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Tunnelling in adverse geological occurrence A case study of tail race tunnel of Tala
hydroelectric project
KARMA GYAMTSHO, M. C. OHIR,
KARMA TSHERI NG AND R. K. OOGRA
TCI/Clllydmeltrtrir Projel"l AI,I/wrily, 8/111/(111

Abstr act Unfavourable geological conditions encountered durin g the


excavation of tail race tunne l of Tala hydroelectric project posed
problems and adequate measures have been taken to tackle these
adverse conditions. As there is no we ll established time tested method
to excavate class VI and beyond rock , an integrated conventional and
state of art methodology successfully adopted at Tala hydroelectric
project TRT is prese nted in th is paper.
INT RODUCTION
Tala hydroelectric project is a run of- river scheme downstream of existing Chukha
hydroelectric project (336 MW) on river Wangchu in south-western Bhutan in eastern
Himalayas. It envisages construction of a 92 m high concrete gravity dam at Wangkha:
three intakes and three underground desilting chambers each 250 m x 13.9 m x 18.5 m;
a 6.8 m modified horseshoe 23 km long concrete lined head race tunnel to carry
142.5 m3/s discharge and terminating into a 15 m diameter and 178 m high surge shaft;
two inclined steel lined pressure shaft 4m dia and 1.05 km long each trifurcating into
penstocks of 2.3 m dia; an underground powerhouse complex to generate 6 x 170 MW
of power through six pelton turbine based generating units operating under a gross
head of 86 1.5 m and a 7.75 m horseshoe 3.1 56 km long concrete lined tail race tunne l
to discharge the water back into river Wangchu.
Poor geological conditions encountered during the excavation of tail race tunnel a1
some locations dis from Intermediate Adit and u/s from Outfall Adit posed problems in
excavation. It was due to poor rock mass, low rock cover, profuse water charge and the
rockmass was classified as class VI and beyond. In certain reaches the problem was
tackled by using conventional methods as descri bed in this paper and at other locations
by usi ng state of art forepoling machine. The diversion of 30 degree towards hillside
has been taken from the original alignment from RD 1140 m dis from intermediate adit,
so as to have increased lateral and vertical cover and also 10 reduce the reach of TRT
passing below the Genguchu nallah.
TA IL RA CE TUNNEL LAYOUT
Designed length of tai l race tunnel has been 3.056 km and fini shed diameter of

TW!I1elling ill adl't! rse geological OCCllrrellce

III I 33

7.00 In horseshoe shaped with two adits, i.e., Intermediate Ad it of length 520 m.
7.0 m D-shaped and O utfall adit of length 166 m. 7 m D-shaped. Owing to the 300
diversion of tail race tunne l at RD 1140 m dIs from Intermediate adit. the revised
length of tail race tunne l works out 10 3. 156 km after six tail race manifold as
shown in Fig. 1, 1 to 6 of size 4 x 4.5 m D-shaped.

J.' ig. J Tait race lUnocl1ayout

At RD 1160 m, the Genguchu nallah is encou ntered in the present alignment with
vertical rock cover of 60 m. The revised layout has been planned for increased lateral
and vertical rock cover for better rock mass conditions and less seepage.

G EOLOGI CAL SET-UP


The tailrace tunnel alignment passes through the rocks of shumar fonnation comprising
mainly phyllite and phyllite quartzite with intennittent bands of quartzite and amphibolite
thrown into broad asymmetric folds and warping. Rockmass classified as class-VI and
beyond in the reaches from RD 27 m onwards in TRT upstream of outfall adit and from
RD 1118 to 1127.5 m in TRT dis of intennediate adit have been affected by low cover,
intensive water seepage and deep weathering in addition to multiple shearing.

