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IGC 2009, Guntur,

Interpretation INDIA
of Tunnel Instrumentation Data


Manoj Verman
Lead Geotechnical Engineer, Golder Associates, Gurgaon122 002, India. E-mail: mverman@golder.com

ABSTRACT: The paper highlights the importance of field instrumentation of underground structures and focuses on
interpretation of instrumentation data which is one of the key elements of the instrumentation process. The role of
instrumentation in support modification during tunnel construction and the importance of estimating tunnel convergence and
support pressure that occurred before installation of the instruments have been explained with the help of rock mass-tunnel
support interaction analysis. The usefulness of field instrumentation has been brought out with the help of case histories.

1. INTRODUCTION ahead of face. Increased and more sophisticated use of

instrumentation is one of the few means available for limiting
Excavation of underground openings involves inherent
continued widening of this important technological gap.
difficulties in defining the geologic structures and related
geotechnical properties. It is, therefore, necessary to evaluate Tunnel instrumentation can be used to obtain well distributed
tunnelling conditions as they are encountered and adjust and timely information on behaviour of rock mass, per-
tunnelling procedures accordingly. It is in this area of timely formance of support system, suitability of specific transition,
identification and evaluation of unforeseen rock and soil intersections, portal areas, slopes and adjacent/overlying ground,
mass conditions that field instrumentation can help improve structures & services. Basic instrumentation, consisting of
both safety and economy of the underground structures during instruments, such as, tape extensometer, borehole extensometers
construction and overall performance of the completed and load cells, has proven economical and effective in achieving
structures. One of the key elements of the instrumentation the minimum but important objectives, namely, timely
process is interpretation of the data available from the identification and evaluation of instability, performance
instruments. The paper deals with some aspects of data monitoring of underground structure and providing basis for
interpretation with a focus on easy to obtain parameters of design modification during construction.
convergence and support pressure.
Instrumentation may be used for the following applications: Monitoring of rock mass behaviour by field instrumentation
(a) Identification of rock and soil mass properties, such as, is an important part of design and construction process of the
strength, deformability, anisotropy etc. observational method of tunnel support design which is based
(b) Observation of state of stress in rock mass on build-as-you-go philosophy. The tunneling approach of
(c) Observation of response of rock mass to disturbances by New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM) relies heavily on
construction and operation of the structure continuous field monitoring.
(d) Observation of adjacent structures or services either The observational method of tunnel support design, based on
affected or at risk due to tunnel construction field instrumentation, laid the foundation of what is called
(e) Identification of hazards the convergence-confinement method. This method is
(f) Working out remedial measures and verification of their based on the concept of rock mass-tunnel support interaction.
efficacy. It involves study of the interaction between rock mass and
tunnel support using the ground reaction (response) and
3. TUNNEL INSTRUMENTATION support reaction curves (Fig. 1) which represent the load-
deflection behaviour of the rock mass and the support system
In tunnelling, undetected or uncontrolled adjustments can respectively. The point of intersection of these curves
cause special problems. Due to space constraint, even minor represents the state of equilibrium, i.e., at this point the
difficulties can result in major problems and hazards, causing support pressure required to limit further tunnel deformation
cost and time overruns. An additional factor is the widening is balanced by the support pressure available from the
technological gap between state-of-art in tunnel excavation/ support system. The convergence-confinement method is
support and state-of-art in site characterization/prediction aimed at estimating the support pressure from the point of

