Distance (m kg -1/2 ), ^-1.6 = to the -1.6 power, charge mass weight W (kg) expressed in TNT net equivalent charge weight. To calculate the “K” factor, the following formula is used:

D 1/ 2
1/ 2





PPV estimation in near-structure blasting is extremely difficult as direct measurement of near-field PPV as using a seismograph bears a risk of damaging the instrument. Therefore most of the estimations of PPV are made either by extrapolating far-field observations or using Holmberg- Persson´s near-field model [6].

3.3. Frequency

Besides PPV, frequency is one of the most important factors controlling the response of structures. In near- structure blasting it is important take into consideration how the vibrations couple with the structure to produce vibrational responses and how they are altered by presence of the structures and their foundation excavations. When structures are excited by blast, measured vibration may be equal in all variables except frequency. The exposed structure will respond much differently to ground motion with frequency of 20 Hz than to ground motion with frequency of 150 Hz. In many cases, blast limits and specifications are based on blasting situations in mining and quarrying. Frequency, although looked at in regards to standard blasting limits, is rarely taken into account when designing specifications for near-structure blasting which can decrease the precision of vibration.

3.4. Frequency prediction

Strains imposed in a building by ground motion will tend to be greater if lower frequencies predominate. The dominant frequency to use for the assessment is that associated with the greatest amplitude pulse. The method of estimating frequency depends on whether the vibration time history is simple or complex in character. Vibrational response to the incoming vibration wave varies depending on the structures stiffness, mass, and frictional properties, and also according to how well the structure fits the single-degree-of-freedom simple harmonic case [4]. In the near-structure blasting there is a lower margin for errors because of the proximity of structures affected by flyrock and vibration effects. The following considerations should be made and recorded in regards to vibration assessment: subjective observations, measurement details, test results, assessment including, but not limited to the comparison of maximum PPV with the vibration limit appropriate to the type of building and the duration of the source, evaluation of the possibility of vibration-induced damage, details of the site and condition of the building structure.

Kari Avellan et al. / Procedia Engineering 191 (2017) 504 – 511

3.5. Acceleration


The combination of vibration wave peak particle velocity and the frequency are used to calculate acceleration. The formula used is for approximate maximum acceleration is:


2 v f


where, units of acceleration = a (mm s -2 ), v= PPV (mm s -1 ), f = frequency (Hz). Acceleration can be either calculated or measured. When acceleration is calculated, the figure is usually much lower than the actual result because the vibration wave is not a true sinusoidal curve. In close-in blasting situations, high accelerations can make the captured vibrations seem more intense which can make the data unreliable. Acceleration should always be evaluated in relation to the principal frequency, not as a stand-alone limit [3].

3.6. Effect of atmospheric conditions

Effects of atmospheric conditions have to be taken into account, especially in near high rise structure blasting. When a blast is fired, the air vibration travels as a wavefront outwards from the blast at the speed of sound, equally in all directions. The effect of wind and air temperature can be demonstrated if the wavefront is considered as a series of sound 'rays' radiating out from the blast, and perpendicular to the wavefront. A reinforcement situation occurs when the sound rays are deflected by wind or air temperature variation and are concentrated at the surface. This results in a higher air vibration level than that resulting from normal drop-off rate [7].

4. Near-structure blasting case history: Olympic Stadium Tower in Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki Olympic Stadium, described as the most beautiful in the world, is a piece of art of the architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti featuring a sharp, functionalistic style design. In the opening ceremony of the XV Olympic Games in the year 1952 the record of 70 435 spectators was reached.

the year 1952 the record of 70 435 spectators was reached. Fig. 1. (a) Helsinki Olympic

Fig. 1. (a) Helsinki Olympic Stadium; (b) Olympic Stadium Tower.

