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Fachthemen

Georgios Anagnostou

DOI: 10.1002/gete.201100024

The contribution of horizontal arching


to tunnel face stability
The article revisits the classic problem of tunnel face stability
with special emphasis on the effect of horizontal stresses. These
are important for shear resistance and thus also for the equilibrium of the potentially unstable body in front of the tunnel face, but
they also present the difficulty of static indeterminacy. Starting
from the computational model of Anagnostou and Kovri [1], an
alternative model is presented, which is based on the so-called
method of slices, and is consistent with silo theory, but does not
need an a priori assumption as to the distribution of horizontal
stress. In addition, a simple design equation for estimating support pressure under this model is presented and the results of
comparative analyses concerning the average stresses in the
wedge and the effects of shear resistance at the lateral slip surfaces are shown. The analytical results obtained by the method
of slices agree very well with published results of numerical
analyses and physical tests.
Beitrag der rumlichen Tragwirkung zur Stabilitt der Tunnelbrust. Der vorliegende Artikel untersucht das klassische Problem
der Stabilitt der Ortsbrust unter besonderer Beachtung der Horizontalspannungen. Letztere sind zwar sehr wichtig fr den Gleitwiderstand und somit auch fr die Stabilitt von potenziellen
Bruchkrpern, knnen aber nicht allein aufgrund von Gleichgewichtsbetrachtungen ermittelt werden. Im Beitrag wird eine
Berechnungsmethode vorgestellt, die das Berechnungsmodell
nach Anagnostou und Kovri [1] insofern verbessert, dass sie
keine a priori Annahme ber die Verteilung der Spannungen im
keilfrmigen Bruchkrper vor der Ortsbrust bentigt und auf
konsistente Weise das Gleichgewicht im Keil und im darber
liegenden prismatischen Bruchkrper analysiert. Basierend auf
der Lamellenmethode wird eine einfache Bemessungsformel aufgestellt und der Einfluss der horizontalen Verspannung auf den
erforderlichen Sttzdruck der Ortsbrust aufgezeigt. Die Modellprognosen stimmen mit verffentlichten Ergebnissen von
numerischen Spannungsanalysen sowie mit Versuchsresultaten
gut berein.

Introduction

In contrast to long excavations, where the relevant shear


stresses are mobilized only at the inclined slip surface
and the stability problem is practically two-dimensional
(Figure1a), the load bearing action of the ground ahead of
the tunnel face is three-dimensional. This can best be illustrated by considering the failure model of a potentially
unstable wedge at the face (Figure1b): The shear stresses
s developing at the two vertical slip surfaces contribute to

34

the stability of the wedge; the term horizontal arching can


justifiably be used in this context because the direction of
the shear and normal stresses acting upon the lateral
boundaries of the wedge show that the principal stress trajectories must be oriented as indicated by the dashed lines
in Figure 1b.
There are many publications dealing with theoretical
and experimental investigations into tunnel face stability.
Recent reviews may be found, for example, in Idinger et al.
[2], Mollon et al. [3] and Perazzelli and Anagnostou [4].
The present paper analyses the contribution of horizontal
arching to stability on the basis of the computational model of Anagnostou and Kovri [1], which was developed in
the context of slurry shield tunnelling and is widely used
in engineering practice. The model approximates the tunnel face by a rectangle (of height H and width B) and considers a failure mechanism that consists of a wedge at the
face and an overlying prism up to the soil surface (depth
of cover h, Figure2).

Fig. 1. a) Cross section and horizontal plan of a long pit


under plane strain conditions; b) longitudinal and horizontal
section of a tunnel
Bild 1. a) Querschnitt und Grundriss einer langen Baugrube
im ebenen Verformungszustand, b) Lngsschnitt und Horizontalschnitt eines Tunnels

2012 Ernst & Sohn Verlag fr Architektur und technische Wissenschaften GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

tance at the vertical slip surfaces) is linearly proportional


to the vertical stresses z, i.e.
(1)

y = z

where is a constant (the so-called lateral stress coefficient), and, (ii), that the vertical stress z changes linearly
with depth. This assumption was also made in the German specifications for slurry wall design [6] and was made
by Anagnostou and Kovri [1] in their computational
model:
Fig. 2. Failure mechanism
Bild 2. Bruchmechanismus

