Measurement techniques for in situ stresses around underground constructions in a deep clay formation
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Disposal in deep underground geological formations is internationally recognized as the most viable option for the long-term management of high-level radioactive waste. In Belgium, the Boom clay formation is extensively studied in this context, in particular at the 225 m deep HADES Underground Research Facility in Mol. A cost-effective design of deep underground structures requires an accurate assessment of the in situ stresses; a good estimation of these stresses is also essential when interpreting in situ experiments regarding the hydro-mechanical behaviour of the host formation. Different measurement techniques are available to provide data on the stress evolution and other mechanical properties of the geological formation. The measurement can be direct (measurement of total pressure), or it can be an indirect technique, deriving the stress from related quantities such as strain (changes) in structural members. Most total stress measurements are performed through permanently installed sensors; also once-only measurements are performed through specific methods (e.g. pressuremeter). Direct measurement of the stress state is challenging due to the complex mechanical behaviour of the clay, and the fact that the sensor installation inevitably disturbs the original stress field. This paper describes ways to deal with these problems and presents the results obtained using different techniques at HADES.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2010