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Evaluation of rock mass improvement due to

cement grouting by Q-system at Bakhtiary dam

Article in International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences · February 2015
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrmms.2014.12.004


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5 authors, including:

Abdollah Sohrabi-Bidar Mohammad reza Maleki Javan

University of Tehran University of Tehran


Mohammad Haftani Abolfazl Mehinrad

8 PUBLICATIONS 44 CITATIONS Samanian Technical and Engineering Company


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International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 74 (2015) 38–44

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

International Journal of
Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ijrmms

Evaluation of rock mass improvement due to cement grouting

by Q-system at Bakhtiary dam site
A. Zolfaghari a, A. Sohrabi Bidar a,n, M.R. Maleki Javan a, M. Haftani a,b, A. Mehinrad b
School of Geology; University College of Science; University of Tehran, Iran
Sadd Tunnel Pars Engineers Company, Tehran, Iran

art ic l e i nf o a b s t r a c t

Article history: In this research, Q-logging system was developed based on the cores drilled at the grouting panels to
Received 24 November 2013 investigate the influence of the cement grouting on the rock mass properties at the Bakhtiary dam site.
Received in revised form In this way, rock masses in the different boreholes at the grouting panels were classified using the Q-
16 December 2014
system. Then, using the experimental equations, rock mass deformation modulus (Erm) was calculated
Accepted 22 December 2014
for each borehole. In order to evaluate this method, value of the rock mass deformation modulus was also
obtained by the dilatometer test results. The outcomes display that the Q-logging system can be used as a
Keywords: practical and undemanding method in evaluation of rock mass quality by the grouting treatment.
Cement grouting & 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Deformation modulus
Rock mass improvement.

1. Introduction velocity of foundation rock stratum about 51%. From cyclic plate
load tests, they found that displacement corresponding to the load
Consolidation cement grouting for dam foundation and tunnels intensity of 1500 KPa decreased from 7 mm to 5.8 mm. Yang and Li
is executed to improve the mechanical properties of rock masses. [4] ran two geophysical sonic wave surveys before and after
To assess the cement grouting effect on the improvement of rock grouting. They achieved an increment of about 5.7% in the wave
mass, water pressure tests (WPT) are carried out in the vicinity of velocity; from 5300 m/s to 5600 m/s on average. Di and Wang [5]
the grouted area. However, investigations show that WPT does not performed 2D resistivity survey using multielectrode resistivity
determine how much the rock mass mechanical properties have meter system along the Da Ye Dam foundation, where previous
been changed quantitatively [1,2]. Consequently, in recent years, grouting had been undertaken. They found that the rocks app-
the geotechnical and geophysical in-situ tests have been used to eared more homogeneous and no obvious anomalies were re-
evaluate the amount of improvement in mechanical properties of corded where the dam foundation was grouted. Li and Wu [6]
rock mass due to cement grouting. analyzed the effect of grouting reinforcement to the stress and
Kikuchi et al. [2] employed in-situ rock mechanical tests and deformation of rock mass with Numerical simulation models and
geophysical methods (such as electromagnetic wave, elastic wave concluded that after grouting, the stress and displacement of rock
prediction and borehole expansion test) to investigate the grout- mass become more symmetrical and continuous. Utsuki [7]
ing effects on rock quality. They showed that the characteristics of executed dilatometer tests at the dam sites in 14 places and
the rock mass become uniform by progress of the injection steps 5 kinds of rock types before and after grouting and examined
which was concluded from the increment of elastic wave velocity the effect of improvement about the deformability of rock masses
and rock mass deformation modulus. Boominathan and Gandhi [3] quantitatively in detail from these experimental results. He found
carried out seismic cross-hole and cyclic plate load tests before that after grouting, the modulus of deformation is larger than
and after consolidation grouting to assess the improvement of before grouting at almost all the points. The degree of rise of
strength and stiffness of weathered granite hypersthenes rock modulus is different by the original geological condition as the
strata of reactor building foundation due to consolidation grout- tendency is indicated roughly that the effect of improvement is
ing. The results have been showed increasing of shear wave small when the modulus is large originally, where it is large when
the modulus is small originally.
Although in situ tests, such as geotechnical (plat load test,
Correspondence to: School of Geology; University College of Science; University
dilatometer test, plate jacking test…) and geophysical tests (seis-
of Tehran, Tehran, P.O. Box: 14155-64155, Iran. Tel.: þ 98 21 6111 2985;
fax: þ98 21 6649 1623. mic tomography, seismic cross-hole …) have been commonly used
E-mail address: Sohrabi@khayam.ut.ac.ir (A. Sohrabi Bidar). to evaluate the rock mass improvement due to cement grouting,