Fig. 3. Assumption of Anagnostou and Kovri [1] concerning


the vertical stress distribution (solid line) as well as alternative formulations discussed by Broere [7] (dashed lines)
Bild 3. Annahme von Anagnostou und Kovri [1] ber die
Verteilung der Vertikalspannung (durchzogene Linie) sowie
alternative Annahmen nach Broere [7] (gestrichelte Linien)

Fig. 4. Forces acting upon an infinitesimal slice


Bild 4. Krfte auf einer infinitesimalen Lamelle

The central problem of horizontal arching is associated with the estimation of shear resistance at the vertical
slip surfaces of the wedge (s in Figure1): The frictional
part of the shear resistance depends on the horizontal
stress y, which nevertheless cannot be derived from the
equilibrium conditions (it is statically indeterminate). This
problem is due to the spatial geometry of the failure mechanism and it also arises in stability analyses of slurry wall
trenches or excavations with large depth to width ratios.
In order to overcome this difficulty in the analysis of deep
excavations, Walz and Pulsfort [5] assumed, (i), that the
horizontal stress y (which governs the frictional resis-

z(z) = z(H)

z
z
+ H 1
H
H

(2)

where denotes the unit weight of the soil. The stress


z(H) at the top boundary of the wedge is obtained by applying silo theory to the overlying prism. The solid line in
Figure 3 represents the stress distribution under this assumption, while the dashed lines show alternative formulations discussed by Broere [7]: Line 1 disregards arching
effects in respect of the wedge, line 2 assumes that arching
in respect of the wedge can also be approximated by the
classic silo equation (in spite of its non-constant horizontal cross-section) and line 3 represents a compromise between model 1 and 2.
The advantage of all these approaches is their simplicity. The disadvantage, however, is the a priori nature of
the assumption concerning the vertical stress z and the
lack of consistency regarding the analysis of the prismatic
body, which faces exactly the same problem, but solves it
in a different way, i.e. on the basis of Janssens silo theory
[8].
A more consistent way of calculating the frictional
part of the shear resistance at the lateral slip surfaces of
the wedge is to proceed by analogy with silo theory, i.e. to
keep the assumption of proportionality between horizontal and vertical stress (Equation 1), but, in order to calculate the distribution of the vertical stresses z inside the
wedge, to consider the equilibrium of an infinitesimally
thin slice (Figure 4). Walz and Prager [9] first proposed
such an approach for the stability assessment of slurry
walls. This so-called method of slices eliminates the need
for an a priori assumption as to the distribution of the vertical stress and makes it possible to analyse cases with
non-uniform face support and heterogeneous ground consisting of horizontal layers. The method of slices also
makes it possible to estimate on a more consistent basis
(similarly to silo theory) the vertical stresses within the
wedge. It should be noted that the stresses (y, z) within
the wedge are important not only with respect to the frictional resistance at the vertical slip surfaces but also with
respect to the pull-out resistance of the bolts which may be
installed in order to stabilise the face (a high confining
stress increases the strength of the bond between bolts
and soil).
The paper in hand analyses tunnel face stability using the method of slices (Section 2), discusses the results
of comparative analyses concerning the stresses in the
wedge (Section 3) and their effects on the required support pressure (Sections 4 to 6), and proposes a simple design equation (Section 7).

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

35

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

2
2.1

where dA denotes the area of the lateral boundary of the


infinitesimal slice:

Computational model
Outline

In the mechanism under consideration (see Figure2), failure will occur if the load exerted by the prism upon the
wedge exceeds the force which can be sustained by the
wedge at its upper boundary taking into account the shear
strength and the own weight of the ground. At limit equilibrium the prism load is equal to the bearing capacity of
the wedge. The prism load is calculated on the basis of silo theory (Section 2.2), while the bearing capacity of the
wedge is calculated by considering the equilibrium of an
infinitesimal slice (Section 2.3). Both the load of the prism
and the bearing capacity of wedge depend on the inclination of the inclined slip plane. The critical value of the angle (see Figure2), i.e. the value that maximizes the support pressure, will be determined iteratively.