4.1. Structural and geological overview of the tower and site

The Stadium complex is 243 m long, up to 159 m wide and covers 4.9 hectares (Fig. 1). In 2016 a major renovation project started and the area will reopen in 2019. The project is funded by Finnish state and the city of Helsinki and the total costs were estimated to 209 mil. Euros. The Olympic Stadium Tower is 72 m high and the foundations of the structure lay on strong, massive rock The geometrical area of the tower sections is diverse due to variable width wall along its length: at the bottom


Kari Avellan et al. / Procedia Engineering 191 (2017) 504 – 511

the wall thickness is ~500 mm whereas at the top it reaches ~250 mm. Civil engineer Uno Varjo designed the tower foundation for wind load and own weight having the resultant inside the kern. The tower has stairways, elevators and observation decks evenly divided throughout the overall height which makes the structure more rigid.

4.2. Natural frequencies of the tower

Transmission and reflection of vibration waves also affect the PPV. In the case of two equal compression waves colliding, the stresses will add and double. Once they pass, they regain their original form and continue. In conditions where two opposite waves (compression and tension) collide, the stresses will cancel one another and then continue on and resume their initial form. It is essential that the explosives engineer determine various methods and approaches defining vibration wave peak, especially in near-structure blasting, which in this particular case was slightly underestimated and underappreciated.

4.3. Monitoring methods and measurement techniques

Monitoring and measurement of vibration included important factors, such as mounting of transducers (vibrometers), instrumentation, measuring positions, measurement procedure, etc. Two vibrometers were installed in the tower; one mounted near the highest point (z = 80 m) in the elevator’s machine room (MP5) and the other at the foundation/ground level (z = 9 m) (MP7). In this project vibrometers Instantel Micromate (DIN Version) with a frequency range of 1/315 Hz and a peak velocity up to 254 mm s -1 were considered most suitable, reliable and therefore employed for measurements. Vibrometers were to record three mutually perpendicular components simultaneously (vertical, transverse and longitudinal) to measure the PPV concurrently with frequency, peak acceleration and peak displacement (Fig. 2b).

peak acceleration and peak displacement (Fig. 2b). Fig. 2. (a) Excavation levels; (b) Blasting. Vibrometers MP5

Fig. 2. (a) Excavation levels; (b) Blasting. Vibrometers MP5 (top level) and MP7(foundation’s upper level). 2Li blasting marked with exclamation mark (!), see also subchapter 4.5.

In addition, an extensometer system was installed on the lower part of the structure (in the first third of height) to monitor tower’s local tension and compression in the lower part. Lastly, the effect of atmospheric conditions such as wind and temperature was also a subject of monitoring and observation. The data was periodically recorded and there was no evident interference with the above-described monitoring systems and measuring technique.

4.4. Ground conditions evaluation, trial measurements and vibration assessment

When initial predictions indicate that a nearby structure could be at risk, then trial measurements should be carried out to establish the vibration attenuation between the source and the building. The interaction between the ground and the foundation of the structure can have a major effect on building response. The geology of the ground between the vibration source and the building also affects the input frequency

Kari Avellan et al. / Procedia Engineering 191 (2017) 504 – 511


spectrum to the building. For this purpose two drilled core samples in the tower´s proximity in the depth of 10 m showed that the bedrock consists mainly of granite and gneiss. With reference to RQD classifications (RQD = 0.65…0.75) it was determined that there was no need for special injection work prior blasting and excavation. The risk of vibration-induced damage was evaluated taking into account the magnitude, frequency and duration of recorded vibration together with consideration of the type of the structure. The excavation levels are illustrated in Fig. 2a. In addition, a test blast in the vicinity of the tower was performed to obtain trial measurements in order to define vibration threshold limits that were subsequently taken into account in the blast design development.

