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Nam E-Moun Hydropower Project 9HX304224.

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Final Feasibility Study Report - Volume 1: Executive Summary and Main Report Page 45

5 GEOLOGY
Corresponding Drawings
NE-FS-040-001 Geology, Project Area, Overview Map
NE-FS-040-002 Geology, Diversion Dam, Layout and Section
NE-FS-040-003 Geology, Conveyance Tunnel, Profile
NE-FS-040-004 Geology, Main Dam and Desander, Layout
NE-FS-040-005 Geology, Main Dam and Desander, Sections
NE-FS-040-006 Geology, Headrace Tunnel, Profile
NE-FS-040-007 Geology, Powerhouse, Layout
NE-FS-040-008 Geology, Powerhouse, Section

5.1 Introduction
This chapter is mainly a summary of the Geological Investigations Report [15], which
also contains the borehole logs and photos, laboratory test results and reports from
HEC. This chapter provides an interpretation of the geological conditions for the Nam
E-Moun HPP based on the visual observations made on site and the following
documents:
 CGGC/GXED 2015: Feasibility Study on Nam E-Moun 3, 4 and 5 ([2], [3] and
[4])
 Pöyry 2016: Alternatives Study Report [5]
 Pöyry 2016: Project Alternatives Study Report [7]
 Pöyry 2016: Project Optimisation Study Report [8]

The project area was previously investigated by a Chinese consortium composed of


China Gezhouba Group International Engineering (CGGC) and Guangxi Electric Power
Design & Research Institute (GXED). In 2015 Pöyry was asked to review the proposed
project by the Chinese consortium and afterwards to continue the development and
planning of the project.

5.2 Previous Investigations (2014)

5.2.1 General
The Chinese consortium proposed the development of three different hydropower
schemes:
 Nam E-Moun 3
 Nam E-Moun 4
 Nam E-Moun 5
The location of the proposed schemes is shown in Figure 5-1.

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During these studies a geological map at scale 1:50,000 of the whole project area was
realised. The selected dams and powerhouse sites were investigated by means of
detailed geological maps at scale 1:1,000, a total of 21 boreholes with a depth ranging
between 30 m and 70 m, test pits and related laboratory tests to characterise the soil and
the bedrock.
TK Group provided Pöyry with data from these studies ([1], [3] and [4]) which were
analysed to prepare an Alternatives Study and then the investigation programme for the
overall Basic Design services:
In particular the following documents were reviewed:
 Geological chapters of the technical reports,
 Geological map of the whole project area at scale 1:50,000.
 Detail maps at scale 1:1,000 of the selected dams and powerhouse sites
 Geological profiles along the dam axes and the tunnels.

The investigation programme carried out by the Chinese consultant also consisted of 6
boreholes and related tests with simplified logs and a summary table of the assigned
rocks parameters which were included in the quoted reports.

Figure 5-1: Location of the hydropower schemes proposed by the Chinese consultants
shown on geological map of the project area redrawn during the Alternatives
Study after [2], [3] and [4]

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5.3 Current Investigations (2016-2017)


During the Alternatives Study and based on the results of the previous investigation and
a site visit, a new layout was proposed in which the main structures are located at
different places than in the previous study by the Chinese consortium.
To study the newly selected locations, a new set of investigations was planned in spring
2016 and carried out during autumn 2016 and winter 2016/2017. The scope of the new
investigation was to get an accurate characterisation of the geological/geotechnical
conditions of the project area to properly design the dams, tunnels, powerhouse and
other ancillary structures.
The project layout developed during the Alternatives Study foresaw a superficial
forebay and penstock to connect the headrace tunnel and the powerhouse. After
analysing the first results of the investigation in that area, showing locally very thick
soil and difficult topographical conditions along the forebay and penstock alignment, an
underground solution with an inclined pressure tunnel was selected.
The current investigation programme includes:
 Geological mapping of project area at scale 1:25,000
 Geological mapping of site areas including dams, powerhouse and tunnels
portals at scale 1:1,000
 Geomechanical detailed descriptions of single outcrops (scan lines)
 9 test pits
 17 rotary boreholes with core recovery
 Water pressure tests
 Laboratory tests for bedrock design parameters
 Laboratory tests for aggregates
 Laboratory tests for soil

Table 5-1 through Table 5-4 provide detailed information about the type, location, scope
and quantities of the carried out investigation.
The 17 borehole locations and depths were selected to investigate the foundation
condition of the dams and powerhouse as well as the rock mass along the planned
tunnels.

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Table 5-1: Depth, orientation, scope and location of the exploratory boreholes carried out
during the present study

Depth
Borehole Orientation Location - Scope UTM Coordinates
(m)
Original main dam
BH-NE1-01 30 Vertical 717202 E, 1720971 N
right abutment
Original main left
BH-NE1-02 30 Vertical 717215 E, 1720917 N
abutment
Headrace tunnel
BH-NE1-03 20 Vertical 717087 E, 1720871 N
intake
BH-NE1-04 120 Vertical Headrace tunnel 713450 E, 1720939 N
BH-NE1-05 30 Vertical Headrace tunnel 712184 E, 1721740 N
BH-NE1-07 45 Vertical Powerhouse 711220 E, 1722682 N
Diversion dam right
BH-NE1-08 25 Vertical 716303 E, 1708071 N
abutment
Diversion dam left
BH-NE1-09 25 Vertical 716245 E, 1708059 N
abutment
Conveyance tunnel
BH-NE1-10 20 Vertical 716334 E, 1708077 N
intake
BH-NE1-11 20 Vertical Conveyance tunnel 717273 E, 1720808 N
BH-NE1-12 100 Vertical Conveyance tunnel 717102 E, 1719748 N
BH-NE1-13 90 Vertical Conveyance tunnel 716614 E, 1708876 N
BH-NE1-14 110 Vertical Conveyance tunnel 716643 E, 1710022 N
Original conveyance
BH-NE1-15 30 Vertical 717331 E, 1720927 N
tunnel outlet
New main dam right
BH-NE1-16 25 Vertical 717371 E, 1720773 N
abutment
New main dam left
BH-NE1-17 25 Vertical 717339 E, 1720810 N
abutment
New main dam intake
BH-NE1-18 25 Vertical 717347 E, 1720825 N
structure

The scope of the carried out test pits was to:


 proof the foundation conditions in the forebay and penstock area in case a
surface solution would have been chosen for these structures
 check the depth of the quaternary cover in the tunnel portal area
 check the suitability of the river alluvium to be used to produce concrete
aggregates

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Table 5-2: Test pits scope and location

Test Pit Location - Scope UTM Coordinates


TP-NE1-01 Original main dam foundation 717233 E, 1720915
TP-NE1-02 Headrace tunnel intake 717184 E,1720893
TP-NE1-03 Headrace tunnel intake 717146 E,1720894
TP-NE1-04 Forebay foundation 712097 E,1722042
TP-NE1-06 Penstock foundation 711696 E,1722239
TP-NE1-07 Penstock foundation 711431 E,1722435
TP-NE1-08 Borrow area 715535 E,1709302
TP-NE1-09 Borrow area 715300 E,1709403
TP-NE1-10 Borrow area 715349 E,1709254

8 scan lines were also made in the project area to collect quantitative results about the
characteristic of the rock mass discontinuities at the different sites.

Table 5-3: Scan lines scope and location

Scan Line Location Rock type UTM Coordinate


SL-NE1-01 Conveyance tunnel Boundary Sediment/Magmatic 716776 E, 1714132 N
SL-NE1-02 Headrace tunnel Metasediments boundary 712372 E, 1721541 N
SL-NE1-03 Penstock (now 712049 E, 1721882 N
Metasediments/ Schist(?)
headrace tunnel)
SL-NE1-04 Powerhouse Sandstone 711272 E, 1722742 N
SL-NE1-05 Main dam Granodiorite/Metasandstone 717191 E, 1720913 N
SL-NE1-06 Conveyance tunnel 717316 E, 1720980 N
Granodiorite/Metasandstone
outlet
SL-NE1-07 Diversion dam Sandstone 716287 E, 1708062 N
SL-NE1-08 Conveyance tunnel 716297 E ,1708081 N
Sandstone
portal

The following tests were then carried out to define the rock mass and soil properties and
correctly design the foreseen project structures.