1365-1609/& 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
A. Zolfaghari et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 74 (2015) 38–44 39

some limitations restrict their applications such as expensive and and Lugeon testing and excavation of exploratory galleries. Two
time-consuming operations and many practical and administrative trial cement grouting panels were executed to investigate the
problems. Thus, in this study, new application of the Q-logging groutability and its effect on the mechanical properties of the kink
system was developed for the assessment of rock mass mechanical band zones (as the worst rock mass) at the GL1 and GR2 galleries
property improvement once grouting treatment performs. In this at elevations of 557 and 695 masl., respectively. In this study,
way, Q-logging system was used to investigate the impact of outputs of these trials grouting were used to explore the rock mass
cement grouting on the enhancement of the Q parameters (e.g., improvement due to the cement grouting.
RQD, Jn, Ja, Jr and Jw) in two trial grouting panels were considered
in the worst rock mass at the Bakhtiary dam site, namely Kink 2.2. Geological setting
Band Zone (KBZ).
Bakhtiary dam site and its reservoir are located in the north-
western part of the folded Zagros, at the boundary of Lorestan and
2. Background Dezful embayment zones in Iran. The dam body is placed in the
northern limb of Siah Kuh anticline. The siliceous limestone of
2.1. Bakhtiary dam specifications Sarvak Formation, which is Mid-Cretaceous marine sediments,
forms the dam foundation and appurtenant structures. The Sarvak
Bakhtiary Dam and Hydropower Plant Project is located on Formation can be divided to seven units at the dam site, namely
Bakhtiary River in Lorestan province, southwest of Iran. The main Sv1–Sv7 (Fig. 1), Sv1 is the oldest with no outcrop at the dam axis,
dam body has been designed as a double curvature concrete dam and Sv7 is the youngest. Most of dam body is located on Sv2 and
with maximum height of 325 m which will be the highest arched Sv3 units. Unit Sv2 is thin to medium bedded dark gray limestone
dam in the world after. The catchment area and reservoir capacity to marly limestone with thin black laminated marlstone to shale
of dam were estimated to be 6495 km2 and about 4800 MCM, interbeds. Unit Sv3 is thin to medium bedded dark gray marlstone
respectively [8]. An underground powerhouse complex was and siliceous limestone. Intact rock properties of these units are
designed including of 6  250 MW units with a total installed presented in Table 1 [8].
capacity of 1500 MW and expected to render an annual energy
output of about 3000 GWH [8]. 2.3. Discontinuities
Detailed and extensive surface and subsurface explorations
have been carried out at the dam site to characterize the The rock mass at the dam site area is intersected by four main
geotechnical properties of rock masses. These are including rock discontinuities including bedding planes and three major joint
mechanical in-situ tests, trial grouting, dye test, borehole coring systems; J1, J2 and J3 (Table 2). Most of the joint sets observed in

Fig. 1. Geological map of Bakhtiary dam site, Locations of grouting panels are shown on the map [9].
40 A. Zolfaghari et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 74 (2015) 38–44

Sv2 and Sv3 Units are planar-slickensided to rough and filled with marly layers. The stereographic projection of bedding planes as
calcite and clay-calcite with narrow apertures, while bedding predominant structure in the both limbs of the Siah Kuh anticline
planes are clay filled which created from the in situ alteration of is shown in Fig. 2. Deformed kink band zones in Sv2 and Sv3 Units
caused to the scatter of the bedding planes.

Table 1
Physical and mechanical properties of intact rock; Sv2 and Sv3 units [5].
3. Trial grouting procedure
Unit Density (g/cm3) Porosity (%) UCS (MPa)

Dry Saturate Dry Saturate 3.1. Grouting pattern

Sv3 2.65 2.66 1.42 111 108 Two trial grouting panels were carried out at the dam site in
Sv2 2.64 2.65 0.98 114 88 GL1 and GR2 galleries at the elevation of 557 and 695 masl.,
respectively. In both panels, the primary holes were drilled in a
triangular array with a well head distance of 2 m and the second
Table 2
holes drilled between the two of the primary holes and formed
Major discontinuity surveyed at site. smaller triangular array with a distance of 1 m (Fig. 3). During core
drilling of boreholes, water pressure tests were carried out and
Discontinuity Dip direction Dip then the cement grout was injected in upward direction. Each of
the triangular arrays was controlled by a centrally located cored
Bedding Downstream limb of anticline 2151 751
Upstream limb of anticline 0301 501 check hole (Fig. 3). The check holes were not grouted and only
J1 J1A 3101 701 drilled and cored to control the permeability of the grouted
J1B 3101 401 vicinity by WPT and finally filled with cement.
J2 J2A 1251 351
Grouting holes in GL1 panel were drilled to the depth of 60 m
J2B 1251 751
J3 0451 151
towards N0501 with inclination of 751 against the horizontal
(0–15 m in Sv3 Unit and 15–60 m in Sv2 Unit). While in GR2