CONSTRUCTION PROBLEMS IN TRT

DIS from intermediate ad it


During excavation of tu nnel, a crushed zone was observed in TRT at RD 111 8 m from
dIs intermediate adit. The flowi ng slush and water came into the tunnel from this zone

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Karma GyallllSllO ('/ 01.

at high speed, which flowed in about 10 m length of tunnel. The face was full of slush
and muck and it gal stabilized inherently. The slush which had flowed for to m length
was cleared cautiously and the face was packed with gunny bags filled with gravels and
then shotcreted at a pressure of 8 bars.
[n order to prevent the gunny bags filled with gravel from sliding, 10 pipes of
32 mm dia were driven vertically. And the cement, sand grouting of ratio 1:1 were
proceeded fo r furthe r stabilization from the crown. A hole of 4" dia of 12 m long
perforated MS pipe was drilled by Pu ntel machine (Fig. 2) in order to ascertain the
geological strata. It was predicted that 5 m reach from face were loose and thereafter
the geology would improve. 30 nos. of holes were drilled and 4" dia. 12 m long
perfomled pipes were inserted for neat cement grouti ng. The neat cement grouting was
done with wlc ratio 0.5 to 0.7 at the pressure of 8 bar. The pattern of grouting done
from bottom of LHS of crown and bottom RHS of crown simultaneously and contin ued
up to crown in order to avoid chocking of drilled holes.

"'jg. 2 Forero!ing hy I'unld madunc TRT DIS frum

illl~rllk:,halc

aUIl.

After completion of this grouting, further strengthening was done by drilli ng six
more holes of 3" dia and 8 m long at crown behind the face and forepoled for grouting
at the pressure of to bar and grouting was completed. Setting time was given before the
advancement.
In TRT U/S from outfall adit
Advancement ofTRT excavation from uls of outfall adit was held up due to occurrence
of a shear zone. When arrangements were made for laying the wall beam and erection
of rib segments, loose mass started falling from the crown , resulting into formation of

Ttfllllellillg ii, adruse gt'%gicul OCCllrrellce

111 / 35

cavi ty. the face was immediately blocked with gunny bags filled with muck and 2 nos.
4" and I no. 6" dia MS pipe were embedded to fill concrete/grout in the cavity portion.
Subsequently box forepoles of ISA 50 x 50 x 6 of 19 nos. of 7 m long were inserted in
the cavity for umbrella fonnations, strengthening of bulkhead was done by welding
various steel sections and SFRS was spmyed. An attempt was made to fill the cavity
area with concrete (cement sand and aggregme A 10). BUI rejection was observed
hence cement sand grout ( I: I) by weight was injected into the cavity in stages. After
selling time the drainage holes of 6 m and 7 m length were drilled at identified
localions. When face was opened. lumps of cement sand grout were observed m Ihe
crown. water seepage staned to flow from Ihe opening in between lumps of cement
s.md grout and gave passage to the fl ow of gauzy material. An attempt was made to
erect the segment of rib of ISMB 250 x 125 mm but cou ld not succeed. however
bulkhead was reinstalled and cement sand grouting (1:1) continued. After completion
of th is grouti ng further strengthening of the affected zone from 1.50 m behind the
existing bul khead by providing forepol ing (Fig. 3) of 32 mm di a. 8 m long at 20 to 30
inclination was done. Neat cement grouting with wlc 0.6 to 0 .5 with sodi um silicate
was continued wi th pressu re grouting machine at pressure of 8 to 10 kglcm 2. The fuce
was opened wi th central drift of size 0.75 m x 2.2 m x 1.5 meL. B. H). rib segment was
erected with temporary colu mn support and backfilled after erecting lagging. Similarly
excavation was extended at left and ri ght hand side.

