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State-of-the-art design guidelines in the use of unlined pressure tunnels /

shafts for hydropower scheme

Conference Paper · October 2018


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2 authors:

Krishna Kanta Panthi Chhatra Basnet

Norwegian University of Technology and Science Norwegian University of Science and Technology


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10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium (ARMS10), Singapore – The 2018 ISRM International Symposium
© 2018 ISRM & SRMEG (Singapore), ISBN: 978-981-11-9003-2 – Z. Zhao, Y. Zhou, J. Shang (Eds)

State-of-the-art Design Guidelines in the Use of Unlined Pressure

Tunnels / Shafts for Hydropower Scheme
Krishna Kanta Panthi* and Chhatra Bahadur Basnet
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
* (corresponding author’s E-mail)


Technical soundness, cost effectiveness and long-term sustainability are the major issues that one
should achieve while planning, designing, constructing and operating the hydropower schemes. With
the changing world of competitiveness with other sources of renewable energies such as wind and
solar, it is important that the hydro-energy still is able to compete in the renewable energy market.
One of the possible solutions that helps to achieve the cost effectiveness, technically soundness and
timely completion of the hydropower scheme is the use of unlined / shotcrete lined pressure tunnels.
Such approach may help replace the traditionally used concrete and steel lined pressure tunnel
systems, which are both cost intensive and long construction time taking. Nevertheless, there are
several technical, geological and geo-tectonic challenges associated to this solution, which limits the
use of this innovative concept. This manuscript will review the history of the use of unlined pressure
tunnels / shafts in the world and presents prevailing design approaches in the use with the aid of the
use of some very important cases of failures and successes where unlined / shotcrete lined pressure
tunnels and shafts were used in the past. The detail evaluation and analysis on the geological and
geo-tectonic environment are carried out. As an outcome, the state-of-the-art upgraded design criteria
as well as guidelines for the use of unlined / shotcrete lined pressure tunnels are suggested with the
belief that the vast hydropower resources still untapped in the Asian region will be even more cost
effective, technically sound and long-term sustainable solution.

Keywords: Hydro-electric Energy, Waterway System, Topography, Geological and Geo-Tectonic


1 Introduction
Unlined pressure tunnels in hydropower schemes are becoming popular worldwide due to the cost
effectiveness compared to the tunnels that are lined with concrete and/or steel pipes (Basnet and
Panthi, 2018a & 2018b). The unlined tunnels are relatively easy in construction and take much shorter
construction time in condition that the topography, geology and geo-tectonics favor. Regarding the
history of application, Norwegian unlined high pressure tunnels and shafts are by far the most
valuable examples in the world than the one constructed in other countries. The earliest attempts to
use unlined pressure tunnels in hydropower projects with the surface powerhouse in Norway was
already in 1920s, which is almost 100 years back from now. However, emphasis was given to keep all
waterway system and powerhouses inside the mountain after the completion of World War II (Broch,
2013). Today, Norway has over 230 underground powerhouses and over 4300 km unlined tunnels and
shafts. Such tunnels and shafts were considered to be possible due to the favorable engineering
geological and geo-tectonic conditions that persist in the Scandinavia (Johansen, 1984; Panthi, 2014).
Experiences gained in design, construction and operation of such waterway systems has led to the
development of different design criteria for unlined tunnels (Broch, 1982).
The famously used design criteria for unlined pressure tunnels and shafts are the Norwegian
criteria for confinement (Selmer-Olsen, 1969; Berg-Christensen and Dannevig, 1971; Broch, 1982;
Panthi, 2014; Palmstrom and Broch, 2017) with the aid of topographic correction suggested by Broch
(1984) in an area of irregular topography. Aim of the confinement criteria is to provide adequate rock
cover presuming that there is enough rock stress that works against static water pressure in order to
ensure the safety against hydraulic fracturing or splitting or jacking in the rock mass. Hence, the
confinement criteria are preferably used during the planning phase of the project before the magnitude
of minor principal stress of the area is evaluated properly during construction. Since minor principal
stress is the final decisive parameter, the confinement criteria should be able to reflect the actual value
of minor principal stress as close as possible, otherwise it may lead to unexpected changes in the
design resulting both cost overrun and construction delay. In Norway, the confinement criteria have

