Face stability and ground movements for Mechanized Tunneling

Abstract: As shield tunneling technology advances and more tunnels are constructed with this method, the ability to accurately simulate the excavation process is critical in order to predict the soil behavior and ensure a safe construction with minimal disruption of the overlying structures. Successful tunneling design requires the selection of an appropriate set of control parameters that will both ensure face stability and minimize ground deformations especially in urban areas. During our collaboration with Ferrovial-Agroman for the Crossrail Project, we developed and validated a 3D model for predicting ground movements caused by mechanized tunnel construction using an Earth Pressure Balance machine in clay.  This initial model was then modified to study face stability for mechanized tunneling in clay and sand, in order to understand the dependency of the critical face pressure for stability on the soil properties and the construction method.  My research goal is to expand the model beyond homogeneous soil conditions to capture more complex stratigraphies that are often present in practice. Through our analyses we will identify the key parameters controlling ground movements (including TBM control parameters, drainage conditions, soil properties and stratigraphy) to avoid potential problems such as excess settlements or collapse of the excavation face.