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Rock Mech Rock Eng (2013) 46:341357

DOI 10.1007/s00603-012-0282-6


Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site

Rock Mass for Grout Curtain Design
S. M. Sadeghiyeh M. Hashemi R. Ajalloeian

Received: 30 December 2010 / Accepted: 10 June 2012 / Published online: 18 July 2012
 Springer-Verlag 2012

Abstract The focus of this study is the empirical studies that were conducted during the construction stage
hydromechanical behaviour of the Ostur dam site rock have validated these results.
mass. The area surrounding the dam mostly consists of
diorite and andesite, with primary fractures and hydro- Keywords Hydromechanical behaviour  Hydrothermal
thermal veins. The hydromechanical behaviour of the rocks veins  Ostur dam  Water pressure test  Permeability 
was determined using 500 water pressure tests at 5-m Groutability
intervals. The hydrothermal veins and 2,739 discontinuities
were studied and mapped along the dam axis. As a result, it
was possible to design an optimum grout curtain for the 1 Introduction
dam axis. The empirical hydromechanical behaviour of the
rock was studied to determine water flow and grout pres- The sealing of dam foundations and abutments is required
surised flow during the field tests that were conducted on due to the geological conditions of rock masses (their
two representative A-series grouting operation boreholes lithology, the strength of the rock, their hydrothermal veins
(one borehole for each abutment). The secondary perme- as primary discontinuities, their main joint sets as sec-
ability index (SPI), Lugeon value (LU), rock quality des- ondary discontinuities, the distribution of the discontinu-
ignation (RQD) and cement take (CT) values are presented ities, the quality and strength of the joint-filling material)
and compared in this article. It is concluded that perme- and their permeability conditions. The decision to install a
ability and groutability are mostly controlled by the spec- grout curtain depends largely on the results of water
ifications and characteristics of the veins, especially in pressure tests (WPTs), as introduced by Lugeon (Ewert
shallow areas and lower depths. A procedure is proposed 1997c).
based on a comparison of the trends in the RQDSPI and The geological and permeability conditions of a rock
LUCT, and it is suggested that the areas with diverging mass may be evaluated based on laboratory, field and office
trends require no treatment and that those with converging studies.
trends require heavy treatment. Additional complementary The geological, engineering and geotechnical properties
of the rocks at the dam site were determined via laboratory
and field tests for a zoned section of the dam site.
The permeability conditions were then assessed based
on hydromechanical behaviour, and PQ diagrams were
derived from WPTs for 28 grouting operation boreholes.
S. M. Sadeghiyeh  R. Ajalloeian
Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, Finally, groutability was evaluated based on charts that
The University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran indicated permeability [Lugeon value (LU), secondary
permeability index (SPI)], geological conditions [rock
M. Hashemi (&)
quality designation (RQD)] and cement take (CT). In this
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering,
The University of Isfahan, 81744-73441 Isfahan, Iran paper, an optimum grout curtain design is proposed based
e-mail: m.hashemi@eng.ui.ac.ir on these charts and additional parameters.

342 S. M. Sadeghiyeh et al.

2 Details and Location of the Studied Dam observed in the study area. The faults are generally strike
slip and have resulted in little displacement.
The focus of the study is the Ostur dam, which is a 135-m- Given the quality of the rocks at the dam site (diorite
high, two-arch concrete dam that will be built across the and andesite), the major discontinuities of the rock mass
Ghezel Ozan River, located at 4820 1100 E and 37300 800 N. and the main sources of seepage are expected to be primary
The site is 6 km east of the village of Ostur and 39 km fractures and hydrothermal veins. To examine this
northeast of the city of Mianeh in East Azarbaijan Province hypothesis, the following methods are used:
in northwestern Iran. The dam will be the highest dam in
The study of borehole logs
the province. The reservoir volume is estimated to be
The identification of the locations of major
approximately 700 million m3 and it will be used to gen-
erate hydropower, reduce the flow of sediment into the
The inspection of core boxes to determine the types of
Sefid Rud dam downstream and irrigate the lands of
discontinuities and their characteristics.
These studies, together with the type of material that fills
the discontinuities, indicate that the fractures were present
3 Geology of the Dam Site before the veins were formed and that the fractures acted as
a conduit through which the hydrothermal solution could
A geological investigation of the dam site shows that the enter the rock mass. Because of the wide spacing of these
rock formations along the dam axis (at the central dam site discontinuities in the logs and core boxes, a low RQD value
and on the upstream side) consist mostly of intrusive/plu- was not observed.
tonic diorite, but include some extrusive/volcanic andesite Inspecting the core boxes indicated that the hydrother-
(Fig. 1a). Mineralogically, andesite is similar to diorite but mal veins were the major discontinuities. To determine the
features finer crystals. Andesite constitutes the main part of extent of the hydrothermal veins, the core boxes of the
the Karadj formation and is formed after the cooling of grouting audit galleries and boreholes that were drilled
dioritic magma, which was injected into the Karadj for- during the WPTs were examined. The RQD values along
mation (tuff). The rock mass also includes a 2.3-km by 0.7- the depth were also used to determine the intersections of
km batholith that crystallised during ascent and was then the veins and boreholes. These findings were validated
transformed into a dioritic mass. The diorite is exposed at using field observations in various locations, including
the surface because of the erosion of the overlying rocks of surface outcrops and the horizontal access audits used for
the Karadj formation (tuff). the grouting process. These points were then intercon-
The main characteristic of these rocks is the presence of nected to determine the orientations of the veins. A cross-
silicate-rich carbonate hydrothermal veins, which are a section of the valley along the dam axis that shows the
major structural weakness of the diorite and andesite. The veins is plotted in Fig. 1b. The cross-section was confirmed
calcite in the rocks is either massive or crystalline. by the increasing water take (in the WPTs) and the low
The rock mass surrounding the veins is partially RQD at the intersections of the boreholes and veins.
hydrothermally altered. The veins that intersect the diorite
have partially or completely altered the rock 23 m from
the discontinuities. Given the geology of the study area, the 4 Survey of the Joint Sets at the Dam Site
fractures that are due to primary discontinuities, such as
faults and open joints, formed prior to hydrothermal Generally, the dominant sets of joints have a large effect on
alteration may be conduits for the passage of hydrothermal and play an important role in the groutability and perme-
liquids, vapours and solutions. The discontinuity apertures ability of dam foundations.
seem to have been sufficient for the passage of hydro- Because of tectonic activity in the region, the dioritic
thermal materials. Therefore, there is no flow of hydro- rock that forms most of the lithology along the dam axis
thermal fluids through other discontinuities, and they are has been intersected by sets of joints and fractures. To
unaltered due to their locations. identify the joint sets and study changes in their trends, a
As previously mentioned, some of the veins are formed surface joint survey was conducted in the right and left
along faults, such as the fault along the valley of the dam abutments of the dam axis using the scanline method.
site, which is left-lateral (sinistral) strikeslip with a nearly In total, 2,739 discontinuities were surveyed: 1,440 in
vertical dip. There is no observed crushed zone along the the right abutment and 1,299 in the left abutment. After
fault (Fig. 1b). Based on the faults and hydrothermal veins, statistical analyses, the lower hemisphere projections for
a general northsouth strike and a nearly vertical dip are these discontinuities were drawn using the Dips software.

Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site Rock Mass 343

Fig. 1 a Geological plan of the Ostur dam site. b Geological cross-section of the dam axis showing a view of the hydrothermal veins, along with
their orientations

Five joint sets were identified in each abutment. Stere- The structural geology features of the dominant dis-
onets and contour diagrams are shown in Fig. 2 for the left continuities in the abutments of the Ostur dam are also
abutment and in Fig. 3 for the right abutment. listed in Table 1.

344 S. M. Sadeghiyeh et al.

Fig. 2 Stereographic pictures of left abutment joint sets Fig. 3 Stereographic pictures of right abutment joint sets

During the joint survey, other characteristics of each 5 Survey of Geotechnical Features
discontinuity were also determined and statistically ana-
lysed. These characteristics included spacing, persistence The behaviour of a rock mass is best understood when its
and roughness (Table 2). physical and mechanical properties are studied using a
variety of methods that can be used to cross-check the
results. However, what strategy is best depends on the
importance of the rock mass property and the reliability of
the method.
A separate, detailed investigation was conducted to
Table 1 Structural geology and location of dominant joint sets at the study the effect of four criteria: rock mass classification,
Ostur dam site permeability, descriptive geology and geophysical
Location of joint set Dip Dip direction Type of joint

Left abutment 86 304 JL1 Table 2 Characteristics of the dominant joint sets at the Ostur dam
86 175 JL2
56 062 JL3 Characteristic of joint set Left abutment Right abutment
80 233 JL4 Persistence (m) 310 310
30 310 JL5 Roughness Rough Rough
Right abutment 89 300 JR1 Aperture (mm) 24 36
88 352 JR2 Spacing (mm) 250500 300600
68 249 JR3 Infilling material Calcite and clay Calcite and clay
87 224 JR4 Ground water condition Dry Dry
30 330 JR5 Joint wall condition Planar Planar

Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site Rock Mass

Fig. 4 Cross-section of general geotechnical characteristics of the Ostur dam site the along grouting curtain

