Rockbursts are one of the prominent problems faced by deep underground engineering. Not only do they affect the construction progress, but they also threaten the safety of construction personnel and equipment, and may even induce earthquakes. Therefore, the prediction of rockbursts has very important engineering significance for the excavation of deeply buried tunnels. In this paper, a new indicator for stability and optimization evaluation of hard, brittle surrounding rock under high geo-stresses, namely the minimum energy storage limit of surrounding rock induced by transient unloading, is proposed. In addition, the time for erecting support for tunnel excavation in the rockburst area and the impact of excavation dimensions on rockburst are investigated. The results show that transient unloading during the tunnel excavation process will reduce the energy storage limit of the rock mass. When the strain energy density of the local surrounding rock exceeds the minimum energy storage limit of the rock mass, the rock mass energy is suddenly released, and rockburst occurs. Rockburst is most likely to occur at 0.42–0.65 D away from the working face. The increasing length of a round adopted in high geo-stress areas will make the surrounding rock unstable and increase the probability of rockburst.
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