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An important question, which requires careful consideration at the start of any
underground excavation project, is: What constitutes a realistic site investigation for
that project and to what extent can such a site investigation be expected to minimize
the unknowns, which could give rise to tunneling problems and consequent
contractual difficulties?
The prime purpose of any tunnel site investigation should be to obtain the
maximum amount of information on ground (rock) characteristics, structural
systems and groundwater conditions. This information is also important to the
designer in that it should provide him to anticipate the behavior of the rock
surrounding the tunnel and the type of support required to maintain the tunnel in a
stable condition. This information is also important to the contractor in that it should
provide him with a basis for establishing the optimum tunneling method and the type
of services, which he will require in order to meet the construction schedules.
The first fact, which must be recognized when planning a site investigation
program for a tunnel is that, there is no such thing as a standard investigation steps
for tunnel site. These things depend on the lot of factors such as topography,
accessibility, overburden, type of project, budget allocated for the project etc.
Therefore, the site investigation program must be planned to the specific site
conditions, end-results required and amounts of time and money available.
Tunnel being a linear feature, means that it will probably traverse a variety of
geological conditions than would be encountered in the excavations for most other
engineering structures. Consequently, very careful consideration must be given to
the amount of information, which can be accumulated from a site investigation
program and the accuracy of the projections which can made from this information.
Upon completion of the field investigation and laboratory-testing program,
the geotechnical engineer will compile, evaluate and interpret the data and perform
engineering analysis for the design of tunnels.
Generally, the following reports are prepared:
1.Geo-technical Investigation (Data) Report
2.Geo-technical Design Report
The need for multiple types of reports on a single project depends on the project size,
phasing and complexity.


Geo-technical investigation reports present site-specific data and have three
major components.
1. Background Information:
The initial sections of the report summarize the geotechnical engineers
understanding of the facility for which the report is being prepared and the purposes
of the geotechnical investigation. This section also presents a general description of
site conditions, geology and geologic features, drainage, ground cover and
accessibility and any peculiarities of the site.
2. Work Scope:
The second part of the investigation report documents the scope of
investigation program and the specific procedures used to perform this work. These
sections will identify the types of investigation methods used, the number, location
and depths of boring and in-situ tests; the types and frequency of samples obtained;
the dates when the field investigation was performed, the types and number of
laboratory tests performed; the testing standards used.
3. Data Presentation:
This portion of the report is generally contained in appendices, presents the
data obtained from the field investigation, laboratory testing and typically includes
final logs of all borings and piezometer or well installations, water level readings,
data plots from each in-situ test hole, summary tables and individual data sheets for
all laboratory tests performed, rock core photographs, geologic mapping data sheets
and summary plots, subsurface profiles developed from the field and laboratory test
The table of content of the Geo-technical Investigation (Data) Report is
presented as:

1. Introduction
2. Scope of Work
3. Site Description
4. Field Investigation Program & In-Situ Testing
5. Discussion on Laboratory Tests Performed
6. Site Conditions, Geologic Setting & Topographic Information
7. Summary of Sub-surface Conditions and Soil Profiles
8. Discussion of Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations
8.1.1 Rock/Soil Types
8.1.2 Rock/Soil Properties
8.2Ground Water conditions/Observations
8.3Special Topics (ie., dynamic properties, seismicity environmental)
8.4Chemical Analysis
9. Field Permeability Tests
A Geo-technical Design Report typically provides an assessment of existing
subsurface conditions at a project site, presents, describes and summarizes the
procedures and findings of any geotechnical analyses performed, and provides
appropriate recommendations for design and construction of tunnels and other
required facilities. Unless a separate Investigation (data) Report has previously been
developed, the geotechnical design report will also include documentation of any
subsurface investigations performed and a presentation of the investigation data as
described in the previous section for the ‘Geo-technical Investigation Report’. The
scope, site condition and design/construction requirements of each project are
unique, the specific contents of a geotechnical design report must be compatible to
the need of each project. In general, however, the geotechnical design report must
address all the geotechnical issues that may be anticipated in a project. The report
must identify each soil and rock unit of engineering significance and must provide
recommended design parameters for each of these units. This requires a
summarization and analysis of all factual data to justify the recommended index and
design properties. Groundwater conditions are particularly important for both design
and construction and accordingly they need to be carefully assessed and described.
For every project, the subsurface conditions encountered in the site investigation
need to be compared with the geologic setting to better understand the nature of the
deposits and to predict the degree of variability between borings. The results of these
studies need to be concisely and clearly discussed in the report. Of particular
importance is an assessment of the impact of existing subsurface conditions on
construction operations, phasing and timing. Properly addressing these items in the
report can preclude change-of-conditions claims. These may include but are not
limited to:
 Standup time and support erection time
 Ground behavior up to the support erection
 Proposed Excavation method and support types
 Anticipated groundwater and consequences of high groundwater table on
 Chemical analysis of groundwater and evaluation for corrosive action on supports
 Rock hardness on the drillability, problems of rock blasting and spalling,
 Squeezing or swelling potential
 Mineralogical composition of in-situ materials
In addition to these, the GDR must recommend the remedial measures for the
anticipated problems during the execution of tunneling works.
The sample table of content for the GDR is presented as:
1. Introduction
1.1 Project Description
(includes facility descriptions, loads and performance requirements)
1.2 Scope of work
2. Geology
2.1 Regional Geology
2.2 Site Geology
3. Existing Geo-technical Information
4. Sub-Surface Exploration Program
4.1 Sub-surface Exploration Procedures
4.2 Laboratory Testing
5. Subsurface conditions
5.1 Topography
5.2 Stratigraphy
5.3 Soil Properties/Rock Mass Classification
5.4 Groundwater Conditions
6. Recommendations for Tunnel Supports
7. Construction Recommendations
List of References
List of Figures
Appendix A Boring Logs
Appendix B Laboratory Test Data
Appendix C Existing Subsurface Information

Ground Investigation activities work-flow steps:

1. Study of plan, profile and other details of proposed tunnel project in combination
of Regional Geological maps, Topographic maps and other relevant documents.
2. Study of Existing Reports if any in the same location for other projects in vicinity
of proposed tunnel project or study of other preliminary reports for the project
performed in earlier stage.
3. Reconnaissance of site with topography, accessibility, work-plan perspective.
The reconnaissance work should cover both the immediate site as well as a much
larger area so that regional geologic and hydro-geologic trends could be verified.
4. Carryout site geologic (corridor specific) study (surface mapping,
geomorphology or geologic interpretation of landforms reveals data that points
the adverse geology, Stratigraphy, Fault-Zone, Landslide Hazard area for portal
evaluation, groundwater information (location of springs and seasonal variations
of springs).
5. Workout ground exploration plan. This includes the locations of the boreholes,
their orientation, depth etc. depending on the plan and profile of the alignment of
proposed tunnel/s.
6. Carryout in-situ tests whenever applicable following standard test procedure.
7. Collect and preserve the samples for the laboratory tests following standard
8. Perform the laboratory tests following standard test procedure.
9. Find out the index and engineering properties of the samples as applicable.
10.Prepare subsurface profile of ground showing the variation along the length of
11.Carryout the ground condition assessment, expected geo-mechanical behavior,
expected inflow of groundwater in the excavation etc.
12.Classify the rock-mass along the tunnel and propose the supports for the
respective class of rock-mass.
13.Propose the appropriate excavation method of tunnel, anticipated risk and
remedial measures.
14.Prepare the comprehensive construction plan.
15.Prepare the Instrumentation Plan.