346 S. M. Sadeghiyeh et al.

properties. Seismic refraction, which is a non-destructive descriptive geology and geophysical properties) are dif-
geophysical exploration method, was used. The details of ferent from the factors that are considered in drawing the
this investigation are not included, and only the relevant boundary (polar seismic exploration and borehole studies).
results are presented (Sadeghiyeh 2008). Following this The shallow sediments at the dam site are Quaternary
study, the dam site rock mass was divided into four zones alluvial sediments. These sediments play an important role
(Fig. 4): in increasing the permeability and instability of the rock
mass. The sediments are 50 m thick and exhibit a hetero-
1. Very good rock mass with high dynamic modulus and
geneous structure. Shallow sediments are normally
low permeability
removed during the excavation of a dam foundation and the
2. Good rock mass with an intermediate level of dynamic
construction of the dam, leaving the dam in direct contact
modulus and permeability
with the bedrock.
3. Fair rock mass with low dynamic modulus and high
4. Poor rock mass with very low dynamic modulus and
6 Assessment of Rock Mass Permeability
very high permeability.
The data used in this study are mainly based on the 300
The results of the rock mass classification procedure boreholes, which are divided into four series (AD) and
conducted using the RMR and Q-system methods are were drilled during the construction of a single-row grout
presented in Table 3. curtain. The B-series boreholes were drilled between the
The poor rock zone (IV) extends various distances into A-series boreholes. Similarly, the later series are located
other zones, including the very good rock zone (I) (Fig. 4), between the earlier ones.
which could be due to the rock mass being divided into The borehole logs were prepared for 28 A-series bore-
four zones based on the combination of the four factors. holes after the inspection of the core boxes. The other
The extensions are locally altered parts of the surrounding required data, including information on the RQD, joint
rock mass, mostly along the veins. Therefore, the exten- surface weathering, the lithology and core recovery, were
sions are considered to be a poor rock zone (IV). also extracted during the preparation for the logging
The results of the polar seismic exploration and the process.
analysis of the boreholes show the alteration of the rock The WPTs were conducted at 500 intervals of 5 m in
mass surrounding the hydrothermal veins. The degree of length for the drilled boreholes using five-step water
alteration decreases below a depth of 6070 m, and the pressure loading and unloading (Kutzner 1996; Ewert
quality of the veins improves in this depth range because of 1994, 1997d). This process generated five sets of water
increasing confining pressure, permanent tectonic stress pressure (P) and water discharge (Q) values, one for each
and consolidation stress during rock diagenesis. These of the five steps. The data sets are presented as PQ dia-
results are more evident in the lower parts of this valley, grams for each interval.
where stress release has not yet occurred due to the con- Comparing the diagrams with typical diagrams that are
fining pressure acting on the rocks. These approximate available in the literature (column A, Table 7) (Ewert
depths are identified using the investigation results at var- 1985, 1994) made it possible to determine the empirical
ious points along the cross-section of the valley. The depths hydromechanical behaviour of the discontinuities for all of
are connected along the dam axis with a dashed line that the intervals examined.
indicates the boundary between the altered and intact veins Rock mass permeability was also assessed in terms of
(Fig. 4). the LU and SPI values using the methodology presented in
There are points in Fig. 4 at which the boundary Sect. 14, Table 7 and Eqs. 1 and 2.
between the altered veins and the intact veins (the dashed The SPI is a function of the LU value (Eqs. 1, 2). RQD
line) extends into a very good rock zone (I). This occurs and LU are the most common variables used to investi-
because the criteria for the division of the rock mass into gate rock permeability. Therefore, of the four data sets
four zones (rock mass classification, permeability, extracted from the WPTs (K, LU, SPI and RQD), the LU
and RQD values are studied the most extensively here.
Only two sets of data can be graphically presented in the
Table 3 Rock mass classification results at the Ostur dam site borehole logs, along with the depth values. Therefore, the
Classification Left abutment Riverbed Right abutment histograms with the RQD and LU values were drawn
perpendicular or oblique to the borehole axis along the
RMR 69.5 70 65.5
depth simultaneously for the 28 boreholes along the dam
Q-system 8.5 8.1 6.8
axis (Fig. 5).

Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site Rock Mass

Fig. 5 Ostur dam site axis cross-section showing A-series grouting curtain boreholes presenting Lugeon (right side) and RQD (left side) values against boreholes depth

348 S. M. Sadeghiyeh et al.

Laminar behaviour is also observed. If the pressure

increases, the rate of water take will also increase under
laminar behaviour, which shows the elastic behaviour of
the rock when pressure is applied and there is steady water
flow along the joints. Washout behaviour is observed least
frequently at the dam site and occurs when the joints have
considerable opening or are interconnected and filled with
weak, quickly erodible material (Ewert 1997d).
The percentage of impermeable intervals in the right
abutment is higher than the percentage in the left abutment
because of the larger joint spacing in the right abutment.
The total percentage of washout and void-filling hydro-
Fig. 6 Percentage of various hydromechanical behaviours in rock mechanical behaviour observed in the right abutment is
mass of the Ostur dam site lower than that observed in the left abutment because of the
larger joint aperture in the right abutment.