4.5. Blasting and excavations near the tower

In this project the distances from the source and the tower ranged between 10 m and 200 m. The blasting project started off with a second charge referred to as 2Li (the first charge was the pre-blasting trial measurement) in a distance ~26.0 m from the tower. The 2Li blast design was developed based on the acquired values from the test blast, guidance of the Finnish blasting standard and on the expert estimation assuming that the foundation of the tower lies on ground moraine, also termed as glacial till. The instantaneous charge mass of explosives was 4.7 kg, bench height 4.0 m, total 12 holes of = 51 mm distributed evenly in a 4 x 3 blast pattern geometry [8]. Blasting caps used were VA caps (Firex caps) with 25 milliseconds time-lapse between each blasting sequence.

4.6. PPV and frequency analysis

Like in most blasting monitoring projects, also in this case the PPV has been found to be the best single descriptor for correlating with case history data on the occurrence of vibration-induced damage. PPV vector sum measured by the lower mounted vibrometer (MP7) was 21.1 mm s -1 whereas the upper mounted vibrometer (MP5) recorded PPV vector sum of 30.0 mm s -1 (Table 1).

Table 1. (a) Blast 2Li measured by MP7; (b) Blast 2Li measured by MP5.











PPV [mm s -1 ] ZC Freq [Hz]













Time (Rel. to Trig) [s].







Peak Acceleration [g]







Peak Displacemen [mm]







Sensor Check







Peak Vector Sum 21.1 mm s -1 At 0.058 s

Peak Vector Sum 30.0 mm s -1 At 0.168 s

The measured peak displacement vector sum on the lower vibrometer (MP7) was 0.838 mm while on the upper vibrometer (MP5) the measured value was 1.849 mm. The recorded measurements demonstrated and proved the vibration occurrence of the tower induced by the 2Li blast (Fig. 2b). The dominant low frequency blasting wave in the transversal direction was an impulse to generating the vibration and its resonating effect. The induction can be noticed in Fig. 3a (red curve) and its resonating effect in Fig. 3b (blue curve). Furthermore, the blast-induced frequency matched that of the tower’s natural frequency – its resonant frequency. Predicted natural frequencies in the x-direction (long.) were 1.8–2.0 Hz and in the y-direction (trans.) between 2.8–3.0 Hz as is illustrated in more detail in Fig. 4a. The Y-axis points approximately from south to north and the x-axis is pointing in the west to east direction. The structure amplified the vibrations and due to a lot of inertia it took time for the force at the bottom to be transmitted up to the top. When the forces reached the top (a matter of less than a second) the structure was in motion, moving to the side. This single impulse - pushing the tower to the side a finite distance - resulted in a vibration of the un-anchored end of the structure (the top) as the force imparted at its base is gradually dampened or absorbed by flexing. With reference to the recorded values measured by the extensometer, a local displacement reaction (compression) over 2 mm occurred on the east side of the tower (Fig. 4b).


Kari Avellan et al. / Procedia Engineering 191 (2017) 504 – 511

Avellan et al. / Procedia Engineering 191 (2017) 504 – 511 Fig. 3. Vibrational curves in

Fig. 3. Vibrational curves in blast 2Li (a) measured by MP7 (lower); (b) measured by MP5 (upper).

(a) measured by MP7 (lower); (b) measured by MP5 (upper). Fig. 4. (a) Axes of tower.

Fig. 4. (a) Axes of tower. Centerpoint; (b) Compression of the east side of the tower (red line).

4.7. Blast and blast design considerations and re-assessment

The response of a structure to ground vibration is affected among others by the type of foundation, underlying ground conditions and building classification. Furthermore, in order to complete blasting efficiently without causing damage to buildings, equipment or personnel, it is essential to develop both a comprehensive measurement strategy and monitoring approach. That means that an effective blast design requires a multitude of variables be synchronized into a single event. In this case history the vibration and consequent displacement of the tower occurrence might have been prevented if “site factors” have been given more attentive consideration during the blast design development instead of limiting the predictions strictly relaying on current vibration criteria, measured values, empirical approach or commonly used concepts which obviously has decreased the precision of vibration predictions. Particularly, one or more following areas could have been taken into account with more analytical approach (Risk Analysis):

