Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Transactions home

  SME FaceBook SME Twitter SME LinkedIn RSS Feed

Rock mechanics of the Davis Detector Cavern

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2012, Vol. 332, No. 1, pp. 370-388

Pariseau, W.G.; Tesarik, D.R.; Trancynger, T.C.


The Davis detector cavern was excavated on the 4850 Level of the former Homestake Mine in the mid-1960s to house a novel neutrino detector developed by Nobel Prize winner Dr. R. Davis. The original cavern was about 9.1 x 16.8 x 9.7 m high, excavated in a Precambrian amphibolite known as the Yates unit and enlarged in 2010. In 2009, the National Science Foundation selected the site for development as a national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL). This retrospective rock mechanics study of the Davis cavern is intended to inform design of the much larger caverns and laboratory rooms being considered for the same 4850 Level. Provision for rock mass variability, sequential excavation, jointing and wall damage from blasting are included in analyses that were done using two different computer codes and methods (FLAC3D and UTAH3). The results are in agreement with observations and show that cavern stability is indeed the case. The main conclusions are: (1) if conventional scaling of laboratory rock elastic moduli and strengths is done, then 0.25 and 0.50 scale factors are reasonable, (2) measured statistical and spatial variability in rock properties should be incorporated into geomechanical analyses to better reflect reality, (3) discontinuities (“joints”) are essential to reliable analysis of excavation safety and when properly taken into account eliminate the need for empirical “scaling” of laboratory rock properties, (4) major geologic features such as rhyolite dikes and breccia zones may be important to excavation safety at Homestake and should be explicitly represented in analyses and (5) quantifying wall blast damage is important to engineering design of underground excavations.