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Experimental Verification of Joint

Effects on Segmental Tunnel Lining


Supot Teachavorasinskun
Associate Professor
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn
University, Phayathai Rd., Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand
e-mail: tsupot@chula.ac.th

Tanan Chub-Uppakarn
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalngkorn
University, Phayathai Rd., Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand
e-mail: tanan2284@yahoo.com

ABSTRACT
A simple experiment has been conducted to explore the load carrying capacity of a small
model segmental tunnel lining. Scaled segmental tunnel ( - 15 cm) was made from PVC
having nominal thickness of 8.5 mm. A few joint orientations (variation of joint number and
stiffness) were constructed and tested to verify its load carrying capacity. Joint stiffness was
first obtained from a series simple beam support tests. It was found that 4-joint segmental
tunnel can react like a full liner as recognized in the literature. When the number of joints
increased, the load carrying capacity was greatly dependent on the values of joint stiffness.
Namely, the weaker the joint is, the smaller is the bending moment that can be transferred
through. In general design practice, a specific value of moment reduction factor is usually
selected either using the empirical relation or picking up a value given in the design codes.
However, there is no practical consideration for variation in joint stiffness. The present paper
proposes that the bending moment reduction factor should be determined from the simple
beam support test carrying out using the equivalent liner and joint materials and joint
characteristics. Once the bending moment reduction factor is determined, the detail designs of
the liner can then proceed.

KEYWORDS:

Segmental tunnel, tunnel liner, Bending moment

INTRODUCTION
The multi-segmental liner has been widely adopted for construction of underground tunnels in
soft ground for decades. Nevertheless, its complex soil-structure behavior has not been well
understood and being overlooked. In practice, a simple design approach based on empirical
formulae or those given in the design codes is usually adopted. Alternatively, various closed form

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elastic solutions which taking into account of liner and soil stiffness are also available for usages.
Peck (1969) proposed to use the flexibility ratio; a combined parameter between liner stiffness
and dimension and surrounded soil stiffness, in design. The flexibility ratio can be expressed as
(Einstein, 1979);

Es
F=

(1 + s )

6EL I L

(1)

(1 L2 ) R 3

Einstein (1979) derived a series of elastic solutions expressing the relations among liner stresses
and liner and soil stiffness. Nevertheless the influence of segmental joint was not considered in
his study. Wood (1975) suggested that the segmental joint behaved like a set of partial hinges in
lining structure. Therefore, the effective moment of inertia of the overall lining, Ie, should be
reduced to take into account of joint characteristics and can be written as;
2

4
Ie = I j + I
N

(2)

Where I and Ij are the moment of inertia of the intact liner and segmental joint and N is the
number of joints in the liner. The Japanese Society of Civil Engineering (Koyama, 2003)
descriptively recommends reducing the rigidity of the continuous liner structure by 20 40%.
Although the moment transferred due to segment staggering is well documented, there is no
rationale consideration in selection of the bending moment reduction factor stated in the code.
Most of the Japanese tunneling projects required a full scale prototype test to verify the bending
moment reduction factor. Lee and Ge (2001) proposed an analytical correlation for moment
reduction factor based on the maximum horizontal displacement of a continuous ring as:

1
:
1+ b

b=

3EI
RK

cos cos 2
i

(3)

i =1

Where is the bending moment reduction factor, K is the flexural stiffness of the joint defined
as the bending moment per unit length required to develop a unit rotation along a joint of the
assembled segments, i is the angle measured from crown of the tunnel to the i-th joint (in the
range of 0-90) and m is the number of joints (0 i 90). Based on a series of analytical
results, Lee and Ge (2001) provided a graphical relation between the effective segmental liner
stiffness, bending moment reduction factor and subsoil reaction. Due to difficulty in
determination of effective stiffness of segmental liner; i.e. required a full-scale prototype test, in
the present study, a simpler methodology to defy joint stiffness and bending moment reduction
factor were proposed. In this paper, the results obtained from a small scaled PVC segmental ring
were presented together with the methodology for determination of joint stiffness.