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
ARMS10 29 October to 03 November, 2018, Singapore
The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

functioned well except in some cases where failure occurred mainly due to unfavorable ground
conditions. On the other hand, applicability of these criteria for unlined pressure tunnels in other part
of the world where geo-tectonic environment is different than that in the Scandinavia needs to be
assessed carefully (Panthi and Basnet, 2017). Hence, the application of unlined high pressure tunnels
is only possible if corrections are made in the design principles used in Norway. The usefulness of the
design principles will be only if considerations are made on the all possible influential factors such as
topography, geology and geo-tectonics of the area of concern. Considering this in mind, this article
attempts to study prevailing topographic and geological conditions in the Himalayan region where
many hydropower tunnels will be built in the days to come. In the study, the minor principal stress
quantified at different topographical and geological conditions is used as a basic parameter in order to
modify the Norwegian confinement criterion for unlined pressure tunnels and shafts for Himalayan
geo-tectonic environment.

2 Brief history on unlined pressure tunnels / shafts

Panthi and Basnet (2016) reviewed the history of unlined pressure shafts and tunnels in Norwegian
Hydropower projects. In summary, Norway started to implement unlined pressure shaft and tunnel
concept for hydropower projects early in 1920s (Vogt, 1922). Four projects were implemented around
this time. Although three out of four hydropower schemes with unlined pressure shafts were operating
perfectly after initial problems were fixed, it took almost 40 years to beat the world record of static
water head of 152 m with unlined high pressure shaft of Svelgen hydropower project (Fig. 1). The
Tafjord K3 hydropower project with a static head of 286 m was the one to beat this record, which was
successfully put into operation in 1958 (Broch, 1982). After the construction of this project the
hydropower industry in Norway achieved confidence in the application of unlined pressure shafts and
tunnels. This design approach limits the steel lined part of the high pressure shaft only near the
powerhouse (mostly not exceeding 75 m). This too is to make sure that there is no leakage path
reached from unlined pressure shaft to the underground powerhouse cavern. In areas where
topography restricted the complete use of unlined high pressure shaft all the way from near the
underground powerhouse, a layout arrangement consisting steel lined lower shaft and part of the
horizontal pressure tunnel downstream of unlined upper pressure shafts and headrace tunnel became
common hydropower design solutions after around 1960 (Panthi and Basnet, 2016).

Fig. 1. Norwegian unlined pressure shafts and tunnels with respect to max. static water head (Updated
from Broch, 2013)
Quite a lot of experience was gained in the operation of high pressure unlined shafts and tunnels
with up to static water head of 475 m by 1970 at Hovatn hydropower project. Until the beginning of
1970s, all the hydropower schemes consisted the vented surge chamber to dampen the oscillation
waves (upsurge waves) produced due to sudden stoppage of the turbines. However, at the Driva
hydropower project that came in operation in 1973 had difficulties to arrange vented surge chamber
due to extremely steep and difficult topographic condition, where it was difficult to build an access

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
ARMS10 29 October to 03 November, 2018, Singapore
The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

road to reach the intermediate construction adit and top of the surge shaft. As a result, an innovative
attempt was made to implement Air Cushion Surge Chamber (Buen, 1984, Rathe, 1975; Selmer-Olsen,
1974). The Air Cushion Surge Chamber is an unlined underground cavern built upstream of the
penstock shaft near powerhouse cavern where compressed air is filled to make a cushion against the
upsurge pressure. Such an innovation gave solution against the conventional vented surge-shafts if
topographic conditions found difficult. Today, Norway has 10 hydropower schemes where Air
Cushion Surge Cambers are used to control the upsurge oscillation caused by the sudden stoppage of
the power plant (Fig. 1). The benefit of this solution is that a hydropower schemes can avoid an
inclined or vertical shaft. Instead, a long unlined high pressure tunnel may connect the intake with
underground powerhouse through a very short penstock shaft/tunnel near the powerhouse. At present,
Norway has many unlined pressure tunnels and shafts of varying static heads with maximum static
water head of 1047 m at Nye Tyin hydropower project, which is successfully came in operation in
2004 (Fig. 1).

