Twenty-five years geotechnical observation and testing in the Tertiary Boom Clay formation

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The research and development programme on geological disposal for high-level and long-lived waste (HLW) in Belgium was initiated in 1974. A deep tertiary clay formation, the Boom Clay, present under the Mol-Dessel nuclear site, was selected as a reference host formation for experimental purposes. The construction of the underground laboratory HADES (at a depth of 223 m, initiated in 1980 and extended in 2002) allowed the building of a valuable geotechnical database and led to the development of improved excavation techniques that significantly reduce the Excavation Damaged Zone (EDZ). Since the operational start of HADES about 25 years ago, many geotechnical measurements have been performed around excavations. Comparison between in-situ measurements and modelling results allowed a continuous improvement of our knowledge on the Boom Clay behaviour. Important issues to interpret correctly the measurements are the good control of the excavation parameters and the boundary conditions. An extensive characterisation of the hydromechanical response of Boom Clay around an excavation for short and long term conditions has been performed. One important finding was the occurrence of measurable hydraulic effects at a distance about 60 m (12.5 tunnel diameters) ahead of the tunnel excavation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-237
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • clays, Radioactive waste disposal, Pore pressures, Monitoring, Numerical modelling and analysis, In situ testing

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