Microseismic Monitoring to Characterize Structure-Type Rockbursts: A Case Study of a TBM-Excavated Tunnel


Numerous rockbursts controlled by small-scale structural planes have occurred frequently during tunnel boring machine (TBM) excavation in a headrace tunnel. To understand the evolutionary process of structure-type rockbursts, a real-time microseismic (MS) monitoring system was deployed during the advancement of TBM. By combination with the true reflection tomography technique, a new method is proposed to estimate the P-wave velocity for in situ hypocentral locations. A typical structure-type rockburst is investigated to study the relationship between the rockburst characteristics and microseismicity. By further analyzing the temporal–spatial distribution of microseismicity and the quantitative interpretation of the MS source parameters, the potential failure zone and the precursor features are recognized during the development of this structure-type rockburst. Based on the MS monitoring results, some proactive treatment measures are put forward for the mitigation of rockburst hazards. The results of the current research can contribute to the understanding of structure-type rockbursts and provide valuable references for rockburst forewarning and construction management in similar tunneling projects.

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σ m :

Maximum principal stress

k :

Number of monitoring cross-sections

tk+1,p, tk,p :

Arrival time of P-wave at (k + 1)-th and k-th monitoring cross-section

Δt :

Arrival time differences of P-wave between monitoring cross-sections

ΔL :

Distance between the (k + 1)-th and k-th monitoring cross-sections

v p :

Velocity of P-wave

D :

Relative magnitude of P-wave velocity

v max :

Maximum relative P-wave velocity

v min :

Maximum relative P-wave velocity

v e :

Equivalent velocity of P-wave

L :

Distance from MS source to sensors

t :

Propagation time from MS source to sensors

L i :

Length of the i-th section

v pi :

P-wave velocity at the i-th section

E :

Seismic energy

E p :

Seismic energy of P-wave

E s :

Seismic energy of S-wave

M :

Seismic moment

ρ :

Rock mass density

v :

Velocity of body wave (P-wave or S-wave)

R :

Hypocentral distance from MS source to sensors

J c :

Energy flux

F c :

Average radiation coefficient

Ω oc :

Spectral level of P-wave or the vector sum of the components of S-wave

σ A :

Apparent stress

V A :

Apparent volume

K :

Stiffness of rock mass


Energy index

M 0 :

Measured seismic moment


Mean radiated energy

d, c :

Fitting constants


Code for geologic investigation of hydropower engineering


Digital-to-analogue converter




Engineering seismology group


Fast Fourier transform


Hyperion network acquisition system


Microseismic monitoring


Short time average vs. long time average


Tunnel boring machine


True reflection tomography


Uniaxial compressive strength


Wavelet transform


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The support provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51978541, 41941018, 51839009) is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Xiao-Ping Zhang.

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Liu, Q., Wu, J., Zhang, X. et al. Microseismic Monitoring to Characterize Structure-Type Rockbursts: A Case Study of a TBM-Excavated Tunnel. Rock Mech Rock Eng 53, 2995–3013 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00603-020-02111-5

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  • Microseismic monitoring (MS)
  • Rockburst
  • Fracture characteristics
  • Structural plane
  • Tunnel boring machine (TBM)