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COUPLED MODELING

FOR PORE PRESSURE PREDICTION IN


OPEN CUT MINING
TASK 3 Work Flow Evaluation – DRAFT
Version 0.50
7 February 2014,

Contributing Authors:
Thomas Booth, Ulrich Schott, Jeremy Dowling, Geoff Beale.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1.1.1. SEEP/W ................................................................................................................................................ 3
1.1.2. SIGMA/W ............................................................................................................................................. 4
1.1.3. PETREL-ECLIPSE-VISAGE .................................................................................................................... 15
1.2.1. Objectives & Scope ............................................................................................................................ 17
1.2.2. Model Setup ...................................................................................................................................... 18
1.2.3. Modeling Strategy ............................................................................................................................. 23
1.3.1. Objectives & Scope ............................................................................................................................ 25
1.3.2. Case Study Setup ............................................................................................................................... 25
1.3.3. Modeling Strategy ............................................................................................................................. 26
2.3.1. Relative Importance of the Hydraulic Conductivity (K) ...................................................................... 29
2.3.2. Relative Importance of the Specific Yield (Sy) .................................................................................... 29
2.3.3. Relative Importance of the Specific Storage (S s)................................................................................ 30
2.3.4. Relative Importance of the Young’s Modulus (E) .............................................................................. 30
2.3.5. Relative Importance of the Poisson’s Ratio () .................................................................................. 30
2.3.6. Relative Importance of the Skempton’s B Coefficient (B) .................................................................. 31
3.1.1. Location of the Observation Wells ..................................................................................................... 32
3.1.2. SEEP/W Results .................................................................................................................................. 32
3.1.3. SIGMA/W Results .............................................................................................................................. 36

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1. METHODOLOGY

1.1. DESCRIPTION OF SOFTWARE CODES

1.1.1. SEEP/W

1.1.1.1. GOVERNING EQUATIONS & APPROACH


SEEP/W is a 2D finite element numerical model that solves the classic groundwater flow
equations of a saturated/unsaturated flow through a two dimensional plane. The present
chapter will describe in a concise manner the formulation used by SEEP/W, meantime a detailed
description can be found in SEEP/W’s manual (SEEP/W Engineering Methodology, 2009).
The classic groundwater flow equations are derived from two physical laws: Lavoisier’s mass
conservation law, and Darcy’s law. When these two laws are applied to a 2D differential
element, equation 1 can be obtained (SEEP/W Engineering Methodology, 2009), which relates
the temporal changes in volumetric water content with the groundwater flow given by Darcy’s
law and the applied boundary conditions.

𝜕 𝜕𝐻 𝜕 𝜕𝐻 𝜕𝜃𝑤
(𝑘𝑥 )+ (𝑘𝑦 )+𝑄 = (eqn 1)
𝜕𝑥 𝜕𝑥 𝜕𝑦 𝜕𝑦 𝜕𝑡

Where:
H = total head,
kx, ky = the hydraulic conductivities in x and y direction, respectively,
Q = the applied boundary flux,
w = the volumetric water content, and
t = time.

Since SEEP/W is formulated for conditions of constant total stress, as all classic groundwater
flow codes do, the changes in volumetric water content are considered only related to the
changes in pore water pressure, which is expressed in equation 2.

𝜕𝜃𝑤 = 𝑚𝑤 𝜕𝑢𝑤 (eqn 2)

Where:
uw = pore water pressure, and
mw = the slope of the storage curve for the saturated and unsaturated part.

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Since the total head is directly related to the pore water pressure, equation 1 and 2 can be
rewritten into equation 3, which is the equation solved by SEEP/W during the numerical
simulations.

𝜕 𝜕𝐻 𝜕 𝜕𝐻 𝜕𝐻
(𝑘𝑥 )+ (𝑘𝑦 ) + 𝑄 = 𝑚𝑤 𝛾𝑤 (eqn 3)
𝜕𝑥 𝜕𝑥 𝜕𝑦 𝜕𝑦 𝜕𝑡

It’s important to understand that fully hydro-geomechanical coupled codes are far more
complex that classic groundwater flow codes, basically, because they consider the relationships
that exists between the total stress, the effective stress, the pore water pressure, the
deformation of the rock and the volumetric water content, and also because they usually relate
the hydraulic conductivity to the changes un effective stress or to the deformation to the
soil/rock.

1.1.2. SIGMA/W

1.1.2.1. GOVERNING EQUATIONS & APPROACH


SIGMA/W is a 2D finite element numerical model that solves the hydro-geomechanical coupled
problem for a saturated/unsaturated soil using a fully coupled approach, which means that both
the soil stress-deformation equation and the water flow equation are solved simultaneously
throughout the simulation period. In order to accomplish that, SIGMA/W’s numerical
formulation is derived in a coupled manner from scratch as it will be shown below. The present
chapter will describe the formulation of SIGMA/W’s hydro-geomechanical coupled code,
including some corrections to the formulation given by SIGMA/W’s manual (SIGMA/W
Engineering Methodology, 2013), and certain analysis that are considered fundamental to
understand how SIGMA/W actually works and which its limitations are. It is strongly suggested
to read and understand this chapter before attempting any simulation with SIGMA/W. It’s also
important to mention that SIGMA/W’s formulation is based on Biot’s poroelastic theory, which
will be partially explained throughout the chapter.

In order to describe the relationship between total stresses, pore water pressure and
deformation of the soil, SIGMA/W uses the incremental strain-stress relationship deduced by
Fredlung and Rahardjo (1993), presented by equation 4, which is analogous to the constitutive
equation deduced by Biot (1941). This equation is strictly valid for an unsaturated soil in a two
dimensional space, but it can be also used for the saturated condition.

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𝑢𝑎 − 𝑢𝑤
∆ (𝜀𝑥 − )
∆(𝜎𝑥 − 𝑢𝑎 ) 0 𝐻
1−𝜈 𝜈 𝜈 𝑢𝑎 − 𝑢𝑤
∆(𝜎𝑦 − 𝑢𝑎 ) 𝐸 0 ∆ (𝜀𝑦 − )
𝜈 1−𝜈 𝜈
= 0 𝐻 (eqn 4)
∆(𝜎𝑧 − 𝑢𝑎 ) (1 + 𝜈)(1 − 2𝜈) 𝜈 𝜈 1 − 𝜈 1 − 2𝜈 ∆ (𝜀 − 𝑢𝑎 − 𝑢𝑤 )
∆𝜏 0 0 0 𝑧
𝐻
{ 𝑥𝑦 } [ 2 ]
{ ∆𝛾𝑥𝑦 }

Where:
i = normal strain in direction i, being positive for contraction,
xy = engineering shear strain in the x-y plane,
i = total normal stress in direction i, being positive for compression,
xy = shear stress in the x-y plane,
ua = pore-air pressure,
uw = pore-water pressure,
E = elastic modulus for the soil/rock structure,
 = Poisson’s ratio of the soil/rock structure, and
H = one of Biot’s parameter. Unsaturated soil modulus for the soil structure with
respect to the matrix suction (ua - uw).

It can be easily demonstrated (SIGMA/W Engineering Methodology, 2013), that for a fully
saturated linear-elastic material, and assuming incompressible water, H is given by equation 5
which is the value for H that SIGMA/W uses for all of its calculation, including the ones
associated to the unsaturated zone. SIGMA/W’s manual claims that using equation 5 for the
unsaturated condition is considered adequate for practical field problems, and presents a test
run which shows how well SIGMA/W performs (SIGMA/W Engineering Methodology, 2013).

𝐸
𝐻= (eqn 5)
1 − 2𝜈

Nevertheless, it can be easily demonstrated that if equation 5 is utilized for defining Biot’s
parameter H, equation 4 can be rewritten as equation 6, which is exactly similar to Terzaghi’s
effective stress law.

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0 ∆𝜀𝑥 ∆𝑢𝑤
1−𝜈 𝜈 𝜈 ∆𝜎𝑥
𝐸 0 ∆𝜀 ∆𝑢 ∆𝜎𝑦
𝜈 1−𝜈 𝜈 𝑦 𝑤
0 + = (eqn 6)
(1 + 𝜈)(1 − 2𝜈) 𝜈 𝜈 1 − 𝜈 1 − 2𝜈 ∆𝜀𝑧 ∆𝑢𝑤 ∆𝜎𝑧
0 0 {∆𝜏𝑥𝑦 }
[ 0 2 ] {∆𝛾𝑥𝑦 } { 0 }

Since Terzaghi’s effective stress law (’=-uw), doesn’t incorporate the parameter called
Biot’s alpha (’=-uw), it can be concluded that SIGMA/W’s formulation always considers
a Biot’s alpha of 1. The implications of this last assumption can’t be evaluated by the use of
SIGMA/W, and hence are unknown. Nevertheless, it is relatively easy to demonstrate that the
changes in pore water pressure due to changes in total stress increase with a decreasing value
of Biot’s alpha (uw/=1/for constantvolumetric strainv), which means that by using a
Biot’s alpha of 1, the conservative scenario is considered (i.e. the depressurization is not being
overestimated).

Going forward with SIGMA/W’s formulation, it’s important to understand that in equation 6, the
normal strains (i and the pore water pressure (uw) are the only unknown variables of the
hydro-geomechanical coupled part of the formulation, meantime the total normal stresses (i)
and shear stress (xy) are given by the strictly geomechanical part of the code and depend
basically on the weight of the material, the geomechanical parameters of the soil and the
applied geomechanical boundary conditions. In that sense, and for the purpose of
understanding how the hydro-geomechanical coupled part of the code works, it can be
considered that the total stress field is always known throughout the simulation period. The
additional equation needed to solve the mathematical problem is given by equation 7, which is
the two dimensional form of the groundwater flow equation used by SIGMA/W (corrected from
SIGMA/W Engineering Methodology, 2013):

𝑘𝑥 𝜕 2 𝑢𝑤 𝑘𝑦 𝜕 2 𝑢𝑤 𝜕𝜃𝑤
2
+ 2
+𝑄+ =0 (eqn 7)
𝛾𝑤 𝜕𝑥 𝛾𝑤 𝜕𝑦 𝜕𝑡

Where:
kx, ky = the hydraulic conductivities in x and y direction, respectively,
uw = pore water pressure,
w = the unit weight of water,
Q = the applied boundary flux,
w = the volumetric water content, and
t = time.