3 Review on Norwegian design practice

As mentioned above, most of the unlined pressure tunnels and shafts in Norway are successfully
operated with no as such serious instability problems excluding few exceptions, which became the
basis for the development of design principles and criteria. The Herlandsfoss was the first hydropower
scheme built in 1919 to use unlined pressure shaft concept and followed by Skar and Svelgen built in
the years 1920 and 1921, respectively (Vogt, 1922). Mixed experience was gained from these three
projects with Skar completely failed and other two were brought in operation after needed mitigation
measures. Most of the unlined pressure tunnels and shafts were successfully designed and operated
until the failure that occurred at Byrte project in 1968 and at Askara project in 1970. The failure that
took place at these two projects was instrumental in enhancing the design criteria. The design criteria
developed at that time was based on the principle that both vertical and lateral rock cover (both rock
covers are shown in Fig. 2) should be sufficient to confine the pressure given by static water head at
the tunnel. The criteria are famously known as Norwegian confinement criteria and are represented by
Eq. (1) and Eq. (2), respectively.

Fig. 2. Different geometrical parameters used in confinement criteria (Broch, 1982)

w H
h (1)
 r  cos 
w H
L (2)
 r  cos 
In the equations, γw is the unit specific weight of water, γr is the unit specific weight of the rock, α
is the inclination of shaft/tunnel with respect to horizontal plane, β represents an average angle of
valley side slope with respect to horizontal plane, H is the hydrostatic head at unlined tunnel / shaft, h
is the vertical rock cover and L is the shortest perpendicular distance from the valley inclination line
(a lateral rock cover).
It is important to note here that the Eq. (1) will be automatically satisfied in most of the unlined
tunnels in the area of slope topography once Eq. (2) is satisfied. Hence, Eq. (2) is more critical to be
evaluated. Broch (1984) proposed a concept of topographic correction in the confinement criteria to
make it applicable in areas with irregular topography. This concept expands the applicability of the
confinement criteria beyond the Scandinavia to some extent. Despite the fact that most of the unlined

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
ARMS10 29 October to 03 November, 2018, Singapore
The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

pressure shafts and tunnels follow the established concepts of confinement criteria, there are still cases
of failures even in modern times in Norway where further investigations were needed with substantial
mitigation measures applied after the first water filling. The examples of such projects are Bjerka,
Fossmark, Holsbru, Bjornstokk etc.
In order to explore the reason behind such failures even in the modern times, Basnet and Panthi
(2018b) studied ten selected case of the unlined pressure shaft and tunnels (eight failed and two
successful highest head projects) as indicated in Fig. 3. They summarized the common points and
differences of the successful and failure cases. While doing so, both successful and failure cases were
analyzed and compared in terms of detail engineering geological conditions, in-situ stress state, fluid
flow and ground water conditions as well as Norwegian confinement criteria. As an outcome of the
study, the authors suggested both favorable and unfavorable ground conditions for the applicability of
the Norwegian confinement criteria in implementing the unlined high-pressure shafts/tunnel concepts
beyond the Scandinavia. Under each ground conditions, different factors are summarized including
topography, rock mass, jointing and presence of faults and weakness/crushed zones, in situ stress state
and hydrogeology (Table 1).

Fig. 3. Locations of the hydropower projects in the geological map of Norway with direction and
magnitude of horizontal rock stresses superimposed (Basnet and Panthi (2018b); map source: NGU,
After the evolution of confinement criteria, it was later postulated by many authors such as;
Selmer-Olsen (1974) and Broch (1982) among the others, that the unlined tunnel is safe against
hydraulic splitting or jacking only if the minor principal stress is greater than static water pressure in
the tunnel. Mathematically, the postulation is expressed by Eq. (3).
S3   w  H (3)

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
ARMS10 29 October to 03 November, 2018, Singapore
The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

Table 1. Both favorable and unfavorable ground conditions for the applicability of Norwegian
confinement criteria (Source: Basnet and Panthi, 2018b)
Category Favorable conditions Unfavorable conditions
Deep, steep and complex valley slope
Topography Relatively gentle valley slope topography
Weak rock mass with high degree of
Highly porous rock mass of volcanic and
sedimentary origin;
Jointed rock mass having more than two
Homogeneous and strong rock mass
systematic and long persisting joint sets
Rock mass and formations with no or single joint set having
with one or more joint sets dipping steeply
Jointing tight joint wall, wide spacing and anti-dip
towards valley slope;
against valley slope
Pre-existing open joints or the joints filled
with sand and silt, which could easily be
washed away;
Sub-horizontal joints at low overburden
Faults and Nearby fault and weakness zones that are
weakness/crushed No nearby major faults and weakness zones parallel or cross-cutting to the valley
zones slope
De-stressed area and location not far away
The minimum principal stress always higher from steep valley slope topography;
In situ stress state
than the static water head Not sufficiently far away from the locally
overstressed areas
Hydrostatic water line below natural Hydro-static line above the groundwater
groundwater table or tunnel aligned deep into table and relatively near from the valley
Hydrogeology the rock mass and far away from the steep side slope;
valley slope restricting flow paths to reach Highly permeable and communicating
valley slope topography joint sets