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(a) Simple beam support test of jointed strip

(b) Segmental joint testing

(c) Full jointed ring testing


Figure 1: Simple and model tests adopted in the present study

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Table 1: Details of specimen and joints adopted in the simple support test
Specimen

Intact
Joint 1
Joint 2
Joint 3

Joint details

No joint (8.5 mm thick


PVC strip)
Jointed by 8.5mm thick
300 mm long PVC sheet
Jointed by 8.5mm thick
25 mm long PVC sheet
Jointed by 3.0 mm thick
25 mm long PVC sheet

Effective
flexural
stiffness (N/m2)

Moment
reduction
factor ()

Equivalent
angular joint
stiffness
(N-radian)

15.01

1.00

14.89

0.99

6,000

10.86

0.72

5,000

8.82

0.41

500

MODEL TESTING
Model liner made of 8.5 mm thick PVC tube with the inner diameter of 15 cm was tested in the
laboratory. The adopted PVC has the yield strength (fy) and Youngs modulus (E) of 48 MPa and
2,400 MPa, respectively. Tests can generally be divided into three groups as;
(a) Simple support test (Figure 1(a)): This test was carried out in order to obtain the
fundamental flexural stiffness of the jointed PVC strip. The continuous and jointed PVC
strips were tested. Detail dimension of specimens are summarized in Table 1.
(b) Segmental joint test (Figure 1(b)): The half circled jointed PVC was tested in order to
simulate the routine segment join test. Result of this test was used to calibrate the
moment reduction factor and equivalent joint stiffness obtained from test (a).
(c) Full jointed ring test (Figure 1(c)): The whole PVC ring ( -15 cm) was loaded as shown
in Figure 1.

TEST RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS


As summarized in Table 1, when jointed PVC strips were load under a simple support condition,
their flexural stiffness was greatly dependent on the stiffness of the jointed section. In the jointed
specimen, strips of PVC were adjoined by small PVC sheet as described in Table 1 (as Joint 1,
Joint 2 and Joint 3). The flexural stiffness clearly reduces as the thinner (weaker) joint is used.
Bending moment reduction factor can be as small as 0.4 for the weakest joint (Joint 3) and almost
1 for the strongest joint (Joint 1). A series of FEM analysis were conducted to simulate these test
results by using a set of rotational springs to represent the joints. The best fit values of the
rotation springs; i.e., angular joint stiffness, for each type of joint were trial from the analyses as
summarized in Table 1.
Figure 2 compares the vertical load and displacement obtained from the segmental joint tests (half
ring test) to the FEM analytical results. In the FEM analysis, joint was represented by a set of
rotational springs, whose values were derived from the simple support tests (Table 1). It should
be noted that a simple linear elastic model was used to represent the material behavior in the FEM
analysis. The angular joint stiffness obtained from the simple support test can fairly well fit the

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test results of the segmental joint test. Figure 3 shows the relationship between the bending
moment at crown and the applied vertical load obtained from the segmental joint test. The intact
specimen (non-joint) can carry higher bending moment than those of the jointed ones. The
bending moment reduction factors vary between 0.53 and 0.93 for Joint 3 and Joint 1, which is
very similar to those obtained from the simple support test (PVC strip).
0.20

Numerical result
Angular stiffness= 6000 N/rad

0.18

Vertical displacment (cm)

0.16
0.14
0.12
0.10
0.08

Joint 1

0.06
0.04
0.02
0.00
0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

7000

8000

9000

10000

Vertical Load (N)

Figure 2: Comparison between the test result and linear FEM analysis
of a segmental joint test (Joint 1, Angular stiffness = 6,000 N-cm)

1600

Bending moment at crown (N-cm).

