Xiaowan Hydropower station’s dam located in south west of China is the second highest arch dam in the world (h = 292 m), its foundation is based on brittle rocks of biotite granite gneiss and amphibolites plagioclase gneiss. A large-scale excavation around the foundation of the dam was conducted, near to 90 meters horizontal depth excavation and 130 meters vertical depth excavation, so the foundation dam was marked by a significant deformation and a severe damage near the excavation zone, namely excavation distributed zone (EDZ). This damage was caused by the unloading process. According to the in situ investigation, the characteristics of unloading rock masses were described. With the acoustic wave velocity monitoring method, the unloading rock masses characteristics of time effect and space distribution are summarized. Usually the unloading process causes fractures in rock masses along two perpendicular directions in the plane of the bank slope, one is parallel to the dam base slope, and the other is parallel to the river with steep-dip angle. Near to the excavation surface, the excavation damage are more serious, and from the high elevation area to low elevation area, the damage caused by unloading are becoming stronger and stronger, and the bottom of dam base is most damaged. The unloading deformation has a direct temporal dependence; in general, after the excavation, the unloading deformation increases quickly during the firsts 90 days, and increase by a slow rate from 90 to 180 days and after that the unloading deformation will be small enough to be neglected.