Modeling of annular fluid pressures in horizontal boring

Samuel Ariaratnam, Bruce C. Harbin, Richard L. Stauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is minimally-intrusive construction method for installing underground utilities and pipelines. Today, HDD is becoming widely accepted as a cost-effective alternative to traditional open-cut construction. The occurrence of hydraulic fracturing, resulting in the migration of drilling fluid to the surface, has placed the HDD process under scrutiny, especially when considered for projects in environmentally sensitive areas. Hydraulic fracturing results when fluidic pressure within the borehole exceeds the shear strength or undrained cohesion of the strata. Models have been developed to predict borehole pressures; however, there is only limited information available on the properties of drilling returns obtained during HDD installations. A research program was undertaken to determine flow characteristics for drilling returns under a variety of soil conditions and bore penetration rates. Soil samples were gathered based on the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS) and their rheological properties were obtained for different drilling fluids and slurry densities. Presented in this paper is a methodology for predicting borehole fluid pressures over a wide range of project parameters that can be used as a guide to minimize the occurrence of hydraulic fracturing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)610-619
Number of pages10
JournalTunnelling and Underground Space Technology
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Drilling fluid pressure
  • Horizontal directional drilling
  • Modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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