Hard rock tunnel boring machine penetration test as an indicator of chipping process efficiency

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12 Citations (Scopus)


The transition from grinding to chipping can be observed in tunnel boring machine (TBM) penetration test data by plotting the penetration rate (distance/revolution) against the net cutter thrust (force per cutter) over the full range of penetration rates in the test. Correlating penetration test data to the geological and geomechanical characteristics of rock masses through which a penetration test is conducted provides the ability to reveal the efficiency of the chipping process in response to changing geological conditions. Penetration test data can also be used to identify stress-induced tunnel face instability. This research shows that the strength of the rock is an important parameter for controlling how much net cutter thrust is required to transition from grinding to chipping. It also shows that the geological characteristics of a rock will determine how efficient chipping occurs once it has begun. In particular, geological characteristics that lead to efficient fracture propagation, such as fabric and mica contents, will lead to efficient chipping. These findings will enable a better correlation between TBM performance and geological conditions for use in TBM design, as a basis for contractual payments where penetration rate dominates the excavation cycle and in further academic investigations into the TBM excavation process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-622
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

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