2.2

Assuming that the ground is homogeneous and obeys the


Mohr-Coulomb failure condition with cohesion c and angle of internal friction , the vertical force at the wedgeprism interface reads as follows:

(3)

B H tan
2 B + H tan

The support force is


dS = s B dz

where s denotes the support pressure.


According to the Mohr-Coulomb criterion, the shear
resistance dT of the inclined slip surface is connected to
the normal force dN:
B dz
c + dN tan
cos

dT =

(4)

dTs = 2 c tan z dz + 2 tan

(5)

Bearing capacity of the wedge

Consider the equilibrium of an infinitesimal slice (see Figure4). In the plane of movement, the following forces act
upon the slice: Its weight dG; the supporting force V(z)
exerted by the underlying ground; the loading force V(z)
+ dV exerted by the overlying ground; the forces dN and
dT at the inclined slip surface; the shear force dTs at the
two vertical slip surfaces; and the supporting force dS.
The equilibrium conditions parallel and perpendicular to
the sliding direction read as follows:
dTs + dT + dS sin = (dV + dG)cos

(6)

dN = (dV + dG)sin + dS cos

(7)

dV
z
V =M +P
dz
B

(8)

V
dz
B

(14)

(15)

2 tan
cos sin tan

(16)

M = Mc B2c M B3

(17)

P = Pc B2c + Ps B2 s

(18)

tan
tan

(19)

Mc =

(20)

M = tan
Pc =

2 tan cos

Ps = tan +

The slice weight is

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

(13)

Due to equations (7), (8), (10), (11) and (14), the equilibrium condition in the sliding direction (Equation 6) becomes:

36

(12)

V
Bz tan

z =

ccr = R

dG = B dA

where z represents the horizontal normal stress (Equation 1). Taking into account equation (9) and that the vertical stress

where

2.2

(11)

dTs = 2 dA c + z tan

Equation (3) ensures that the load exerted by the prism


will be set equal to zero (rather than becoming negative) if
the cohesion exceeds the critical value:
(if surf = 0)

(10)

we obtain:

where surf denotes the surface load and R is equal to the


ratio of the volume of the prism to its circumferential
area:
R=

(9)

The shear resistance of the two lateral slip surfaces reads


as follows:

Prism loading

h
h
tan
tan
R c
R+
R
Vsilo = min 0,
1e
e
surf

tan

BH tan

dA= z tan dz .

(21)
(22)

Equation (15) is a differential equation for the vertical


force V(z). Assuming a homogeneous ground and uniform
support pressure distribution, the coefficients , and
do not depend on the co-ordinate z and the solution to

equation (15) for the boundary condition V(0) = 0 reads as


follows:
(23)
V(z) = Cs()B2s + Cc()B2c C ()B3
where is the normalized z co-ordinate,
z
=
H

H/B

(24)

(25)

B
h c surf

= f7 , , , , ,
,
H H H
H

Cs() =

C v() 1
Ps

(26)

Cc() =

C v() 1
F ()
Pc + 2 Mc

(27)

C () =

F()
M
2

(28)

F() = C v() 1

(29)

The bearing capacity of the wedge is obtained from equation (23) with z = H:
V(H) = Cs(1)B2s + Cc(1)B2c C (1)B3

(30)

The coefficients Cs, Cc and C express the effect of support


pressure, cohesion and unit weight, respectively, on the
bearing capacity of the wedge.