In order to apply Eq. (3) in the design of unlined pressure tunnels, a reliable value of minor
principal stress must be established either by the measurement or by numerical modelling. However,
both of these approaches are not always feasible during the planning phase of the unlined pressure
tunnels. This indicates that there is always a demand of some preliminary design criteria even in the
unfavorable ground conditions as stated in Table 1. In this regard, Basnet and Panthi (2018b) finally
concluded that the stress state and the fluid flow analysis at different topography, geology and
geo-tectonic condition considering all possible factors affecting the results will give important
feedback to enhance the existing confinement criteria applicable to different geo-tectonic environment.
Suffice to say that, in an unlined tunnel location where confinement criteria are satisfied but Eq. 3 is
not satisfied; the confinement criteria defined by Eq. (1) and Eq. (2) could be modified by examining
the minor principal stress. In doing so, numerous examples of stress state analysis at different
potentially existing topographic and geo-tectonic conditions should be carried out using a reliable
numerical model.
4 Assessment on different topographic and geo-tectonic environment
The Chivor project in Colombia has an unlined pressure tunnel at its headrace system, which was
designed with Norwegian confinement criteria after the topographical correction was applied (Broch,
1984). The project is being successfully operated since 1982. After this success, the concept of
topographic correction became part of design guidelines for unlined pressure tunnels. Thereafter, the
Nore project in Norway was successfully refurbished in 1995 where the unlined shaft and tunnel were
designed with the confinement criteria after correcting the undulated topography (Palmstrom and
Broch, 2017). These two examples in general demonstrate the sufficiency of topographic correction in
the design process to address the stress attenuation caused by irregular/undulating topography.
However, the Norwegian failure cases that are studied by Panthi and Basnet (2018b) had mixed
experiences. Some of the unlined tunnels and shafts that are found safe with the analysis using
confinement criteria after applying the topographic correction had initial failures and needed remedial

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
ARMS10 29 October to 03 November, 2018, Singapore
The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

measures to bring them into operation. Another example of unlined pressure tunnel in Nepal was
initially analyzed with the confinement criteria and the analysis showed that the tunnel is safe even
after the application of topographic correction. However, during excavation, the measured minor
principle stress magnitude did not satisfy the requirement as defined by Eq. 3. Finally, the location of
unlined pressure tunnel had to be shifted to a new location with reduced hydro static head (Panthi and
Basnet, 2017). These examples of unlined tunnels at different locations around the globe indicate that
the topographic correction is always necessary but not yet sufficient in many different topographical
and geological conditions like that mentioned in Table 1. In such situations, stress state analysis
would help to enhance the confinement criteria. In this regard, the stress state analysis is carried out
for different topographical conditions prevailing in the Himalaya. Hence, this article further attempts
to correlate the analyzed minor principal stress with lateral rock cover as defined by Eq. (3).
By equating Eq. (2) and Eq. (3), one can theoretically say that the minor principal stress will be
higher or equal with respect to the lateral rock cover as given by Eq. (4).
S 3  L   r  cos  (4)
However, in reality, the lateral rock cover only may not always provide the same magnitude of
minor principal stress as calculated by Eq. (4). Hence, the methodology applied in this article is based
on the principle that the difference between the distance calculated by Eq. 4 (L) for a particular value
of minor principal stress (S3) and the corresponding distance measured from the actual geometry (L’
or L” after topographic correction) for that particular stress value at a point of consideration is found
valuable input for the modification of the confinement criteria defined by Eq. (2).
4.1 Stress state analysis
The stress state is evaluated by using the three dimensional model, FLAC3D (Itasca, 2017). Three
different topographies are selected for the stress state analysis as shown in Fig. 4. The topographies
shown in Fig. 4 are assumed to represent the topographies that can be generally found around the
world including in the Lesser Himalaya and Higher Himalaya regions of Nepal. Topography 1 and 2
are suited for the Scandinavia and whereas 2 and 3 are suited for the Himalayan region. In most cases,
there is always a deep river valley on one side of the slope topography where the unlined pressure
tunnels are located. In Fig. 4, the right valley represents a deep river valley and the corresponding
valley slope on the left hand side of the river has an average angle of 370. The slope angle ranging
from 35 to 40 degrees is very common along steep river valley topographies as in the Himalaya. On
the other hand, there could be many different topographical situations at the left valley as shown in
the figure. For simplicity, three different topographical conditions are assumed for the analyses (Fig.
4). The condition ‘1’ represents relatively flat topography beyond the top of the hill like in the
Scandinavia whereas the condition ‘2’ has a slope gentler than that on the right side of the hilltop. The
condition ‘3’ has a steep slope and a deep river valley on the left as well.