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Table 5-4: List of the executed laboratory tests and used standards

Laboratory tests for bedrock design parameters Standard Quantity


Unconfined compressive strength tests dry (inclusive E-
ASTM D7012 23
modulus)
Unconfined compressive strength (UCS) test wet ASTM D2938 10
Triaxial test on borehole cores ASTM D7012 11
Direct shear test ASTM D5607 9
X-Ray diffraction -
Laboratory tests for aggregates Standard Quantity
Petrographic and mineralogical description ASTM C295 4
Bulk density, moisture content and porosity ASTM C127 2
Alkali-Silica reaction. ASTM C227 C289 2
Los Angeles test (dry and wet) ASTM C535 2
Crushing tests BS 812-110 2
Slake durability test ASTM D4644 2
Absorption ASTM C128 2
Aggregate Impact Value BS 812 112 2
Flakiness Index BS 812 105-1 2
Material finer than 75 mm (#200 sieve) in mineral
ASTM C117 2
aggregate
Laboratory tests for soil Standard Quantity
Classification in accordance with the Unified Soil
ASTM D2487 9
Classification System
Grain size distribution by wet sieving, and hydrometer
ASTM D422 -
analysis (if required)
Total Unit Weight and Specific Gravity ASTM D854 9
Natural Density ASTM D7263 -
Moisture content ASTM D2216 9
Atterberg's Limits ASTM D4318 6
Organic matter content ASTM D2974 5

The investigation was constantly supervised by a Pöyry geologist on site including visits
to the laboratory to guarantee the quality and reliability of the results. Several site visits
of the Pöyry project geologist were organised to exactly locate the investigations, to
check the mapping results on site, to check the core samples and to select samples for
the laboratory tests.

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5.4 Geography and Topography of the Project Area


The project area is located in Southern Laos within a vast mountainous region entirely
covered by forests and characterised by hills and not very pronounced peaks surrounded
by a complex network of small narrow valleys. The elevation of the mountains decrease
from east to west with the highest peaks, at about 2,000 m asl high, located north-east of
the project area at the border with Vietnam. West of the project area the mountainous
range ends out with small hills in the Sekong River valley.
The Nam E-Moun River origins close to the border with Vietnam within this
mountainous range and flows from east to west. The peaks directly surrounding the
valley are about 800 - 1,300 m high while the river bed elevation ranges between about
1,000 m at the spring and 345 m at the confluence with the Houay Het River.
Downstream of this junction the Nam E-Moun River flows onwards and ends in the
Sekong River. The Sekong River flows from north to south in this area and forms the
lowest hydraulic point (element) of the region with an elevation of the river bed of
about 150 m asl to 200 m asl.

5.5 Regional Geography

5.5.1 General
The project area is located in the central part of the Indochina block which is, since the
Late Triassic, part of the Eurasian tectonic plate. During the Cenozoicum (65.5 Ma -
Present), after the collision with the rest of the Eurasian continent the Indochina block
underwent an extrusion towards the south-east related to the northward indentation of
the India Plate. This extrusion induced some limited deformation within the Indochina
block and is still responsible for some tectonic activity, especially in Northern Laos and
partly in Central Laos.

5.5.2 Lithologies
The formations outcropping in the project area consist of Palaeozoic sediments and
metasediments and late Palaeozoic early Mesozoic magmatic rocks which were formed
indeed before and during the collisional phase with the rest of the Euro Asiatic
continent.
After the collisional phase, during the Mesozoic Era (251 Ma - 65.5 Ma) these
formations were folded and thrusted over each other.
During this stage sedimentation continued in the Khoran Plateau west and northwest of
the project area also during the Mesozoicum as confirmed by the presence of large
amount of Cenozoic sediments, Jurassic (201 Ma - 145.5 Ma) and Cretaceous (145.5
Ma - 65.5 Ma) in age.
According to the 1:500,000 map of Southern Laos [1] from 2009, which is the most
recent and detailed map covering the area, the following formations are outcropping in
the project area (see Figure 5-2):
 Mesozoicum
o γT1 - Early Triassic granitoid intrusions formed during two distinct phases
marked by the following lithologies. Phase 1: Biotite granite and two mica
granite Phase 2: light colour fine grained granite and aplite granite.

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o γP-T1 - Permian-Early Triassic granitoids formed during four different


phases each characterised by the following lithologies. Phase 1:
gabbrodiorite, diorite and monzonite, Phase 2: quartz-diorite, tonalite
granodiorite and medium to coarse grained biotite-hornblend-granite; Phase
3: hornblend-biotite -granite, biotite-granite and gaudy granite; Phase 4
(vein-rock phase) aplite granite (γa), pegmatite granite (γp) and kersantite
(K)
 Paleozoicum
o P2 - Middle Permian
Sandstone intercalated with red-brown, yellow or grey siltstone with few
shales, andesite, andesitodacite, dacite and related tuff, conglomeratic lens,
limestone and calcareous clay; Series 1,160 m - 1,500 m thick
o D2-3 - Middle-Upper Devonian
Upper part: quarzitic-sandstone, light grey, red-brown or violet siltstone,
clayey-shales rich in fossils; Series 500 m - 980 m thick;
Lower part: quarzitic-sandstone, siltstone, black clayey shales interbedded
with grey to black-grey limestone, cherty limestone very rich in fossils.
Series 550 m - 800 m thick
o ε2-O1 -Middle Cambrian - Lower Ordovician
Sericite schist, sericite-quartz schist muscovite-quartz schist, mica-quartz
schists and meta-sandstone; Series 1,400 m - 1,800 m thick

Figure 5-2: Extract of the Map of Geology and Mineral resources at scale 1:500,000 [1]
covering the the project area (square box); for the legend see Chapter 5.5.2

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5.5.3 Tectonic
The major structural elements observed in the area, based on the 1:500,000 map, strike
NNW-SSE to NW-SE sub-parallel to the Triassic Song Ma suture zone bordering the
Indochina block at is northern margin. Parts of these faults were formed as normal faults
and controlled the sedimentation regime from the Devonian to the Late Triassic. During
and after the collisional phase of Indochina with the Chinese microplate, parts of these
faults were then reactivated as reversed faults consequently of compression-related
deformations and were active up to the Early Cenozoic.
These faults extend for more than 100 km and affect both the Palaeozoic sediments and
the late-Palaeozoic early Mesozoic granitoids.
Minor fault systems including a series of NE-SW and WNW-ESE trending faults also
affect the area (Figure 5-2). These faults are generally much shorter than the NW-SE
trending ones with a maximal length of about 20 km.

5.6 Project Site Geology

5.6.1 Findings
The study from CGGC/GXED [2] to [4] indicates that Palaeozoic metasediments are
intruded by a small granitoid batholith located at the confluence of the Nam E-Moun
and of the Houay Het Rivers. The sediments are characterised by a normal stratigraphic
series with the bedding plane striking N-S and dipping towards the west with the
younger strata outcropping in the western part and the older ones in the eastern part of
the area.
These sediments are, according to the Chinese studies [2], [3] and [4], attributed to the
Devonian and underwent contact metamorphism in the project area due to the vicinity
of the granitoid intrusion.
The geological situation described in this study is generally correct but several
discrepancies were found especially concerning the extension of the granitoid intrusion.