Interpretation of Tunnel Instrumentation Data

intersection of the ground reaction curve and the support behaviour which may eventually become apparent from
reaction curve. visual inspection.
The application of the convergence-confinement method
depends on tunnel instrumentation to a great extent. The 6.1 Influence of Data Collection on Data Interpretation
predicted ground reaction and support reaction curves (using Quality of data available for interpretation is adversely affected
approaches, such as those suggested by Verman et al. 1995a by carelessness at data collection stage. Data collection must
and 1995b) are revised throughout the tunneling process on be made by a trained person with proper Read-out unit in
the basis of actual measurements during construction, and the specified way at regular intervals. Importance of raw data
amount of support is accordingly increased or decreased, so must be realized. Observed data must be recorded with utmost
as to achieve the desirable point of intersection or, in other care along with details of nearby construction activities, if any.
words, a safe and economical support system. The point of
intersection should neither be beyond the minimum value 6.2 Data InterpretationA Few Tips
(denoted by point D in Fig. 1) of the required support
pressure, nor be much ahead of this value. In the former case, Anybody who is engaged in interpretation of instrumentation
the support will be unsafe and in the latter, uneconomical. In data would do well to remember the following:
fact the curves may not intersect at all in the former case. Good or bad, data always speak. One has to read between
the lines
Bad data may tell whether:
Instrument is behaving erratically, or
Data is/are manipulated, or
Data has/have been incorrectly recorded unintentionally
Good data may be used to serve the desired purpose of
All this requires a careful and intelligent analysis of data
Insist on raw data
Cross-check the unexpected data with data from nearby
instruments before rejecting it as incorrectly recorded.
Be doubly sure. Keep sufficient degree of redundancy of
instruments for this purpose
Analyse the data with clear purpose in mind. In any
Fig. 1: Selection of Desirable Support from case, first of all look for signs of instability.
Convergence-Confinement Method
6.3 Determination of Unrecorded Instrumentation Data
5. TUNNEL INSTRUMENTATION 6.3.1 Unrecorded Data
There are following four broad phases of instrumentation: It is often not possible to commence the closure or load cell
(a) Planning of instrumentation scheme observations immediately after the excavation or, in other
(b) Fabrication, calibration, testing and supply of instruments words, right at the face. This is due to the time consumed for
(c) Installation of instruments installation of closure bolts and the fact that the protruding
(d) Collection and Interpretation of data. part (for attaching the tape-extensometer) of the closure bolt
All these phases affect the performance of instrumentation is often found bent or broken when installed close to the face
and it is important to be careful at all these stages for achieving as a result of the fly rock hitting the closure bolts during
meaningful results from an instrumentation scheme. The blasting. Same is the case with load cells which not only take
focus in this paper is on interpretation of data. time for installation (the load cells are installed in the support
systemlike steel ribs or rock boltswhich is normally not
installed immediately after the excavation because of
6. INTERPRETATION OF INSTRUMENTATION practical difficulties), but, like the closure bolts, are also
exposed to flying rock pieces during blasting when installed
Data interpretation is ideally carried out more or less close the face.. Thus, valuable information regarding the
simultaneously with data collection. But, more often than initial tunnel closure and support pressure immediately after
not, we have a situation where un-analysed data are put away blasting is almost always lost. To overcome this problem, a
in files with intention of making the analysis later. These un- graphical method was adopted by Verman (1993) to
analysed data can conceal the beginnings of dangerous determine the unrecorded data.

Interpretation of Tunnel Instrumentation Data

6.3.2 Estimation of Unrecorded Data estimating these missing data, without which the tunnel
closures and support pressures are likely to be substantially
The unrecorded data may be estimated by extrapolating the
trend line, as shown in Figure 2. This may be further
explained with an example of the Maneri Bhali Stage-II Another important aspect of the unrecorded data is their
tunnel. Figure 3 shows a plot of the radial tunnel closure with influence on the observed support reaction curve and,
respect to time at Ch. 1568.75 m. The first observation was therefore, on the point of intersection of the ground reaction
taken 12 days after the date of excavation. The missing data and the support reaction curves.
of the first 12 days were obtained by first plotting the data on
a log-log scale and then by extrapolating the initially straight
line portion of the curve (Fig. 4). Extrapolation of the straight
line portion to 12 days (i.e., 12 days before the date of first
observation) on log-log scale, and conversion of the extrapolated
value to ordinary scale gives the value of the radial tunnel
closure on the date of excavation as 0.16 cm. This implies
that an additional value of 0.16 cm has to be added to the
radial tunnel closure values to account for the missing data.
The revised time versus radial closure curve is shown in
Figure 5.

Fig. 4: Radial Tunnel Closure Plotted with Time on log-log

Scale at Ch. 1568.75 m in Maneri Bhali Stage-II Tunnel

Fig. 2: Extrapolation of Recorded Data to Obtain

Unrecorded Data

Fig. 5: Radial Tunnel Closure Extrapolated to Date of

Excavation at Ch. 1568.75 m in Maneri Bhali Stage-II

This is shown in Figure 6. It is often seen that the dates of

excavation, support installation, and first observation are
Fig. 3: Radial Tunnel Closure Plotted with Time from Date different. The correct coordinates of the point of intersection
of First Observation onwards at Ch. 1568.75 m in Maneri C, as is clear from Figure 6, are XDOE and XDOSI, where
Bhali Stage-II Tunnel XDOE is the final closure extrapolated to the date of excavation,
and XDOSI is the final support pressure extrapolated to the
date of support installation. This is because while the ground
6.3.3 Significance of Determining Unrecorded Data
reaction curve starts at point A immediately after excavation
In the example of Maneri-Bhali Stage-II tunnel (Figs. 3 to 5), (or even before excavation; according to Daemen 1975, some
the unrecorded trunnel closure was found to be 25% of the tunnel closure takes place ahead of the face), the support
maximum tunnel closure and occurred within 3.25% time reaction curves comes into picture only after the supports are
taken for the maximum tunnel closure to take place (Fig. 5). installed (denoted by point B). It would, therefore, be
Similar trends have been noticed in the instrumentation data incorrect to extrapolate both the support pressure and the
from several tunnels. The high ratio of the unrecorded data as tunnel closure to the date of excavation to obtain the
a percentage of the maximum data value occurring within a observed support reaction curve. Similarly, extrapolation of
short time after excavation, underlines the importance of both the support pressure and the tunnel closure to the date of