2.4

Vsilo
z(H)
1
=
=
H
H BH tan

min 0,

and Cs, Cc and C are dimensionless functions of :


C v() = e(

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

Support pressure

At limit equilibrium the load exerted by the prism is equal


to the bearing capacity of the wedge:

R
c

H H
tan

(31)

(36)

It can easily be verified that with increasing depth of cover h the exponential term in equation (3) decreases rapidly to zero with the consequence that the silo pressure and
the necessary face support pressure become practically independent of the depth of cover (quantitative examples
are given in Section 4). With the exception of very shallow
tunnels, and provided that the cohesion is lower than R
(i.e. that the prism needs support in order to be stable),
both the expression (36) for the silo loading and the expression (32) for the support pressure become considerably simpler for large values of h:
z(H)
c
R
= f81 f81
H
H
H

(37)

Where
1
tan

(38)

s
c
=f f
H 51 52 H

(39)

f81 =
and

where

V(H) = Vsilo

h
h ,
tan
tan

1 e
R + surf e
R

f51 = f1 + f3f81

B
R
= f , , ,
H 51 H

(40)

As V(H) depends linearly on s (Equation 30), equation


(31) represents a linear equation for the support pressure s.
Its solution reads as follows:

B
f52 = f2 + f3f81 = f52 , , ,
H

(H)
s
c
= f1 f2
+ f3 z
H
H
H

It can readily be verified that for = 1 equation (41) simplifies to:

(32)

where

f52 =

f1 =

B
B C (1)
= f , , ,
H Cs(1) 1 H

(33)

f2 =

B
Cc(1)
= f , , ,
Cs(1) 2 H

(34)

f3 =

B
tan
= f3 , , , ,
B

H
C (1)
H s

and, according to equation (3),

(35)

(41)

1
tan

(42)

It is remarkable that this result is identical to the numerical results by Vermeer and Ruse [10] and Vermeer et al. [11]
(note that f52 = ds/dc). As mentioned by Ruse [12], the relationship (42) is theoretically founded and close to the
equation ds/dc = 0.5 cot proposed by Krause [13] on the
basis of a completely different failure mechanism (the sliding of a semi-spherical body at the face).

2.5

Distribution of the vertical stress

From equations (13), (23) and (32) we obtain the average


vertical stress z of the wedge slice at elevation z:

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

37

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

z(z) =

B Cs()s + Cc()c C ()B


=
H
tan

z,av,lin =
(43)

= f11 z(H) + f12 H f13 c


where
f11 =

f12

1 Cs()
Cs(1)

(B / H)
=

f13 =

(44)

C ()
B/H
f11Cc(1) c
tan

(45)

(46)

At the wedge foot, the nominators and the denominators


of these equations become equal to zero. The stress can be
computed by applying LHpitals rule:

2.6

( )

(54)

Note that, although the stress distribution of equation (2)


is linear, the average vertical stress according to equation
(54) corresponds to the stress prevailing at elevation z =
2H/3 rather than to the stress at the tunnel axis. This is
due to the larger contribution of the upper part of the
wedge.

C ()
f11C (1)
tan

z(0) =

2
1
H + H .
3 z
3

1
dV(z) Pc c + Ps s
lim
=
B tan z0 dz
tan

(47)

Frictional resistance of the vertical slip surfaces

As an overall measure for the frictional resistance, the average frictional stress av, may be considered. According
to Coulomb and equation (1),
av, = tan z,av

(48)

where z,av is the average vertical stress. The latter can be


calculated via integration over the lateral wedge boundary:

Comparative calculations concerning


stress distribution

The linear approximation under equation (2) has been examined by Walz and Pulsfort [5] in the context of slurry
wall stability. In this paper, the results of comparative calculations for the problem of tunnel face stability will be
discussed.
Consider a tunnel with width B = 10 m, height
H= 10m and cover h > H in a homogeneous ground with
= 20kN/m3. Figure 5 shows the vertical stress z over
the face height z obtained using the method of slices
(Equation 43, solid lines) or assuming the linear distribution of equation (2) (dashed lines) for three sets of shear
strength parameters: cohesionless soil with = 25 or 35
and cohesive soil with = 25 and c = 20 kPa. In both
models, the stress at the upper boundary of the wedge is
equal to the silo pressure. The latter was calculated assuming the coefficient of lateral stress = 0.8. This value
is supported by the results of trap-door tests by Melix [14],
which indicate that is between 0.8 and 1.0, which is
slightly lower than the value of 1 suggested by Terzaghi
and Jelinek [15]. The computation of the vertical stress z
using the method of slices also necessitates an assumption
concerning the coefficient for the wedge. On account of

zz tan dz
z,av =

0
H

z tan dz

2
=
H2

zz dz
0

(49)

