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Rock mechanical modelling of the Bentonite Rock Interaction Experiment, Aspo Hard Rock Laboratory, Sweden

Journal article
Authors Åsa Fransson
M. Lonnqvist
G. Viola
Published in International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
Volume 113
Pages 255-267
ISSN 1365-1609
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 255-267
Language en
Keywords Rock mechanical modelling, Construction stages, Induced stresses, Structural geological mapping, Engineering, Mining & Mineral Processing
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


The Bentonite Rock Interaction Experiment (BRIE) was performed in a tunnel at a depth of 420 m at the Aspo Hard Rock Laboratory in Sweden. The experiment focused on the hydraulic properties of rock and bentonite aiming at investigating the exchange of water across a bentonite-rock interface. The hypothesis for the mechanical modelling presented here was that changes in flow (observed in rock and on bentonite parcels) were due to local mechanical deformation. Induced stresses related to the construction (and experimental) stages for the BRIE site such as excavation of tunnels, drilling and over-coring of two vertical, tunnel-floor boreholes and, finally, installation and swelling of bentonite, were expected to be the main causes of these deformations. We assumed that this could be investigated using a step-wise rock mechanical modelling approach (with a relevant modelling sequence) and validated by using a transdisciplinary approach including field structural geological mapping (geometric, kinematic and dynamic interpretation of the exposed fracture sets) and hydrogeological investigations. For key fractures intersecting the boreholes, the modelled fracture normal and shear displacements were found to be local, small, and in line with field observations and measurements for BRIE. Results point at an agreement between the spatial locations of changes in flow identified from the bentonite parcels and the locations of inelastic deformation indicated by mechanical modelling for a reverse stress regime. Besides providing information about the key fractures, the structural mapping allowed to establish solid relationships between brittle structural features in the tunnel and in the cores, which were used as, or compared to, the main fracture input to the rock mechanical modelling. The identified fracture sets were found to be structurally reconcilable with the larger-scale tectonic picture of the area.

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