Laboratory and in situ simulation tests of the Excavation Damaged Zone around galleries in Opalinus Clay
In the context of nuclear waste disposal in clay formations, laboratory and in situ simulation experiments were performed to study at reduced scale the Excavation Damaged Zone (EDZ) around tunnels in the indurated Opalinus Clay at Mont Terri, Switzerland. In the lab, thick-walled hollow cylindrical specimens were subjected to a mechanical unloading mimicking a gallery excavation. In samples cored parallel to bedding, cracks sub-parallel to the bedding planes open and lead to a buckling failure in two regions that extend from the borehole in the direction normal to bedding. The behaviour is clearly anisotropic. On the other hand, in experiments performed on specimens cored perpendicular to bedding, there is no indication of failure around the hole and the response of the hollow cylinder sample is mainly isotropic. The in situ experiment at Mont Terri which consisted in the overcoring of a resin-injected borehole that follows the bedding strike of the Opalinus Clay, showed a striking similarity between the induced damaged zone and the fracture pattern observed in the hollow cylinder tests on samples cored parallel to bedding. Such a bedding controlled “Excavation” Damaged Zone is as well consistent with the distinct fracture patterns observed at Mont Terri depending on the orientation of holes/galleries with respect to the bedding planes. Interestingly, the damaged zone observed in the hollow cylinder tests on samples cored parallel to bedding and in situ around URL galleries is found to develop in reverse directions in Boom Clay (Mol) and in Opalinus Clay (Mont Terri). This most probably results from different failure mechanisms: i.e. shear failure along conjugated planes in the plastic Boom Clay, but bedding plane splitting and buckling in the indurated Opalinus Clay.