= f21 s + f22c f23H


where
f21 =

)f

tan +
tan

(50)

25

f22 =

1 f25

+ f25 1
tan 2 sin

(51)

f23 =

B
f 1
H 25

(52)

f25 = 2

B B H/B
e
1 1

H H

(53)

For comparison, the average vertical stress in the case of a


linear distribution according to equation (2) reads as follows:

38

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

Fig. 5. Distribution of vertical stress z over the height of


the tunnel face for a wedge with = 30 (other parameters:
= 20 kN/m3, B = H = 10 m, h > H, = 0.80)
Bild 5. Verteilung der Vertikalspannung z ber die Ortsbrusthhe fr einen Keil mit = 30 (sonstige Parameter:
= 20 kN/m3, B = H = 10 m, h > H, = 0,80)

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

Fig. 7. a) Ratio of the average vertical stresses z,av/z,av,lin


and, b), necessary support pressure s according to the method of slices as a function of cohesion c for diferent values
of the friction angle and of the angle (other parameters:
= 20 kN/m3, B = H = 10 m, h > H, = 0.80)
Bild 7. a) Verhltnis der mittleren Vertikalspannungen
z,av/z,av,lin und, b), erforderlicher Sttzdruck s nach der
Lamellenmethode in Abhngigkeit der Kohsion c fr verschiedene Werte des Reibungwinkels und des Winkels
(sonstige Parameter: = 20 kN/m3, B = H = 10 m, h > H,
= 0,80)

Fig. 6. Support pressure s as a function of the angle


for the parameters of Figure5 and (a) = 25 and c = 0;
(b) = 35 and c = 0 kPa; (c) = 25 and c = 20 kPa
Bild 6. Sttzdruck s in Abhngigkeit des Winkels fr
die Parameter des Bildes 5 und (a) = 25, c = 0;
(b) = 35, c = 0 kPa; (c) = 25, c = 20 kPa

the similarity of this model to the silo theory, the same value of = 0.8 was assumed for the wedge and the prism.
According to the equations in Section 2.5, the vertical stress distribution depends essentially on the angle ,
while this parameter has a minor effect when assuming the
simplified linear distribution of equation (2) (it affects only the silo load Vsilo). Figure 5 was obtained for = 30. In

addition to each line, the diagram also shows the value of


the average vertical stress (calculated on the basis of Eqs.
49 and 54). It can easily be seen that the assumption of
equation (2) leads to vertical stresses that are considerably
higher than the stresses obtained using the method of
slices. This is particularly true in the case of the higher
strength soils ( = 35 or c = 20 kPa), because the lateral
shear resistance does not allow the stress to increase with
depth in the method of slices, while the linear stress distribution of equation (2) does not explicitly consider the
shear strength of the ground.
Due to the higher vertical stress in the simplified
model, the lateral frictional resistance will also be higher
than with the method of slices. The simplified model thus
predicts a lower support pressure. This is clearly illustrated by the diagrams of Figure 6, which present the neces-

