Investigation of Rock Mass Stability Around the Tunnels in an Underground Mine in USA Using Three-Dimensional Numerical Modeling

Yan Xing, P. H.S.W. Kulatilake, L. A. Sandbak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The stability of the rock mass around the tunnels in an underground mine was investigated using the distinct element method. A three-dimensional model was developed based on the available geological, geotechnical, and mine construction information. It incorporates a complex lithological system, persistent and non-persistent faults, and a complex tunnel system including backfilled tunnels. The strain-softening constitutive model was applied for the rock masses. The rock mass properties were estimated using the Hoek–Brown equations based on the intact rock properties and the RMR values. The fault material behavior was modeled using the continuously yielding joint model. Sequential construction and rock supporting procedures were simulated based on the way they progressed in the mine. Stress analyses were performed to study the effect of the horizontal in situ stresses and the variability of rock mass properties on tunnel stability, and to evaluate the effectiveness of rock supports. The rock mass behavior was assessed using the stresses, failure zones, deformations around the tunnels, and the fault shear displacement vectors. The safety of rock supports was quantified using the bond shear and bolt tensile failures. Results show that the major fault and weak interlayer have distinct influences on the displacements and stresses around the tunnels. Comparison between the numerical modeling results and the field measurements indicated the cases with the average rock mass properties, and the K0 values between 0.5 and 1.25 provide satisfactory agreement with the field measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-597
Number of pages19
JournalRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • 3D numerical modeling
  • Distinct element method
  • In situ stress
  • Rock mass properties
  • Rock supports
  • Tunnel stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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