Deformation mechanisms and stability analysis of undermined sedimentary rocks in the shallow subsurface

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The deformation mechanisms and the stability of an undermined sedimentary rock layers were studied using the numerical model FLAC (Itasca, 2006), specifically validated for such configurations. The lowermost stratum in a sequence of successive layers is modeled as multi-fractured Voussoir beam. Boundary conditions, material properties and geometrical constraints for the numerical modeling were chosen to reflect rock mass properties that are characteristic to sedimentary rock masses. A series of ordered models, spanning over a representative range is presented. The indeterminacy parameters of the Voussoir beam model are determined using non-linear regression of the numerical results over a dimensionless space. The results show that the thickness coefficient of the compressive arch, n, formed within the deflecting beam is non uniform: at the abutment n a ranges from 0.3 to 0.4 inversely proportional to beam stiffness, at the mid-span n m ranges from 0.4 to 0.5. Snap-trough failure of the beam occurs for beams of normalized composite stiffness E N<1.25·10 3, for which n a<0.2. Finally, a straightforward procedure for determining the stability of the Voussoir beam and the Factors of Safety against different failure modes is proposed and the associated uncertainties are discussed. The procedure is applied for back analysis of the roof failure in the ancient underground water reservoir of the UNESCO world heritage site of Tel Beer-Sheva, excavated in discontinuous sedimentary rock mass. It is shown that the proposed procedure can be successfully extrapolated to natural rock masses.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)16-29
Number of pages14
JournalEngineering Geology
StatePublished - 26 Apr 2012


  • Layered rock mass
  • Stability analysis
  • Underground openings
  • Voussoir beam

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'Deformation mechanisms and stability analysis of undermined sedimentary rocks in the shallow subsurface'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this