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In order to relate the change in volumetric water content to the change in volumetric strain and
pore water pressure, SIGMA/W uses the relationship deduced by Dakshanamurthy et al. (1984),
presented by equation 8, which is analogous to the one deduced by Biot (1942).

𝜃𝑤 = 𝛽𝜀𝑣 − 𝜔 𝑢𝑤 (eqn 8)
With:
𝐸 1
𝛽= (eqn 9)
𝐻 1 − 2𝜈
1 3𝛽
𝜔= − (eqn 10)
𝑅 𝐻

Where:
v = volumetric strain, and
R = a modulus relating the change in volumetric water content with change in
matric suction.

Meantime the volumetric strain is given by equation 11:

𝜀𝑣 = 𝜀𝑥 + 𝜀𝑦 + 𝜀𝑧 (eqn 11)

It can be easily demonstrated (SIGMA/W Engineering Methodology, 2013) that for the saturated
condition, and assuming incompressible water,  must be equal to 1, and  must be equal to 0,
which implies that for the saturated condition R is given by equation 12 (SIGMA/W Engineering
Methodology, 2013):

𝐸
𝑅𝑠𝑎𝑡 = (eqn 12)
3(1 − 2𝜈)

Since E/3(1-2) is equal to the Bulk modulus of the soil K, equation 12 can be rewritten as
equation 13:

𝑅𝑠𝑎𝑡 = 𝐾 (eqn 13)


Where:
K = the bulk modulus of the soil, which is a measure of the stiffness of the material.

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Meanwhile, for the unsaturated condition, R is given by the inverse of the slope of the user-
defined volumetric water content versus pore water pressure function, as shown in equation 14,
which is actually the real meaning of R. It’s important to remember that the slope of the
volumetric water content function in the unsaturated part of the curve varies with the matric
suction.

1
𝑅𝑢𝑛𝑠𝑎𝑡 = (eqn 14)
𝑚𝑣,𝑢𝑛𝑠𝑎𝑡

Where:
mv,unsat = Slope of the volumetric water content function in the unsaturated part of the
curve which depends on the matric suction uw.

It’s important to understand that for the saturated condition R should be also equal to the
inverse of the slope of the volumetric water content function in the saturated part of the curve,
which is actually equal to the specific storage divided by the unit weight of water. SIGMA/W
utilizes equation 13 because of the assumption that water is incompressible. As it will be
demonstrated below, the use of equation 13 might affect the calculations for certain
configurations, reason why SIGMA/W includes a parameter called Load Response Ratio, which
modifies equation 13. The definition of the Load Response Ratio and it’s real meaning will be
explained later on this chapter.

Since Rsat should be defined as the inverse of the slope of the volumetric water content function
in the saturated part of the curve, which is equal to the specific storage divided by the unit
weight of water, equation 15 can be written:

1
𝑅𝑠𝑎𝑡 = (eqn 15)
𝑆𝑠⁄
𝛾𝑤

Where:
Ss = Specific storage.

Using the definition of the specific storage, equation 16 can be written:

1
𝑅𝑠𝑎𝑡 = (eqn 16)
𝛼 + 𝑛𝛽

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Where:
 = Compressibility of the soil,
 = Water compressibility, and
n = Porosity.

Since the compressibility is equal to the inverse of the bulk modulus, equation 17 can be
written:

𝐾
𝑅𝑠𝑎𝑡 = (eqn 17)
𝐾
1+𝑛𝐾
𝑤

Where:
K = Bulk modulus of the soil,
Kw = Bulk modulus of water, and
n = porosity of the soil.

It can be easily demonstrated that the term (n K/Kw) might gain some importance for certain
scenarios, reason why SIGMA/W incorporates a parameter called Load Response Ratio, which
redefines the value of R as shown by equation 18.

𝑅𝑠𝑎𝑡 = 𝐿𝑅𝑅 ∙ 𝐾 (eqn 18)

Where:
LRR = the load response ratio, which should move between 0 and 1.

Finally, it can be easily demonstrated that for the saturated part of the domain, SIGMA/W ends
up using a value of the slope of the volumetric water content function given by equation 19. It’s
important to make clear that SIGMA/W doesn’t use the value of mv that is specified by the user
in the “Hydraulic Functions” menu.

1
𝑚𝑣,𝑠𝑎𝑡 = (eqn 19)
𝐿𝑅𝑅 ∙ 𝐾

The Load Response Ratio is extremely relevant in the context of the SIGMA/W formulation,
because it is the only parameter that defines which fraction of a change in total stress will be

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transferred into a change in pore water pressure for an undrained response, which happens
when the hydraulic conductivity and/or the bulk modulus of the soil are very low, or when the
excavation is imposed in a short period of time. As it will be demonstrated at the end of this
chapter, the Load Response Ratio is actually analogous to the Skempton’s B parameter, defined
by equation 20 (REFERENCE, YEAR), which is responsible of softening the changes in pore water
pressure due to changes in total stress for the undrained response. Furthermore, it will be also
demonstrated that the Load Response Ratio, the Skempton’s B parameter, the specific storage
and the bulk modulus of the soil are all parameters that have both a physical and a
mathematical relationship, which implies that the changes in pore water pressure due to
changes in total stress are in some extent soften by the elastic capacity of the soil to retain or
release water.

𝛿𝑢𝑤
𝐵= | (eqn 20)
𝛿𝜎 δ𝜃=0

Where:
 = Skempton’s B parameter,
 = the change in total stress, and
 = the change in volumetric water content.

Finally, if we consider equation 6, and replace equation 8 in equation 7, and equation 18 in


equation 10, a coupled hydro-geomechanical model is formulated, with normal strains and pore
water pressure as the only unknown variables, if we assume a known total stress field:

0 ∆𝜀𝑥 ∆𝑢𝑤
1−𝜈 𝜈 𝜈 ∆𝜎𝑥
𝐸 0 ∆𝜀 ∆𝑢 ∆𝜎
𝜈 1−𝜈 𝜈 𝑦 𝑤 𝑦
0 + = (eqn 21)
(1 + 𝜈)(1 − 2𝜈) 𝜈 𝜈 1 − 𝜈 1 − 2𝜈 ∆𝜀𝑧 ∆𝑢𝑤 ∆𝜎 𝑧
0 0 0 ∆𝜏
{ 𝑥𝑦 }
[ 2 ] {∆𝛾𝑥𝑦 } { 0 }
𝜕 𝑘𝑥 𝜕 2 𝑢𝑤 𝑘𝑦 𝜕 2 𝑢𝑤
(𝜀𝑣 − 𝜔 𝑢𝑤 ) = + +𝑄 (eqn 22)
𝜕𝑡 𝛾𝑤 𝜕𝑥 2 𝛾𝑤 𝜕𝑦 2

With:
𝜀𝑣 = 𝜀𝑥 + 𝜀𝑦 + 𝜀𝑧 (eqn 23)
1 1
𝜔𝑠𝑎𝑡 = ( − 1) (eqn 24)
𝐾 𝐿𝑅𝑅
3
𝜔𝑢𝑛𝑠𝑎𝑡 = 𝑚𝑣,𝑢𝑛𝑠𝑎𝑡 − (eqn 25)
𝐻

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Given the equations that SIGMA/W solves for the fully coupled type of analysis, the parameters
presented in Table X.X should be defined for a linear elastic material.
Table X.X Parameters needed by SIGMA/W’s hydro-geomechanical code
Parameter Type Format Observation
Saturated conductivity Hydraulic Value
Unsaturated conductivity Hydraulic Function Is a function of conductivity vs matric suction.
SIGMA/W doesn’t use the value given by the user,
Saturated volumetric water content slope Hydraulic Value
but the one given by equation 15.
Unsaturated volumetric water content Hydraulic Function SIGMA/W uses the derivate of the given function.
Unit weight of water Hydraulic Value
Saturated conductivity vs effective stress Geomechanical Function
Young's modulus vs effective stress Geomechanical Function Could be also a constant value.
Poisson’s ratio Geomechanical Value
Load Response Ratio Geomechanical Value Equal to Skempton’s B parameter.
Unit weight of the soil Geomechanical Value

SIGMA/W’s manual further develops equations 21 and 22 in order to generate an incremental


displacement-pore water pressure fully implicit finite element formulation, which will be
presented below in order to understand how SIGMA/W actually works. The meaning of each
term of the equations are explained intentionally in a simplified manner, meanwhile the
detailed explanation can be checked in SIGMA/W’s manual.

[𝐾]{∆𝛿} + [𝐿𝑑 ]{∆𝑢𝑤 } = {∆𝐹} (eqn 26)


∆𝑡 1
𝛽[𝐿𝑓 ]{∆𝛿} − ( [𝐾𝑓 ] + 𝜔[𝑀𝑁 ]) {∆𝑢𝑤 } = ∆𝑡 ({𝑄}|𝑡+Δ𝑡 + [𝐾𝑓 ]{𝑢𝑤 }|𝑡 ) (eqn 27)
𝛾𝑤 𝛾𝑤

Where:
[K] = stiffness matrix, which is related to E and ,
{} = incremental displacement vector, which is one of the two unknown variables,
[Ld] = coupling matrix, which is related to E, H and , but under SIGMA/W’s
assumption is related to the unit vector <1 1 1 0>,
{uw} = incremental pore water pressure, which is the second one of the two unknown
variables,
{F} = change in external loads and weight, which is always known,
[Lf] = coupling matrix for flow, which is related to the unit vector <1 1 1 0>,
[Kf] = element stiffness matrix, which is related to the hydraulic conductivities,
[MN] = mass matrix,

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{Q}|t+t = applied boundary flux at t + t, because of the fully implicit approach, and
{uw}|t = pore water pressure at t, which appears because of the fully implicit approach.

If we omit mathematical rigor and replace equation 26 in equation 27, we can obtain equation
28, which is only intended to provide some understanding on how a change in total stress is
transferred into a change in pore water pressure. It’s important to make clear that each term of
equation 28 is intended to be understood by its general meaning.

