Scaling rockburst hazard using the DDA and GSI methods

Yossef H. Hatzor, Ben Guo He, Xia Ting Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine the influence of rock mass quality, as scaled by the Geological Strength Index (GSI), on energy redistribution in tunnels driven through discontinuous rock masses. We assume that in blocky rock masses rockbursts develop as abrupt motion of finite rigid blocks along pre-existing discontinuities rather than by fracture of intact rock elements. We begin by formulating analytically the local energy density around a tunnel in continuous, homogenous, isotropic, linear-elastic medium and demonstrate the significance of the initial principal stress ratio on the result. We then introduce discontinuities into the rock mass and find analytically the peak acceleration of an ejected keyblock when it flies into the tunnel space, to demonstrate the viability of this mechanism as a potential rockbursting source. Using the numerical discontinuous deformation analysis (DDA) method we find the total kinetic energy released during rockbursting and validate our DDA results using monitored seismic energy emissions detected during an intensive rockburst event encountered while excavating one of the headrace tunnels at Jinping II hydroelectric project in China. Utilizing an analytical solution we published earlier for the redistribution of energy components due to tunneling, we explore the effect of rock mass quality as scaled by GSI on the elastic strain energy, dissipated energy, and kinetic energy. We find that the elastic strain energy and the energy dissipated by shear generally decrease with increasing GSI value. The kinetic energy of rockbursts however shows a more complicated behavior. It is low at low quality rock masses, peaks at GSI value of about 60, and decreases again with increasing rock mass quality. This result is supported by documented rockbursts during excavation of the deep tunnels of the Jinping II hydropower project, where the majority of rockbursts were recorded in tunnel segments with characteristic GSI values between 60 and 75.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)343-362
Number of pages20
JournalTunnelling and Underground Space Technology
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • DDA
  • GSI
  • Rockbursts
  • Tunneling

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Building and Construction


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