The mechanism of hysteretic ground settlement caused by shield tunneling in mixed-face conditions

Ming zhong Gao, Zhi long Zhang, Zhi qiang Qiu, Chuan Xu, Jian Zhao

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Shield is used more and more widely, such as coal mine roadway, hydropower tunnel, traffic tunnel and so on. But Tunneling with a tunnel boring machine (TBM) may cause inevitable ground subsidence. Though over the world numerous researches have been conducted for surface settlement induced by TBM in soft ground, the researches of surface settlement induced by TBM in a sandy cobble stratum are limited and a comprehensive study of the mechanism of delayed settlement induced by TBM in a sandy cobble stratum is unavailable. A ground stable state or surface settlement can be determined based on real-time monitoring data for surface dynamic subsidence. Subsequently, TBM tunneling parameters can be adjusted to accommodate various geological conditions. A sand-pebble-soil matrix is a typical heterogeneous material. The macro-mechanical performance of this matrix significantly differs from any material. In a general situation with a low water level and minimal disturbance, a stratum can stabilize by itself for a long period of time. Considering the characteristics of the stratum, ground loss can be divided into two phases: immediate settlement, which tends to stabilize, and delayed settlement, which tends to occur in sand-cobble strata, where settlement develops at a much slower rate than in single-medium strata. Monitoring data is not sufficient to guide the construction in the case of delayed settlement. Cobble-soil matrix can be treated as a spatial structural system that is constituted by single granular soil, aggregates of granular soil and pebble grains. Based on Particle Flow Code in 2 Dimensions (PFC2D), the mechanical characteristics of the matrix and the TBM tunneling process were numerically simulated. Movements of the pebble grains were traced and recorded in real time. The model addressed the mechanism of surface collapse from the perspective of mesomechanics. According to the model, a matrix formed self-stabilizing arch that overlies an underground cavity seems gradually wear out with expanding the cavity and eventually penetrating to the ground surface. The law of ground movement and the formation mechanism of ground subsidence in TBM advancement were investigated. The main factors that affect surface subsidence are the speed of advancement, the underground water level and the supporting period. In the numerical analysis, the surface-loss lag was reproduced and the field monitoring data were verified. The findings of this study provide a new method for investigating ground subsidence in similar strata.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-61
Number of pages11
JournalGeomechanics and Geophysics for Geo-Energy and Geo-Resources
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Ground subsidence
  • PFC
  • Sandy cobble stratum
  • TBM

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