Document Type: Case Study


1 Postdoctoral Fellow, Subsurface Imaging Technology, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

2 Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada


Underground caverns in rock salt deposits are the most secure disposal method and a type of gas-storing facility. Gas storage plays a vital role in ensuring that a strategic relationship is secured between an established energy infrastructure provider and a midstream energy company. The Fischells Brook area is a pillow-shaped body of salts located in the St. George's Bay area of southwest Newfoundland, which has three layers of salt beds, and is capable of excavating caverns for the storage purposes. The development of cavern facilities requires the stability analysis through numerical models and experimental facilities. This work was motivated to examine the engineering feasibility of the salt cavern characteristics in this area, and to investigate its stability under creep behavior. An experimental test facility was developed to investigate the constitutive parameters governing the creep of rock salt, and the constitutive parameters were implemented into a developed finite element model to investigate the stability of the cavern over a 5-year period. Also a stress-based dilatancy failure envelope was developed to interpret the results of the numerical model, and to conduct sensitivity analyses for different design scenarios. The design recommendations developed in this study will be implemented as a key part of an engineering feasibility study for underground caverns in salt deposits in western Newfoundland.