∆𝑡
{∆𝐹} − [𝐾][𝐾𝑓 ]{𝑢𝑤 }|𝑡 − ∆𝑡[𝐾]{𝑄}|𝑡+Δ𝑡
𝛾𝑤
{∆𝑢𝑤 } = (eqn 28)
∆𝑡
1 + 𝛾 [𝐾][𝐾𝑓 ] + 𝜔[𝐾][𝑀𝑁 ]
𝑤

Equation 28 states that, if there’s no boundary flux applied (Q=0), the change in pore water
pressure “uw” will be equal to the change in total stress “F”, reduced by the effect of drainage
“Kf”, by the effect of the stiffness of the soil “K”, and by the capacity of the soil to retain or
release water “”, which in the saturated part of the domain is related to the Load Response
Ratio. This means that for the undrained response, which occurs when [Kf]~0, [K]~0 or t~0, the
change in pore water pressure will be equal to the change in total stress reduced by the capacity
of the soil to retain or release water “”, which implies that for the saturated part of the
domain, if a Load Response Ratio of 1 is considered (=0), the whole change in total stress will
be transferred into a change in pore water pressure, meantime if a Load Response Ratio of less
than 1 is considered (>0) , only a fraction of the change in total stress will be transferred into a
change in pore water pressure.
Even more, equation 28 can help us demonstrate that the Load Response Ratio is equivalent to
Skempton’s B parameter, defined by equation 20, which means that the Load Response Ratio
can actually be used to soften the changes in pore water pressure due to changes in total stress.
First, if the undrained response is considered with no boundary flux applied, equation 28 can be
written as equation 29:

{∆𝐹}
{∆𝑢𝑤 } = (eqn 29)
1 + 𝜔[𝐾][𝑀𝑁 ]

If we consider the saturated part of the domain and replace the definition of  given by
equation 24 in equation 29, equation 30 can be written:

{∆𝐹}
{∆𝑢𝑤,𝑠𝑎𝑡 } = (eqn 30)
1 1
1 + 𝐾 (𝐿𝑅𝑅 − 1) [𝐾][𝑀𝑁 ]

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Finally, by doing some algebra and assuming that K is equal to [K][MN], equation 31 can be
written, which demonstrates that the Load Response Ratio is analogous to Skempton’s B
parameter:

{∆𝑢𝑤,𝑠𝑎𝑡 } = 𝐿𝑅𝑅{∆𝐹} (eqn 31)

This actually means that the Load Response Ratio is a very important parameter when comes to
soften the changes in pore water pressure due to changes in total stress in the saturated part of
the domain, in the same way the Skempton’s B parameter would do. It’s important to know
that the Skempton’s B parameter can be calculated using equation 32 (REFERENCE, YEAR) or
taken from Table X.X (Domenico and Schwartz, 1997).

1
𝐵= (eqn 32)
𝐾
1+𝑛
𝐾𝑤

Table X.X Skempton’s B coefficients based on Domenico and Schwartz (1997)


Lithology Skempton's B
Clay 0.99
Mudstone 0.83
Sandstone 0.66
Limestone 0.25
Basalt 0.12

Nevertheless, caution must be taken when defining the Load Response Ratio (or Skempton’s B
parameter), since as it will be demonstrated below, the Load Response Ratio (or Skempton’s B
parameter) is actually related to the specific storage of the material, which means that by
modifying the Load Response Ratio, a groundwater flow parameter is also being modified. As it
was said before, it isn’t very hard to visualize that the specific storage should be at least one of
the parameters that softens the changes in pore water pressure due to changes in total stress.

The specific storage of a material, which is defined by equation 33, relates the elastic changes in
volumetric water content with the changes in pore water pressure in the saturated zone of the
domain, which occur because of the compressibility of the water and the soil’s skeleton.

𝑆𝑠 = 𝛾𝑤 (𝛼 + 𝑛𝛽) (eqn 33)

Where:

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Ss = the specific storage,
 = the compressibility of the soil skeleton, and
 = the compressibility of the water.

Since the compressibility is defined as the inverse of the bulk modulus of the specified material,
equation 33 can be written as equation 34:

1 1
𝑆𝑠 = 𝛾𝑤 ( + 𝑛 ) (eqn 34)
𝐾 𝐾𝑤

By doing some algebra equation 34 can be rewritten as equation 35:

𝛾𝑤 1
𝑆𝑠 = (eqn 35)
𝐾 1
𝐾
( 1 + 𝑛 𝐾𝑤 )

Replacing equation 32 in equation 35, equation 36 can be written, which demonstrates that the
Skempton’s B parameter is actually related to the Specific Storage.

𝛾𝑤
𝑆𝑠 = (eqn 36)
𝐾∙𝐵

Where:
B = Skempton’s B parameter.

This all means that the Load Response Ratio is equal to the Skempton’s B parameter, and that
they’re both related to the specific storage of the material, which implies that is the specific
storage what softens the changes in pore water pressure due to changes in total stress in the
saturated part of the model for the undrained response. This also means that the chosen value
for the Load Response Ratio determines the specific storage of the material, reason why the
Load Response Ratio shouldn’t be defined in an indiscriminately manner.

1.1.2.2. APPLICATION
Ulrich

Page 14 of 45
1.1.3. PETREL-ECLIPSE-VISAGE

1.1.3.1. INTRODUCTION
PETREL-ECLIPSE-VISAGE is a partially coupled hydro-geomechanical workflow developed by
Schlumberger for the oil industry, which doesn’t impose a limit for its applicability in the mining
industry. In that sense, ECLIPSE-100 and VISAGE are the numerical codes that perform the
hydraulic and geomechanical calculations, meantime, PETREL is the software that is utilized for
processing the field information, building the conceptual hydro-geomechanical model, exporting
the conceptual model into the hydraulic and geomechanical numerical models and processing
the results generated by the numerical models. The present chapter provides an overview on
how ECLIPSE-VISAGE performs its partially coupled hydro-geomechanical calculations.

1.1.3.2. GOVERNING EQUATIONS & APPROACH


The workflow PETREL-ECLIPSE-VISAGE works in a partially coupled manner, meaning that the
hydraulic and geomechanical calculations are performed by separate codes that exchange
results through a third software, named RGCoupler, as indicated by Figure X.X. In that sense, for
each time step ECLIPSE-100 calculates the pore water pressure, result that is exported to VISAGE
at user-defined time steps. Whenever the pore water pressure is exported, VISAGE calculates
the total and effective stress distributions in addition to the deformation of the soil, which is
used by VISAGE for recalculating the hydraulic conductivity, which in term is returned to
ECLIPSE-100 for calculating the pore water pressure in the following time steps till another user-
defined pore water pressure exchange time step is achieved.

Figure X.X Hydro-geomechanical coupling with ECLIPSE-VISAGE


P, T, Sat

ECLIPSE RGCoupler Geomechanical model

Reservoir model RGCoupler VISAGE


K

With respect to the equations that each code solves, one must take special attention in the fact
that the ECLIPSE-100 simulator was specifically developed for the oil industry, which means that
some considerations must be taken into account when building an open pit hydro-

Page 15 of 45
geomechanical coupled model with the PETREL-ECLIPSE-VISAGE workflow. In that sense, the
differences between the ECLIPSE-100 code and a classic groundwater flow code are presented in
the present chapter.
Two are the main characteristics that make the ECLIPSE-100 simulator different from a
traditional groundwater flow code:
- ECLIPSE-100 is a multiphase-three fluid flow model (air, water and oil).
- ECLIPSE-100 considers variable density flow (PVT equations).
In that sense, the ECLIPSE-100 simulator defines Darcy’s law in terms of permeability, density,
viscosity and absolute pressure, instead of hydraulic conductivity and total head, as presented
by equation 37. At the same time, the mass balance equation utilized by ECLIPSE-100 assumes a
fluid with variable density, as presented by equation 38. Finally, if a gas-water-oil system is
considered, the resulting flow equation is applied to each and every fluid.

𝑘
𝑞𝑓 = ∇𝑃 (eqn 37)
𝜇𝑓

Where:
qf = the unit flow of the fluid “f”,
k = the permeability of the soil,
f = the dynamic viscosity of the fluid “f”, and
∇P = the absolute pressure gradient.

𝜕
−∇M𝑓 = (𝑛 ∙ 𝜌𝑓 ) + 𝑄𝑓 (eqn 38)
𝜕𝑡

Where:
∇Mf = the mass flux of the fluid “f”,
n = the effective porosity,
f = the density of the fluid “f”, and
Qf = the boundary condition flow of the fluid “f”.

One must also take into account that in the ECLIPSE formulation the specific storage is a derived
parameter calculated from the effective porosity and compressibility of the soil skeleton and
water, as indicated by equation 37 which is different to the traditional equation of the specific
storage, presented by equation 33.

Page 16 of 45
𝑆𝑠 = 𝛾𝑤 ∙ 𝑛 ∙ (𝛼 + 𝛽) (eqn 37)

Where:
Ss = the specific storage,
w = specific weight of water,
n = effective porosity,
 = the compressibility of the soil skeleton, and
 = the compressibility of the water.

Additionally, in order to build an unconfined groundwater model with ECLIPSE, the flow of water
and air needs to be modeled. In that sense, and contrary to a traditional groundwater flow
model, the fluid properties of the air and the boundary conditions associated to the atmosphere
need to be defined.
Finally, it’s extremely important to understand that VISAGE does not recalculate the pore water
pressure in any way, and that VISAGE doesn’t return the calculated changes in porosity to
ECLIPSE, reason why the workflow ECLIPSE-VISAGE cannot reproduce certain hydro-
geomechanical effects that are directly associated to the changes in the porosity, such as the
undrained response, which can be considerably important in certain scenarios. Finally, it’s also
important to understand that trying to reproduce such effects cannot be accomplished by
exporting the changes in porosity from VISAGE to ECLIPSE, since ECLIPSE, as any other flow
simulator, doesn’t calculate the pore water pressure based on changes in porosity, because the
flow equations do not depend directly on the storage function but on its derivative, i.e. the
specific storage and the slope in the partially saturated side. In that sense, one must understand
that in order to reproduce hydro-geomechanical effects that aren’t associated to the change in
hydraulic conductivity, a fully hydro-geomechanical coupled code must be used.

1.1.3.3. APPLICATION
Ulrich

1.2. GENERIC MODELING

1.2.1. OBJECTIVES & SCOPE


The generic model shall provide a better understanding of the code-specific behavior
and the sensitivity of selected parameters.
For this purpose, a typical open pit scenario has been set up representing a 2D vertical
problem, both as uncoupled groundwater flow model as well as a coupled model. In both
models a series of parameter combinations was run with the objective to evaluate the
parameters in terms of their impact on coupled effects as well as to specify the range for

Page 17 of 45
certain parameter values or parameter combinations within coupled effects are expected
to be significant. The first analysis provides a better understanding of the simulation
results using more complex real-world data. The latter analysis is to provide decision
support for project managers if coupled modeling is to be taken into consideration for a
project or not.