5.6.2 General
The site geology is strongly controlled by the granitic intrusion found at the confluence
of the Nam E-Moun and Houay Het Rivers and which intrudes the Palaeozoic
sediments.
In this chapter the nomenclature used in the previous investigations has been kept and
not the one from the official map of Laos. This because, despite several differences, it
better matches the data collected during the present study.
The actual age of both sedimentary rocks could not be proofed and a detailed
paleontological and petrographic study to solve the discrepancies between the available
data is beyond the scope of this study.
For this reason, the rocks and sediments outcropping in the project area were grouped in
two main formations, namely:
 aQ - Alluvial quaternary deposits
 edQ - Eluvial deluvial quaternary deposits

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 γ 1-5 - Palaeozoic to Mesozoic Magmatic rocks, mainly made of granodiorite,


diorite and pegmatite and from basic dyke
 D1-2 - Devonian (?) Metasediments mainly made of sericite schist, quartz
sericite, sandstone and quarzitic sandstone

Figure 5-3: Simplified geological map of the project area showing the boundary of the
granitic intrusion and the major faults recognised in the project area redrawn
after [2], [3] and [4] according to 2016/2017 investigation results

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5.6.3 Lithologies

5.6.3.1 Quaternary Cover


aQ Alluvial deposits
Alluvial deposits are found along the Nam E-Moun River mainly upstream of the
selected new main dam and downstream of the powerhouse locations. Between these
locations, the river flows in a steep gorge where alluvial deposits are nearly absent.
Along the Houay Het River, due to the gentler topography and river slope, larger
amounts of alluvial deposits are found especially a few kilometres downstream of the
diversion dam location.
Within the project area the alluvial sediments are made of thin small discontinuous
lenses of coarse gravel and boulders mainly of magmatic nature. Locally along the
Houay Het River and along some of its tributaries fine grained sand is found.

Figure 5-4: Coarse grained alluvial deposit in the powerhouse area (left) and along the
Houay Het River close to the diversion dam site (right)

edQ - eluvial-deluvial deposits


These deposits are found along all slopes in the project area and are mainly made of
residual soil (eluvium) from in-situ alteration of local rock along with minor deluvial
soil made of boulder and large blocks with dimension up to 2 x 5 m in size located on
the hill and slopes.
The nature of these sediments strongly differs depending on the nature of the
substratum. On magmatic rocks these sediments are formed by a reddish clayey material
with coarse grained (mm to cm) clasts. The thickness of these sediments generally
varies from 10 to 20 m and locally can reach thicknesses of up to 30 m (BH-NE1-05).
However, on top of sedimentary rocks these sediments are also clayey but have a
brownish colour and their thickness generally varies between 5 and 10 m.

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Figure 5-5: Example of reddish brown clay formed on top of magmatic rocks near Ban
Tambong village (left) and of brown clayey soil with boulders formed on top
of the metasediments close to the powerhouse area (right)

5.6.3.2 Bedrock
The following units were distinguished in the bedrock:

γ 1-5 - Palaeozoic to Mesozoic Magmatic rocks,


Based on the results of the investigation, the batholith outcropping in the project area is
largely made of granodiorite with a minor presence of diorite, pegmatite and basic dyke.
The granodiorite is a grey-whitish coloured, medium grained rock, strong to very strong
with a massive structure and a granular texture. Greenish coloured granodiorite was
locally observed due to the presence of epidote or other hydrothermal mineralisation.
In the main dam area and along the initial part of the headrace tunnel and the final part
of the conveyance tunnel, the border of the batholith is characterised by the presence of
a dark fine to medium grained massive diorite. The rock is very strong and also presents
a granular texture.
Both granodiorite and diorite are intruded by light coloured pegmatite dykes and veins
mainly consisting of quartz, feldspar and white mica and characterised by a relatively
large crystal size. The size of the veins varies from a few centimetres to several metres.
These veins are mainly found at the contact between granodiorite and sedimentary rocks
but also within the batholith (BH-NE1-04 to BH-NE1-05). A very large pegmatite dyke
outcrops along the right bank of the Nam E-Moun River at the selected new main dam
location.
Blue grey, greenish coloured skarn alteration zones rich in pyroxene and amphibole
were found along the large pegmatite dykes.

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Figure 5-6: a, c- granodiorite in the E-Moun River near main dam site; b- weathered
granodiorite; d- grey blue skarn at the batholith contact along the inclined
pressure tunnel alignment (old penstock area); e- completely weathered
granodiorite

Figure 5-7: a, b, c- examples of pegmatitic rocks found in the project area

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D1-2 - Devonian (?) metasediments


The granitic batholith intrudes clastic sediments that outcrop at the diversion dam and
powerhouse sites.
These sediments are mainly made of sericite schist, quartz sericite, sandstone and
quarzitic sandstone.
The sedimentary bedding planes generally strike N-S and dip towards the west with the
higher strata outcropping at the powerhouse site. The observed rocks always show a
clear foliation parallel to the bedding result of deformation under low to medium
metamorphic conditions. In the project area, contact metamorphism was also observed
in the sediments especially in the vicinity of the contact with the granitic intrusion.
Here this formation is made of a strong to very strong dark grey sandstone. The
sandstone is fine grained and thick bedded to massive with a metamorphic foliation sub-
parallel to the bedding planes.
The rock is mainly made of quartz with thin phyllosilicate layers. Calcite is found in the
joints but not present within the rock. The high strength of the rock measured in the
powerhouse area (BH-NE1-07) is probably due to the vicinity of the magmatic intrusion
and the consequent strong contact metamorphism.
Along the trace of the headrace tunnel, in the diversion dam area and along the
conveyance tunnel the observed sediments are mainly made of grey-greenish, quartz-
sericite schists and minor sandstone.
The schists become yellowish or brown when weathered. Purple colour was also
observed in highly weathered schists.
The schists are generally thin to medium layered. 1 to 2 mm thick layers mainly made
of quartz and plagioclase alternated with very thin phyllosilicate layers made of white
mica biotite and chlorite. Locally the amount of phyllosilicate increases up to 50% but
no shales were observed in the boreholes and on the outcrop of the project area.
Thin layers of talc-schists were observed along long sections of boreholes BH-NE1-13
and BH-NE1-14 interbedded with the quarzitic and sericite schists. The talc here is also
found along the joints.
The rock is generally rich in quartz while no calcite was found within the rock mass.
Calcite is commonly found as filling material along joints.

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Figure 5-8: a, b- quartz and sericite schists with shales; c- quartz veins in Qz-schists
close to faults near the powerhouse area; d- Qz- sericite schists exposed
along a small river; e, f, g, h- examples of highly to completely weathered
metasediments grey-yellow, yellow-brown coloured

5.6.4 Discontinuities and Tectonic


The bedrocks observed in the project area are affected by different discontinuity sets.
Next to bedding and foliation, observed in the metasediments, the other major
discontinuities affecting the rock mass in the project area are represented by joints and
locally by shear zones and faults.
The sedimentary rocks have quite a constant orientation through the southern part of the
project area with bedding planes dipping towards the west with dipping angles varying
between 20° and 45°.

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This generally simple monoclonal structure is complicated by small scale folds with a
wave length of a few metres or a few tens of a metre produced by the intrusion of the
granitoids and during thrusting of the units.
These small folds affect both bedding and foliation and have very unregular shape and
orientation. Towards the north, close to the contact with the magmatic intrusion the
orientation of the bedding planes can indeed strongly change from site to site.

5.6.4.1 Bedding
In the metasedimentary rocks bedding planes are commonly observed. In the schists and
shale the bedding is generally marked by a centimetre to decimetre thick bed of
different composition. In the diversion dam and powerhouse area where massive to
thick bedded sandstone is observed, the bedding planes are instead highly spaced and
not always visible on the outcrops.
Neither bedding nor foliation is present in the magmatic rocks.

5.6.4.2 Foliation and Cleavage


A pervasive well developed foliation is observed in the schistsous metasediment. This
foliation is marked by millimetre thick alternate layers of quartz rich layers and
phyllosilicate layers. The nature of the foliation appears to be low to medium grade
metamorphic.

5.6.4.3 Faults
None of major structural elements described in the area (1:500,000 map) which strike
NNW-SSE to NW-SE intersect the project area, while a few secondary small faults
belonging to this system were observed in the project area.
The orientation of the Houay Het River close to the project area is probably controlled
by structures belonging to this system.
The faults recognised in the project area are minor faults with an average length of 1 to
2 km. Most of these small faults belong to the secondary regional fault systems and
generally trend SW-NE.
The thickness of the fault zones affecting the project area is estimated, based on
topographic evidence and on the bathymetric sections, to range between 3-4 m and a
maximum of 10 m.
Borehole BH-NE1-14 intersected one of these faults at depth in the sedimentary rocks.
From the observation made in the outcrops and in the boreholes, the fault zone is
characterised by closely spaced joints and presence of breccia. No clayey fault gauges
were observed in the field and in the boreholes.