1400

100%
93%

Non-joint
Joint 1

1200

75%

1000
800

53%

600

Joint 3

400

Joint 2
200
0
0

2000

4000

6000

Vertical Load (N)

8000

10000

12000

Figure 3: Bending moment carrying capacity from the segmental joint tests

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The result implies that a simple support strip test could be used to substitute the routine segmental
joint test which is a basic requirement for most tunneling project. The simplicity of the simple
support test may enable and encourage engineer/designer to conduct a preliminary test to explore
his/her designed joint characteristics. Once joint stiffness can be defined; i.e., in term of bending
moment reduction factor, the segment liner can be properly designed according to assumed joint
behavior.

Figure 4 shows the typical test results obtained from the full ring test. In the present
study, three types of tested rings were used; namely, the intact ring, 4-segment ring and
6-segment ring. Each category was consisted of another three types of jointed specimen.
In Figure 4, the bending moment capacity of the 4- and 6- segment rings jointed by Joint
2 are plotted together with that of the intact ring case. It can be seen that the 4-segment
ring exhibits the stiffest flexural behavior. This is observed for all other tested cases.
Summary of the full ring test is given in Figure 5 where the bending moment reduction
factors are plotted against types of segmental joints (expressed in term of the angular
joint stiffness). The 4-segment ring always expresses stiffer bending moment carrying
capacity than the intact ring and 6-segment joint cases. However, when joint becomes
stiffer, the influence of joint type is diminished and the moment reduction factor
approaches 1. Wood (1975) suggested as expressed in Equation (2) that the 4-segment
tunnel liner can exhibit as stiff as the intact liner, as a consequence, the test result should
not be considered as an erroneous. It should also be noted that Equation (2) suggests a
moment reduction factor of (4 / 6) 2 = 0.44 for a 6-segment ring. This is equivalent to the
value obtained from the ring with weak segmental joint. As also shown in Figure 5, the
bending moment reduction factor derived from a simple beam support test can well
represent that obtained from the segmental joint and full ring tests.

CONCLUSIONS
The results obtained from the present study suggest that segmental joint behavior should
be defined before completing the details design of the tunnel liner. This is because the
selection of the bending moment reduction factor is greatly dependent on the strength of
the segmental joint. It is proposed from the present study that a simple beam support test
using similar joint configuration can be very useful in the preliminary design stage. Its
result can be effectively used to determine the moment reduction factor used in the actual
tunnel liner design.

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7
Vertical load (N)

2000

4000

6000

8000

10000

12000

Full ring (6 segments)


(Joint 2)

Bending moment (N-cm).

-1000

-2000

-3000

-4000

Full ring (4 segmenst)


(Joint 2)

-5000

Full ring test


Joint type : Join 2 (Table 1)

-6000

Full ring (non joint)

-7000

Figure 4: Typical test results obtained from full ring test (Joint type: Joint 2)

Bending moment reduction factor..

1.4
1.2
Non joint

Full ring : 4-segment ring


Full ring : 6-segment ring

0.8
0.6
Segmental joint test

0.4

Simple support test


0.2
0
0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

7000

Angular joint stiffness (N-rad)


Figure 5: Comparison of the moment reduction factor obtained from (a) full ring
test, segmental joint test and (c) simple support test

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REFERENCES
1. Einstein, H. (1979) Simplified analysis for tunnel supports, Journal of Geotechnical
Engineering, 105, GT4, 499-518.
2. Koyama, Y. (2003) Present status and technology of shield tunneling method in
Japan, Tunneling and Underground Space Technology, 18, 145-159.
3. Lee, K. M. and X. W. Ge (2001) The equivalent of the jointed shield driven tunnel
lining to a continuous ring structure, Canadian Geotechnical Journal 38(3), 461-483

4. Peck, R. B. (1969) Deep excavations and tunneling in soft ground, Proc. 7th
Int. Conf. on Soil Mech. and Found. Engrg., Mexico, 1, 225-290.
5. Wood, A. M. (1975) The circular tunnel in elastic ground, Geotechnique,
25(1), 115-127.

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