1.2.2. MODEL SETUP

1.2.2.1. GEOMETRY
The geometry adopted for the generic model is shown in Figure X.X, meantime the details of the
excavation are presented in Table X.X. The general idea is to represent a typical Large Open Pit
excavation in a simplified manner. The global characteristics of the excavation were taken from
real field data and are considered representative of open pit mines that have been already
modeled by Schlumberger Water Services, which doesn’t impose a limit to the applicability of
the current analysis.

Figure X.X Geometrical characteristics of the generic model

Table X.X Geometrical characteristics of the excavation


Global slope (°) 42
Half-width of the bottom (m) 300
Excavation steps 50 m each year

Page 18 of 45
Total excavation depth 500 m in 10 years

It’s important to explain that the 1 year discretization of the excavation sequence is similar to
the discretizations used by SWS in previous mine dewatering models, reason why it was chosen
for the current generic model. A test run was made in order to observe if a finer discretization
would lead to different results, but no noticeably differences were appreciate. Nevertheless, for
real case scenarios it’s strongly recommended to try different discretizations in order to choose
the most appropriate one, taking into account that the modelling software will usually consider
that the imposed excavation happens instantaneously in the first time step of the given stress
period. With that in mind, it’s also very important to define initial time steps that aren’t too
small.
In the other hand, the model domain was made large enough in order to avoid any unwanted
influence of the excavation in the hydraulic and geomechanical boundary conditions for each
sensitivity analysis that it was done. For real case applications it’s recommended to try different
extensions in order to define the optimal domain. Caution must be taken when defining the
depth of the model, since it was observed that relatively high depths are needed in order to
respect the geomechanical boundary conditions, which inevitably leads to an increase in the
transmissivity and storativity of the model, problem that can be easily bypassed by defining
proper depth-decreasing hydraulic conductivities and depth-increasing bulk moduli functions,
which should always be as realistic as possible.
With respect to the total duration of the analysis, a period of 10 years was considered long
enough in order to evaluate the possible hydro-geomechanical coupled effects that could arise.
Finally, a test run was made in order to verify if considering a cross section that includes both
sides of the pit would lead to different results, but no differences were appreciated.
Nevertheless, it’s important to noticed that if a cross section that only contains one side of the
open pit is chosen to be used, this section should reach approximately the middle part of the
bottom of the pit if a no-flow boundary condition is imposed in the vertical downstream side of
the model.

1.2.2.2. BOUNDARY CONDITIONS


The hydraulic and geomechanical boundary conditions defined for the generic model are shown
and explained in Figures X.X and X.X, respectively. It’s important to understand that the
hydraulic boundary conditions associated to a hydro-geomechanical coupled model should be
the same as those defined for a classic groundwater flow model, meanwhile the geomechanical
boundary conditions are defined, in this case, by restraining or allowing displacements in the
different faces of the domain. In general terms, the chosen boundary conditions should be valid
for most occasions.

Figure X.X Hydraulic boundary conditions of the generic model

Page 19 of 45
Constant Head = 2850 masl
Seepage Boundary Condition
No-Flow Boundary Condition

Figure X.X Geomechanical boundary conditions of the generic model

dx = 0 dy = variable
dx = variable dy = variable
dx = 0 dy = 0

Page 20 of 45
In order to avoid any unwanted influence of the excavation in the imposed boundary conditions
an appropriate model domain must be defined. In the particular case of a hydro-geomechanical
coupled model, caution must be taken when defining the total depth of the domain, since the
changes in total stress that are associated to the excavation process propagate deeply beneath
the pit.
Finally, for real case applications one must always verify that the seepage faces calculated by the
model are occurring in reality, otherwise one could be overestimating or underestimating the
real pore water pressure field.

1.2.2.3. MATERIAL PARAMETERS


For the hydro-geomechanical coupled generic model a linear elastic material was chosen to be
used, which is considered adequate for representing the elastic behavior of a fractured rock
(referencia, XXXX). No yield criteria was defined, since the objective of this study is strictly
related to the calibration and prediction of the pore water pressure and not to the evaluation of
the stability and possible failure of the open pit.
With respect to the hydraulic part of the model, a saturated/unsaturated material was chosen
to be used in order to represent the vadose zone.
The adopted values of each material parameter for the base case scenario are presented in
Table X.X, meanwhile the characteristics values used for the sensitivity analysis are presented in
chapter X.X.

Table X.X Parameters used for the Base Case Scenario


ECLIPSE-
Parameter Value SEEP/W SIGMA/W
VISAGE
Hyd. conductivity at saturation (m/s) 1.0E-08   
Hyd. conductivity variation w/ saturation Figure X.X   
Hyd. conductivity variation w/ effective stress Figure X.X   
Specific yield (%) 0.5%   
Storage variation w/ saturation Figure X.X   
Specific storage (1/m) 5.0E-07  * 
Young's modulus for the rock mass (GPa) 5   
Young's modulus variation w/ effective stress Figure X.X   
Poisson's ratio () 0.2   
Load response ratio () 0.3   
*For SIGMA/W the specific storage is a derived parameter (equations 12 to 16).

The variation of the hydraulic conductivity and the volumetric water content with respect to the
saturation are presented in Figures X.X and X.X, meantime the variation of the hydraulic
conductivity and the Young’s modulus with respect to the effective stress are presented in
Figures X.X and X.X, respectively.

Figure X.X Variation of the hydraulic conductivity with saturation

Page 21 of 45
10

K / Ksat ()
0.1

0.01

0.001
0.01 0.1 1 10 100
Matric Suction (kPa)

Figure X.X Variation of the volumetric water content with saturation


1.2

1
VWC / VWC sat ()

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0
0 20 40 60 80 100
Matric Suction (kPa)

Figure X.X Variation of the hydraulic conductivity with effective stress


10

1
K modifier ()

0.1

0.01

0.001
0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000
Effective Stress (kPa)

Figure X.X Variation of the Young’s modulus with the effective stress

Page 22 of 45
100

E modifier ()
10

1
0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000
Effective Stress (kPa)

1.2.2.4. STRESS PERIODS AND TIME STEPS


Caution must be taken when defining the temporal discretization because it needs to be
appropriate for both the hydraulic and the geomechanical parts of the model. In that sense, one
must take into account that the excavation will be most likely imposed instantaneously during
the first time step of the considered stress period, meaning that if the excavated volume is too
high in relation to the duration of the initial time step, an undrained response might be being
forced into the model. For the generic model an initial time step of 20 days was considered
appropriate for the purpose of analyzing the possible coupled effects that could arise during the
simulations.

1.2.3. MODELING STRATEGY

1.2.3.1. BASE CASE


The base case scenario described in detail in chapter X.X was ran with the classic groundwater
flow code SEEP/W, with the fully hydro-geomechanical coupled code SIGMA/W, and with the
partially hydro-geomechanical coupled code ECLIPSE-VISAGE. In order to compare the results
given by each code, 4 total heads observation wells are considered, each of them having 6
sensors located at different depths, as shown in Figure X.X. The specific locations of each sensor
are presented in Table X.X.
The general idea is to analyze the evolution of the total heads below the bottom of the
excavation (observation well P1), near the toe of the pit (observation well P2), near the slope of
the pit (observation well P3) and outside of the pit (observation well P4), throughout the ten
years simulation period.
Finally, in order to have a general idea of the distribution of the resulting total heads throughout
the domain, the total heads field at the end of the simulation is presented for each run of the
base case scenario.

Page 23 of 45
Figure X.X Location of the observation wells

Table X.X Location of the sensors of each observation well


Sensor / Obs. Well P4 P3 P2 P1
S1 (1350 , 2775) (1850 , 2775) (2100 , 2775) (2350 , 2775)
S2 (1350 , 2675) (1850 , 2675) (2100 , 2675) (2350 , 2675)
S3 (1350 , 2575) (1850 , 2575) (2100 , 2575) (2350 , 2575)
S4 (1350 , 2475) (1850 , 2475) (2100 , 2475) (2350 , 2475)
S5 (1350 , 2375) (1850 , 2375) (2100 , 2375) (2350 , 2375)
S6 (1350 , 2275) (1850 , 2275) (2100 , 2275) (2350 , 2275)

1.2.3.2. SCENARIOS
In order to quantify the relative importance of each hydraulic and geomechanical parameter
involved in the hydro-geomechanical coupled depressurization process, a sensitivity analysis
was performed to the generic model using the classic groundwater flow code SEEP/W, the fully
hydro-geomechanical coupled code SIGMA/W, and the partially hydro-geomechanical coupled
code ECLIPSE-VISAGE.
Depending on the software a different number of sensitivity analysis were performed, which are
presented in Table X.X. Each sensitivity analysis considered the modification of only one material
parameter at a time, which were changed to a maximum and minimum value based on
information given by preexisting pit dewatering projects developed by Schlumberger Water
Services and by the literature. Additionally, for the hydro-geomechanical coupled models a
special scenario was ran, which considered a constant hydraulic conductivity with respect to the
effective stress.
Table X.X Parameters used for the Base Case Scenario
Values ECLIPSE-
Parameter SEEP/W SIGMA/W
(min ; base ; max) VISAGE
Hyd. conductivity at saturation (m/s) 1.0E-10 ; 1.0E-08 ; 1.0E-06   

Page 24 of 45
Hyd. conductivity variation w/ saturation Figure X.X   
Hyd. conductivity variation w/ effective stress Figure X.X   
Specific yield (%) 0.1% ; 0.5% ; 3%   
Storage variation w/ saturation Figure X.X   
Specific storage (1/m) 1.0E-07 ; 5.0E-07 ; 1.0E-06  * 
Young's modulus for the rock mass (GPa) 1.0 ; 5.0 ; 10.0   
Young's modulus variation w/ effective stress Figure X.X   
Poisson's ratio () 0.1 ; 0.2 ; 0.3   
Load response ratio () 0.1 ; 0.3 ; 0.6   
Hyd. cond. constant w/ effective stress (m/s) 1.0E-08   
*For SIGMA/W the specific storage is a derived parameter (equations 12 to 16).