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Figure 5-9: Examples of fault rocks in BH-NE1-14 borehole

Deep weathering can be associated with the fault zone especially in the granitoid. The
borehole BH-NE1-05, located close to a possible fault zone affecting the contact
granodiorite/sediments, shows the presence of completely weathered rocks down to a
depth of 30 m below the surface. Deep weathering that can locally reach the tunnel level
can indeed not be excluded along the fault.
These small structures are not considered to represent a problem for the foundation of
the dams. Their impact on the underground excavation can however be larger depending
on the orientation of the fault zone with respect to the tunnel axis.
No evidence of active faults was found in the project area.

5.6.4.4 Joints
The rock mass is intersected by different joint sets which present some common
characteristic through the area. The orientation of the joints slightly varies from location
to location depending on the lithology, vicinity of faults and bedding orientation.

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Generally, three to four sets of joints were observed on the selected outcrops. All
observed joint sets are generally quite steep.
Two of these sets of joints dipping towards the ESE-SE and WSW-SW were observed
through the whole area.
Two other sets with similar strike orientation but dipping towards the SE and WNW-
NW were also observed on several outcrops. Locally joint sets dipping to the ENE or
NNE were observed.
The orientation of the major joint sets suggests that most of the joints have a tectonic
origin related to the observed fault systems.
The average orientations of the joint sets are summarised in Table 5-5. Joint sets are
named J1, J2, J3 and J4. The numbering is not the same through the whole area. J1 in
the Table 5-5 correspond to the most important/developed joint set at each outcrop,
while J4 correspond to the least important joint set. The importance of each joint set
with respect to the rock mass behaviour was defined based on the joint set
characteristics such as persistence and spacing.
A detailed description of the joint sets for the different project sites is given later in the
chapter.
Variations in the number and properties of the joint sets along the tunnels cannot be
excluded.

Table 5-5: Discontinuity sets and properties at the scan-line locations

Foliation
Scan
Location Bedding - Shear J1 J2 J3 J4 Rock type
Line
Zone
Boundary
SL-NE1- Conveyance 130 / 223 / 252 /
285 / 20 51 / 73 Sediment /
01 tunnel 75 62 76
Magmatic
SL-NE1- Headrace 304 / 167 / 260 / 111 Metasediments
02 tunnel 69 81 65 /53 boundary
Headrace
SL-NE1- 119 / 258 / 323 / Metasediments
tunnel 67 / 78
03 74 80 59 / Schist(?)
(penstock)
SL-NE1- 315 / 117 / 167 / 259 /
Powerhouse Sandstone
04 66 63 67 60
SL-NE1- 111 / 138 / 83 / Granodiorite /
Main dam
05 73 66 57 Metasandstone
SL-NE1- Conveyance 268 / 24 / 85 / 212 / Granodiorite /
71 / 82
06 tunnel outlet 80 76 85 80 Metasandstone
SL-NE1- Diversion 319 / 179 / 32 /
247 / 41 Sandstone
07 dam 73 78 80
SL-NE1- Conveyance 80 / 193 / 114 /
281 / 70 Sandstone
08 tunnel portal 73 83 79

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5.6.5 Slope Stability


The continuous dense vegetation cover observed in the project area shall offer a
relatively good protection of the slopes against landslides. Based on results of this study
the natural slopes appear to be stable within the project area. Despite this, local small
instabilities developing after impounding of the reservoirs cannot be entirely excluded.
Landslides affecting unsupported and steep road cuts in soil and completely weathered
rocks have been observed within and close to the project area. For this reason particular
care is thus required for the road and open excavation design. Support of high and steep
artificial cuts will be required to ensure long term stability of the access roads to the
project area.

5.7 Engineering Geology


The bedrock in the project area consists of metasediments and magmatic rocks. Within
these units, the rock properties were measured for the most representative lithologies
which were considered important for the planning of the project structures. The
following lithologies were tested:
 Metasediments
o Massive quarzitic sandstone (powerhouse and final part of the headrace
tunnel)
o Foliated sandstone (diversion dam and conveyance tunnel)
o Quartz and sericite schists (conveyance tunnel - headrace tunnel (?))
 Magmatic rocks:
o Granodiorite (tunnels)
o Diorite (main dam and tunnels)
o Pegmatite (main dam and tunnels)

The properties of these lithologies were investigated by means of a series of laboratory


tests (Table 5-6). The test results providing the intact rocks parameters are presented in
this chapter.

Table 5-6: Type of tests performed on rock cores

Laboratory Tests for Bedrock Design parameters


Bulk density, moisture content and porosity ASTM C127
Unconfined compressive strength tests dry (inclusive E-modulus) ASTM D7012
Unconfined compressive strength (UCS) test wet ASTM D2938
Triaxial test on borehole cores ASTM D7012
Point load ASTM D5731
Direct shear test ASTM D5607
X-Ray diffraction -

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The average measured rock properties based on the interpretation of the available test
results are given in Table 5-7 and Table 5-8.
The available laboratory test results provide the intact rock parameters for the fresh
rocks. Due to the limited amount of laboratory tests and the variability observed within
some of the lithologies a range of values is provided, based on the laboratory test results
and their interpretation. The parameters of the weathered rocks were estimated based on
test results, the rock outcrop observations on site and the inspection of the rock cores
(Table 5-7 and Table 5-8).
The presence of lithologies (metasediments) along the tunnel with different properties
than the tested one cannot be excluded.

Table 5-7: Intact rocks main characteristics for the metasediments

Unit Tangent Secant


UCS Phy* C*
Lithology Weight E-Modulus E-Modulus
(g/cm3) (MPa) (GPa) (GPa) (°) (MPa)
Massive
2.7 120 - 150 20 - 30 15 - 20 55 - 60 10 - 15
Sandstone Fresh
Foliated –50 -
2.6 80 - 100 10 --20 6 -12 10 - 20
sandstone Fresh 60
–55 -
Schists Fresh 2.6 50 - 80 10- 20 9 - 15 10 - 20
60

Table 5-8: Intact rocks main characteristics for the granitoids

Unit Tangent Secant


UCS Phy* C*
Lithology Weight E-Modulus E-Modulus
(g/cm3) (MPa) (GPa) (GPa) (°) (MPa)
Granodiorite Fresh 2.6 - 2.7 150 - 170 15 - 25 15 - 20 60 - 65 20
Diorite Fresh 2.8 - 3.0 150 - 170 15 - 25 12 - 20 65 - 70 10 - 20
Pegmatite Fresh 2.6 - 2.7 150 - 170 15 - 25 15 - 20 65 - 70 10 - 20

To define the rock mass properties the Geological Strength Index (GSI) values were
estimated based on the scan line outcrops and on other selected outcrops seen during the
numerous site visits organised to supervise the investigations. The rock mass
characteristics were calculated based on the Hoek and Brown criterion starting from the
laboratory tests results. The estimated rock mass properties are presented in Table 5-9.