Fig. 4. Different topographical conditions, tunnel locations, head water level (HWL) and weakness

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The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

In addition to the topographic complexity, the deep river valley on the right side is also
accompanied by a weakness zone as shown in Fig. 4. This weakness zone is indicated by WZ#1 in the
figure. On the left valley, there is also a likelihood of a weakness zone in most of the cases. The
weakness zone in left valley is named as WZ#2. Each topographic condition is analyzed for three
different scenarios; i.e. a) Gravity only, b) Gravity and tectonics, c) Gravity, tectonics and WZ#2.
The geometry of the model for each condition is generated in FLAC3D (Fig. 5). In each condition,
the model is 3km long in X-direction (East-West), 100m wide in Y-direction (North) and the height of
the model varies along Z-direction (vertical) from 0 masl to the corresponding surface elevations as
shown in Fig. 4. Total number of elements in the geometry varies according to the geometrical sizes.
Maximum length of a side of the elements in all three geometries is 20m.

Fig. 5. Geometry and grids built in FLAC3D for three different topographical conditions i.e. 1 to 3
from left to right (Vertical axis: elevation in masl, horizontal axis: distance in meter and ‘masl’ means
meters above sea level)
The parameters of intact rock as given in Table 2 are average lab tested values form one of the
projects in the Himalaya. Poisson’s ratio and deformable parameters of the intact rock are inputs to
FLAC3D. The stress state analysis is carried out by assuming the rock mass as a homogeneous,
isotropic and linearly elastic material.
Table 2. Rock mechanical parameters input to FLAC3D
Parameters Unit values
Densitya, ρr kg/m3 2680
Poisson's ratio , ν 0.33
Elasticity modulusa, Eci GPa 33
Intact rock strengtha (UCS), σci MPa 77
Bulk Modulus , K GPa 35.5
Shear Modulus , G GPa 12.4
laboratory test result bK = Eci/(3(1-2 ν); cG = Eci/(2(1+ ν)

Stress is another key input parameter in order to define the initial and boundary condition in
numerical models. Stress along Z-axis is mainly due to the vertical overburden (h) of the rock mass.
Part of the horizontal stress is due to vertical overburden, which is related to the Poison’s ratio. In
addition to gravity led horizontal stress, there is always a contribution of tectonic stress to the total
horizontal stress. Basnet and Panthi (2017) analyzed a case in the Himalaya and found out that about
15MPa of tectonic stress is acting along the direction of N350E in the central Himalaya. This amount
of stress is acting below the deepest valley side. However, there is a gradual decrease in the tectonic
stress contribution above the valley level due to stress attenuation. Hence, the model is continued
about 1250m below valley level so that the stresses can be initialized correctly. The typical section
shown in Fig. 4 has slope dipping almost towards East. Hence, the X-direction in the model makes an
angle of 550 with the direction of tectonic stress. The tectonic stress is resolved towards both X- and
Y-direction using the relationships given by Basnet and Panthi (2017). The resolved stresses are
added to the gravity led horizontal stresses for each element in the model and initialized. The
corresponding shear stress due to tectonic stress is also initialized in the model.
The weakness zone can be modelled as an interface in FLAC3D in order to evaluate the impact of
weakness zones in the stress state. The stiffness and friction angle of weakness zones are important