Adopting a similar approach to the one defined for the analysis of the base case scenario, for
each run of the sensitivity analysis the resulting total heads of 4 observation wells are
presented, each of them having 6 sensors located at different depths, as shown by Figure X.X.
The specific locations of each sensor are presented in Table X.X. Finally, in order to have a
general idea of the distribution of the resulting total heads throughout the domain, the total
heads field at the end of the simulation is presented for each sensitivity analysis.

1.3. MODELING OF A CASE STUDY

1.3.1. OBJECTIVES & SCOPE


In the past, several studies on coupled effects have been carried out by SWS. However,
for numerical modeling so far calibration of the results was not possible, as no sufficient
data on hydrogeological settings, geomechanical parameters and historical monitoring
data for pore pressures were available for the respective locations. Thus, the models´
accuracy and reliability could not be verified.
In response to this challenge, some open pit mines have been identified that possess
the necessary data in terms of quality and quantity. From these mines, XXX has been
selected for a representative case study.
The scope of the study is to simulate the response of the pore pressure distribution to
pit excavation. The simulation will be run both uncoupled using a classical groundwater
flow code. Two workflows will be applied, SEEP/W&SIGMA/W as well as
Petrel/Eclipse/Visage. The models will be calibrated and the calibration results will be
assessed for differences between uncoupled and coupled codes and between the
different workflows.

1.3.2. CASE STUDY SETUP

1.3.2.1. GENERAL SETTINGS


Ulrich

Page 25 of 45
1.3.2.2. MODEL GEOMETRY
To define

1.3.2.3. BOUNDARY CONDITIONS


To define

1.3.2.4. MATERIAL PARAMETERS


To define

1.3.2.1. STRESS PERIODS AND TIME STEPS


To define

1.3.3. MODELING STRATEGY

1.3.3.1. BASE CASE


To define

1.3.3.2. SCENARIOS
To define

Page 26 of 45
2. QUALITATIVE PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS

2.1. OBJECTIVES & SCOPE


A qualitative preliminary analysis is done in order to explain the expected behavior of the
hydro-geomechanical coupled response that could appear during the numerical
simulations, and how each hydraulic and geomechanical parameter should influence the
evolution of the pore water pressure field. The present analysis considers that a fully
coupled hydro-geomechanical response could exist, reason why every possible coupled
process is explained.

2.2. DESCRIPTION OF A HYDRO-GEOMECHANICAL COUPLED RESPONSE


When an excavation occurs, a negative change in the total stress field will immediately
follow. This decrement in total stress will have two major initial instantaneous effects on
a saturated soil, which are intrinsically related to each other:
1) A fraction of the decrement in total stress will be immediately transferred into a
decrement in effective stress which will lead to a certain expansion of the soil. This
expansion will originate a hydraulic transient process that is directly associated to the
change in the volume of the drainage porosity, and hence to the part of the
volumetric water content that is associated to the volume of the pores and not to the
compressibility of the water and soil skeleton. This transient process will consist
basically in a movement of water from regions with relatively high total heads
towards the regions that suffered certain amount of expansion. Additionally, the
expansion of the soil could lead to an increase in the hydraulic conductivity, which
could accelerate the depressurization process and also establish a new, more
depressurized state of equilibrium. The geomechanical parameter that determines
the amount of expansion due to a certain decrement in total stress is the bulk
modulus of the soil, which depends on the Young’s modulus and on the Poisson’s
ratio. In the other hand, the parameter that defines which part of the change in total
stress will be instantaneously transferred into a change in effective stress is one
minus the Skempton’s B coefficient, which depends on the unit weight of water, the
specific storage and Biot’s parameter H, which in the SIGMA/W formulation is
considered equal as the bulk modulus of the soil.
2) The fraction of the change in total stress that isn’t transferred into a decrement in
effective stress will be immediately transferred into a decrement in pore water
pressure, which will originate another hydraulic transient process that is associated
to the change in volumetric water content due to the compressibility of the water and
the soil skeleton, which is usually represented by the specific storage coefficient.
This transient process will consist basically in a movement of water from regions with
relatively high total heads towards the depressurized regions. It’s easy to conclude
that higher values of the specific storage coefficient in the depressurized regions will
imply that more water will be needed to reestablished the equilibrium of the system,
nevertheless higher values for the specific storage will reduce the initial fraction of
decrement in pore water pressure due to the decrement in total stress, because the
specific storage is inversely related to the Skempton’s B coefficient. At the end,
higher values for the specific storage coefficient will lead to a lower depressurization
due to the excavation process.

Page 27 of 45
After the instantaneous initial response of the saturated soil happens, a hydraulic
transient process follows. If we assume that no other excavations happened after the
initial one, it’s easy to conclude that the water flow will occur through a constant total
stress field, which implies that every change in pore water pressure will generate an
opposite change in effective stress, and thus a change in volumetric strain. It’s also easy
to conclude that the transient hydraulic process will be affected by both, the hydraulic
and the geomechanical parameters. With that in mind, it’s easy to demonstrate that
relatively high hydraulic conductivities will lead to a faster equilibration of the system,
meantime relatively high storage coefficients will imply that more water is needed to
reestablished the pressures in the depressurized regions, but also that more water is
available for restituting the state of equilibrium without depressurizing other regions.
Moreover, high storage coefficients will imply a relatively small initial decrease in pore
water pressure due to the decrement in total stress, because of the relationship that
exists between the specific storage and the Skempton’s B coefficient. At the same time,
higher bulk moduli will imply a more rigid behavior of the soil, which reduces the effect of
the deformation of the drainage porosity in the groundwater flow equations and also the
initial fraction of decrease in pore water pressure due to the decrement in total stress,
because of the relationship that exists between the bulk modulus and the Skempton’s B
coefficient. With that in mind, it’s easy to conclude that the depressurization associated
to a coupled response will be more important in systems with relatively low hydraulic
conductivities, storage coefficients and bulk moduli.
It’s also important to consider that in general terms, the negative change in the total
stress field associated to an excavation will have a horizontal extension approximately
limited by the horizontal area of the excavation, meantime it will have a vertical
extension that can go hundreds of meters below the excavation, which means that,
generally, the vertical propagation of the decrement in total stress is far more important
that the horizontal one. This is an important issue to take into account, because it implies
that, if a coupled response exists, the major decrements in pore water pressure due to
decrements in total stress will be observed mainly within the limits of the open pit, at a
wide range of depths. Nevertheless, it’s easy to visualize that this depressurization can
affect the regions located outside of the open pit, which are the ones responsible for
providing the water for reestablishing the equilibrium of the system, if this regions have
relatively high hydraulic conductivities and relatively low storage coefficients.
Finally, it’s very important to understand that every transient process only brings the
system closer to its state of equilibrium, and that the instantaneous depressurization
associated to a coupled response can accelerate that process, if the state of equilibrium
is more depressurized that the present situation, or decelerate it, if the state of
equilibrium is more pressurized that the present situation. In the first scenario, the
hydraulic transient process that follows the initial decrement of pore water pressure due
to the decrement in total stress will consist in a continuum decrease of the pore
pressure, meantime the second scenario will have a transient process that will consist in
a continuum increase of the pore pressure.

Page 28 of 45
2.3. RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF EACH HYDRAULIC AND GEOMECHANICAL
PARAMETER
The relative importance that each hydraulic and geomechanical parameter has on the
hydro-geomechanical coupled depressurization process will be explained in a qualitative
manner in order to better understand the numerical modeling process.

2.3.1. RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY (K)


In a strictly hydraulic homogenous and isotropic problem, the hydraulic conductivity has
two major effects in the global evolution of the pore water pressure field; it determinates
the velocity with which the system approaches its state of equilibrium and it also
determines its final shape. With that in mind, and considering that an excavation below
water table induces a depressurization of the system, it can be concluded that higher
hydraulic conductivities will lead to a faster depressurization of the system, and to a
more depressurized pore pressure state of equilibrium. These two effects are explained
by the relationship that exists between the hydraulic conductivity, the flow velocity and
total head gradient, given by Darcy’s law. Heterogeneities and anisotropies of the
hydraulic conductivity will determine spatial variations of the pore water pressure field
that will be clearly related to variations of the velocity field.
In the other hand, when a hydro-geomechanical coupled response happens, the
hydraulic conductivity will determine the velocity with which the system will fill the pores
in the regions that suffer some degree of expansion due to the decrement in effective
stress and also the velocity with which the system will reestablish the pressures in the
regions that suffered a decrement in the part of the volumetric water content that is
associated to the specific storage. With that in mind, it is expected that low values of
hydraulic conductivity will generate a depressurization that is more persistent in time.
Finally, it’s also important to consider that if the system doesn’t have the time to
reestablish its equilibrium between the excavation periods, the depressurization
associated to the new excavation will be added to the preceding one, depressurizing
even further the system.

2.3.2. RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE SPECIFIC YIELD (S Y )


The specific yield coefficient determines the amount of water that a permeable unit can
release or gain when the water table drops or rises in an unconfined aquifer. In the
excavation below water table problem, the specific yield will determine the amount of
water that needs to be drained before the water table drops in certain amount, which
implies that higher values of specific yield will lead to a slower depressurization of the
system, because more water needs to be drained.
When a hydro-geomechanical coupled response happens, the specific yield coefficient
will also determine the amount of water that is available for filling the pores of the
regions that suffered some degree of expansion due to the decrement in effective stress
and also for reestablishing the pressures in the regions that suffered a decrement in the
part of the volumetric water content that is associated to the specific storage. With that in
mind, it is expected that low values of specific yield will lead to a more depressurized
system.

Page 29 of 45
2.3.3. RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE SPECIFIC STORAGE (S S )
In a strictly hydraulic groundwater model, the specific storage coefficient determines the
amount of water that an aquifer can release or gain from its saturated regions due to the
compressibility of the water and soil skeleton. In the excavation below water table
problem, higher values of specific storage will lead to a slower depressurization of the
aquifer, because more water needs to be drained. Nevertheless, since the generic
model that is being analyzed assumes the existence of an unconfined aquifer, the effect
of the specific storage coefficient is much lower than the effect of the specific yield.
When a hydro-geomechanical coupled response happens, the specific storage
coefficient also determines the initial fraction of decrement in total stress that is
instantaneously transferred into a decrement in pore water pressure when an excavation
occurs, because of the relationship that exists between the Skempton’s B coefficient and
the specific storage. With that in mind, it is concluded that low values of specific storage
will lead to a more depressurized system because less water needs to be drained and
because less water is available for soften the decrements in pore water pressure due to
the decrements in total stress.