Fig. 2. Stereographic projection of bedding planes in the dam site area, northeastern limb (0301/501), southwestern limb (2151/751) and Siah-Kuh anticline fold axis

Fig. 3. Schematic set up of the grouting holes at two trial grouting panels.
A. Zolfaghari et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 74 (2015) 38–44 41

Table 3 Table 4
Grouting pressures at the different depths. Average value of rock mass deformation modulus computed from plate load tests
(PLT) and dilatometer tests (DLT) in kink band zone [5].
GL1 Grouting panel GR2 Grouting panel
Testing location Rock unit Testing type Erm (GPa)
Stage (m) Pressure (bar) Stage (m) Pressure (bar)
GL1 Sv2 PLT 4.0–6.0
0–10 5 0–5 5 Sv2 DLT 5.0
5–10 10 Sv3 DLT 2.9
10–15 8 10–20 15 GR2 Sv3 PLT 8.0
20–30 18 Sv3 DLT 3.0
15–20 12 30–40 20
40–50 21
20–25 15 50–60 22
60–70 23
25–30 20 70–80 24
80–90 25
430 25 90–100 26

panel, grout holes were drilled vertically in Sv3 Unit to the depth
of 100 m.

3.2. Grout mixture and grouting pressure

Fig. 4. Average value of Lugeon at the each borehole in trial grouting panel.

Stable cement grout mixtures (bleeding o5% and marsh cone

equation [11]:
about 32–36 s) with some additives were used with different    
water-cement ratios (W:C). In GL1 grouting panel, normal Portland RQ D Jr Jw
Q¼ ð1Þ
cement type II with Blaine numbers larger than 3000 cm2/g was Jn Ja SRF
used and additives were not included. Different grout mixes (W:C where RQD is the percent of competent core sticks larger than
of 1:5 to 1:1) were injected depending on the volume absorbed. In 100 mm to the total length [12], Jn shows the relevant ratings for
GR2 grouting panel, in crashed and fractured zones, Portland the number of joint sets, Jr is the ratings for the joint surface
cement type II (Blaine 2900–3100 cm2/g) with W:C ratio of 0.5:1 roughness, Ja is ratings of the joint alteration, Jw represents the
and 0.75 l super-plasticizer per 100 kg was injected during down- water condition of the joint and SRF illustrates the ratings for the
ward drilling. Then, the high Blaine Portland cement (Blaine 5500– rock mass in-situ stress situation; more details are presented in
6000 cm2/g) was used for upward grouting. The upward grouting [8,10].
was started with W:C of 1.25:1 and 0.5 l super plasticizer per Barton [13] developed a correlation for the better explanation
100 kg and thickened to W:C ¼1:1.25 (0.8:1) and 0.5 l super of Q-value to be consistent for the in site characterization and
plasticizer per 100 kg. tunnel design
The conventional custom of pressure increasing with depth    
RQ D Jr Jw  σ c 
was used in both trial grouting panels. The grouting pressure Qc ¼ ð2Þ
increased with depth as presented in Table 3. Jn Ja SRF 100
Several empirical experiments were established to measure the
rock mass deformation modulus from the rock mass classification
4. Rock mass deformation modulus systems; e.g. RMR - Erm [14] and GSI - Erm [15]. The equation
between values of rock mass deformation modulus and Q-value
To evaluate the rock mass deformation modulus (Erm), fifty-five was developed in 1974 as [11]
plate load tests (PLT) and eight-six dilatometer tests (DLT) were Erm ¼ 25 log Q ð3Þ
performed in twenty-one boreholes and eight exploration galleries
based on suggested ISRM method [10]. Plate load tests were Eq. (3) is limited to Q-values larger than 1, and specifically for
performed mostly in five cycles with the maximum stress of hard rocks [13]. Later, this equation was improved to be consistent
40 MPa. While dilatometer tests were carried out in three cycles with depth and porosity. Thus, Barton [13] by trial-and-error
with the maximum stress of 6 MPa. Because trial grouting were fitting to the field data introduced a chart in order to modify the
carried out in the kink band zones, only PLT and DLT test results in depth and porosity effects. Eq. (4) forms the central core of the
this zone were considered for estimating of deformation modulus integrated Erm - Q relationship only for depths and porosities less
(Erm); see Table 4. than 25 m and 1%, respectively:
Erm ¼ 10ðQ c Þ1=3 ð4Þ
For the depths greater than 25 m and the porosities more than 1%,
5. Q-system a correction must be done [13].