7 A Hydromechanical Behaviour Model for Rock

Masses at Dam Sites 8 Analysis of Permeability Values of the Dam Site Rock
The PQ diagram types (hydromechanical behaviour) were
identified using the methodology from Sect. 6 (Table 7) A frequency analysis of the permeability values (selected
and were statistically analysed. Their frequencies are using the methodology presented in Sect. 6, Table 7) is
shown in Fig. 6 in the form of a histogram that includes the performed based on the classification proposed by Ewert
impermeable intervals. Based on the complete hydrome- (1985). The results are shown in Table 4 and Fig. 7.
chanical behaviour model for the Ostur dam site rock mass Based on earlier figures, it seems that the permeability
(Fig. 6), the following points emerge. of the left abutment generally decreases with depth, except
Of the behaviour of the entire dam site, 26.6 % was where boreholes cut the hydrothermal veins (Figs. 1, 5) and
turbulent, 18.2 % involved dilation, 10.4 % was filling the permeability level is low.
behaviour, 8.8 % involved washout and 6.5 % was In other words, the percentage of impermeable intervals
laminar. in the left abutment (73.7 %) is higher than in the right
The results of the WPTs conducted in the left abut- abutment and riverbed (Table 3; Fig. 6), due to the lower
ment indicate dilation to be the dominant behaviour. In density and thickness of the hydrothermal veins. A nearly
dilation, the pressure increases, causing the discharge to identical trend exists in the riverbed.
increase due to the elastic widening of the joints during In the right abutment, the degree of permeability also
the test. decreases with depth, except at the intersection of the
Generally, turbulent behaviour is most frequent at the boreholes and the hydrothermal veins. There are consid-
dam site, which shows either open rough joints with high erably fewer impermeable intervals in the right abutment
discharge (permeability) or tight joints with low discharge. than in the left abutment and the riverbed, whereas the low-
Under low permeability, no deformation occurs in the rock, to-extremely permeable intervals are more numerous in the
and the turbulent flow generates pressure loss and, there- right abutment than in the left abutment and the riverbed.
fore, low water absorption. These results are mostly a function of the higher density
The observed turbulent behaviour in the left abutment
and riverbed stems from the existence of tight, rough joints, Table 4 Permeability distribution of the dam site rock mass
but turbulent behaviour is mostly observed in the right
Permeability class Left bank Riverbed Right Total
abutment because of a high concentration of hydrothermal (%) (%) bank (%) (%)
The results of the WPTs in the riverbed indicate that Impermeable (03) 73.7 71.8 53.4 64.1
turbulent flow is the most frequent type of flow. As pre- Low permeable (310) 17.5 19.7 26.4 22.0
viously mentioned, turbulent behaviour is associated with Moderately permeable 7.3 7.0 11.5 9.2
tight, rough joints, which cause pressure loss and, thus, (1030)
changes the flow type from laminar to turbulent. Therefore, High permeable (3060) 0.7 1.4 6.9 3.7
the frequency of the laminar flow is very low at the abut- Extremely permeable 0.7 0.0 1.7 1.0
ments and riverbed at the dam site.

Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site Rock Mass 349

Table 6 The variations of the various SPI classes at the Ostur dam
Location Percentage of various SPI classes

Left abutment 54 38 8 0
Riverbed 67 23 10 0
Right abutment 44 36 19 1

Generally, the right abutment is more permeable than

the left abutment and the riverbed due to the presence of
several hydrothermal veins.
According to the SPI classification (Table 8) for the left
abutment, 54 % of the tests conducted indicate that the
Fig. 7 Permeability frequency distribution in various locations rock mass is A-class (requiring no treatment), 38 % indi-
cate that it is B-class (requiring local treatment) and 8 %
that it is C-class (requiring extensive treatment) (Foyo et al.
Table 5 Variations of permeability (Lugeon) versus depth at the 2005).
Ostur dam site
Location Depth under surface of rock (m)
10 Comparing Permeability, CT, SPI and RQD
020 2040 4060 [60 Total
in the Right and Left Abutment Boreholes
Left abutment \14 \4 \2.5 \2 \2
Riverbed \2 \2.5 \2.2 \2 \1 This research studies the empirical hydromechanical
Right abutment \70 \8 \4 \2 \4.4 behaviour of rock masses as influenced by two types of
fluids: water and grout. Therefore, the data from the
hydromechanical monitoring procedures for water (the
and thickness of the hydrothermal veins and their aperture RQD, SPI and LU values) and grout (pressure and take)
(Figs. 1, 5). should be compared for the A-series boreholes. Due to the
Moreover, 64.1 % of the permeability values are lower large quantity of data (500 intervals) and the difficulty of
than 3 LU, 22 % exhibit a permeability of 310 LU and presenting the data in a single figure, two representative
13.9 % exhibit permeability values greater than 10 LU boreholes (one for each abutment) were chosen from
(Fig. 7). The most frequently observed values for perme- Fig. 5, and the data for the boreholes were compared in a
ability are associated with shallow depths (those \20 m), single figure (Fig. 8). Because the grout pressure levels are
the intersections of hydrothermal veins or shallow veins. the same for the two boreholes, only RQD, SPI, LU and CT
The permeability value may decrease to 3 LU at greater were compared (Fig. 9).
depths (Table 5). The right borehole was drilled at the 916 m level in the
right abutment with a final depth of 87.6 m. The dominant
lithology is diorite intersected by two hydrothermal veins.
9 Analysis of SPI Values at the Dam Site The dip/dip direction values are 80/206 and 80/285
(Fig. 1).
The permeability level was calculated in terms of the SPI The borehole in the left abutment was drilled at the
(Sect. 15, Eq. 2), and the rock mass at the dam site was 1,015 m level. The final depth of this borehole is 65 m, and
classified (Foyo et al. 2005; Table 8). The frequency the lithology includes dioritic rocks. Two hydrothermal
variations of the SPI classes are presented in Table 6. veins intersect this borehole. The dip/dip direction values
The SPI values for the boreholes in the right abutment are 75/105 (at a depth of 15 m) and 55/230 (at a depth of
show that only 20 % of the tested intervals fall within the C 50 m).
([8 LU, treatment required) and D ([80 LU, extensive
treatment) classes. Forty-four percent of the tested intervals 10.1 Comparing Variations in RQD and LU
in the right abutment are impermeable and do not need to
be grouted. Approximately 36 % are in the B class and The RQD (rock mass quality; Sect. 16) index for the
require local treatment. right abutment borehole decreases from 96 (excellent;