2.3.4. RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE YOUNG’S MODULUS (E)


The Young’s modulus of a material determines the amount of stress that needs to be
applied in certain direction to obtain certain amount of strain in the same direction. In the
excavation below water table problem, the Young’s modulus will determine, among other
things, the amount of volumetric expansion that will suffer the soil that is subjected to a
decrease in effective stress due to the decrement in total stress. Additionally, the
Young’s modulus will determine the initial fraction of decrement in total stress that is
instantaneously transferred into a decrement in pore water pressure when an excavation
occurs, because it is related to the Skempton’s B coefficient. With that in mind, it is
concluded that relatively low values of the Young’s modulus will lead to a more
depressurized system.

2.3.5. RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE POISSON’S RATIO ()


The Poisson’s ratio is the negative proportion of transverse to axial strain. High values of
the Poisson’s ratio imply that the material is more incompressible in terms of volumetric
strain, meaning that if expansion occurs in certain direction, an important contraction will
occur in the perpendicular direction, leading to a conservation of the total volume. In the
excavation below water table problem, the Poisson’s ratio will determine, among other
things, the amount of volumetric expansion that will suffer the soil that is subjected to a
decrease in effective stress due to the decrement in total stress. Additionally, the
Poisson’s ratio will determine the initial fraction of decrement in total stress that is
instantaneously transferred into a decrement in pore water pressure when an excavation
occurs, because it is related to the Skempton’s B coefficient. With that in mind, it’s easy
to conclude that relatively low values of the Poisson’s ratio will lead to a more
depressurized system.

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2.3.6. RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE SKEMPTON’S B COEFFICIENT (B)
The Skempton’s B coefficient determines which fraction of the initial decrement in total
stress will be instantaneously transferred into a decrement in pore water pressure and
which fraction into a decrement in effective stress. With that in mind, it’s easy to
conclude that relatively high values of the Skempton’s B coefficient will lead to a more
depressurized system.

Page 31 of 45
3. DISCUSSION AND COMPARISON OF RESULTS

3.1. GENERIC MODELING

3.1.1. LOCATION OF THE OBSERVATION WELLS


For each run of the models the resulting total heads of 4 observation wells are presented,
each of them having 6 sensors located at different depths, as shown by Figure X.X. The
specific locations of each sensor are presented in Table X.X. The general idea is to present
the evolution of the total heads below the bottom of the excavation (observation well P1),
near the toe of the pit (observation well P2), near the slope of the pit (observation well P3)
and outside of the pit (observation well P4), throughout the ten years simulation period.
Finally, in order to have a general idea of the distribution of the resulting total heads
throughout the domain, the total heads field at the end of the simulation is presented for
each run of the base case scenario.

Figure X.X Location of the observation wells

3.1.2. SEEP/W RESULTS


The results given by SEEP/W are useful to understand the relative importance that each
hydraulic parameter has on the resulting total head field when no coupled process
exists, but more important, they’re useful to define a point of comparison for the
sensitivity analysis performed with SIGMA/W.

3.1.2.1. SEEP/W BASE CASE SCENARIO


The hydraulic parameters used for the SEEP/W base case scenario are presented in
Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for each observation well are shown in
Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the total head field at the end of the
simulation is presented in Figure X.X from the Appendix B.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SEEP/W Base Case Scenario

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Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 5.0E-07
Young's modulus (GPa) - Doesn't apply.
Poisson's ratio () - Doesn't apply.
Load response ratio () - Doesn't apply.

The hydrographs calculated by SEEP/W, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the


Appendix B, show that the specific parameters chosen for the strictly hydraulic base
case scenario imply a depressurization of the aquifer that can be measured by the four
observation wells, with total depressurization depths at the end of the simulation period
that vary between 50 and 500 m depending on the chosen sensor, which is considered
adequate for the purpose of evaluating the possible coupled effects that could arise
during the hydro-geomechanical coupled simulations. Additionally, one can notice that
each and every pressure sensor shows an instantaneous drop in total head at the
beginning of each year, which is explained by the fact that SEEP/W imposes the
excavations in an instantaneous manner during the first time step of the considered
stress period. After the instantaneous initial drop in pressure happens, each and every
sensor shows continuously decreasing pore water pressures, which means that for the
strictly hydraulic model the evolution of the system is always towards the
depressurization, which may not be true when hydro-geomechanical coupled effects
arise. Finally, it’s very important to noticed that for a strictly hydraulic model without
manmade drainage systems, the total depressurization depth cannot be higher than the
total excavation depth below the water table, which in this case is equal to 500 m.
With respect to the specific evolution of the total heads below the bottom of the pit it can
be said that a vertical hydraulic gradient of around -X m/m is observed, which is
explained because of the existence of an upward flow that occurs throughout the whole
simulation period. The almost horizontal alignment of the equipotential curves bellow the
bottom of the open pit can be observed at the end of the simulation in Figure X.X from
the Appendix B.
A different total head distribution is observed near the toe of the pit because of the
existence of a depth decreasing hydraulic gradient which is associated to the existence
of an horizontal to upward flow near the toe of the pit. The concentric equipotential
curves at the mentioned location can be observed at the end of the simulation in Figure
X.X from the Appendix B.
On the other hand, near the slope of the open pit a vertical hydraulic gradient can be
observed, which tends to be upward at the beginning of the simulation and downward at
the end of it with magnitudes that are smaller than the ones observed below the bottom
and near the toe of the open pit. This behavior is explained because of the existence of
an almost horizontal flow near the location of the pressure sensors, which tends to be
upwards at the beginning of the excavation and downwards at the end. The almost
vertical alignment of the equipotential curves near slope of the open pit can be observed
at the end of the simulation in Figure X.X from the Appendix B.
Finally, outside of the pit a relatively small downward vertical gradient can be observed,
which is explained because of the existence of a horizontal to downward flow. The

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inclined orientation of the equipotential curves near outside of the pit can be observed at
the end of the simulation in Figure X.X.

3.1.2.2. SEEP/W HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The hydraulic parameters used for the SEEP/W hydraulic conductivity sensitivity
analysis are presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for each
observation well are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the total
head fields at the end of the simulation for the K max and K min scenarios are presented
in Figures X.X and X.X from the Appendix B, respectively.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SEEP/W Hydraulic Conductivity Sensitivity Analysis
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-10 ; 1.0E-08 ; 1.0E-06 Variable w/ saturation.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 5.0E-07
Young's modulus (GPa) - Doesn't apply.
Poisson's ratio () - Doesn't apply.
Load response ratio () - Doesn't apply.

The sensitivity analysis performed with SEEP/W in relation to the hydraulic conductivity
shows an important dependency of the depressurization process with respect to the
mentioned parameter. The hydrographs calculated by SEEP/W, presented in Figures
X.X to X.X of the Appendix B, show that increasing the hydraulic conductivity two orders
of magnitude implies a much more depressurized aquifer, with total depressurization
depths at the end of the simulation period that vary between 400 and 500 m depending
on the chosen sensor. At the same time, very low vertical gradients can be observed
throughout the whole aquifer, which is explained because of the existence of an almost
horizontal flow towards the open pit. In the other hand, decreasing the hydraulic
conductivity two orders of magnitude implies almost no drop of the water table, with
depressurization depths that are mainly associated to the proximity of the considered
sensors to the seepage boundary condition of the open pit, and hence to the drainage of
the water that is stored elastically in the aquifer, which implies that almost no
depressurization happens outside of the open pit. The total head fields at the end of the
simulation period of each scenario are presented by Figures X.X and X.X of the
Appendix B.
The results given by the K min scenario are considered very important for the purpose of
understanding the importance of using a hydro-geomechanical coupled code when it’s
needed, because they imply that an open pit with hydraulic conductivities of around
1.0E-10 m/s should show almost no depressurization during a period of time of at least
10 years, which is exactly the opposite result that a hydro-geomechanical code would
give, as it will be demonstrated in chapter 6.1.3.3 .

3.1.2.3. SEEP/W SPECIFIC YIELD SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The hydraulic parameters used for the SEEP/W specific yield sensitivity analysis are
presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for each observation well
are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the total head fields at the

Page 34 of 45
end of the simulation for the Sy max and Sy min scenarios are presented in Figures X.X
and X.X from the Appendix B, respectively.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SEEP/W Specific Yield Sensitivity Analysis
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation.
Specific yield (%) 0.1% ; 0.5% ; 3% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 5.0E-07
Young's modulus (GPa) - Doesn't apply.
Poisson's ratio () - Doesn't apply.
Load response ratio () - Doesn't apply.

The sensitivity analysis performed with SEEP/W in relation to the specific yield shows a
dependency of the depressurization process with respect to the mentioned parameter
that is much less important than the one associated to the hydraulic conductivity, which
doesn’t mean that the specific yield should be considered as an irrelevant parameter.
Moreover, the hydrographs calculated by SEEP/W, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of
the Appendix B, show differences in total head of up to 50 m between the Sy max and
Sy min scenarios, being the depressurization process quicker for the Sy min scenario.
It’s important to noticed that the major differences in total head are observed in the
sensors that are located far away from the open pit. The total head fields at the end of
the simulation period of each scenario are presented by Figures X.X and X.X of the
Appendix B.
The relative importance of the specific yield parameter for evaluating the benefit of using
a hydro-geomechanical coupled code will be analyzed in chapter 6.1.3.4.

3.1.2.4. SEEP/W SPECIFIC STORAGE SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The hydraulic parameters used for the SEEP/W specific storage sensitivity analysis are
presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for each observation well
are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the total head fields at the
end of the simulation for the Ss max and Ss min scenarios are presented in Figures X.X
and X.X from the Appendix B, respectively.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SEEP/W Specific Storage Sensitivity Analysis
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 1.0E-07 ; 5.0E-07 ; 1.0E-06
Young's modulus (GPa) - Doesn't apply.
Poisson's ratio () - Doesn't apply.
Load response ratio () - Doesn't apply.

The sensitivity analysis performed with SEEP/W in relation to the specific storage shows
a dependency of the depressurization process with respect to the mentioned parameter
that is much less important than the one associated to the hydraulic conductivity, which
doesn’t mean that the specific storage should be considered as an irrelevant parameter.