Table 5-9: Rocks mass characteristic

Rock mass Phy* Rock mass C*


Lithology GSI
(°) (MPa)
Massive sandstone Fresh 50 - 60 1.5 - 2 65 - 75 (M-B/G)
Massive sandstone SW –45 - 50 0.8 - 1 50 - 60 (B/F)

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Massive sandstone MH-HW –30 - 40 0.5 - 0.8 25 - 35 (VB-D/F-P)


Foliated sandstone Fresh 40 - 45 1 - 1.4 60 - 70 (M-B/G)
Foliated sandstone SW 35 - 40 0.8 - 1 45 - 55 (B/F)
Foliated sandstone MH-HW 25 - 35 0.5 - 0.8 25 - 35 (VB-D/F-P)
Schists Fresh 40 - 45 0.7 - 0.9 (40-50) 45 (B-G)
Schists SW 35 - 40 0.5 - 0.7 (30-40) 35 (B-F)
Schists MH-HW 25 - 35 0.2 - 0.3 (20-30) 25 (B/D-P)
Granodiorite Fresh 60 - 65 2 - 2.5 70 - 75 (M-B/G)
Granodiorite SW 45 - 55 1.8 - 2.0 60 - 70 (B/F)
Granodiorite MW - HW 30 - 40 0.5 - 0.8 20 - 40 (B-D/F-P)
Diorite Fresh 60 - 65 2 - 2.5 65 - 75 (M-B/G)
Diorite SW 45 - 55 1.8 - 2.0 50 - 60 (B/F)
Diorite MW - HW 30 - 40 0.5 - 0.8 20 - 30 (VB-D/F-P)
Pegmatite Fresh 60 - 65 2 - 2.5 70 - 80 (M-B/G)
Pegmatite SW 45 - 55 1.8 - 2.0 60 - 70 (B/F)
Pegmatite MH-HW 30 - 40 0.5 - 0.8 20 - 40 (B-D/F-P)

5.7.1 Diversion Dam Foundation Conditions


The diversion dam site is characterised by a homogeneous underground made of a
strong foliated metasandstone as evidenced by boreholes BH-NE1-08, BH-NE1-09 and
BH-NE1-10. The diversion dam will mainly be founded on sound to slightly weathered
rocks and only locally on moderately weathered rock. The moderately weathered rocks
have a thickness of 1 to 2 m in the river bed and about 5 to 10 m in the abutments.
On top of the bedrock discontinuous thin alluvial sand and gravel deposits are observed
in the river bed. On the abutments, the rock is covered by a clayey residual soil whose
thickness varies between 4 m (BH-NE1-08) and 10 m (BH-NE1 09).

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Figure 5-10: View of the river bed at the diversion dam site

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Figure 5-11: Detail of the sandstone outcropping in the river bed close to the diversion
dam site

Below the soil a layer of moderately weathered rock is found. This layer has a thickness
of 1 to 2 m in the river bed and about 5 to 10 m in the abutments. Here the rock mass is
locally highly fractured and joints surface weathered. Further below the rock mass is
fresh or slightly weathered and joints mainly closed. Locally the presence of open joints
with weathered surfaces was also observed in this layer (BH-NE1-08).

Figure 5-12: Cores of the borehole BH-NE1-09 from 10 m to 16 m depth

The bedding plane and foliation dip regularly to the west with dip angles varying
between 30° and 45° while up to 3 sets of discontinuities were recognise in the area
(Table 5-10).

Table 5-10: Discontinuity set properties at diversion dam site

Discontinuity Dip Direction Dip angle Spacing Persistence


Location Lithology
type (°) (°) (cm) (m)
Bedding 260 35 200 3 - 10

Diversion Meta- J1 319 73 100 1 - 3 to 3 - 10


dam sediments J2 179 78 200 1-3
J3 32 80 Random 1-3

5.7.1.1 Dam Foundation Excavation Level


The diversion dam is founded mainly on slightly weathered sandstone and locally on
moderately weathered rocks. The local presence of thin layers of highly weathered rocks
in the foundation cannot be excluded. Potential local deepening of the foundation to
remove this unsuitable material will be evaluated during the excavation.

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5.7.1.2 Grout Curtain and Reservoir Tightness


The thick clayey soil and residual soil observed along the abutments guarantee a natural
sealing of the reservoir and of the dam area. Based on the results of the Lugeon tests no
grout curtain is foreseen for the diversion dam. The structure is mainly founded on
slightly weathered rocks whose permeability based on the Lugeon test results is
generally very low and only locally moderate permeability was observed in the bedrock
(BH-NE1-08) due to the presence of open joints. In case some consolidation grouting
will be necessary the same specification listed for the main dam shall be followed.
Local treatments of the foundation in case highly fractured zones will be found in the
foundation area will be evaluated and defined during the construction phase.

Table 5-11: Lugeon values from the diversion dam foundation area measured in 5 m
intervals

BH-NE08 BH-NE09
Depth K (FHT) Lu Depth K (FHT) Lu
(m) (m/min) (l/min/m) (m) (m/min) (l/min/m)
4.5 - 9 3.95E-05 14.00 - 18.9 1.2
9.50 - 14.6 1.36 21.6 - 25 2.11
14.60 - 20.4 15.21 18.00 - 21.6 1.44
20.4 - 25 1.31

5.7.2 Main Dam Site Conditions


The main dam is located in a narrow section of the Nam E-Moun River. Here strong and
slightly weathered magmatic rocks are outcropping in the river bed. On the abutment
the rocks are covered by soil and residual soil with an estimated thickness of 5 to 10 m
(BH-NE1-016, BH-NE1-017 and BH-NE1-018).

Figure 5-13: View of the river bed at the main dam area

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The bedrock is made of diorite outcropping on both abutments and by large pegmatite
dykes, one of which, several metres wide and a few tens of metres long, outcrops on the
right abutment.
In the boreholes, a 2 to 4 m thick layer of moderately to highly weathered rock was
observed. Here the rock mass is highly fractured and joints surface weathered.

Figure 5-14: Examples of the residual soil and moderately weathered rocks from BH-NE1-
17 (5 m to 10 m depth)
Further below the rock mass is generally fresh or slightly weathered and joints mainly
closed (BH-NE1-16 and BH-NE1-18). In borehole BH-NE1-17 deeper weathering
down to a depth of about 20 m below the surface is observed. This weathering looks to
be related to sub-vertical joints intersected by the borehole.
Despite the heterogeneity of the rock no problems related to differential settings of the
foundation are expected due to the high strength of both lithologies.
Three main joint sets were observed on site. The main properties of these joints are
listed in Table 5-12.

Table 5-12: Discontinuity set properties at main dam site

Discontinuity Dip Direction Dip angle Spacing Persistence


Location Lithology
type (°) (°) (cm) (m)
J1 130 63 200 > 10
Diorite and
Dam J2 43 60 200 1-3
pegmatite
J3 251 80 200 > 10

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5.7.2.1 Dam Foundation Excavation Level


The main dam is founded in the river bed section on slightly weathered diorite and
pegmatite. Towards the abutments, the foundation will stay locally on moderately
weathered rocks. In the foreseen foundation of the most external blocks of the dam, a 1
to 2 m thick layer of highly weathered rock and some soil were observed in the
boreholes. Consolidation grouting to improve the quality of this weathered rock is
foreseen on 20 to 40% of the dam foundation. The extension of these layers and their
properties shall be evaluated during excavation and potential local deepening of the
foundation to remove unsuitable material will be evaluated during the excavation.

5.7.2.2 Grout Curtain and Reservoir Tightness


The thick clayey soil and residual soil observed along the abutments guarantee a natural
sealing of the reservoir and of the dam area. The results of the Lugeon tests indicate that
locally moderate permeability is present along joints. The observed joints are very steep
and sub-vertical and strike subparallel to the river. The consolidation grouting is
considered enough to reduce the permeability of most of the jointed zones. To seal the
observed pervious zones, local grout curtain panels are anyway foreseen along about
20% of the dam foundation. The location of the grout panels shall be evaluated during
the excavation of the dam foundation.

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Table 5-13: Lugeon values from the main dam foundation area measured in 5 m intervals

BH-NE16 BH-NE17 BH-NE18


Depth K (FHT) Lu Depth K (FHT) Lu Depth K (FHT) Lu
(m) (m/min) (l/min/m) (m) (m/min) (l/min/m) (m) (m/min) (l/min/m)
12.0 - 13.0 -
1.12 8.0 - 12.25 0.00012108 11.14
15.9 17.0
15.9 - 16.45 - 17.0 -
0.55 17.99 0.23
20.2 19.9 21.9
21.9 - 21.5 -
0.52 19.9 - 25.0 6.7 0.2
25.0 25.0

5.7.3 Powerhouse Area Conditions


The powerhouse site is characterised by steep slopes and a homogeneous underground
made of a strong massive metasandstone as evidenced by borehole BH-NE1-07 and by
the outcrops along the river bed.

Figure 5-15: View of the powerhouse area (right side of the photograph) from the
downstream

The slopes are covered by a continuous layer of clayey residual soil whose thickness is
estimated to be 4-5 m (BH-NE1-05).
The bedrock here is made of a very strong quartz rich massive sandstone. First a layer
of moderately to highly weathered rock is found below the soil whose thickness is
estimated to range between 4 m in the lower part of the slopes and 8 m in the upper part.