350 S. M. Sadeghiyeh et al.

Fig. 8 Result obtained from the

typical boreholes (extracted
from Fig. 5) in both abutments

Palmstrom 2005) to 43 at a depth of 45 m depth or 55 at a Most of the borehole intervals are classified as imper-
depth of 60 m (poor), due to the presence of two nearly meable (LU \3), except for those at 1015, 4550 and
vertical hydrothermal veins that have been revealed from 5055 m.
recovered cores with a strike of 260285 at a depth of The RQD and permeability values in the left abutment
4060 m (Fig. 1). The quality increases near the end of borehole generally show a negative correlation between
the borehole (Fig. 5). Therefore, any joints are completely LU and RQD, except for the intervals where hydrothermal
closed. veins are present and where the observed behaviours are
As shown in Fig. 9, the permeability of the rock in this due to the existence of void-filling types with thin veins
part of the right abutment is low at the top of the borehole and washout types with thick veins.
(Ewert 1997a, b, c, d), increases to a high level (23.55 LU) Therefore, the permeability is higher in the right abut-
at 3540 m depth and then decreases towards the end of the ment because of the greater number of veins. The high
borehole. permeability of this abutment is due to the presence of
The most frequently observed empirical hydromechan- hydrothermal veins and weathered zones that are filled with
ical behaviour in the middle of the borehole and where the loose, fine materials produced by the weathering of the
hydrothermal veins intersect with the borehole is turbulent rock mass and veins.
behaviour. This finding may result from the densely
interconnected conduits with high permeability that are 10.2 Comparing SPI and RQD Variations
filled with loose materials.
The correlation between the LU and RQD values is The SPI was calculated at 5-m intervals during the WPTs
mostly negative, except at intersections with veins. (Foyo et al. 2005). The LU, RQD and CT values are pre-
The rock mass quality (RQD) value in the left abutment sented in ascending order from left to right on the primary
borehole ranges from 90 (excellent) (Palmstrom 1995, (lower) horizontal axis in Fig. 9. The SPI values are shown
2005) to 48 (poor) at 5055 m depth, probably because the in descending order from left to right on the secondary
hydrothermal veins continue to this depth. horizontal (upper) axis in the figure. The SPI is a direct

Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site Rock Mass 351

Fig. 9 Comparison of the permeability (Lugeon), cement take (CT), the values of CT. Also, the composite numberletter combinations
secondary permeability index (SPI) and rock quality designation next to the Lugeon series include a number that represents the Lugeon
(RQD) charts for representative boreholes in the right (right side) and value and a letter that represents the empirical hydromechanical
left abutments (left side). The numbers next to the CT series indicate behaviour type (the first letter of the first word)

function of the LU value. Therefore, one expects to observe the effect of the hydrothermal veins decreases as the depth
a similar trend in the relationship between the SPI and LU increases.
series, whereas the opposite trends are actually visible in For most of the intervals, the SPI is class B and requires
the figure. This discrepancy can be explained as follows: as local treatment; for a few of the intervals, the SPI is class C
the LU value increases (i.e. as the LU series marked by the and requires treatment.
green line moves towards the right in the chart), the SPI The highest SPI values occur at depths of 3540 and
value also increases (the LU series marked by the black 4550 m, where two hydrothermal veins create high per-
line moves towards the left in the chart). meability. The measured VP value is \2 km/s in the right
At the right abutment borehole (Fig. 9), the rock mass abutment near the hydrothermal veins (Figs. 1, 4), which
shows a general trend in the RQD values: they are similar indicates that the rock mass is extremely altered, permeable
to the SPI values. As the RQD increases, the SPI generally and weak. The permeability level improves towards the end
decreases; the only exceptions are the figures for some of the borehole, decreasing to 40 m. As the depth increases,
intervals between 30 and 70 m. This finding may be due to the hydrothermal vein and joint conditions improve.
the existence of joint spacing of less than 10 cm, which There is a logical correlation between the RQD and SPI
would cause the RQD to decrease suddenly. In this range, variations in the left abutment, which is similar to the right