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
ARMS10 29 October to 03 November, 2018, Singapore
The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

interface parameters to FLAC3D (ITASCA, 2017). As shown in Table 3, the normal stiffness (kn) and
shear stiffness (ks) of weakness zones are estimated by using the relationships given by Rocscience
(2017). In the table, ‘E0’ and ‘G0’ are young’s modulus and shear modulus of weakness zone material,
respectively and ‘t’ is the thickness of the weakness zone. A typical value of E0 of the weakness zone
in the Himalaya is estimated about 1.8 GPa (Basnet and Panthi, 2018c). The thickness of the
weakness zone is assumed as equal to the half of the width of the typical river valleys at the surface.
The typical values of the thickness and the friction angle in table 3 are taken from the case study
carried out by Basnet and Panthi (2018c). The bottom level of weakness zones is assumed at 800 masl
(Fig. 5).
Table 3. Weakness zone parameters
a b c
Weakness E0 G0 t kn ks Friction angle
ν 0 
Zones GPa GPa m Pa/m Pa/m deg
WZ#1 1.8 0.1 0.82 35 5.1E+07 2.3E+07 25
WZ#2 1.8 0.1 0.82 25 7.2E+07 3.3E+07 25
G0 = E0/(2(1+ ν0), bkn = E0/t; cks = G0/t

As indicated above, FLAC3D model is run for nine times in total for three scenarios for each
condition. The magnitude of minor principal stresses at different locations is extracted from each run
for further interpretation. A typical model outputs showing the minor principal stress for scenarios ‘a’,
‘b’ and ‘c’ for three different topographic conditions are shown in Fig. 6. The figure shows that there
is considerable destressing along the valley slopes and at areas where weakness zones are located.

Fig. 6. Minor principal stress at scenarios ‘b’ and ‘c’ at three different topographic conditions
In order to select the favorable locations of unlined pressure tunnel at an assumed static water head
at 1850 masl, four different locations of unlined pressure tunnels; i.e. A, B, C and D; as indicated in
Fig. 4. The selection is made in such a way that it varies from lowest static water head of 60 m (0.6
MPa), a relevant scenarios for a low pressure headrace tunnel, to a high static water head of 600m (6
MPa), relevant scenario for high pressure tunnels and shafts.

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
ARMS10 29 October to 03 November, 2018, Singapore
The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

The analysis carried out by using the Norwegian confinement criteria (Eq. 1 and EQ. 2) show that
all four locations are safe for unlined pressure tunnels in the given topography. It is interesting to note
here that the analysis is same for all topographical conditions since the lateral rock cover is lowest
towards right valley slope from the top of the hill, which is common for all three topographical
conditions. However, in reality the minor principal stress would be different for each topographic
condition as indicated in Fig. 6. In order to illustrate the change of minor principal stress at each
scenario for all three conditions, the stress values are compared in Fig 7.

Fig. 7. Minor principal stress at vertical section at 0-0 at three different scenarios in three different
topographic conditions and static water pressure
The difference in the stress values between scenarios ‘a’ and ‘b’ in all three topographic conditions
proves that there is a significant contribution of tectonic stress in the minor principal stress magnitude.
The contribution increases as depth increases. Moreover, in all three topographic conditions, the
pressure tunnel locations are not safe if only gravity induced stress is considered. The perfectly safe
locations in scenarios 1b and 1c become marginally safe in scenario 2b and 2c.
The analysis indicates that all three upper locations become unsafe and one bottommost location
becomes marginally safe in scenario 3b and 3c. This proves on how the de-stressing increases as the
depth of left valley where there exist weakness zone (WZ#2) increases. It seems from Fig. 7 that the
tunnel location at the level of valley bottom is the most suitable location for unlined pressure tunnels
provided that the stability conditions while tunneling are satisfactory and the minor principle stress
requirement is also fulfilled. The more high elevation of the location of pressure tunnel from the
valley bottom the more unsafe will be the unlined pressure tunnel for the constant (similar) head water
level (HWL).