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Here the rock mass is locally highly fractured and joints surface weathered. Further
below the rock mass is fresh or slightly weathered and joints mainly closed but a few
weathered joints were observed down to a depth of 25 m below the surface (BH-NE1-
07).

Figure 5-16: Example of the sandstone cores from the borehole BH-NE1-07 drilled at the
powerhouse location (above cores from 5 to10 m, below from 25 to 30 m)

The bedding plane and foliation dip regularly to the E-NE with dip angles varying
between 70° and 80° while up to 4 sets of joints were recognised in the area (Table 5-
14).

Table 5-14: Discontinuity set properties at powerhouse site

Discontinuity Dip Direction Dip angle Spacing Persistence


Location Lithology
type (°) (°) (cm) (m)
Bedding 050 - 090 70 - 80 > 200 > 10
J2 315 66 300 1 - 3 to 3 - 10
Meta-
Powerhouse J1 117 63 200 1 - 3 to 3 - 10
sediments
J3 167 67 400 1-3
J4 259 60 400 1-3

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5.7.4 Tunnels and Portals Conditions for Headrace Tunnel and Conveyance Tunnel
The tunnel alignments were adjusted during the Feasibility Study on the basis of the
boreholes results in order to minimise the geological risks.
In particular, because the boreholes (BH-NE1-05 and BH-NE1-11) indicate that the
thickness of the residual soil (completely weathered rocks) can reach a thickness of up
to 30 m (BH-NE1-05 and BH-NE1-11) where tectonically disturbed granite is present.
Below the residual soil a layer of weathered rocks, whose thickness can reach a few tens
of metres, was observed in all boreholes. This layer is characterised by weathered
discontinuity that can pose problems (wedge failures) during tunnelling.
For this reason, aside from the portal areas, the tunnel alignments were selected to
guarantee, where possible, at least 60 m of topographic cover above the tunnel crown.
Based on the geological mapping results the boundary between the magmatic intrusive
rocks and sedimentary rocks can be marked by a zone with skarn alteration, strong
fracturing and heterogeneous rock composition. These zones can lead to deep
weathering and unfavourable conditions for underground constructions.
The investigation studies allowed to locate with good approximation the contact zones
along the headrace tunnel and the conveyance tunnel, but not to investigate their
condition. Local deep weathering along the contact cannot be excluded.
A list of suggested investigations to be carried out during the tender phase or at the
beginning of the construction phase is listed in Chapter 5.8.

5.7.4.1 Conveyance Tunnel


The conveyance tunnel has a total length of 13.1 km. The intake is located at elevation
780 m asl and the tunnel has a constant slope of 0.076%.
Starting from the upstream portal up to about chainage 7+000 m - 7+300 m the
conveyance tunnel will be excavated in sedimentary rocks with a topographic cover that
ranges between 90 m and 300 m. From chainage 7+000 m - 7+300 to the end of the
tunnel magmatic rocks are expected. Here the tunnel cover ranges between 100 m and
400 m with the exception of the last 200 tunnel metres where the topographic cover is
less than 50 m.
Based on the results of the geological mapping and boreholes BH-NE1-08, BH-NE1-09
and BH-NE1-10 drilled at the diversion dam and portal location, mainly strong
sandstone is expected along the first few hundreds of metres of the tunnel.
The boreholes BH-NE1-13 and BH-NE1-14 show that the sedimentary series north of
the diversion dam location is mainly made, from the surface down to the tunnel level, of
quartz rich sericitic shales and schists with minor sandstones layers (low to medium
metamorphic grade). Thin centimetric talc schists layers were observed at different
depths that also locally form the joint fillings together with calcite.

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Figure 5-17: BH-NE1-14 65 m to 70 m fault zone marked by highly fractured rock and
partially cemented fault breccia

Figure 5-18: BH-NE1-13 55 m - 60 m

Figure 5-19: BH-NE1-14 example of schistosity surface (left; about 49 m depth) and of
talc-coated joints (right; about 70 m depth)

Due to the orientation of the strata that dips to the west and strikes subparallel to the
tunnel axis, these rocks are expected to be found along the tunnel up to chainage
4+200 m / 4+500 m.
After chainage 4+200 m / 4+500 m up to chainage 7+000 m / 7+300 a lithological
change is expected. On the surface, mainly schists and shales are outcropping in this
area. Due to the orientation of the strata and the locally complex folding and faulting

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structures observed on the surface, and due to the limited number of outcrops present in
the area, the exact position of the contact between the two lithological units along the
tunnel and the type of rocks and their condition at tunnel level cannot be defined.
From this chainage, up to about chainage 12+000 m granodiorite and pegmatite are
expected, while based on the boreholes BH-NE1-11, BH-NE1-12 and BH-NE1-15 and
the geological mapping of the dam area, the final part of the tunnel up to the outlet is
expected to be mainly located in diorite.
Mainly good to fair rock conditions are expected along the tunnel both in the
sedimentary and in the magmatic rocks. Locally along the possible faults as well as at
the contact between sediments and magmatic rocks, deep weathering and poor rock
conditions are foreseen.
A maximum of five discontinuity sets affect contemporaneously the rock mass in the
project area. The orientation and properties of these discontinuities were measured on
selected outcrops (scan lines) and the tables below show a summary of the main
properties of these discontinuities and their possible presence along the tunnel.
At depth only one or two of these discontinuity sets are expected to affect
simultaneously the rock mass in good to very good rock conditions, while three to four
sets are expected in fair to poor rock conditions. Table 5-15, Table 5-16 and Table 5-17
show the type, number and orientation of the discontinuities expected along the
conveyance tunnel.

Table 5-15: Discontinuity set properties along the conveyance tunnel - chainage 0+000 m
to 5+000 m

Discontinuity Dip Direction Dip angle Spacing Persistence


Location Lithology
type (°) (°) (cm) (m)
240/ 40 to
Bedding 20 20 - 60 > 10
285/20
Conveyance Meta- J1 130 75 20 - 60 1-3
tunnel sediments
J2 230 69 60 - 200 1 - 3 to 3 - 10
J3 50 75 Random 1 - 3 to 3 - 10

Table 5-16: Discontinuity set properties along the conveyance tunnel - chainage 5+000 m
to 7+300 m

Discontinuity Dip Direction Dip angle Spacing Persistence


Location Lithology
type (°) (°) (cm) (m)
20 - 60 to
Bedding 120 30 3 - 10
60 - 200
J1 80 73 60 - 200 3 - 10
Conveyance Meta-
20 - 60 to
tunnel sediments J2 193 83 1-3
60 - 200
J3 114 79 60 - 200 1-3
J4 212 80 Random 1-3

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Table 5-17: Discontinuity set properties along the conveyance tunnel - chainage 7+300 m
to 12+000 m

Discontinuity Dip Direction Dip angle Spacing Persistence


Location Lithology
type (°) (°) (cm) (m)
J1 120 70 60 - 200 1 - 3 to 3 - 10
J2 268 80 60 - 200 1 - 3 to 3 - 10
Power- Magmatic
house rocks 60 - 200 to
J3 24 76 1-3
200 - 600
J4 85 70 > 600 1 - 3 to 3 - 10

Several minor faults intersect the tunnel alignment. The fault planes observed in the
fields and in the boreholes and inferred from the satellite photo analysis are generally
characterised by steep planes and intersect the tunnel at high angle. Due to the small
size of these faults and their orientation, their impact on the tunnel excavation is
expected to be low.
The analysis of the satellite photo in the conveyance tunnel area indicates the presence
of faults striking sub-parallel to the tunnel (Figure 5-3). One of these faults intersects
the tunnel alignment at about chainage 10+800 m. The exact nature, position and
thickness of this fault are unknown. Due to its orientation, this fault can impact the
tunnel excavation for several tens of metres, and its position and nature shall be further
investigated.

