Numerical modelling of the effects of joint spacing on rock fragmentation by TBM cutters

Q. M. Gong, Y. Y. Jiao, J. Zhao

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193 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of joint spacing on tunnel boring machine (TBM) penetration performance has been extensively observed at TBM site. However, the mechanism of rock mass fragmentation as function of the joint spacing has been scarcely studied. In this study, the rock indentation by a single TBM cutter is simulated by using the discrete element method (DEM), and the rock fragmentation process is highlighted. A series of two-dimensional numerical modelling with different joint spacing in a rock mass have been performed to explore the effect of joint spacing on rock fragmentation by a TBM cutter. Results show that the joint spacing can significantly influence the crack initiation and propagation, as well as the fragmentation pattern, and can hence affect the penetration rate of the TBM. Two crack initiation and propagation modes are found to fragment the rock mass due to the variation of joint spacing. The simulation results are analyzed and compared with in situ measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalTunnelling and Underground Space Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Crack
  • Fragmentation
  • Joint spacing
  • TBM cutter
  • UDEC

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