The Q-system was originally developed for rock mass classifica-

tion to be a helpful tool for evaluating support systems in tunnels 6. Results and discussion
and rock caverns [11]. In this study, the Q-system was applied to
assess the improvement of rock mass deformation modulus due to 6.1. Rock mass permeability
cement grouting.
Influencing parameters through the Q-logging has been widely Once drilling the boreholes at the trial grouting panels, water
discussed by Barton [11] and is generally expressed as following pressure tests were carried out by Lugeon method in the 5 m
42 A. Zolfaghari et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 74 (2015) 38–44

intervals. The packers were single pneumatic type to be strong

enough against the pressure which was imposed on the tested
sections. The tests were carried out by pressure increment of 3, 7,
10 bar (in upper stages) and 7, 14, 21 bar (in lower stages) then
declined to the lowest pressure. The Lugeon values were calcu-
lated for each interval according to the Houlsby's classification.
The average values of Lugeon for each borehole are shown in Fig. 4
through progress of the drilling and grouting process. In this
graph, the horizontal axis represents the name of the boreholes
regarding to the trial grouting panels of Fig. 3 and rock units in
order of drilling and grouting. Vertical axis represents the
weighted average of Lugeon values. Names of trial grouting panels
with their symbol are GL1(Sv3) for trial grouting panel in GL1
gallery with rock unit Sv3, GL1(Sv2) for trial grouting panel in GL1
gallery with rock unit Sv2 and GR2(Sv2) for trial grouting panel in
GR2 gallery with rock unit Sv2.
At the first stage in both GL1 (L1  L2 and L3) and GR2 (R1 R2
Fig. 5. Two samples discontinuity before (A, in R1 hole) and after grouting (B, in and R3), grout penetrated into the open joints and sealed them
RCHB hole). which are recognized by the significant change of the Lugeon

Fig. 6. Improvement of the Q-parameter due to cement grouting; horizontal axis are borehole names regarding to the trial grouting panels and rock unites in order of drilling
and grouting and vertical axis are weighted average rating of each parameter.
A. Zolfaghari et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 74 (2015) 38–44 43

values. At the second stage (holes L4 and L5 in GL1 panel and R4

and R5 in GR2 panel), joints with low aperture were also filled
which can be identified by the slightly decreasing of the Lugeon
value from L4/R4 to L5/R5.

6.2. Q-parameter enhancement

Q-parameters will be improved due to grouting. Changes in the Q-

parameters are attributed to the effect of penetration of cement in
the rock mass discontinuities. Cement penetrates into the disconti-
nuities and joins the rock pieces together and consequently increased
the RQD value. Generally, grout fills the wide discontinuities initially
and then penetrates into the tight discontinuities that results is
decreasing joint set number and accordingly decreasing Jn value [13].
Due to the easy penetration of the grout into the discontinuities with
low roughness (i.e. planar smooth discontinuities), grout frequently
Fig. 7. Qc increment in rock masses at the trial grouting panels.
invades into the smooth discontinuities and fills them. So the
number of discontinuities with rough surfaces will be more than
smooth discontinuities. Thus, it increases rough discontinuities su-
rfaces and accordingly improves the weighted average of Jr value. Table 5
Also grout injection washes out the soft material fillings and deposits Comparing the deformation modulus obtained from in situ geotechnical tests with
hard material (cement) and results in improvement of discontinuities Q-logging for un-grouted rock mass.
filling rate. Sealing the joints and discontinuities by cement, reduces
Location Erm from in situ Erm from Q-Logging of the Agreement
the rock mass permeability and consequently increases the Jw geotechnical tests first grouting boreholes (GPa) (%)
parameter rate. (GPa)
Q-parameters were measured using the cores drilled out from
the boreholes at the trial grouting panels. The rock mass at the GL1 2.9 3.2 89.66
dam site area is intersected by four main discontinuities including (Sv3
bedding planes and three major joint systems. Fig. 5 shows two Unit)
samples discontinuity before (A, in R1 hole) and after grouting GL1 4.8 4.2 87.50
(B, in RCHB hole). As expected Observation of boreholes cores Gallery
show that the grout fills discontinuities and accordingly improves
the rock mass quality. Detail results of Q-parameters improvement GR2 5.5 6.1 89.09
during grouting have been presented in Fig. 6; definition of the Gallery
horizontal axis is the same as Fig. 4 and the vertical axis represents (Sv3
the weighted average of each parameter. Unit)

