Reference : From some obscurity to clarity in Boom clay behavior: Analysis of its coupled hydro-m...
Dissertations and theses : Doctoral thesis
Engineering, computing & technology : Civil engineering
From some obscurity to clarity in Boom clay behavior: Analysis of its coupled hydro-mechanical response in the presence of strain localization
Salehnia, Fatemeh mailto [Université de Liège > Département ArGEnCo > Géomécanique et géologie de l'ingénieur >]
Université de Liège, ​Liège, ​​Belgique
[en] Deep disposal of the high-level and high-lived radioactive wastes in the potential geological formations is envisaged as a possible solution in the framework of long-term management of these wastes. The argillaceous materials, namely Boom Clay, are potential to constitute the natural barrier aimed at confining the nuclear waste and protecting the biosphere from it. Around galleries excavated at depth in these media, the creation of a damaged zone with significant irreversible deformation is generally unavoidable. A considerable change in the host rock properties could be likely resulted in this zone, which may potentially be important with respect to the long-term evolution and the performance of the system. In this context, a paramount interest addresses characterization of the so-called Excavation Damaged Zone (EDZ), predicting its extent, and development of localized fracturing during and after the underground excavation in the host rock. This constitutes the foundation of this work, focusing on the Boom Clay formation as the reference potential host rock in Belgium.

Dealing with this purpose, providing a state of knowledge on the hydro-mechanical behavior of Boom Clay, and validating a set of parameters which could realistically reproduce its response through the numerical modelings are firstly addressed as the requisites. Moreover, a special focus is made on the dilatation factor of the rock, commonly described through the dilatancy angle parameter. Correct estimation of the dilatant behavior of a rock has an essential role in a realistic simulation of its volumetric behavior, fracturing threshold during the rock deformation process and its post-failure response. Therefore, a new formula is developed for consideration of the variable dilatancy angle, incorporated into an internal frictional elasto-plastic hardening/softening model, within the LAGAMINE finite element code. This development overcomes the inconveniences associated to using a constant dilatancy angle, for instance encountered in our numerical simulations of some laboratory small-scale tests as well as a large-scale excavation.

This study then focuses more particularly on simulation of EDZ extension at the large scale excavation, around the Connecting gallery (in the HADES URL, Mol, Belgium), through analyzing the evolution of strain localization in shear bands mode. The modeling takes into account of the initial anisotropic stresses, mechanical cross-anisotropy, anisotropic permeabilities, and gravity effects. As a result, an eye-shape extension of EDZ accompanied by an anisotropic convergence of the rock is predicted. A coupled analysis addresses the pore water pressure distribution during the excavation period and in long-term while no more evolution of the localized shear bands is predicted. To assess the reliability of the numerical results, some available in-situ measurements and observations, within the clay, during the gallery's construction and afterwards are precisely analyzed, and then compared with the corresponding numerical predictions. As a result, a good agreement is found between the in-situ data and simulated results.

Moreover, the above study is integrated with a particular analysis of the contact mechanism on the interface between the clay and the gallery's lining. Thence, the coupled interface element is introduced to deal with the contact phenomenon. The obtained results reveal some interesting features regarding the development of contact pressure on the interface linked to the evolution pattern of strain localization within the clay around the gallery. Furthermore, with regard to the own lining behavior, a development of the modeling with the aim of consideration of a discontinuous lining (made of the segments as the real case) is performed. We propose an approach to realistically reproduce the response of the lining's segments and their contact phenomena in the course of a long-term simulation. Defining the interface elements between the neighboring segments, with respect to the real installation procedure of the lining during the gallery construction, this process is aimed to be simulated through some evolution of the contact pressure on the segments' interfaces. As a result, a considerable improvement is achieved in reproducing the in-situ measurements provided in the lining. The numerical and measured evolution of strain and displacement are in a good agreement.

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