Investigation activities :
1. Surface Exploration Works.
a. Surface mapping of outcrops/exposures (Air Photo and Satellite Imagery), in-
site mapping of visible geologic features (Geological Structural mapping,
geomorphology or geologic interpretation of landforms, stratigraphy, Fault-
Zone, Landslide Hazard area for portal evaluation, groundwater information,
location of springs and seasonal variations of flow in springs), Field Strength
Test (Schmidt Hammer, Field Point Load Test)
Sub-surface Exploration works:
2. Boring work (If possible Oriented Core).
3. The borehole location, number, orientation (recommended by geologist as
dictated by site condition and nature of project) and length (as recommended by
Engineering geologist, general guideline for the length of bore-hole for project is
1.5 times route length as per USNC/TT guideline). Bore-hole logging is done for
every borehole. The size of core shall be not less than NX/NQ size.
4. Activities and Tests while carrying out boring work:
 Undisturbed Sample Collection wherever possible/as specified (For Soil) and
coring of rock samples for rocky strata.
 In-situ Test
a. SPT, DCP at specified/appropriate/suitable depth.
b. Packer Test and Pumping Test.
c. Permeability Test.
5. Hydro-fracturing test, Impression Packer Test.
6. Tests for Methane and Other Hazardous Gases in Boreholes.
7. Piezometer Installation and monitoring.
8. Geophysical Survey
d. Electric Resistivity Tomography, Vertical Electric Profiling (ERT, VEP)
e. Seismic Reflection/Refraction Tomography, Vertical Seismic Profiling (SRT,
9. Laboratory Tests
Tests for Soil Samples
Grain Size Analysis IS:2720 Part - 4
Hydrometer Analysis IS:2720 Part - 4
Consistency Limits IS:2720 Part - 5
Specific Gravity Determination IS:2720 Part - III
Determination of Shrinkage Factor IS:2720 Part - VI
Permeability Test IS:2720 Part - 17
Natural Water Content IS:2720 Part - III
Free Swell Index Test IS:2720 Part - XI
Swelling Pressure Test IS:2720 Part - XII
Determination of unit Weight of Soil IS:2720
Unconfined Compression Test IS:2720 Part - X
Direct Shear Test IS:2720 Part - XIII
Tri-axial Test IS:2720 Part – XI,XII
Soil Mineralogy and Chemical Analysis IS/ASTM/ISRM
Suggested methods
Tests for Rock Samples
Petrographic Analysis ASTM/ISRM Suggested
Water Content ASTM D2216, ASTM D4643
Determination of Specific ISRM Suggested Methods
Unit Weight Test ISRM Suggested Methods
Porosity Test ISRM Suggested Methods
Water Absorptions Test UNI-EN 13755
Rebound Hardness Test ASTM D5873
Cerchar Abrasivity Index Test ASTM D7625
Point Load Index Test ASTM D5731
Tensile Test (Brazilian Disk) ASTM D3967
Moh’s Hardness Test ASTM/ISRM Suggested
Unconfined Compressive ASTM D7012
Strength Test
Tri-axial Compression Test ASTM D7012, D4767
Direct Shear Test ASTM D5607
Slake Durability Test ASTM D4644
Hydraulic conductivity of Intact ASTM/ISRM Suggested
Rock Methods
Rock Elasticity and Poisson’s ASTM/ISRM Suggested
Ratio Methods

Test for Water Samples

PH Test of Water IS/ASTM Suggested Methods
Sulphate Content IS/ASTM Suggested Methods
Chlorine content IS/ASTM Suggested Methods

Next Level of Ground Investigation

Excavating Test Adits and Performing test for the In-situ Stress Evaluation and
Deformation Modulus of Rock Mass near to the Excavation Area.
Carrying out geotechnical studies and thus the preparation of geotechnical
data and geotechnical design report facilitates the client by avoiding the
followings issues.
1. Unknown ground and thus lack of information for planning and design.
2. Disputes between client and contractor.
3. Chances of Cost Over-runs.
4. Risk on the schedules of activities.