5.7.4.2 Headrace Tunnel


The headrace tunnel axis is mainly east-west oriented and has a total length of 6.8 km.
Large parts of the tunnel will be excavated in magmatic rocks. After the analysis of the
geological and topographical conditions of the area an underground solution was chosen
for the pressurised part of the tunnel and instead of the penstock.
The alignment follows the Nam E-Moun River and is located below a mountain ridge
with a topographic cover that, aside from the portals area, ranges between 100 m and
300 m.
The tunnel inlet is located at elevation 759.4 m asl and has a slope of 0.5% up to
chainage 3+480 m where it reach elevation 742 m asl. After this chainage, the tunnel
has a constant dip of 12% until the powerhouse located at elevation 352 m asl.
In particular, from chainage 0+000 m to about 0+300 m mainly diorite with minor
granodiorite and pegmatitic dykes are expected along the tunnel. In the first 70 m of the
tunnel mainly poor and locally very poor rock conditions are expected.
From 0+300 m to 5+300 m the tunnel should be excavated mainly in granodiorite with
minor diorite and pegmatitic dykes. Fresh rocks with mainly good to fair rock condition
are expected along this section of the tunnel. Locally along the possible fault zones
weathered rocks and poor rock conditions are foreseen. These faults are striking nearly
perpendicular to the tunnel axis and are generally steep or sub-vertical and should then
only affect the rock quality for short sections of the tunnel.
The first part of the inclined pressure tunnel and the surge tunnel are located in granitic
rocks where mainly fair to good conditions are expected. At about chainage 5+300 m

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the contact with the metasediments is foreseen. The nature of this contact, primary or
tectonic, and the related rock conditions are not known.
Along the ridge located east of the powerhouse area schists and shales are outcropping.
These sediments lay on top of thick bedded quartz-rich sandstone exposed in the river
bed close to the powerhouse site.
From chainage 5+300 m to 5+600 m, the presence of shales and schists along the tunnel
is foreseen. After this zone to the end of the tunnel mainly quartz-rich thick bedded
metasandstone is expected instead. The rock conditions are expected to be mainly fair in
the shale/schist rich sediments and fair to good in the sandstone rich sediments.
The contact zone between the metasediments and magmatic intrusion and the faults
present along this section of the tunnel are striking nearly perpendicular to the tunnel
axis and are generally steep or sub-vertical. The complex geometry of the folds and the
presence of fault zones make it difficult to exactly predict the position of the contact
between the different rock types at tunnel level.
Further investigations are requested to define the nature and exact location at tunnel
level of the sediments and of the contact between the magmatic intrusion and the
sediments.

Table 5-18: Discontinuity set properties along the headrace tunnel in the magmatic rocks

Discontinuity Dip Direction Dip angle Spacing Persistence


Location Lithology
type (°) (°) (cm) (m)
Diorite, J1 130 63 200 > 10
Headrace granodiorite
J2 43 60 200 1-3
tunnel and
pegmatite J3 251 80 200 > 10

Table 5-19: Discontinuity set properties along the headrace tunnel in the metasediments

Discontinuity Dip Direction Dip angle Spacing Persistence


Location Lithology
type (°) (°) (cm) (m)
20 - 60 to
Bedding 85 60 3 - 10
60 - 200
J1 304 69 60 - 200 1 - 3 to 3 - 10
Headrace Meta-
tunnel sediments J2 119 74 60 - 200 1-3
J3 260 70 200 - 600 1-3
J4 167 81 60 - 200 1-3

5.7.4.3 Portal Areas


The portal areas were selected to minimise the risks during excavation and to guarantee,
where possible, a good topographic cover above the tunnel. Due to the thick residual
soil and soil cover observed especially on top of the magmatic rocks and the weathering
of the superficial rock layers, difficult tunnelling conditions are expected in the first tens
of metres at all portals.

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More details about the tunnel portal conditions are provided in chapter 5.7.5

5.7.4.4 Rocks Mass Classes and Rock Support Classes for Underground Excavation
Five rock mass classes were defined to characterise the rocks and to design the tunnel
rock support. These classes are valid for all tunnels foreseen in the Nam E-Moun HPP.
Table 5-20 provides a description of these rock classes and Table 5-21 lists the needed
rock support for the classes.

Table 5-20: Rock classes definition

Class General Condition Typical Occurrence Hazard Situation

 Good rock conditions  Overburden > 80/100 m  None or local small


 Fresh to slightly weathered  Massive to thick bedded unstable wedges and
rocks sediments and granitoid not slabs
 UCS > 70 MPa affected by faults
I  No faults
 Close joints with strong fresh
surfaces
 No water
 No erosion potential

 Fair rock conditions  Overburden > 80/100 m  Block fall due to


 Fresh to slightly weathered  Blocky rock mass with up to 3 unstable wedges/slabs
rocks discontinuity sets  Local unstable areas
 50 MPa > UCS > 70 MPa  Possible unfavourable due to local closely
II  Joints generally close with orientation of the jointed rock mass
fresh surfaces, No clays coating discontinuities
along open joints
 Water does not affect stability
 No erosion potential

 Poor rock conditions  Presence of small fault zones  Locally unstable roof
 Slightly to moderately and hydrothermally altered and side walls
weathered rocks with possible zones  Unstable areas due to
presence of lithologies subject  Erodible fault gouge (width < local closely jointed
to ravelling under atmospheric 0.5 m) rock mass
conditions.  Closely jointed rock mass  Presence of loose
 40 MPa > UCS > 50 MPa in  Very unfavourable orientation erodible gouge or
III magmatic rocks and of discontinuities other lithologies prone
25 MPa > UCS > 50 MPa in  Low rock cover < 50 m in to slake under
sedimentary rocks magmatic rocks and atmospheric
 Joints with weathered < 25 m in sedimentary rocks condition.
surfaces, possible clay-talc  Spalling/deformation
coating along open joints due to low cover
 Water can affect stability
 Erosion potential

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 Poor to very poor rock  Portal areas and area with  Unstable roof and side
conditions rock cover < 30/40 m walls with short stand-
 Moderately to highly  Fault zones with erodible up time
weathered rocks gauge (dip < 20° or 0.5 < width  Presence of loose
 UCS < 40 MPa in magmatic < 2 m) erodible gouge or
rocks and  Closely jointed rock mass with other lithologies prone
< 25 MPa in sedimentary rocks. weak joint surfaces to slake under
IV  Presence of lithologies subject  Very unfavourable orientation atmospheric condition
to ravelling under atmospheric of discontinuities  Spalling/deformation
conditions.  Very blocky to sheared rock due to low cover
 Joints generally characterised mass  High tunnel
by weathered surfaces, with  Large fault zone, convergence due to
clay-talc coating along open hydrothermally altered zones high cover
joints with weak rock mass and low  Tunnel instability due
 Water affects stability rock cover < 25 m to large water inflow
 Erosion potential

 Very poor rock conditions  Portal areas and area with  Unstable roof and side
 Highly weathered to rock cover < 15 m walls with very short
disintegrated rocks  Fault zones with erodible stand-up time
 UCS < 25 MPa in magmatic gauge (dip < 20° or width > 2  Presence of loose
rocks and m) highly fractured rock, erodible gouge or
<10 MPa in sedimentary rocks extensive fault breccia, wider other lithologies prone
 Presence of lithologies subject fault zones with gouge infilling to slake under
V to ravelling under atmospheric  Faulted zones, hydrothermally atmospheric condition
conditions altered zones with weak rock  Spalling/deformation
 Joints generally open with mass, disintegrated rock mass due to low cover
highly weathered surfaces, or kakirite of granular  Squeezing due to high
possible clay-talc coating along occurrence, very unfavourable cover
open joints orientation and large extent  Tunnel instability due
 Water affects stability of weakness zones and low to large water inflow
 Erosion potential rock cover (< 25 m)

Table 5-21: Rock support for the different rock mass classes (for all details see
Feasibility Study drawings for the tunnels)

Class Rock Support


I Where requested spot bolting and shotcrete above spring line
II Systematic support above the spring line with fibre reinforced shotcrete and rockbolts
Systematic support of the whole tunnel section is necessary with fibre reinforced
III
shotcrete and rockbolts
Systematic support of the whole tunnel section is necessary with steel ribs, shotcrete
IV
and where requested spot bolting, face anchors (fibre glass)
Systematic support of the whole tunnel section is necessary with steel ribs, shotcrete
V
fibre glass face anchors and spiling

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The expected rock class distribution is listed in Table 5-22.

