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Numerical study on the effect of protective wall depth in reducing structure deformations caused by tunnelling

Song, Geyang; Xu, Jingmin; Marshall, Alec M.


Geyang Song

Jingmin Xu

Professor of Geotechnical Engineering


To reduce tunnelling induced damage of buildings, a ‘protective wall’ is sometimes constructed between the location of the new tunnel and existing foundations. One of the key design questions relates to the optimal wall depth, where further increase has a limited benefit in reducing structural distortions. This paper presents the results from finite element analyses used to study how protective walls reduce tunnelling induced damage to adjacent structures. A scenario where the protective is located very close to a tunnel is studied, which is considered to be of practical interest and a critical case concerning potential for building damage. The analyses consider a tunnel with a row of 4 piles (in sand) supporting a 5-storey steel frame running transverse to the tunnel direction, with a wall located between the tunnel and the first pile. Results show that the protective wall's depth affects soil and pile settlements, the redistribution of loads applied to the piles (due to structure stiffness), and ultimately structural deformations and building damage. For the case considered, the optimal depth of the wall is approximately 1.25 times the tunnel axis depth; marginal reductions in pile settlements and building damage are obtained as wall depth is increased further.


Song, G., Xu, J., & Marshall, A. M. (2023). Numerical study on the effect of protective wall depth in reducing structure deformations caused by tunnelling. Computers and Geotechnics, 158, Article 105374.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 28, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 9, 2023
Publication Date 2023-06
Deposit Date Mar 2, 2023
Publicly Available Date Mar 10, 2025
Journal Computers and Geotechnics
Print ISSN 0266-352X
Electronic ISSN 1873-7633
Publisher Elsevier BV
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 158
Article Number 105374
Keywords Tunnelling; Finite element analysis; Pile; Structure; Protective wall
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