Abstract

The term "squeezing" is frequently used, although it is ill defined. Definitions like "large and long lasting displacements" raise the questions about the threshold values for the magnitude and duration of displacements. Large displacements during tunnelling frequently are observed in fault zones with high overburden. Whether this causes problems very much depends on the design approach used. On the one hand, the magnitude of expected displacements has to be predicted prior to excavation to provide for enough allowance for the displacements without violating the clearance profile. On the other hand, the support characteristics must be compatible with the expected imposed strains. As the magnitude of the displacements and thus the strains in the support depend on the support capacity and its characteristic (yielding potential), only well engineered systems will be successful.

Experience in Alpine tunnels over the last decades has shown that closed shotcrete linings can sustain a strain of approximately 0.8% to 1% without failure. Any strain above this value inevitably leads to failure of the lining, and thus a loss of resistance, causing additional displacements. Based on a large number of simulations, a criterion for a critical overburden depth up to which closed linings can be used has been developed. Traditionally open gaps in the shotcrete linings have been used to allow for larger strains. To enhance the efficiency of the linings, yielding elements have been developed, which are integrated in the shotcrete lining, allowing large strains and controlled development of support resistance (Figure 2). When designing such yielding support systems, the development of the displacements, as well as the rheological behaviour of the supports must be considered. As the development of displacements to a large extent depends on the face advance, also the advance rate has to be considered, to be able to compare the time-dependent strength of the lining to the stresses developing as a result of the imposed strains. Another issue is the compatibility of the rock bolts with the large strains. With standard grouted bolts, there is a potential that the "fresh" grout is sheared due to the initially large strain rates. Special rib designs of the bolts allow for a higher strain tolerance.

For successful tunnelling through fault zones quality monitoring and up-to-date data evaluation is of crucial importance. With advanced evaluation tools, changes in the ground conditions ahead of the face can be reliably predicted. With the help of empirical relations, the development of the displacements for different advance rates and supports can be predicted, allowing for the determination of the required overexcavation.

The paper presents a review of the development of ductile elements, methods of analysis, and monitoring data interpretation.

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