Table 5-22: Distribution of rock support classes in the underground excavations

Total Class I Class II Class III Class IV Class IV


length
(m) (%) (m) (%) (m) (%) (m) (%) (m) (%)
(m)
Conveyance 13,121 2,868 22 4,292 33 3,692 28 1,612 12 656 5
tunnel
Headrace 6,772 1,399 21 2,076 31 1,840 27 1,119 17 339 5
tunnel

5.7.5 Open Excavations


The Nam E-Moun Project area is characterised by the presence of thick silty-clayey
residual soil layers along most of the slopes.
The top soil generally has a thickness of 1 m or 2 m, while the total thickness of the
soil/residual soil layer generally varies from 10 to 20 m and locally can reach
thicknesses up to 30 m (BH-NE1-05) on top of the magmatic rocks. On top of
sedimentary rocks the soil/residual soil thickness generally ranges between 3-4 m to 10
m.
In general the residual soil / completely weathered rock layer is much thicker on top of
the magmatic rocks than on top of the metasediments. On the sediments, its thickness
varies from 3-4 m in the powerhouse area and up to 10 m in the diversion dam area.
Below this layer, the transition to slightly weathered rocks is generally very sharp and
only a few metres of moderately or highly weathered rocks are present. The thickness of
the moderately weathered rocks can increase up to 10 m especially in the sedimentary
rocks (BH-NE1-07 and BH-NE1-10).
Three soil/rock classes were defined for the open excavation based on the nature and
weathering of the substratum on the basis of the information provided by the boreholes
and by the field mapping. Table 5-23 offers a description of the defined soil/rock mass
classes.
The expected discontinuity patterns for the different sites are described in Table 5-12
for the headrace tunnel intake and the conveyance tunnel outlet, Table 5-10 for the
conveyance tunnel intake, and Table 5-14 for the powerhouse. No direct information is
available for the adits portals. For these portals, similar discontinuity patterns as the
ones defined for the tunnels are foreseen.

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Table 5-23: Rock support classes for the open excavation

Class General condition Hazard situation


 Fresh / slightly weathered rock  None or local small unstable
 UCS > 70 MPa wedges and slabs
I  1 or 2 discontinuity sets
 Joints generally close with fresh surfaces, no
clay coating along open joints
 Water does not affect stability
 No erosion potential
 Moderately / highly weathered rock  Toppling or sliding of large
 Poor to very poor rock conditions blocks
 UCS < 40 MPa  Presence of loose erodible
 presence of lithologies subject to ravelling lithologies prone to slake under
under atmospheric conditions. atmospheric condition
II
 3 or more discontinuity sets
 Joints generally characterised by weathered
surfaces, with clay-talc coating along open
joints
 Water affects stability
 Top soil and residual soil  Sliding of large volumes of soil
III
 Water affects stability

5.7.6 Borrow Areas


The underground of the project area is largely formed by a magmatic intrusion mainly
made of granodiorite with minor diorite and pegmatite that becomes more common
close to the intrusion borders. Alluvial material is also mainly made of boulders of
gravel and sand as a product of the erosion of these magmatic rocks.
The use of these rocks is foreseen for the production of the concrete aggregates. No
quarry areas were defined at this stage of the project because long sections of the
headrace tunnel (from chainage 0+000 m to about 5+300 m) and of the conveyance
tunnel (from about chainage 7+000 m to 12+000 m) will be excavated in these
lithologies.
This material can be used to produce concrete aggregates and be used as sand and fill
for cofferdams for the main dam and the powerhouse area. For the diversion dam site,
the alluvial deposits present along the Houay Het River about 3 km downstream of the
dam site can be used next to the tunnel muck to produce aggregates.
Table 5-24 and Table 5-25 provide a summary of all the tests performed on the
boreholes BH-NE1-01 and BH-NE1-12 and on selected test pits (TP-NE1-08, TP-NE1-
09 and TP-NE1-10) to test the suitability of the alluvial deposits and magmatic rocks to
be used for production of aggregates.
Table 5-24 and Table 5-25 provide the laboratory test results from the igneous rocks and
from the alluvial deposits.

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Table 5-24: Laboratory tests results for concrete aggregates on magmatic rocks

Laboratory tests BH-NE1-01 BH-NE1-12


Igneous rock Igneous rock coarse grained
Feldspar 40% Feldspar 40%
Petrographic and mineralogical description Hornblende 30% Hornblende 15%
Biotite 15% Biotite 20%
Quartz 5% Quartz 20%
Bulk specific gravity (-) 2.96 2.74
Moisture content (-) 0.11 0.14
Porosity (-) 0.11
Alkali-Silica reaction (14 days expansion) (%) -0.016 0.0357
Los Angeles test - wet (-) 16.8 16.08
Los Angeles test - dry (-) 7.34 11.64
Slake durability test (%) 98.85 99.06
8.52 9.24
Aggregate impact value (%)
11.17 13.19
26.48 25.66
Aggregate crushing value (%)
23.34 28.73
Flakiness Index (%) 15.68 16.71

Table 5-25: Laboratory tests results for concrete aggregates on alluvial deposits

Laboratory tests TP-NE1-08 TP-NE1-10


Petrographic and mineralogical description - -
2.61
Bulk specific gravity (g/cm3) -
2.44
2.02
Absorption (g/cm3)
4.95
Moisture content (%) 7.59 6.67
0.0262 (fine)
Alkali-Silica reaction (14 days expansion) (%) -
0.1180 (coarse)
Los Angeles test (%) 44.33 -

Aggregate impact value (%) 36.06 -


Aggregate crushing value (-) 37.42 -
Flakiness Index (%) 28.15 -
Material finer than 75 µm 5.87% 18.8

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The laboratory test results indicate that both the granodiorite and diorite forming the
largest portion of the intrusion represent a good source to produce concrete aggregates.
The rocks are strong, show strong resistance against abrasion and do not show any
alkali-silica reaction.
The results of the alluvial deposits are however less good. In particular the sediments
show much higher abrasion losses compared to the tested granitoids. Furthermore a
possible alkali-silica reaction is observed on the tested coarse aggregates (TP08).
The igneous rocks are indeed the best aggregate source on site due to their good
properties and large availability.
The suitability of the alluvial material is however unclear due to limited numbers of
tests and their results. The presence of alluvial sediments suitable to produce aggregate
is still considered probable but more test pits and tests are needed in case it is the
intention to use alluvial sediments to produce concrete aggregates.

5.8 Further Investigations


The investigation carried out for the overall Nam E-Moun HPP Basic Design services
allowed to define the geological condition of the project area, to locate the contact
between the granitic rocks and the metasediments and the major faults zone present in
the area, and to define the properties of the rock mass.
Especially due to continuous quaternary and vegetation cover that characterise most of
the project area and because of the length and depth of the tunnels, some open questions
still remain to be answer to minimise risks and refine the project.
Furthermore a quarry area shall be defined to guarantee the availability of concrete
aggregates at least for the first project stages before the tunnel excavation will start and
be able to produce concrete aggregates.
In particular, the following investigations shall be carried out during the next project
phase or at the latest at the beginning of the construction:
Along the conveyance tunnel:
 Inclined boreholes and seismic survey to confirm location of the contact zone
between sediments and magmatic zone along the conveyance tunnel
 Inclined boreholes and seismic survey to investigate the rock condition and the
possible presence of a fault zone at about chainage 10+800 m of the conveyance
tunnel
Along the headrace tunnel:
 Inclined boreholes and seismic survey to define exact location and rock
conditions of the contact zone between sediments and magmatic rocks
 Boreholes to define the rock quality along the high-pressure section of the tunnel
 Hydro fracturing test to confirm/optimise the location of the transition between
concrete and steel lined sections of the power waterway as well as the adit 3
location with the objective to reduce the costs
 Piezometer installation in the drilled boreholes to define the ground water table
to optimise the design of the concrete lined and steel lined sections
Adits portal areas

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 Boreholes and tests pits to define thickness of the soil and rock conditions
Quarry - borrow areas:
 Boreholes and tests pits to define thickness of the overburden and rock
properties

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