During advancement another shear zone was observed at U/S of T RT from outfall
adi!. it was tack led with multiple drift excavation wi th erection of segmental rib and
backfilling. Keepi ng in view the prevail ing geological condition of the si te. it was
decided to provide forepo le umbrella of MS pipes of 11 4 mm diametre with puntel
forepoling machine for making further advancement. Forepoles, 12 m long were
provided at the crown periphery fonning umbrella. During the process of dri lli ng of

III f

36

Karma Gyalllhho ('/ al.

forepoles minor seepage was observed and initial 5- 6 m reach was found to be of loose
stmla, next 6-12 m was observed in liule improved slmta. Multistage cement grouting
through these perforated forepoles was carried out with the help of hydrau lic packer at
the pressure varying 4- 12 bar with wlc ratio varying 0.7 to 0.5. The face was opened
after giving 3 days seuing time. Further heading advancement was done @ 0.6 m with
rib support and backfill concrete below forepole umbrella zone.

INT EGRAT ED T UNNEL CONSTRUCTION METHODOLOGY


Geotechnica l condition of the sub-surface determines the timing of placement of
immediate supports. It is done in order to stabilize the stress redistribution during
excavation of rock mass. Based upon the stand up time and prevailing loads,
excavation by conventional methods and by using forepo ling machine has been
successfully carried out for class VI and beyond rock in T RT after tackling the flowin g
conditions and the cavities.
Excavation by conventional methods
Excavation work was carried out manually and mechanically in heading and benching.
The face to be excavated was probed ahead in order to determine the condition of the
strata ahead in advance and the necessary measures i.e. providing drainage holes and
pre-excavation grouting were taken . Depending upon the geological condition and
availability of equipment th ree different types of conventional methods were adopted
for heading excavmion .
Method - 1
Th is method was suitable where crown portion is stable with sufficient stand up time. It
was adopted for tailrace tunnel u/s from Outfall adit in class VI and beyond rock.
( i)

A drift of size 0.75 m x 2.2 m x 1.5 m (L. S , H) was excavated aI the crown
and the segmental steel rib of ISMB 250 x 125 mm in 14 crown segment was
erected manually as shown in Fig. 4. Steel runners of ISMC 100 x 50 mm
were we lded with existing ribs for newly erected segment to hold it in place.
M: 15 grade of concrete was used for backfilling after erecting the steel
lagging.

(ii)

Excavation was then extended to right side of crown in a width of 1.5 m and
another 14 crown segment of ISMB 250 x 125 mm was erected . Proper
backfill of M: 15 A 20 grade of concrete was done after steel lagging.

(iii ) The excavation was carried out gradually downward by extending the drift
excavated at step- I to the spring level. A segmental steel rib, 1/4 crown
segment of ISMB 250 x 125 mm was erected and backfilled after the steel
lagging.
(iv) The excavation was then carried out gradually downward by extending the
drift excavated at slep-2 to the spring level. A segmental steel rib, 1/4 crown

Tunnellillg ill adverse geological occllrrence

[]] f

37

segment of ISMB 250 x 125 mm was erected manually and backfill by M: 15


A20 grade of concrete was done.
The heading was proceeded for the reach of 10 m and simultaneously
benching was done.

Method - 2
This method was sui table where crown portion was unstable with inadequate stand up
time and backfill with concrete was not possible. It was adopted for tailrace tunnel uls
from outfall adit in class VI and beyond rock .
(i)

A drift of size 0.75 m x 2.2 m x 1.5 m (L, B, H) was excavated from the
spring level. After the installation of 1,4 crown segment of 15MB 250 x 125
mm, the steel lagging was erected and backfill concrete completed with dry
mix of ralio (l :2:4) and grouted with neat cement of wlc = 0.6 (as shown in
Fig. 5). This was done to save time of installation of concrete pump. pipes
etc. in view of flowing condition from crown.

Oi)

A drift of 1.5 m of another side of section was excavated from the spring
level. l/.s crown segment of ISMB 250 x 125 mm was installed and backfilled
with dry mix of ratio I :2:4 after fixing the steel laggi ng. Neat cement
grouting of wlc =0.6 was done.