352 S. M. Sadeghiyeh et al.

abutment, except at the 4550 m interval due to the variations generally follow the LU trend; this is true except
intersection of the borehole with a fracture or hydrothermal in the case of the 6570 and 7075 m intervals, which
vein. show dilation and laminar behaviours, respectively. The
Based on the SPI classification, all of the intervals in the former may be due to the grout pressures being higher than
left abutment borehole are in the B (requiring local treat- the WPT pressure and to the relationship between the latter
ment) or A (no need for treatment) classes. The relatively and low CT, which is associated with narrow channels and
weak zones are mostly associated with shallow rocks and tight joints at this depth.
altered hydrothermal veins, which do not exhibit crushed The high permeability and CT in the mid-depths of this
zones or a reduction in the RQD due to the thinness of the borehole can be attributed to the low strength and dis-
veins. solvable cavities created by the hydrothermal veins in the
10.3 Comparing SPI and LU Variations The CT chart generally exhibits the opposite trend of
that shown in the RQD diagram for this borehole; this is
The results of the WPT (i.e. the Lugeon value) are com- true, for instance, in the middle part of the borehole. Also,
monly used in the hydrogeological investigation of grout the decrease in rock mass quality causes maximum
curtain design. The test indicates the permeability value groutability.
that represents the boundary limit for the grouting process. At greater depths, less groutability is observed, despite
It is commonly accepted that grout curtain depths should the hydrothermal veins. This result can be explained by the
not be greater than the reservoir depth (H) for q B 1.0 LU. improvement in the quality of the hydrothermal veins with
When it is economically justified, many designers accepted depth.
that the permeability of grout curtains below the foundation The CT chart for the borehole in the left abutment is
should be q B 1.0 LU, q B 2.0 LU in abutments and mostly consistent with the LU chart and is similar to that of
q B 4.0 LU deep within the abutments (Milanovic 2004). the right abutment, except for the 1015 m interval, where
A permeability level of up to 7 LU is also acceptable at the CT is extremely low, despite its permeability. This
greater depths; there, the water pressure gradient in the finding may be a result of the low aperture of the open
reservoir is lower, and, thus, there is no need for grouting joints and the high density of the tight joints. In this par-
(Houlsby 1977b). ticular interval, void-filling behaviour is associated with the
The WPT results for the representative borehole in the loose-filling material created by the alteration of hydro-
right abutment indicate that all of the intervals can be clas- thermal veins in tight joints.
sified either as impermeable (LU \ 3) or as exhibiting low In the 5560 m interval, the permeability level is low
permeability (10 [ LU [ 3), except at 3540 m, where the due to the void-filling behaviour in WPT, whereas the
maximum permeability is 23.55 LU, and at 4550 m, due to variation in the CT values is not consistent with the trend in
hydrothermal veins. Thus, grouting is not required (no need the LU values during this interval because the grouting
for treatment), whereas the majority of intervals are classi- pressure is higher than the WPT pressure.
fied as B-class (requiring local treatment) and C-class In this borehole, only the 4550 m interval shows a high
(requiring treatment) according to the SPI values. potential for groutability, and this interval may exhibit
The entire left abutment borehole is classified as issues with seepage in the future due to the presence of
impermeable (LU \ 3) (i.e. there is no need for grouting), hydrothermal veins in that area.
except for the 4550 m interval due to the presence of As Fig. 9 indicates, the diverging zones where the SPI
hydrothermal veins, whereas the SPI considers this section RQD distances from the CTLU charts indicate the exis-
to belong to class B (requiring local treatment). tence of a rock mass with suitable conditions that requires
The LU and SPI charts (Fig. 9) are generally correlated no treatment. However, the converging zones where the
because the SPI value is a direct function of the LU value. SPIRQD charts approach the CTLU charts indicate the
Therefore, the permeability and the SPI are elevated in existence of very weak rocks that will create a major
zones where the recovered cores include altered hydro- challenge and could be a source of seepage at the dam site.
thermal veins. However, the SPI is a more conservative
indicator of grouting than the LU.
11 Grout Curtain Design and Operation
10.4 Comparing CT, SPI and LU Variations
Grouting is the usual method of sealing the permeable
In the representative borehole through the right abutment foundation of a dam, and despite the use of alternative
(Fig. 9), high CT is generally observed in the intervals that technologies (e.g. diaphragms), many sites have charac-
exhibit medium-to-high permeability and SPI. The CT teristics that favour conventional grouting (Ewert 1997c).

Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site Rock Mass 353

Fig. 10 Suggested design for a grouting curtain along the Ostur dam axis

354 S. M. Sadeghiyeh et al.

The purposes of performing the grouting operation are 12 Conclusions

as follows:
To decrease seepage through the dam foundation Based on the analysis of the water pressure tests (WPTs),
To decrease hydrostatic pressure downstream from the the results of the grouting process and the study of the
dam foundation borehole cores, the following conclusions are drawn:
To prevent the erosion and washout of the fine infillings
As shown by stratigraphical studies, the Ostur dam
of the joints (Nonveiller 1989; United States Bureau of
site is located on a rock mass composed of intrusive
Reclamation, USBR 1987).
diorite and extrusive andesite in the Karadj formation
Grout curtains constitute one of the most convenient (tuff), with an Oligocene age. The intact diorite
ways to reduce the permeability of dam foundations; exhibits very good physical and petrographical prop-
indeed, they can reduce permeability to \3 LU (Houlsby erties. The rock is compact, completely crystalline and
1990). Moreover, the grout curtain is proved to reduce the coarse grained. However, the rock has significantly
permeability to even less than 0.00001 m/s. decreased in quality due to hydrothermal alteration
Geological conditions (such as lithology and orientation activities, joint sets and tectonic factors. Therefore,
and characteristics of discontinuities including hydrother- the hydrothermal veins have become substantially
mal veins and major joint sets) and dam height can also be deformed and have reduced the elasticity of the rock,
considered when proposing the optimum design for a grout and mechanical disintegration has less of an effect,
curtain. changing the permeability and groutability of the dam
Therefore, a grouted cut-off curtain was designed at a site.
depth of 67 m below the dam foundation level along the The locations of the hydrothermal veins were deter-
dam axis. The curtain extends to the depth where the mined using field observations at various axis points
minimum permeability (less than 3 LU) is observed along the dam (i.e. surface outcrops and access audits).
(Houlsby 1976). It also includes four series (AD) of sin- The right abutment requires grouting because it exhib-
gle-row boreholes with 6-m spacing (Fig. 10). ited a higher concentration of veins than the left
The chosen orientation of the grouting boreholes with abutment and dam foundation.
respect to the joints helps to optimise the penetration of the There are five joint sets at the dam site. The joint sets
grout and maximise the sealing of the joints. This goal is persistence is largely more than 2 m. The joint sets are
achieved when the maximum number of joints is inter- mostly sub-vertical or vertical. Therefore, the bore-
sected by the grouting boreholes. The grouting operation is holes used for the grout curtain should be diagonal (at
facilitated if the angle between the discontinuity plane and 4050 dip) with azimuths of 140150 for optimum
the borehole axis is 3060 (Houlsby 1990). grouting.
Based on the dips and strikes of the joint sets (Sect. 4) To determine the geotechnical conditions of the rock
and their statistical analysis, presented as stereonets, the mass based on four factors (i.e. rock mass classification,
optimum orientation for the grout curtain boreholes is permeability, descriptive geology and geophysical
proposed. The optimum curtain dips 40 upstream and at properties measured using seismic refraction, a non-
strikes of AZ 140 and AZ 150 at the right and left abut- destructive method of geophysical exploration), the
ments, respectively. area is divided into four zones ranging from very good
The lateral extension of the curtain at the abutments is (zone I, high dynamic modulus and low permeability)
wing-shaped. The curtain extends into the abutments to the to poor (zone IV, very low dynamic modulus and very
intersection of the maximum groundwater and normal high permeability). The geotechnical studies show that
reservoir water levels during the wet season. the quality of the veins increases until it reaches zone I
The lateral extent of the curtain decreases as the ground (very good rock mass) as the depth increases. There-
level increases. For instance, the curtain extends 120 and fore, the grout curtain must be extended into zone I for
40 m at ground elevations of 916 and 1,045 m, respec- the dam foundation and abutments.
tively, in the right abutment. The permeability study of the dam site indicates that
The grouting operation included the excavation of five the right abutment is more permeable than the left
galleries at each abutment. The grouting boreholes were abutment and dam foundation due to its concentration
drilled inside the galleries. The grouting procedure was of veins. The dominant empirical hydromechanical
conducted using the down-to-up method in intervals of 5 m behaviour in the right abutment and dam foundation is
in length along the AD series. The boreholes were turbulent, as is verified by the high permeability
checked to obtain an impervious curtain immediately after observed at the veins. This finding reiterates the need
the WPTs were conducted. for grouting in the right abutment.

Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site Rock Mass 355

Considering the geological and hydrogeological condi- with the D-series boreholes. However, such findings
tions of the dam site, a grout cut-off curtain has been were not obtained for the converging areas (those with
designed with a lateral extent of 120 and 100 m in the worse conditions). This distinction between the different
right and left abutments, respectively. Based on the areas indicated that a new F-series of boreholes (with
geological conditions and the WPT results, the pro- 1.5 m spacing) should be used to ensure the desired
posed curtain extends to a depth of 67 m in the riverbed permeability and grouting performance.
and abutments.
Because this study monitors the empirical hydrome- Acknowledgments The authors thank the Mahab Ghods Consulting
chanical behaviour of a rock mass to determine its Engineering Company and the Tablieh Construction Company, which
water and grout flow, the SPI, LU, RQD and CT values facilitated the site visit.
for two typical A-series grouting boreholes (one
borehole for each abutment) are compared in a single
chart. Appendix A
As expected, a negative correlation is observed between
the SPI/LU and RQD values, although there are The water pressure test (WPT) (in which pressurised water
deviations associated with intervals that intersect with is injected into the borehole) is an effective field test of
veins or that are affected by the hydraulic opening of rock mass permeability and is mostly conducted using the
the joint sets. Lugeon method. The water take (discharge) is measured
The CT values are mostly consistent with the LU trend, under increasing (loading) and decreasing (unloading)
except where dilation is the dominant hydromechanical pressure steps (amount of pressure changed) at proper time
behaviour in the left abutment. The LU and CT values intervals along the borehole.
exhibit somewhat opposing trends because more
pressure is used for grouting than for the WPTs. This Permeability (LU) and Hydromechanical Behaviour
finding indicates that the proper pressure should be
used during the grout curtain operation in the left The Lugeon (LU) value should be calculated for a selected
abutment. amount of pressure applied during the test and based on the
There is a general direct correlation between the LU tangent slope of the PQ diagram (Ewert 1997a, b, c, d).
and SPI values. However, the latter is a more conser- Nonveiller (1989) believes that the tangent slope of the
vative indicator than the former in predicting the need PQ diagram is a proper expression of the LU value at any
for treatment. Based on the SPI values calculated for point on the diagram and may explain many complex cases.
the representative boreholes, the rock mass mostly According to Nonveiller (1989), the LU value may be
requires either local (B class) or extensive treatment calculated as:
(C class), whereas the LU values indicate no need for
treatment in most of the dam site. LU 1
Pe L
The comparisons between the SPI, LU, RQD and CT
values have been essential to this research. For the two where:
representative boreholes, the areas for which the SPI
LU Lugeon value
RQD and CTLU charts converge or are very similar
Q Water take (discharge), l/min
may face seepage issues. Thus, these areas require the
L Length of tested (injected) interval, m
use of heavy treatment methods such as grouting.
Pe Effective pressure at the middle of the tested interval,
However, wherever the SPIRQD and CTLU charts
diverge, the rock mass has acceptable qualities and
requires no treatment. The LU value is the volume of water (l) in a unit of time
To validate the results obtained, a new E-series (3 m (min) over a unit of length (m) for a tested interval at a
spacing) of boreholes was drilled between the D-series pressure of 10 bar (Nonveiller 1989; Houlsby 1990).
(6 m spacing) boreholes in the area of convergence and Following Houlsby (1977a, 1990), one can calculate the
divergence. A WPT was conducted for the E-series LU values by dividing the discharge by the pressure (column
boreholes, and traces of grout were detected in the C, Table 7) for each step in the loading/unloading process
diverging areas (those with better conditions). Almost all (the slope of the PQ diagram tangent is given by Eq. 1). The
of the joints were successfully filled with grout. The WPT rounded values are graphically presented in a bar chart (as in
indicated that there had been a substantial reduction in column D of Table 7). The equivalent group is determined
permeability (LU \ 1) in the diverging areas. Therefore, based on the similarity between the prepared chart and the
there is no need for further grouting in the diverging areas standard chart (column D of Table 7).

