Expanding the Scene of Tunnel Behaviour Through the DEM Model: a Case Study from ZaB-Zentrum Am Berg

Khomchan Promneewat (Co-editor), Cheowchan Leelasukseree (Co-editor), Marlene C. Villeneuve (Co-editor), Robert Galler

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The displacement of a tunnel plays a crucial role in conventional tunneling methods, serving as a key parameter for support requirement. Therefore, analyzing tunnel displacement is important for ensuring safety and optimizing costs by determining the appropriate level of tunnel support and installation time. Numerical analysis methods are commonly employed for assessing tunnel displacement, and two widely recognized approaches used worldwide are the continuum and discontinuum methods. While previous studies have highlighted differences in the analysis results obtained from these two methods, the magnitude of such disparities has not been extensively explored. Hence, the objective of this study is to quantify the extent of variation between the two methods through various scenarios, encompassing unsupported and supported excavated ground. Specifically, the focus is on tunnel displacement and the tensile force generated on axial tunnel supports, such as rock bolts. To facilitate this investigation, three tunnel sections from the Zentrum am Berg, tunnel research centre located in Austria, are utilized. The results show that discontinuum models exhibit higher displacements and higher tensile loads on axial support than continuum numerical models of the same tunnel geometry and equivalent rock masses. We show that discontinuum models can also capture asymmetric behaviour, and thus should be preferentially used in fractured rock masses where displacement of rock blocks dominate the rock mass behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-595
Number of pages595
JournalBerg- und hüttenmännische Monatshefte : BHM
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2023


  • Numerical analysis
  • DEM Model
  • Finite Element Method
  • Tunnel behaviour
  • Zentrum am Berg

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