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

39

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

sary support pressure as a function of the angle for the


three sets of shear strength parameters of Figure 5. The
thick solid curves were calculated for = 0.8 using the
method of slices (Equation 32), while the other curves
were obtained assuming the distribution of equation (2)
with = 0.8 for the prism and different values w of this
coefficient for the wedge. Making the same assumption as
in the method of slices (i.e. w = = 0.8), the simplified
model leads to a lower support pressure. In order to obtain the same frictional resistance (and consequently the
same support pressure), the simplified model of equation
(2) should be applied in combination with a lower coefficient w at the lateral wedge planes. In fact, Figure 6a
shows that when reducing the w-value according to the
ratio of the average vertical stresses of Figure 5 (i.e., taking
w = z,av/z,av,lin = 0.8 x 112/132 = 0.68) the simplified
model agrees well with the method of slices.
Similar remarks apply to the case of a higher friction
angle (Figure 6b) or of a cohesive ground (Figure 6c), the
main difference being that horizontal arching is more pronounced in these cases and consequently the difference
between the two models is bigger. In the case of = 35
(Figure6b), the simplified model predicts about the same
support pressure if the w-value is taken to be 0.55. The reduction factor w/ = 0.55/0.80 = 0.69 agrees well with the
ratio of the average stresses (z,av/z,av,lin = 74/110 = 0.67
according to Figure 5). This is true also for the cohesive
ground (according to Figures 5 and 6c, z,av/z,av,lin =
58/96 = 0.60 and w/ = 0.49/0.80 = 0.61, respectively).
Figure 7a shows the results of a parametric study
concerning the ratio of the average vertical stresses of the
two models, which at the same time represents the reduction factor to be applied to the w-value of the simplified
model. The diagram shows the stress ratio as a function of
the cohesion for different values of the friction angle and
of the angle . For the parameter combinations of wedges
needing support (i.e. parameter combinations leading to
positive values of support pressure, Figure7b), the reduction factor amounts to 0.50 0.85. Taking w as equal to
0.5 (as suggested by Anagnostou and Kovri [1]) therefore represents a reasonably conservative assumption. As
mentioned above, the same is true with regard to a -value
of 0.8.

Comparative calculations concerning support pressure

Figure 8 shows the effect of the depth of cover h on the


support pressure s. It can readily be seen that, with the exception of soils of very low friction angle, the support
pressure has practically reached its maximum value already at a depth of h = H. In the remaining part of the present paper all calculations assume that the depth of cover
is larger than this (h > H), which in practical terms means
that the overburden amounts at least to one tunnel diameter.
Figure 9 shows the normalized support pressure
s/D (for the most unfavourable angle ) as a function of
the normalized cohesion c/D for different friction angles
and for = 0.8 or 1. The diagram applies to a circular
tunnel face of diameter D. It was calculated by means of
equation (39) considering a quadratic cross section of
equal area (H = B = 0.886 D). Figure 10 compares (for a

40

Fig. 8. Normalized support pressure s/H as a function of


the normalized depth of cover h/H for a granular soil (c = 0)
and a circular tunnel (B/H=1)
Bild 8. Normierter Sttzdruck s/H in Abhngigkeit der
normierten berlagerungshhe h/H fr einen rolligen Boden
(c = 0) und einen kreisfrmigen Tunnelquerschnitt (B/H=1)

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

Fig. 9. Normalized support pressure s/D as a function of


the normalised cohesion c/D for = 15 35 and = 0.8 or
1.0 according to the method of slices (h > H, B/H = 1,
D = 2H/
)
Bild 9. Normierter Sttzdruck s/D in Abhngigkeit der
normierten Kohsion c/D fr = 15 35 und = 0,8 bzw.
1,0 nach der Lamellenmethode (h > H, B/H = 1, D = 2H/
)

specific value of the friction angle) the results obtained using the method of slices with the predictions under the
model of Anagnostou and Kovri [1] and with the results
of Krause [13] and Vermeer et al. [11]. As mentioned above,
the method of Anagnostou and Kovri [1] assumes the
simplified distribution of equation (2) with a reduced lateral pressure coefficient for the wedge (w = 0.5 ). The results of Vermeer et al. [11] are based upon three-dimen-

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

Fig. 10. Normalized support pressure s/D as a function


of the normalised cohesion c/D for = 25 according to
different methods (h > H, B/H = 1, D = 2H/
)
Bild 10. Normierter Sttzdruck s/D in Abhngigkeit der
normierten Kohsion c/D fr = 25 nach verschiedenen
Berechnungsmethoden (h > H, B/H = 1, D = 2H/
)

sional numerical stress analyses and can be summarised


as follows:
s
c
= N Nc
D
D

Fig. 11. Gradient ds/dc as a function of the friction angle


according to different computational models (h > H, B/H =
1, D = 2H/
). Remark: The results after Vermeer et al. [11]
are practically identical with the results after the method of
slides for = 1.0
Bild 11. Gradient ds/dc in Abhngigkeit des Reibungswinkels nach verschiedenen Berechnungsmethoden
(h > H, B/H = 1, D = 2H/
). Bemerkung: Die Ergebnisse
nach Vermeer et al. [11] sind praktisch identisch mit den
Ergebnissen nach der Lamellenmethode fr = 1.0

