Tunnelling in horizontally laminated ground: The influence of lamination thickness on anisotropic behaviour and practical observations from the Niagara Tunnel Project
Perras, Matthew A.
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The Niagara Tunnel Project is a 10.4 km long water diversion tunnel being excavated under the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario by a 14.4 m diameter tunnel boring machine. This tunnel has descended through the entire stratigraphy of the Niagara Escarpment, including dolomites, limestones, sandstones, shales and interbedded zones of these rock types, passed under St. Davids Buried Gorge ascending to surface. Working at the tunnel provided an opportunity to assess and document the horizontally laminated ground behaviour for this large diameter circular tunnel and provided the backdrop for this study. A detailed understanding of the geological history was necessary. Modelling of laminations, ranging between 0.16 to 16 m in thickness, was conducted to determine critical behaviour and cut-offs for failure modes. A critical normalized lamination thickness (thickness/radius) of 0.9 was found to exist, above which the excavation response is similar to the equivalent isotropic model, and below which the laminated behaviour corresponds to a characteristic failure mode controlled by bed deflections and bed parallel shear. Initially, as the normalized lamination thickness is decreased below 0.9, the stresses are channeled through the crown beam which concentrates the yield and increases the crown deflections. This results in crown beam failure. As the lamination thickness decreases, further the stresses are shed to multiple laminations increasing the displacements significantly and changing the shape and extent of the yield zone. From multiple lamination coupling to self-limiting yield the development of chimney style failure is controlled by the degree of tensile yielding. Tensile yielding first begins in the haunch area and progressively extends above the crown, as the lamination thickness decreases, until a self-limiting plastic yield zone shape is reached at normalized lamination thicknesses below 0.026. Incorporation of discrete anisotropy is necessary to accurately model the excavation response in horizontally laminated ground.