(i ii ) The excavation for the drift was extended from the excavated drift of step- 1
to the crown level. 1.4 crown segment of ISMB 250 x 125 mm was installed.
Dry mix of ratio (1:2:4) was filled after steel lagging was erected. When

111 / 38

Karma Gyamlsho n al.

required vol ume of dry mix was filled , neat cement grouting of wlc = 0.6 was
done.
(iv)

Remai ning excavation was done from the excavated drift of step-2 to Ihe
crown level. Neat cement grouting of wlc = 0.6 was done when required
volume of dry mix (1 :2:4) was backfi lled.

Hg.5 Uackfill wllh dry

lIIi~

t! 2:4)

Method - 3
This method was adopted when whole of the strata above spring level was unstable
with inadequate standup time. h was adopted for tailrace tunnel uJs from Outfall adit in
class VI and beyond rock.
(i)

A central drift of size 0.75 m x 4.4 m x 1. 5 m (L, 8 , H) was excavated with


the help of boomer (as shown in Fig. 6). And 2 nos. of segmental ribs i.e. , 1,4
crown segment of ISMS 250 x 125 mm were erected m:l.nually. Temporary
support in the form of venical columns were provided to withstand the load
on the rib.

(ii)

This drift was extended (0 one side of crown by excavating gradually


downward to the spring level. Proper backfill was done after rib segment and
lagging erection.

(iii ) Similarly drift was extended to another s ide of the crown by excavating
gradually downward upto the spring level and was properl y backfilled after
installation of rib segment and lagging.

Tllflnf'lfilzg ill odw!rs~ gtOlogicol OCClIrrtllCt

111 1 39

Post excavation consolidation grouting of above spring level reach was completed
when heading advance was 1.8-2.4 m. Drainage holes were drilled for release of water
pressure.
Excavation for benching 'was carried out and erection of column of 15MB 250 x
125 mm. usually twO column s at a time @ 0.6 m at one side of the tunnel were erected
and backfilled after erection of laggi ng. During the erecti on of column , check for
verticn lity and centre line was done. Similarly the erection of columns on other side of
tunnel was done with a lag of 3 m.

EXCAVATION AFTE R INSTALLATION OF FORE POLE UMBRELLA BY


FOREI'OLI NG MAC HINE
The best option for tackling class-VI and beyond rock condi tion is with a forepole
machine. Puntel forepoling machine was mnde avai lable for umbrella in class-VI and
beyond rock in TRT DIS from intermediate adit (Fig. 7). Forepoling range of this
machine is upto 40 m depth of 100 mm inner diameter and 114 mm outer diameter
forepole pipes. Made in Italy, this mach ine is operated both with diesel and electricity.
Engine of 177 HP and Motor of 90 KW, feed length of 18 m. this machine is crawler
mounted. Conventional method i.e., fi rst drill ing, then fo repole pipe insertion was
adopted. After completion of complete forepole umbrella above spri ng level. grouting

111/40

Karma Gyamls/ro ('I lIl.

was done in three stages using hydraulic packers (8- 12 m stage, 4-8 m stage, 0-4 m
stag.e) m a pressure of 10 bnr wilh wnter cement rmin vnrying from 0.5 III 0.7.

Fig.7 F()f<:polmJ; hy I'UNTEL 111;.<:11",,:

CONCLUSION
Geotechnical uncertainties are expected in tunnel construction work. Further advance
was made possible in a conventional manner by grouting, multiple drifting followed by
c6ntrolled excavation depending on the Strata with immediate installation of support at
face. Forepoling with puntel machine Upl0 12 m followed by high pressure grouting
was effective in T RT in class V I and beyond rock used state of 'Irt method.
Conventional methods are more time consuming and less effective vis-a-vis tackling
such strata wi th a forepoling machine. Therefore it is important to incorporate
forepoling equipment at tender stage to tackle such strata in mega-tunnelling projects
for timely completio n. If class V I and beyond reach is envisaged ' in a considerable
reach based on actual excavation inputs, realignment of tunnel can prove to be cost and
time effective.

REFERENCE
Karol . R.H.. (1 990). "Chemical groutin g" 2 Ed. New York and lladcL. marcel Dekker inc. Pl" 4954. 4294 32.