: The result of any finite element analysis is dependent on the quality of the mesh used to discretize the domain of the problem. In rock engineering, particularly in tunnelling projects, the investigation of the rock mass behaviour ahead of and around excavations is important for determining and designing support.

This paper introduces an automated technique for meshing domains in the finite element analysis of tunnels with prismatic cross-sections. The approach is presented with an emphasis on practical considerations when modelling excavation sequencing. Examples, which illustrate use of the method, along with the validation of generated meshes using a commercial finite element package, are presented in the paper.


The finite element method (FEM) plays an important role in the design of underground excavations. FEM software tools are used to determine the type and time of installation of effective support systems and excavation wall convergence control. Various constitutive laws are incorporated into the FEM to model the material behaviour of rock or soil masses around excavations. Such analyses provide useful indications of the actual behaviour of the material modelled. FEM analysis of excavations requires the discretization of the doomain surrounding the excavations. Due to geometric complexities created by the geologic structure of the rock mass, the process of mesh generation can often be a tedious and time-consuming task. This discretization is achieved using a finite element mesh in three dimensions.

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