Investigating Rock Mass Conditions and Implications for Tunnelling and Construction of the Amethyst Hydro Project, Harihari.
Thesis DisciplineEngineering Geology
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The Amethyst hydro project was proposed on the West Coast of New Zealand as an answer to the increasing demand for power in the area. A previous hydro project in the area was deemed unviable to reopen so the current project was proposed. The scheme involves diverting water from the Amethyst Ravine down through penstocks in a 1040m tunnel and out to a powerhouse on the floodplain of the Wanganui River. The tunnel section of the scheme is the focus of this thesis. It has been excavated using drill and blast methods and is horseshoe shaped, with 3.5x3.5m dimensions.
The tunnel was excavated into Haast Schist through its whole alignment, although the portal section was driven into debris flow material. The tunnel alignment and outflow portal is approximately 2km Southeast of the Alpine Fault, the right lateral thrusting surface expression of a tectonically complex and major plate boundary. The Amethyst Ravine at the intake portal is fault controlled, and this continuing regional tectonic regime has had an impact on the engineering strength of the rockmass through the orientation of defects. The rock is highly metamorphosed (gneissic in places) and is cut through with a number of large shears.
Scanline mapping of the tunnel was completed along with re-logging of some core and data collection of all records kept during tunneling. Structural analysis was undertaken, along with looking at groundwater flow data over the length of the tunnel, in order to break the tunnel up into domains of similar rock characteristics and investigate the rockmass strength of the tunnel from first principles. A structural model, hydrological model and rockmass model were assembled, each showing the change in characteristics over the length of the tunnel. The data was then modeled using the 3DEC numerical modelling software.
It was found that the shear zones form major structural controls on the rockmass, and schistosity changes drastically to either side of these zones. Schistosity in general steepens in dip up the tunnel and dip direction becomes increasingly parallel to the tunnel alignment. Water is linked to shear position, and a few major incursions of water (up to 205 l/s) can be linked to large (1.6m thick) shear zones. Modeling illustrated that the tunnel is most likely to deform through the invert, with movement also capable of occurring in the right rib above the springline and to a lesser extent in the left rib below the springline. This is due to the angle of schistosity and the interaction of joints, which act as cut off planes.
The original support classes for tunnel construction were based on Barton’s Q-system, but due to complicated interactions between shears, foliations and joint sets, the designed support classes have been inadequate in places, leading to increased cost due to the use of supplementary support. Modeling has shown that the halos of bolts are insufficient due to the >1m spacing, which fails to support blocks which can be smaller than this in places due to the close spacing of the schistosity.
It is recommended that a more broad support type be used in place of discreet solutions such as rock bolts, in order to most efficiently optimize the support classes and most effectively support the rock mass.