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Estimating settlements due to TBM tunnelling

Rattia, V., Divall, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-9212-5115, Gitirana Jr., G. & Assis, A. (2022). Estimating settlements due to TBM tunnelling. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Geotechnical Engineering, 176(6), pp. 675-686. doi: 10.1680/jgeen.21.00103


Soft-ground Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) are the preferred solution for construction of long tunnels and linear infrastructure assets, especially in urban areas. TBMs allow the control of tunnel face stability, minimizing effects on the surrounding ground. Unfortunately, existing methods for the assessment of ground surface movements due to TBM tunnelling either utilise complex and computationally expensive numerical analyses or rely on simplistic volume loss theories, which do not consider the characteristics of the ground and TBM operation. This paper presents a simple formulation to estimate the immediate surface settlement due to the applied TBM support pressure, based on an analogy with the hyperbolic behaviour of stress-strain curves of soils. The maximum surface settlement and volume loss were the variables chosen to describe the ground movement while the TBM face support pressure describes the tunnel internal support pressure. Uncertainties due to the inherent variability of geotechnical parameters were also considered, resulting in definition of lower and upper boundaries. Data from a series of centrifuge test results, with and without tunnel face reinforcement by forepoles and a real scale TBM case study were used to validate the proposed model. Presented analyses show that the proposed model adequately represented observed settlement data.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been published in Proceedings of the ICE - Geotechnical Engineering by ICE Publishing.
Publisher Keywords: Settlement, Tunnels & Tunnelling, Centrifuge Modelling
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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