Understanding of the failure mechanism and limit support pressure of a shield tunnel face under seepage condition is important in engineering design and construction. Nine physical model tests, i.e. three tests in dry sands, three tests in submerged sands under undrained condition, and three tests under seepage condition were carried out. A rigid plate was set in front of the tunnel face to maintain stability at the initial state. By moving the plate backward from the soil, the displacement and earth pressure curve of the tunnel face was obtained. The earth pressure dropped sharply to a constant value which corresponds to the limit support pressure required to stabilize the tunnel face. The limit pressure was found to increase with the cover-to-diameter ratio in a shallow tunnel, and it turned to be irrelevant to cover-to-diameter ratio in a deep tunnel. The ratio of limit pressure and initial earth pressure decreases with the cover-to-diameter ratio, indicating the effect of soil arching in stabilizing tunnel face stability. Under the same water level condition, the limit pressure of tunnel face with seepage is larger than the one without seepage. The limit support pressure under seepage condition is about 70% of the earth pressure at rest; it is about 50% under undrained condition and is about 15% in dry sand. The flow line around the tunnel face was traced by infused pigment, and the distribution was shown to be irrelevant with water level. The image captured by a HD camera during the test was analyzed by PIV (particle image velocimetry) analysis; the soil particle movements and the distribution of shear strain showed the failure mechanism of tunnel face. The failure mode is a combination of a wedge with slip arc and a prism. Comparing with the failure mode in dry sands and in saturated sands below water table undrained condition, the inclination angle of the wedge block under seepage condition is much smaller.
Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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