The Measurement of Rock Stress for Tunnelling

Gray, Ian (2014). The Measurement of Rock Stress for Tunnelling. 15th Australasian Tunnelling Conference 2014. Sydney, NSW. 17-19 September 2014.


While in some cases it is vitally important to measure the virgin stress in rock prior to tunnelling there are a number of cases where such stress measurement is really not required. The concept of having to have a number to put in a numerical model representing a continuum is often quite inappropriate. This paper discusses the cases when virgin stress measurement is required and the most appropriate means to measure it. The techniques discussed cover all of the overcoring systems, hydrofracture and borehole breakout measurements. It also covers the use of rock surface stress measurement, which is easy to perform and should be used to check for changing stress conditions. Unfortunately this technique has been ignored in recent times because engineers are addicted to numerical models requiring far field stresses rather than measuring the real values that exist where they matter – at the tunnel wall. A case is presented in which the measurement of surface stress in a TBM tunnel enabled the far field stress to be determined in what must be the world’s largest overcore.

Author: Ian Gray
Ian initially worked in Australia supervising the installation of the first gas drainage system at Central Colliery and then went on to work as Senior Geotechnical engineer building a mining wing to the consulting company DJ Douglas and Partners. In 1990 he became Principal Engineer, Mining Research with the Safety In Mines Testing and Resarch Station of the Department of Resource Industries of the Queensland Government. In this role he worked on frictional ignitions, mine explosions, windblasts, gas drainage and directional drilling including the first surface to in-seam operation in the country in 1991. In 1994 he started Sigra as a one man business. Since then the company has grown under his guidance to span mining, gas, civil, geotechnical work and a number of mechanical and electronic product developments.

Leave a Reply