Extensive and comprehensive geological investigation (underlying ground conditions, rock properties, local geology, surface topography) to predict damping effect, for example by a detailed engineering analysis [11]; Comprehensive and in-depth building structure properties investigation, such as layout, site plan, type of construction, type of foundations, original architectural and structural design specifics, etc. which in this case would be essential in prediction of the structural behavior and response more accurately (e.g. minimization of blast-induced impact - damping effect, decrease of vibration); More effective blasting design (explosive quantity and properties, geometry, operational parameters, such as initiation point and sequence, delay intervals patterns, firing method);

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Additional tests blasts and trial measurements prior the blast project initiation; Prediction and calculation of natural frequency of the tower and implementation of assessment and prediction of blast-induced frequency into a blasting design incorporating the vibrating frequencies of expected ground motion; Importance of the damping effect. The use of stiffness and damping coefficients in case of a soils stratum on bedrock can extremely underestimate the response of buildings, because building frequencies below the so-called “cut-off-frequency” of the layer are very low damped and lead to high responses [9, 11].

As a solution to the unpredicted vibration occurrence of the tower caused by the 2Li blast followed by the interpretation of the measured values and investigation, the blasting design criteria have been reviewed and reassessed. Specifically, the PPV pre-established threshold values have been decreased in the sequential blasting operations following the principles of Koch´s model [10] in order to reduce vibrations.

5. Summary

Blasting is an engineering science but since it is not an exact science, it is also art. Anybody with an engineering or geologic background can read basic handbooks and understand the concepts and methods of blasting, but even the most educated will not be able to do blast design, specification writings, monitoring in near-structure blasting situations without actual hands-on experience. Too often, engineers with insufficient experience are hired to write or develop blasting specifications for safe and efficient blasting without undue limitations. The vibration frequency is a crucial factor in developing blast designs for near structure blasting situations. When blasting limits are established, they should reflect the combination of frequency, peak particle velocity, and the type of structure affected by the blast-induced vibration.

6. Conclusions

As the presented case history of blasting near the Olympic Stadium Tower in Helsinki clearly demonstrates, current vibration criteria measurement and reporting techniques may not be suitable for the urban environment and near-structure blasting. It is believed that blast vibration monitoring should not be limited to reporting of the maximum PPV in relation to a pre-established threshold value as is typically specified in most blasting projects. The alternative analysis techniques should also be considered and incorporated in order to help to provide additional criteria in the design and execution of blasting projects by more complex vibration estimation assessment. When writing specifications, constructing blast designs, and investigating blasting in tight blasting situations, it is important to understand that the regulations developed for blasting are usually not based on near structure blasting situations. To complete tight construction blasting projects in a cost effective, timely manner and with minimal impact on surrounding structures, it is imperative that the explosives engineer understand the importance of the frequency in specification, blast design as well as interpretation of results.


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Vienna Conference Proceedings, 2007, pp. 127–138. [7] A.B. Richards, A.J.Moore, Effective Blast Design and Optimization, Terrock Consulting Engineers, LLC, 2010, pp. 49–52. [8] KAREG Consulting Engineers internal database and archive. [9] R.Zin, F. Stangenberg, Importance of soil damping idealization in soil-structure interaction computations, Earthquake Engineering, in: Tenth World Conference, 1992, Rotterdam, pp. 1543–1548. [10] H.W.Koch: Zur Möglichkeit der Abgrenzung von Lademengen bei Steinbruchsprengungen nach festgestellten Erschütterungstärken. Nobel Heft, 1958, pp. 92 – 96. [11] K.C. Avellan, T.K. Nuutinen, Deepening of Juankoski Canal Strengthening of Rock and Blasting under bridge, in: ISRM European Rock Mechanics Symposium EUROCK, Vigo, Spain, 2014.