Bored Tunnel Lining Behaviour in Discontinuous Rock

Railway Tunnel in Middle-East

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In a bored railway tunnel project in the Middle-East, difficulties in terms of ovalization, water leakages and settlement of several lining rings located in a fault zone were observed at the end of the construction stage. The present research attempted to find the cause for this lining behaviour. The determination of critical loading conditions, the application of the longitudinal beam model and the analytical and numerical modelling (in Plaxis) of a monolith tunnel lining in abrupt ground property transition were analyzed. Thereby, the global lining stiffness reduction due to joints was also considered. The literature review led to the following expected factors that caused difficulties in the Middle-East case: the squeezing and submerged ground conditions, the rock mass disturbance and the improper backfilling of the rings. Additionally, the ring stiffness reduction due to joints was an essential factor for lining behaviour. The geotechnical conditions, the lining design and the observed difficulties in the case were defined in the next section. Critical missing information, such as geotechnical properties of the fault zone material and limited monitoring data, led to essential assumptions. The settlements were expected to be caused by rock mass disturbance and improper backfilling. These altered the water flow during and after the boring operations and led to lowering of the groundwater level and increase of effective stresses. The water leakages were caused by ring ovalization in the soft fault zone, leading to opening of joints. The analysis for this research was divided in 2D transversal, 2D longitudinal and 3D modelling of the lining in and around the fault zone. The 3D model was seen as the integral model, which took into account the transversal and longitudinal behaviour of the lining. However, most of the behaviour of the lining was analyzed by carrying out parametric analysis for both directions in 2D. Moreover, the 2D models were used to validate the results of the 3D model to identify the influence of the third dimension. The assessment of the results from these analyses led to the following conclusions. The behaviour of the tunnel lining in small width fault zones was governed by the transversal action. The ovalization was mainly influenced by the ground stiffness, the vertical to horizontal stress ratio, the backfilling stiffness and the ring stiffness. Using Erdmann's analytical solution, the approximate lining forces can be determined. However, this overestimated the ground pressures acting on the lining, especially in cases where vertical to horizontal stress ratios were not equal to 0.5. This was because the 2D transversal behaviour did not take into account the longitudinal arching effect, which depended mostly on the stiffness ratio between ground types. The final conclusion was that the global reduction of lining stiffness due to the joints led to a discrepancy with regard to the distribution of the longitudinal displacements. A complementary analysis using a numerical model taking into account the joint structure and discontinuous behaviour between rings would probably allow a better prediction of longitudinal displacements.