(55)

where
N =

1
0.05
9 tan

Nc =

1
tan

(for 20, h > H)

(for 20, h > 2H)

(56)
(57)

Equation (56) is based upon the results of a comprehensive parametric study, while equation (57) is, as mentioned
above, theoretically founded [12] and was also confirmed
by the numerical results of Vermeer et al. [11]. Krause [13]
investigated a semi-spherical failure mechanism and proposed the following coefficients:
N =

1
9 tan

(58)

Nc =

2 tan

(59)

As observed by Vermeer et al. [11], the method of Anagnostou and Kovri [1] leads to slightly higher support pressures than the numerical analyses. This is true particularly
for = 0.8 and to a lesser degree also for = 1.0. The method of slices leads to support pressures which are much
closer to the numerical predictions of Vermeer et al. [11],
and for = 1.0 the difference is irrelevant. These results indicate that the reason for the differences from the numerical results is the simplified way of considering horizontal
arching in the model of Anagnostou and Kovri [1] [16].

Fig. 12. Normalized support pressure s/D of a granular


material (c = 0) as a function of the friction angle according to different computational models (h > H, B/H = 1,
D = 2H/
)
Bild 12. Normierter Sttzdruck s/D fr einen rolligen
Boden (c = 0) in Abhngigkeit des Reibungswinkels nach
verschiedenen Berechnungsmethoden (h > H, B/H = 1,
D = 2H/
)

Due to the linearity of the relationship between


support pressure s and cohesion c (Figure9), the results
of the method of slides can be expressed in terms of only

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

41

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

Fig. 14. Normalized support pressure s/H as a function of


the normalized width B/H (c = 0, = 25, h > H)
Bild 14. Normierter Sttzdruck s/H in Abhngigkeit der
normierten Tunnebreite B/H (c = 0, = 25, h > H)

Fig. 13. Normalized support pressure s/D of a granular


material (c = 0) as a function of the friction angle
(part of Figure12): Comparison of the method of slides
with experimental data and other computational models
(h > H, B/H = 1, D = 2H/
)
Bild 13. Normierter Sttzdruck s/D fr einen rolligen
Boden (c = 0) in Abhngigkeit des Reibungswinkels
(Ausschnitt des Bildes 12): Vergleich der Lamellenmethode
mit Versuchsergebnissen und anderen Berechnungsmethoden (h > H, B/H = 1, D = 2H/
)

two parameters the normalised support pressure of a


cohesionless soil and the gradient of the s(c) line (cf.
Equation 3 in [16] as well as Eqs. 39 and 55). Figures 11
and 12 show these parameters in the function of the friction angle and compare the different models. The results obtained by the method of slices with = 1.0 agree
very well with the numerical results over the entire parameter range. The gradient ds/dc is exactly equal to cot
(Equation 42).

Comparison with experimental data

The computational predictions of the method of slides also agree very well with published results of small-scale
centrifuge- [2] [17] [18] or 1g-model tests [19] [20] for tunnels in cohesionless sand. Figure 13 shows the part of Figure 12 for which test data are available ( -range of 30 to
42). The marked rectangles show the range of experimental values. The thick solid line was obtained using the
method of slides. The lines according to Vermeer et al. [11]

42

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

and Krause [13] were calculated with equations (62) and


(64), respectively. The computational results using the
models of Leca and Dormieux [21] and Kolymbas [22]
have been obtained from Kirsch [19].