Page 35 of 45
The hydrographs calculated by SEEP/W, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the
Appendix B, show differences in total head of up to 20 m between the Ss max and Ss
min scenarios, being the depressurization process quicker for the Ss min scenario. The
total head fields at the end of the simulation period of each scenario are presented by
Figures X.X and X.X of the Appendix B.
The relative importance of the specific storage parameter for evaluating the benefit of
using a hydro-geomechanical coupled code will be analyzed in chapter 6.1.3.5.

3.1.3. SIGMA/W RESULTS

3.1.3.1. SIGMA/W BASE CASE SCENARIO


The hydraulic and geotechnical parameters used for the SIGMA/W base case scenario
are presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for each observation
well are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the total head field at
the end of the simulation is presented in Figure X.X from the Appendix B.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SIGMA/W Base Case Scenario
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation and effective stress.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 1.2E-06 to 1.2E-05 Derived from LRR, E and .
Young's modulus (GPa) 5 to 50 Variable w/ effective stress.
Poisson's ratio () 0.2
Load response ratio () 0.3

The hydrographs calculated by SIGMA/W, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the


Appendix B, show that the specific parameters chosen for the hydro-geomechanical
coupled base case scenario imply a depressurization of the aquifer that can be
measured by the four observation wells, with total depressurization depths that are in
general terms similar to the ones calculated by the strictly hydraulic code. Nevertheless,
noticeable differences between the two modeling approaches can be observed, having
the hydrographs of the hydro-geomechanical coupled code two distinctive behaviors.
First of all, depending on the considered sensor and simulation time one can observe a
recovery of the pore water pressure after the initial instantaneous drop in total head
that’s associated to the excavation process. This rebound effect of the pore water
pressure is more likely to happen in the vicinity of the open pit at the beginning of the
excavation, and it’s explained by the fact that in a hydro-geomechanical model the
decrease in total stress might depressurize the system further away from its equilibrium.
Second of all, one can observe that at the end of the simulation, the aquifer associated
to the hydro-geomechanical coupled model is slightly more depressurized that the one
associated to the strictly hydraulic model, especially beneath the excavation, which is
explained by the fact that the hydro-geomechanical coupled code increases the
hydraulic conductivity because of the general decrease in effective stress, and by the
fact that the excavation process induces instantaneous drops in total stress that are
partially transmitted into a certain decrease in pore water pressure. The differences in

Page 36 of 45
the total head field at the end of the simulation period of each scenario can be observed
in Figures X.X and X.X of the Appendix B.
For the particular configuration of SIGMA/W’s base case scenario, it can be
demonstrated that the acceleration of the depressurization process is almost exclusively
related to the increase in hydraulic conductivity that happens because of the decrease in
effective stress, which doesn’t mean that for other configurations the effect of the
decrease in pore water pressure because of the decrease in total stress could be much
more important than the effect of the increase in hydraulic conductivity. In order to
demonstrate that the differences in results between SIGMA/W’s and SEEP/W’s base
case scenarios are associated to SIMGA/W’s recalculation of the hydraulic conductivity,
a comparison between SEEP/W’s base case scenario and a simulation done with
SIMGA/W’s base case scenario assuming constant hydraulic conductivity will be
presented in the next chapter.
Additionally, the hydrographs presented in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B
show that for the hydro-geomechanical coupled scenario a downward flow right beneath
the open pit exists at the beginning of the simulation, results that cannot be obtained by
using a strictly hydraulic code. This downward flow tends to disappear with time, being
the vertical hydraulic gradient almost nonexistent right beneath pit at the end of the
simulation.
Finally, one can observe that the initial instantaneous drop in pore water pressure
associated to each excavation is of around 40 m for the sensors located right beneath
the excavation, which is consistent with the adopted values for the Load Response Ratio
(0.3), specific weight of the soil (26.5 kN/m3), and depth of each excavation step (50 m).

3.1.3.2. SIGMA/W CONSTANT CONDUCTIVITY SCENARIO


The hydraulic and geotechnical parameters used for the SIGMA/W constant conductivity
scenario are presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for each
observation well are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the total
head field at the end of the simulation is presented in Figure X.X from the Appendix B.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SIGMA/W Constant Conductivity Scenario
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation. Constant w/ effective stress.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 1.2E-06 to 1.2E-05 Derived from LRR, E and .
Young's modulus (GPa) 5 to 50 Variable w/ effective stress.
Poisson's ratio () 0.2
Load response ratio () 0.3

The hydrographs calculated by SIGMA/W, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the


Appendix B, show that if no recalculation of the hydraulic conductivity is considered
during SIGMA/W’s base case scenario simulation, the general results given by
SIGMA/W base case scenario are almost identical to the ones given by SEEP/W’s base
case scenario, neglecting the recovery effect of the pore water pressure that’s still
observed in certain sensors at certain simulation times, and that it doesn’t directly
depend on recalculation of the hydraulic conductivity. The differences in the total head

Page 37 of 45
field at the end of the simulation period of each scenario can be observed in Figures X.X
and X.X of the Appendix B.
This result demonstrates that, for the base case scenario, the differences between the
results given by SIGMA/W and SEEP/W mainly depend on the recalculation of the
hydraulic conductivity because of the changes in effective stress. Nevertheless, it’s
important to understand that for other configurations, the effect of the decrease in pore
water pressure because of the decrease in total stress could be much more important
than the effect of the increase in hydraulic conductivity, as it will be demonstrated in the
next chapter.

3.1.3.3. SIGMA/W HYDRAULIC CONDUCTIVITY SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The hydraulic and geotechnical parameters used for the SIGMA/W hydraulic conductivity
sensitivity analysis are presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for
each observation well are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the
total head fields at the end of the simulation for the K max and K min scenarios are
presented in Figures X.X and X.X from the Appendix B, respectively.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SIGMA/W Hydraulic Conductivity Sensitivity Analysis
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-10 ; 1.0E-08 ; 1.0E-06 Variable w/ saturation and effective stress.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 1.2E-06 to 1.2E-05 Derived from LRR, E and .
Young's modulus (GPa) 5 to 50 Variable w/ effective stress.
Poisson's ratio () 0.2
Load response ratio () 0.3

The sensitivity analysis performed with SIGMA/W in relation to the hydraulic conductivity
shows an important dependency of the depressurization process with respect to the
mentioned parameter and important differences with respect to the results given by
SEEP/W. The hydrographs calculated by SIGMA/W for the K max scenario, presented in
Figures X.X to X.X of the Appendix B, show that increasing the hydraulic conductivity
two orders of magnitude implies a much more depressurized aquifer, with total
depressurization depths that are slightly higher than the ones calculated by SEEP/W,
showing both models in general terms similar behaviors. The slightly different total head
evolution is explained mainly because of the recalculation of the hydraulic conductivity
performed by SIGMA/W. Nevertheless, a totally different result is observed when the
hydraulic conductivity is decreased two orders of magnitude, showing SIGMA/W’s
hydrographs, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the Appendix B, an important
depressurization right beneath the excavation, with total depressurization depths of up to
620 m, 120 m more than the maximum depressurization depth calculated by SEEP/W,
which is equal to the total excavation depth below the water table, i.e. 500 m.
Additionally, it can be observed that for SIGMA/W’s K min scenario no recovery of the
pore water pressure happens after the initial instantaneous drop associated to the
imposition of each excavation. The differences in the total head field at the end of the
simulation period of each scenario can be observed in Figures X.X and X.X of the
Appendix B.

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The results given by SIGMA/W’s and SEEP/W’s K min scenario can be considered as
the most important results of the whole set of simulations. In one hand, it can be
concluded that for a strictly hydraulic model decreasing the hydraulic conductivity always
reduces the depressurization, meantime for a hydro-geomechanical coupled model
decreasing the hydraulic conductivity below certain value can considerably increase the
depressurization right beneath the excavation. This leads to the conclusion that trying to
model a highly hydro-geomechanical coupled scenario by using a strictly hydraulic
model with adjusted bands of increased hydraulic conductivity will be most likely wrong.
The only hydro-geomechanical coupled effect that could be represented using this
approach is that of the dependency of the hydraulic conductivity with the effective stress
or fracture size.
The results given by SIGMA/W’s K min scenario are also useful to understand how to
identify a highly hydro-geomechanical coupled scenario using the piezometric
information. As it can be noticed in the hydrographs calculated by SIGMA/W for the K
min scenario, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the Appendix B, the pore water
pressure doesn’t change in-between excavations, which means that it doesn’t show the
rebound effect that can be appreciated in certain sensors of SIGMA/W’s base case
scenario, nor the continuously decreasing total heads that can be appreciated in each
and every simulation done with SEEP/W. Nevertheless, one must take into account that
reality is much more complex than this generic model, and that different excavations
might happen at the same time at different locations, and that manmade drainage
systems might exist. At the same time, one must also take into account the coupling
effects associated to the dependency of the hydraulic conductivity with the effective
stress or fracture size, which aren’t associated to the rebound reaction of the pore water
pressure.
Finally, because of the considerably influence of the hydraulic conductivity in the results
given by SIGMA/W, it can be concluded that in order to build a consistent numerical
model it’s extremely important to have a robust conceptual model with well estimated
hydraulic conductivities, especially beneath the excavation.

3.1.3.4. SIGMA/W SPECIFIC YIELD SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The hydraulic and geotechnical parameters used for the SIGMA/W specific yield
sensitivity analysis are presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for
each observation well are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the
total head fields at the end of the simulation for the Sy max and Sy min scenarios are
presented in Figures X.X and X.X from the Appendix B, respectively.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SIGMA/W Specific Yield Sensitivity Analysis
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation and effective stress.
Specific yield (%) 0.1% ; 0.5% ; 3% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 1.2E-06 to 1.2E-05 Derived from LRR, E and .
Young's modulus (GPa) 5 to 50 Variable w/ effective stress.
Poisson's ratio () 0.2
Load response ratio () 0.3

Page 39 of 45
The sensitivity analysis performed with SIGMA/W in relation to the specific yield shows a
dependency of the depressurization process with respect to the mentioned parameter
that is much less important than the one associated to the hydraulic conductivity, which
doesn’t mean that the specific yield should be considered as an irrelevant parameter. In
particular, in the hydrographs presented in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B, one
can notice an important relationship between the specific yield and the depressurization
rate, especially right beneath excavation at the beginning of the simulation. This
behavior is explained by the fact that the specific yield determines the amount of water
that is available for filling the pores of the regions that suffered some degree of
expansion due to the decrement in effective stress and also for reestablishing the
pressures in the regions that suffered a decrement in the part of the volumetric water
content that is associated to the specific storage. Additionally, the specific yield
determines the amount of water that needs to be drained during the depressurization
process. The differences in the total head field at the end of the simulation period of
each scenario can be observed in Figures X.X and X.X of the Appendix B.

