Investigation on the Effect of Cyclic Moisture Change on Rock Swelling in Hydropower Water Tunnels
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionRock Mechanics and Rock Engineering. 2021, 54, 463-476. 10.1007/s00603-020-02266-1
This manuscript investigates the interaction between cyclic wetting and drying, material composition/structure and swelling potential of weathered rocks. Laboratory tests were performed at the Norwegian University of Sciences and Technology (NTNU) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The rocks tested are of sedimentary and volcanic origin and were sampled from the headrace tunnels of two different hydropower projects located in Albania and the Philippines. Both headrace tunnels will experience a medium static water head of about 60 m at a base load of operation. However, hydropower plants of modern age are seldom operated to their base load due to power demand in the market, which causes fluctuation in the operation regime of the power plants. To determine the effect of moisture fluctuations on the swelling behavior of weathered rocks surrounding water tunnels, repeated wetting and drying cycles of swelling tests were performed on intact rock samples. The effect of unloading and thus allowing stagewise deformation to occur, as is the case in rock mass of shotcrete supported water tunnels, was comprehended in the testing procedure. Maximum swelling pressure tests on both pulverized and intact rock samples were included in the testing program. A comparison of the swelling test results is presented and correlated to the compositional and structural characteristics of each sample obtained by XRD and thin-section analyses. Finally, the effect of cyclic moisture change on the rock swelling is discussed in the context of long-term stability and support assessment of hydropower water tunnels.