Interpretation of Tunnel Instrumentation Data

support installation would be incorrect. The support reaction time in Figure 7. Although the observation started 303 days after
curve obtained by using the unextrapolated or, only the excavation of full cavern width at this section, the roof
recorded data is also incorrect in the same way. convergence was still showing a continuously rising trend,
pointing towards instability. The rock bolts installed 77 days
after the date of first observation were clearly inadequate and
the rising trend continued till a chunk of bolted rock mass
collapsed and the roof convergence stabilised. Thus,
instrumentation provided enough warning about inadequate
support and a timely action could have prevented the collapse.

Fig. 6: Influence of Unrecoreded Data on Support

Reaction Curve (SRC) and its Point of Intersection
with Ground Reaction Curve
Fig. 7: Trend of Roof Convergence in Power House Cavern
of Koyna Project, Stage-IV
The author and his former colleagues at Central Mining 7.2 Collapse Averted due to Instrumentation
Research Institute (CMRI, now known as CIMFR) and at
Advanced Technology & Engineering Services (ATES) have In a similar situation at Sardar Sarovar Project, the warning
been involved in instrumentation of several tunnels and sounded by instrumentation was heeded in time and collapse
caverns and have reported significant findings, especially in prevented. Here, the presence of an agglomerate band above
tunnels in Himalayas (Goel 2001; Jethwa et al. 1977; Jethwa the roof of the power house cavern had raised doubts about
et al. 1980; Verman 1993; Verman et al. 1997a; Verman the roof stability due to the apprehension about opening up of
et al. 1997b; Dube 1979; Dasgupta et al. 1999; Viladkar et al. the joints between the agglomerate band and surrounding
2008) where the recorded tunnel closures and support basalt as a result of the cavern excavation (Verman et al.
pressures are generally larger than those in more competent 1991). To keep a watch on the behaviour of agglomerate
rock masses in the Indian peninsula. To highlight the usefulness band, a borehole extensometer was installed from the top and
of instrumentation even with low values of these parameters, going through the band and terminating close to the cavern
some results are presented here briefly from the instrumentation roof (Fig. 8). Even after a period of more than 3 years, the
of the caverns of Koyna Hydropower Project, Stage-IV
(Maharashtra) and Sardar Sarovar Project (Gujarat).
The power house and transformer hall caverns of Koyna
Hydropower Project, Stage-IV were instrumented with several
borehole extensometers and rock bolt load cells (Verman &
Jethwa 1996). Detailed analysis of the data obtained from
each instrument was carried out. This involved the analysis
of a large data base generated over a period of more than 5
years. This led to not only the routine findings, so essential
for the design-as-you-go philosophy, but also threw up some
significant results of special interest.

7.1 Warning about Impending Rock Fall

One of these results of special interest was the warning given
by the instrumentation data about impending rock fall in
transformer hall area. Data obtained from a multi-point borehole Fig. 8: Stabilising Effect of Longer Rock Bolts in Power
extensometer installed in the roof at Ch. 62.5 m are plotted with House Cavern of Sardar Sarovar Project

Interpretation of Tunnel Instrumentation Data

roof convergence was showing a rising trend (Fig. 8), Jethwa, J.L., Singh, B., Singh, Bhawani and Mithal, R.S.
although at a low rate of only 0.024 mm per month. While (1980). Influence of Geology on Tunneling Conditions
the rate of increase of convergence was low, the trend was and Deformational Behaviour of Supports in Faulted
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was slowly but surely opening up. This led to the decision of India, Engineering Geology, 16 (3 & 4), pp. 291319.
installing longer rock bolts in order to stitch the joints and it Verman, M., Jethwa, J. and Singh, B. (1991). Monitoring of
resulted in stabilising the rising trend (Fig. 8). a Large Underground Power House Cavity, 7th
International Congress on Rock Mechanics, Aachen,
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is vital to evaluate tunnelling conditions to adjust tunnelling Interaction Analysis, PhD Thesis, Department of Civil
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data can yield valuable information about tunneling hazards Supported Tunnes, International Journal for Tunnelling
and inadequacy or otherwise of the support system, thus and Underground Space Technology, Vol.10, No. 2, pp.
leading to a safe and economical construction. 217224.
Verman, M., Viladkar, M., Singh, B. and Jethwa, J. (1995b).
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