3.1.3.1. SIGMA/W SPECIFIC STORAGE SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The specific storage is a derived parameter in SIGMA/W’s formulation, reason why no
sensitivity analysis was performed with respect to it. The way in which SIGMA/W
calculates the specific storage is explained in detail in chapter 4.1.2.2, equations 12 to
16.

3.1.3.2. SIGMA/W YOUNG’S MODULUS SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The hydraulic and geotechnical parameters used for the SIGMA/W Young’s modulus
sensitivity analysis are presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for
each observation well are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the
total head fields at the end of the simulation for the E max and E min scenarios are
presented in Figures X.X and X.X from the Appendix B, respectively.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SIGMA/W Young’s Modulus Sensitivity Analysis
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation and effective stress.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 8.4E-07 to 5.9E-05 Derived from LRR, E and .
Young's modulus (GPa) 1 to 10 ; 5 to 50 ; 10 to 70 Variable w/ effective stress.
Poisson's ratio () 0.2
Load response ratio () 0.3

The sensitivity analysis performed with SIGMA/W in relation to the Young’s modulus
shows a dependency of the depressurization process with respect to the mentioned
parameter that could be considered important for certain scenarios, especially when the
Young’s modulus is considerably low. In that sense, the hydrographs calculated by
SIGMA/W for the E max scenario, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the Appendix B,
are very similar to the ones calculated by SIGMA/W for the base case scenario, which
means that, for the given settings of the generic model, increasing the Young’s modulus
over the values defined for the base case scenario doesn’t have major consequences in

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the results. Nevertheless, decreasing the Young’s modulus below the values defined for
the base case scenario has major consequences in the evolution of the pore water
pressure, which can be observed in the hydrographs calculated by SIGMA/W for the E
min scenario, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the Appendix B, that show
depressurization depths at the end of the simulation of up to 600 m, 100 m more than
the maximum depressurization depth calculated by SEEP/W, which is equal to the total
excavation depth below the water table, i.e. 500 m. The differences in the total head field
at the end of the simulation period of each scenario can be observed in Figures X.X and
X.X of the Appendix B.
Finally, it’s important to make clear that the values of the Young’s modulus chosen for
the E min scenario are relatively low and very unlikely to happen in granite rock type of
excavations. Nevertheless, if a set of hydraulic and geomechanical parameters different
to the one chosen for the base case scenario is considered, higher Young’s moduli than
the ones considered for the E min scenario could also generate a highly hydro-
geomechanical coupled response. In that sense, the final conclusion is that the Young’s
modulus is a parameter that must be considered important at the moment of evaluating
the need of using a hydro-geomechanical coupled code, especially when its
characteristic values below the excavation are relatively low.

3.1.3.3. SIGMA/W POISSON’S RATIO SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The hydraulic and geotechnical parameters used for the SIGMA/W Poisson’s ratio
sensitivity analysis are presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for
each observation well are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the
total head fields at the end of the simulation for the  max and  min scenarios are
presented in Figures X.X and X.X from the Appendix B, respectively.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SIGMA/W Poisson’s Ratio Sensitivity Analysis
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation and effective stress.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 7.8E-07 to 1.6E-05 Derived from LRR, E and .
Young's modulus (GPa) 5 to 50 Variable w/ effective stress.
Poisson's ratio () 0.1 ; 0.2 ; 0.3
Load response ratio () 0.3

The sensitivity analysis performed with SIGMA/W in relation to the Poisson’s ratio shows
a dependency of the depressurization process with respect to the mentioned parameter
that is less important than the one observed for the Young’s modulus sensitivity analysis,
which doesn’t mean that the Poisson’s ratio should be considered as an irrelevant
parameter. This behavior is explained by the fact that the reasonable range in which the
Poisson’s ratio can vary is much narrower than the one associated to the Young’s
modulus, and that both parameters affect the calculations in a similar way by modifying
the Bulk modulus of the material, which is given by equations 9 and 10. In that sense,
decreasing the Poisson’s ratio makes the material less rigid, and hence, increases the
resulting depressurization depths. The hydrographs calculated by SIGMA/W for the
Poisson’s ratio sensitivity analysis are presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the Appendix

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B, meantime the differences in the total head field at the end of the simulation period of
each scenario can be observed in Figures X.X and X.X of the Appendix B.

3.1.3.4. SIGMA/W LOAD RESPONSE RATIO SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS


The hydraulic and geotechnical parameters used for the SIGMA/W load response ratio
sensitivity analysis are presented in Table X.X, meantime the resulting hydrographs for
each observation well are shown in Figures X.X to X.X from the Appendix B. Finally, the
total head fields at the end of the simulation for the LRR max and LRR min scenarios are
presented in Figures X.X and X.X from the Appendix B, respectively.
Table X.X Parameter used for the SIGMA/W Load Response Ratio Sensitivity Analysis
Parameter Value Observation
Hydraulic conductivity (m/s) 1.0E-08 Variable w/ saturation and effective stress.
Specific yield (%) 0.5% Variable storage w/ saturation .
Specific storage (1/m) 5.9E-06 to 3.5E-05 Derived from LRR, E and .
Young's modulus (GPa) 5 to 50 Variable w/ effective stress.
Poisson's ratio () 0.2
Load response ratio () 0.1 ; 0.3 ; 0.6

The sensitivity analysis performed with SIGMA/W in relation to the Load Response Ratio
shows an important dependency of the depressurization process with respect to the
mentioned parameter. In that sense, the hydrographs calculated by SIGMA/W for the
LRR max scenario, presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the Appendix B, show that
increasing the Load Response Ratio from 0.3 to 0.6 implies instantaneous initial drops in
pore water pressure at the beginning of each excavation of around 80 m for the sensors
located right beneath the excavation, which is twice the value associated to SIGMA/W’s
base case scenario, i.e 40 m. In the other hand, decreasing the Load Response Ratio
from 0.3 to 0.1 implies instantaneous initial drops in pore water pressure of around 14 m,
which is also consistent with the adopted values for the specific weight of the soil (26.5
kN/m3), and depth of each excavation step (50 m).
In addition to affecting the instantaneous initial drop in pore water pressure, modifying
the Load Response Ratio has also an important global effect on the specific storage
coefficient which is a derived parameter in SIGMA/W’s formulation that depends on the
LRR, the Young’s modulus and the Poisson’s ratio. In that sense, decreasing the LRR to
a value of 0.1 increases the specific storage coefficient to values in between 3.5E-06
and 3.5E-05, which explains why the hydrographs of SIGMA/W’s LRR min scenario,
presented in Figures X.X to X.X of the Appendix B, show a particularly slow
depressurization process in its deeper sensors.
Finally, it’s important to understand that the relative importance that the instantaneous
initial decrease in pore water pressure will have in the global evolution of the total heads
will depend on the velocity with which the system approaches its state of equilibrium,
which depends mainly on the hydraulic conductivity and the storage parameters.

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3.2. CASE STUDY
To define

4. RECOMMENDATIONS

Two alternative hydro-geomechanical codes, SIGMA/W and PETREL-ECLIPSE-VISAGE, were benchmarked


using a 2D generic model of an open pit excavation which was designed considering information of
previous pit dewatering projects developed by Schlumberger Water Services. These two software have
considerably different approaches for solving the hydro-geomechanical coupled problem. In one hand,
SIGMA/W utilizes a fully hydro-geomechanical coupled formulation, which allows to reproduce the
coupled effects associated to the changes in hydraulic conductivity produced by the deformation of the
soil, and also the effects that are directly associated to the changes in the porosity or fracture aperture,
such as the undrained response. In the other hand, PETREL-ECLIPSE-VISAGE utilizes a partially coupled
formulation that only allows to reproduce the effects associated to the changes in the hydraulic
conductivity, which is considered an important disadvantage given that the evolution of the pore water
pressure might be strongly influenced by the undrained response for certain scenarios.
The benchmark performed with SIGMA/W shows that the change in hydraulic conductivity produced by
the deformation of the rock had always a measurable effect on the evolution of the pore water pressure
for each and every run of the model independent of the chosen hydraulic and geomechanical
parameters. In that sense, for each run an increase in the hydraulic conductivity was observed right
beneath the open pit, which ultimately lead to an acceleration of the depressurization process.
Nevertheless, it’s important to understand that the relevance of this coupled effect depends on the
adopted function for relating the deformation of the soil with the hydraulic conductivity, which in this
case was given by Carlsson and Olson (1977).
At the same time, the results given by SIGMA/W’s benchmark process shows that the coupled effects
associated to the undrained response might have an important influence in the evolution of the pore
water pressure for certain scenarios, being the most determinant parameters the hydraulic conductivity
and the bulk modulus of the rock. In that sense, an acceleration of the depressurization process was
observed when the hydraulic conductivity was decreased below certain critical value, which depends on
mainly on the bulk modulus of the rock. Using the generic model it was determined that values for the
hydraulic conductivity of around 1.0E-08 to 5.0E-09 m/s lead to the appearance of a measurable
undrained response for the base case scenario, meantime values of around 1.0E-09 m/s were needed to
obtain an undrained response in the E max scenario. With that in mind, one can conclude that the
effects associated to an undrained response might begin to be important with certainty for values of the
hydraulic conductivity of around 1.0E-09 m/s, and most likely for values of around 1.0E-08 m/s.

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APPENDIX A SOFTWARE DOCUMENTATION
Petrel
Eclipse
Visage
Seep/W
Sigma/W

APPENDIX B GENERIC MODELING


Sensitivity Matrix
Hydrographs
Total head fields

APPENDIX C CASE STUDY


Figures, Tables, Graphs

APPENDIX D WORKFLOWS
Sigma Workflow, Thomas & Ulrich
Petrel,Eclipse, Visage Workflow: Gareth & Ulrich

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