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Effects of deep excavations on circular tunnels in fine-grained soils



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This thesis presents a study of the effects of deep excavations on adjacent metro or utility tunnel in soft to medium soil. The main objective of the thesis is to develop a method of estimating these effects quantitatively. Extensive review of relevant literature published in the past four decades was conducted in order to understand the trends and the key developments in this area. It was revealed from the literature review that the concurrent use of the Observational Method and the finite element method for monitoring and controlling of ground deformations around the excavation has become a norm for deep excavation projects. Several design charts and guidelines for estimation of effects of deep excavations on adjacent raft foundations or pile foundations were found in the literature; however, no such charts or guidelines were found for estimation of effects of deep excavations on existing circular tunnels. Consequently, the development of these guidelines was established as one of the objectives of this study. The initial phase of the research was focused on detailed study and analysis of two well-documented case studies – the Chicago Subway Renovation Project, USA and the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Deep Excavation, Singapore. The back analyses of these two case studies were carried out using the finite element software PLAXIS. Exact site conditions and input parameters for the soil and the structural components were incorporated as much as possible. Appropriate adjustments in some of the input parameters were necessary to achieve good match between the computed and the observed results. The back analyses were followed by parametric studies to identify important variables controlling the mechanisms of soil-structure interaction. The variables identified from the parametric studies of the two case studies were: soil stiffness, tunnel lining thickness, the depth of the excavation, and the location of tunnel. These variables were used to conduct a series of finite element analyses using simplified geometry and ground conditions for the purpose of formulating preliminary design charts. Results from these analyses were recorded in terms of in-plane and out-of-plane distortion of tunnel lining as well as additional shear forces and bending moments induced in the tunnel lining due to an adjacent deep excavation. The results were made non-dimensional before presenting them as contour plots. These contour plots constitute preliminary design charts, which can be used for the estimation of tunnel lining deformation caused by adjacent deep excavation. Based on the results of this study, it can be concluded that a finite element program (such as PLAXIS) that is able to model construction processes associated with tunnelling and deep excavation in urban environment can be an invaluable tool in exploring the mechanism of ground deformation around the deep excavation and in quantifying the effects of ground deformation on existing adjacent structures. The modeller must, however, be aware of the fact that ways of modelling a particular construction process could be different for various finite element programs. It is important to interpret the instructions given in the manual of the program correctly. Detailed back analyses of well-documented deep excavation case histories are vital from the point-of-view of building confidence in the selected finite element program. Such analyses also have the potential to identify key variables influencing the soil-structure interaction. Preliminary design charts proposed in this thesis are very convenient for obtaining approximate values of tunnel lining deformation caused by adjacent deep excavation. Non-dimensional nature of these design charts makes it possible to be used for any depth of the deep excavation and for tunnels of any size, depth of cover, and distance from the vertical face of the excavation. These design charts can be used by engineers and contractors for initial estimation, selection and preliminary design of excavation support system, and are particularly useful during the planning phase. Town planners and project managers, who need to decide on the feasibility, damage control and risk management aspects of a deep excavation project, may also find these design charts equally useful. It should, however, be kept in mind that the estimates obtained from these design charts are highly approximate and as such, should be taken as guidelines for decision making processes. These estimates do not replace site specific detailed analysis and monitoring.



parametric study, design charts, finite element method, circular tunnel, Deep excavation, soil-structure interaction



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering


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