Fig. 6 shows an increasing trend of the RQD value, Jr and Jw once

grouting is going forward, while a decreasing trend in the Jn and Ja
can be observed. Due to location of GR2 (Sv2) and GL1 (Sv3) at above
the groundwater table, the Jw rate was considered 1, which remained
constant after grouting. While, GL1 (Sv2) was drilled under the
groundwater table, so, WPT results were utilized to determine the Jw
value in this unit. For this purpose, by Heuer's method [16], WPT
results were converted to the flowing water into an imaginary tunnel
with length of 10 m. Then, the groundwater condition in each stage
of borehole was determined based on RMR method and its equiva-
lent condition in Q-system was chosen as Jw rate.

6.3. Qc and deformation modulus improvement

Using the Q-parameters, Qc was computed for the boreholes

through progressive grouting by Eq. (2). Obviously, by improving
the Q-parameters, the rock mass quality and Qc values were also Fig. 8. Increment of rock mass deformation modulus due to grouting at the
improved (Fig. 7). The ratio of Qc value in the last check hole (Qcf) Bakhtiary dam site.
to the first grouting borehole (QC0) defined as the rate of the rock
mass improvement percentage. ungrouted rock mass, the relevant Qc values of these holes (L1 and
  R1) were supposed as initial Qc of rock mass. So, estimated Erm of
Q cf
Ri ¼ log  100 ð5Þ these holes from Eq. (4) were compared to the in-situ Erm obtained
Q C0
from dilatometer test results for the rock mass before any cement
The results show that the rate of improvement (Ri) in GL1 (Sv3), grouting (Table 5). A reasonable agreement (more than 87%)
GL1 (Sv2) and GR2 trial grouting panels are 61.32%, 49.47% and between the Erm measured by dilatometer tests and calculated
60.51% respectively. one by Qc value (from Eq. 4) has been found. Thus, Erm calculated
Then, rock mass deformation modulus was calculated using from the Qc value can be used to investigate the improving of the
Eq. (4) to assess the effect of the cement grouting on the rock mass deformation modulus due to grouting.
improvement of the rock mass strength and deformation proper- The Erm was calculated from the Qc values in each borehole and
ties. Since the first borehole at each grouting panel was drilled in their increments during the grouting process are provided in
44 A. Zolfaghari et al. / International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences 74 (2015) 38–44

Table 6
Improvement of the deformation modulus of rock mass due to cement grouting.

Trial grouting panel Erm from Q-Logging (GPa) Erm Improvement (%)

First grouting boreholes Last check boreholes

GL1(Sv3) 3.20 7.75 142.0

GL1(Sv2) 4.20 8.80 109.5
GR2 6.10 14.70 141.0

Table 7
Results of dilatometer tests and Q-logging in LCHB borehole.

Rock unit Erm from Dilatometer Tests Erm from Q-Logging Difference between the results of dilatometer
tests and Q-Logging (%)
Depth (m) Erm (GPa) Depth (m) Erm (GPa)

Sv3 3.9 7.0 0–15 7.75 10.71

13 7.0
Sv2 25.7 10.0 15–60 8.8 12

Fig. 8. The calculated values of the Erm at the first boreholes (as Resources Development Co., for their kindly permission to publish
ungrouted rock mass) were compared to the calculated ones at the this paper. Grateful thanks to Bakhtiary Joint Venture Consultants
second check holes (as grouted rock mass). The results show the (BJVC), especially Sadd Tunnel Pars Engineering Co. for providing
improvement of rock mass which is more than 110% (Table 6). the test results and valuable comments. Special thanks should be
At the dam site, dilatometer tests were carried out at three expressed to Prof. Nick Barton, for his kindly comments on
different depths in LCHB borehole to investigate the effect of this paper.
grouting on the rock mass deformation modulus in GL1 trial
grouting panel. The results of dilatometer tests were compared to References
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The authors desire to express special thanks to the client of

Bakhtiary dam and Hydropower project, Iran Water & Power

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