5 State-of-the-art design criteria

Several charts that include magnitude of minor principal stress for the given topographical
conditions and rock mechanical properties presented above have been developed. Altogether six
charts are prepared for the scenarios ‘b’ and ‘c’ in all three topographic conditions (Fig. 8). These
charts can be used to locate the unlined pressure tunnel satisfying Eq. (3) with the predefined factor of
safety. Fig. 8 also shows that the stress value changes according to change in topographical conditions
and presence of weakness zones. In addition to the stress values, the charts also include lateral rock
covers measured for each individual locations, which are denoted by L’ and L’’ in scenario ‘b’ and
scenario ‘c’, respectively.
The figure further points out that same minor principal stress value can have different rock covers
indicating that the minor principal stress value is difficult to be correlated with the lateral rock covers.
This is due to the fact that the stress distribution in the rock mass depends on many factors in addition
to the rock covers like; depth of the valleys, tectonic stress magnitude and direction, presence of
weakness zones etc. Despite this complexity, an attempt is made to find a rough correlation between
minor principal stress and lateral rock covers for all six charts in Fig. 8.

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
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The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

Fig. 8. Minor principal stress (contours in MPa) and valley side shortest distance (L’ and L’’ in red
contours with dashed lines) at scenarios ‘b’ and ‘c’ in three different topographic conditions

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
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An attempt was made to find the correlations between the minor principal stress values and lateral
rock covers for each individual computation cases (Fig.10). As one can see, the validity of
correlations varies considerably with a highest route of square (R) for case ‘1b’ of over 80%. The
validity of the relationships decreases with the increase in depth of left valley and presence of
weakness zone. This is quite logical because of the de-stressing effect caused by deeper left valley and
the presence of weakness zone.

Fig. 9. Minor principal stress at different lateral covers from valley slope at scenarios ‘b’ and ‘c’ for
three differtent topographical condisions

Since the density and the valley slope angle are already known, both lateral rock covers (i.e. L’ and
L’’) can be expressed in terms of the lateral rock cover (L) defined by the Norwegian confinement
criteria (Eq. 4). A regression analysis is carried out for different scenarios of minor principal stress
given in Fig. 9 equalized with Eq. 4 and presented in Fig. 10. As indicated in Fig. 10, the equations
for ‘1b’, ‘2b’ and ‘3b’ represent the analysis without WZ#2 whereas the equations for ‘1c’, ‘2c’ and
‘3c’ represent the analysis with WZ#2. The lateral rock covers (L’ and L’’) are now related to a
multiplication factor of L. As one can observe in the figure, the multiplication factor is lowest in case
of ‘1b’ and highest in case of ‘3c’, which means that more lateral cover is needed to generate the same
minor principal stress values as valley depth to the left increases with the existence of weakness zone
causing added de-stressing in the left valley slope as well.

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
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Fig. 10. Defining new equations for lateral covers; a) without WZ#2 and b) with WZ#2
Since the multiplication factor increases over the left valley depth increase, an attempt was made
to correlation between the multiplication factor and the ratio between the valley depth to the left and
to the right; i.e. H2 and H1 as shown in Fig. 8 (top). A correction is established for the both cases as
shown in Fig. 11. In the Figure, f’ is the multiplication factor that includes the stress change due to
only changes in topography whereas f’’ is the factor that includes stress change due to both changes in
topography and presence of weakness zone in the left valley as well.

Fig. 11. Multiplication factors at different topographic conditions

As a modification, the Eq. (2) can be generalized to Eq. (5), which includes a multiplication factor
(fg), which represents either f’ or f’’ depending on the project scenario under study and the value of fg
varies from 1.6 to almost 3.
w H
L  fg  (5)
 r  cos 
The suggested updated equation can be used to preliminary design of an unlined pressure tunnel /
shaft in the geological and geo-tectonic environment as in the Himalayan region.
6 Conclusions
A state-of-art modification in the Norwegian confinement criteria is proposed in order to fit into
different topographical, geological and geo-tectonic environments. Our finding is that the lateral rock
cover calculated from the Norwegian confinement criteria should be multiplied by a factor, which
varies from 1.6 to almost 3 to address the another valley in addition to a single valley that prevails in
the Scandinavia. This is due to the fact that the safe location of the unlined pressure tunnels and shafts
will mainly depend on the topographic complexity, tectonic environment and presence of weakness /
fault zones. The authors are confident that in most of the cases this equation will provide a
satisfactory location of the unlined pressure tunnel given that the conditions as discussed in Table 1
are also fulfilled. It is however, always is of benefit to carry out stress measurement during
construction before deciding on the exact location from where an unlined pressure tunnel is to start.

10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium
ARMS10 29 October to 03 November, 2018, Singapore
The ISRM International Symposium for 2018

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