356 S. M. Sadeghiyeh et al.

Table 7 Typical pattern for the determination of the hydromechanical behaviour and permeability (Shroff and Shah 1999; Kutzner 1985)

Finally, one value is chosen from the LU values that are where
calculated for each of the five steps. This value represents
SPI Secondary permeability index, l/s per m2 of the
the permeability of an interval that is 5 m in length based
borehole test surface
on the pattern in column E. The discharge value is
C Constant that depends on the fluid viscosity at 10 C
substituted into the LU and SPI equations (Eqs. 1, 2) and is
(equal to 1.49 9 10-10 for water)
chosen based on the behaviour type as indicated in a par-
Le Length of the tested borehole interval, m
ticular step or steps for the selected type.
r Borehole radius, m
The LU value may be expressed as a range, particularly
Q Water flow absorbed by a fissured rock mass, l
when fewer than five steps are used.
t Duration of the pressure applied in each step, s
H Total pressure expressed as a water column, m
Secondary Permeability Index (SPI)

Foyo et al. (2005) combined a modified form of the Lugeon Table 8 Rock mass classification based on the SPI and ground
treatment considerations (Foyo et al. 2005)
relation (Eq. 1) with the radial permeability of a rock mass.
They also included the borehole geometry (the radius) to Secondary permeability index, SPI (1/s m2)
propose a new equation that yields a value that is closer to 2.16 9 10-14 1.72 9 10-13 1.72 9 10-12
the permeability coefficient than that yielded by the Lu-
Rock mass Class A Class B Class C Class D
geon relation:
  Classification Excellent Goodfair Poor Very poor
Ln 2Lr e 1 Q Ground Needless Local Required Extensive
SPI C   2 treatment
2pLe Ht

Comparison of Permeability and Groutability of Ostur Dam Site Rock Mass 357

The SPI establishes a new permeability-based rock mass Ewert F-K (1994) Evaluation and interpretation of water pressure
classification (Table 8). Based on this classification, dif- tests. In: Bell AL (ed) Grouting in the ground. Thomas Telford,
London, pp 141162
ferent considerations regarding ground treatment are pro- Ewert F-K (1997a) Permeability, groutability and grouting of rocks
posed (Foyo et al. 2005). related to dam sites. Part 1: grouting examples and ground water
The proposed classification differs from classical geo- flow in rock. Dam Eng 8(1):3177
mechanical classifications. Most critically, it does not Ewert F-K (1997b) Permeability, groutability and grouting of rocks
related to dam sites. Part 2: permeability testing by means of
reflect the strength of the intact rock. Instead, the classifi- water pressure tests. Dam Eng 8(2):123176
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permeability of the discontinuities (Foyo et al. 2005). related to dam sites. Part 3: hydrogeological regime around dams
and reservoir. Dam Eng 8(3):215248
Ewert F-K (1997d) Permeability, groutability and grouting of rocks
Rock Quality Designation (RQD) related to dam sites. Part 4: groutability and grouting of rock.
Dam Eng 8(4):271325
The RQD was proposed by Deere (1968) as follows (Bie- Foyo A, Sanchez MA, Tomillo C (2005) A proposal for a Secondary
niawski 1989): Permeability Index obtained from water pressure tests in dam
P foundations. Eng Geol 77:6982
Length of core pieces  10 cm Houlsby AC (1976) Routine interpretation of the Lugeon water-test.
RQD  100: 3 Q J Eng Geol 9:303313
Total core run length
Houlsby AC (1977a) Engineering of grout curtains to standards.
The International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) ASCE J Geotech Eng 103(9):953970
Houlsby AC (1977b) Towards appropriate metric unit for grouting.
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Although the RQD is a simple and inexpensive index, it Wiley, New York, 442 pp
cannot provide an adequate description of rock masses Kutzner C (1985) Considerations on rock permeability and grouting
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Palmstrom A (1995) RMia rock mass characterization system for
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