Shape of tunnel cross-section

The enormous influence of horizontal arching can best be


illustrated by plotting the necessary support pressure over
the width B of the tunnel face. Figure 14 shows that the
narrower the face, the lower will be the necessary support
pressure. Horizontal arching and the contribution of lateral shear resistance are more pronounced if the face is narrow. As indicated by the lower curves of Figure 14, a reduction in width (by partial excavation and vertical subdivision of the tunnel cross section; see inset of Figure14)
may be sufficient for stabilizing the face, provided that the
ground exhibits some cohesion. In terms of stability, the
effect of reducing width is therefore similar to that of reducing the height of the tunnel face. Moreover, comparative calculations show that if the cross section area is kept
constant, the ratio B/H has little influence on the necessary support pressure: Figure 15 shows the support pressure s (normalized by the diameter D of a circle having the
same area as the face) as a function of the friction angle
for a cohesionless ground (as mentioned above, the effect
of cohesion on support pressure is given by ds/dc=cot).
The curves apply to markedly different width to height ratios B/H but are nevertheless very close together. Consequently, the square tunnel cross-section model is reasonably precise for practical purposes, even for non-circular
tunnel cross sections.

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

to results similar to those of the method of slices or numerical analyses, provided that it is applied in combination with a lower coefficient of lateral stress w. The assumptions of = 0.8 and w = 0.4 (suggested in [1] and underlying the nomograms [16]) are reasonably conservative.
The method of slices does not require an assumption
concerning the vertical stress z because the latter results
from the equilibrium equations of the infinitesimal slices
in exactly the same way as in silo theory. For = 1.0, i.e.
the value suggested in Terzaghi and Jelinek [15], the
method of slices leads to results that are almost identical
to those of spatial stress analyses, confirming the numerical and theoretical predictions of Vermeer and Ruse [10]
regarding the effects of cohesion and tunnel shape, and also agreeing well with the experimental data.

Fig. 15. Normalized support pressure s/D of a granular


material (c = 0) as a function of the friction angle
for different values of the normalized width B/H
(h > H, D = 2H/
)
Bild 15. Normierter Sttzdruck s/D fr einen rolligen
Boden (c = 0) in Abhngigkeit des Reibungwinkels
fr verschiedene Werte der normierten Bandbreite B/H
(h > H, D = 2H/
)

References

Design equation

In conclusion, the method of slices when applied with =


1.0 (Terzaghis initial assumption) leads to predictions that
agree well with numerical and experimental results. It can
be verified readily that, for = 1.0 and h > H (a tunnel that
is not too shallow), the coefficient f51 using the method of
slices (Equation 40) can be approximated with sufficient
accuracy by the following equation:
f51 =

s
0.05cot 1.75
D

(60)

Inserting equations (60) and (42) into (39) leads to a simple formula, which can be used for estimating the support
pressure:
s = 0.05( cot )1.75 D cot c

(61)

If the tunnel cross-section is non-circular, equation


(61) can be applied by considering the equivalent diameter
D = 2 AT /

(62)

where AT denotes the cross-sectional area of the tunnel.

Conclusions

The safety against failure of the 3D mechanism under consideration (the wedge and prism model) depends essentially on the frictional resistance at the lateral shear plane of
the wedge and thus on the horizontal stresses. Following
silo theory, the horizontal stresses can be handled as a
constant percentage of the respective vertical stresses.
The simplified model suggested by [6] necessitates, however, an additional assumption concerning the vertical stress
z. Comparative calculations show that this model leads

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43

G. Anagnostou The contribution of horizontal arching to tunnel face stability

[17] Chambon P., Corte J.F.: Shallow tunnels in cohesionless


soil: stability of tunnel face. J Geotech Eng 120 (1994), No 7,
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[18] Plekkenpol J.W., van der Schrier J.S., Hergarden H.J.: Shield
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[19] Kirsch, A.: Experimental investigation of the face stability of
shallow tunnels in sand. Acta Geotechnica 5 (2010), pp. 4362.
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[21] Leca, E., Dormieux, L.: Upper and lower bound solutions
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[22] Kolymbas, D.: Tunnelling and Tunnel Mechanics. Berlin:
Springer, 2005.

44

geotechnik 35 (2012), Heft 1

Author
Prof. Dr. sc. techn. Georgios Anagnostou
Professur fr Untertagbau
ETH Zrich
8093 Zrich
Switzerland
georg.anagnostou@igt.baug.ethz.ch

Submitted for review: 9. November 2011


Accepted for publication: 25. January 2012