Mechanism of the Mudstone Tunnel Failures Induced by Expansive Clay Minerals

Houjiang Zhang, Amoussou Coffi Adoko, Zhaojun Meng, Hao Wang, Yuyong Jiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Expansive clay minerals can be a serious threat to underground rock structure because of their swelling behavior when absorbing water. Roof and wall collapse as well as large deformation were observed in Xiaotun Coal Mine, Guizhou Province, China. This paper studies the characteristics of expansive clays in order to understand the mechanism of the mudstone tunnel failures in the mine. The physical and mechanical properties of the tunnel surrounding rock samples, including mudstone, silty mudstone, argillaceous siltstone and fine sandstone were determined. X-ray diffraction analysis was conducted to determine the mineralogical composition while the scanning electron microscope was used to examine the internal structure of the different samples. The results indicate that the illite–smectite and the montmorillonite are the main minerals composing the rock samples. A series of micro-cracks and pores occur in the samples which suggest a good hydraulic conductivity. The results indicate that the mudstone has poorer mechanical properties in comparison to the fine sandstone. Also, the Flac3D numerical simulations were conducted and it was shown that the large deformations were consistent with the field observation due to weak mechanical properties of the surrounding rock under seepage action especially with the increase of water head and porosity. It is concluded that internal structure and mechanical strength of the mudstone is weakened by the illite–smectite and the montmorillonite mineral content as well as the combined action of underground water causing physical disintegration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-275
Number of pages13
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Geology


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