ITR: Adaptive and Real-Time Geologic Mapping, Analysis, and Design of Underground Space (AMADEUS)

Start Date: 12/31/1969
End Date: 12/31/1969

Underground excavations are used for a wide variety of civilian and military purposes, including mining, road & railway tunnels, and caverns. Permanent storage of the current U.S. stockpile of nuclear wastes will utilize large underground excavations. With increasing world population, demand for underground construction is expected to accelerate in the future. From an Information Technology (IT) viewpoint, design and construction of underground facilities are just emerging from the dark ages. Design of tunnels in rock is still largely empirical, rock failure in underground mines and tunnel construction continue to claim lives, and the tunneling industry is still beset by high cost and frequent failures. Computational modeling can lead to more rational designs for tunnels than provided by traditional rock mass classification systems and empirical design procedures. The key problem in using computer models to design underground excavations is the paucity of information on site geology, rock mass properties and in situ stresses. Geological, geophysical and rock mechanical investigations are time consuming and expensive, and are carried out extensively only for very important projects.

The two major research objectives for this project are: 1) to design and implement an IT-based system called AMADEUS for adaptive and real-time geologic mapping, analysis and design of underground space; and 2) to enhance teaching efforts related to engineering geology, mining, rock mechanics and computer science. Advances in IT, particularly in digital imaging, visualization and computation, have not been fully exploited in tunneling and can significantly improve tunnel analysis, design and construction. Using IT, real-time data on tunnel geology and response can be gathered during tunnel excavation using non-intrusive techniques which do not require expensive and time-consuming instrumentation. The real-time data are then used to update the geological and computational models of the excavation, and to determine the optimal rate of tunnel advance, excavation sequence and tunnel support. Virtual environment (VE) systems will be used to allow geologists, engineers, contractors and owners virtual walk-throughs inside an excavation, and let them observe geologic conditions, perform virtual tunneling operations, and investigate stability of the excavation via computer simulation.

The major intellectual merits of the project include 1) a digital imaging and analysis system for geologic characterization of rock exposures, 2) a remote measuring system for monitoring tunnel deformation during construction, 3) a computer tomography system for defining stress changes within the rock due to excavation, 4) a rock mass modeling system for constructing 3D geologic/geomechanical models from the data acquired by the data gathering tasks, and 5) a virtual environment (VE) for visualizing and interacting with the geologic/geomechanical models. Taken individually, these components are major developments in different areas of geotechnical engineering. With the components integrated into a system, AMADEUS will result in significant contributions to the safe and efficient construction of underground space.

Broader impacts of the project include targeted educational opportunities for minority, K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students. Minorities, women, and individuals from other underrepresented groups will be recruited to participate in the research by working with three programs: 1) the Virginia Tech Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity, whose mission is to increase participation and retention of minorities and women at all academic levels, 2) Virginia Tech's established coalition with 12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and 3) the McNair program for low-income, first- generation college students and students from groups underrepresented in higher education. K-12 outreach will extend to local schools, and schools in the mining regions of Appalachia. The research results will be disseminated rapidly and broadly through 1) the worldwide web, 2) geotechnical and computer science print media, 3) conference presentations, and 4) demonstrations of AMADEUS to mine operators, contractors and engineers. Finally, the project addresses several of the broad objectives of the 2003 Information Technology Research (ITR) Program, including the ability to provide ìnew computational, simulation, and data analysis tools to model physical phenomena.i

Grant Institution: National Science Foundation

Amount: $1,067,116

People associated with this grant:

Doug Bowman