A Numerical Study of the Effect of Tunneling on Surface Settlement and Existing Buildings

Document Type : Original Article


1 Engineering Geology Department, School of Geology, College of Science, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Faculty of Civil Engineering, University of Qom, Qom, Iran


This study aimed to determine the effect of various influencing parameters such as tunnel diameter (D), depth (H), width (B), length (L), number of floors, and the horizontal distance of the building from the tunnel axis (X), as well as soil properties such as internal friction angle (ϕ), Poisson ratio (υ), modulus of elasticity (E), and cohesion (C) on surface settlement using ABAQUS. According to the results, the settelment increases with increasing tunnel diameter at a constant depth, while it decreases with increasing tunnel depth. Changes in the width and length of the building also affect the settlement directly; consequently, as the width and length of the building increase due to increasing the cross-sectional area of the building and its rigidity and stiffness, the settlement of the foundation becomes more uniform and resistant to displacement, leading to a decrease in the surface settlement. Also, as the distance of the building from the tunnel axis increases, the settlement decreases and follows a constant trend after a distance equal to the tunnel diameter. Based on the results of the sensitivity analysis, the depth of the tunnel has the greatest effect on the surface settlement, which can be prevented by controlling the depth of the tunnel from the ground surface. Also, among the soil geomechanical parameters, the modulus of elasticity had the greatest effect on settlement in the present study. Finally, according to the results, the effect of tunnel, building, and soil properties on surface settlement is very important, particularly in urban environments.


  1. Zhu H., Shi L. “Application of Typical Engineering. In: Methodology of Highway Engineering Structural Design and Construction.” Advanced Topics in Science and Technology in China, Vol. 59. (2021), 73-231. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-6544-1_5
  2. Chen I, Rabczuk T, Bordas S, Liu GR, Zeng KY, Kefriden P. “Extended finite element method with edge-based strain smoothing (esm-xfem) for linear elastic crack growth.” Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics and Engineering, Vol. 209, (2012), 250-265, DOI: 10.1016/j.cma.2011.08.013
  3. Chen, R., Zhang, P., Wu, H., Wang, Zh., Zhong, Zh.” Prediction of shield tunneling-induced ground settlement using machine learning techniques”. Frontiers of Structural and Civil Engineering, Vol. 13, (2019), 1363-1378. DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11709-019-0561-3
  4. Zhuang X, Zhou S, Sheng M, Li G. “On the hydraulic fracturing in naturally-layered porous media using the phase field method.” Engineering Geology. Vol. 266, (2020), DOI:10.1016/j.enggeo.2019. 105306
  5. Zhou, F., Molinari, J.F. “Dynamic crack propagation with cohesive elements: a methodology to address mesh dependence”, International Journal of Numerical Methods in Engineering, Vol. 59, No. 1, (2004), 1-24. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/nme.857
  6. Rabczuk, T., Belytschko,T., “Cracking particles: a simplified meshfree method for arbitrary evolving cracks International Journal of Numerical Methods in Engineering, Vol. 61, No. 13, (2004), 2316-2343. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/nme.1151
  7. Atkinson, J.H., Potts, D.M. "Subsidence above Shallow Circular Tunnel in Soft Ground", Journal of Geotechnical Engineering Division, ASCE, Vol. 103, G.T.4, (1977), 307-325. DOI: http://worldcat.org/oclc/3519342
  8. Bobet, A. "Analytical Solutions for Shallow Tunnels in Saturated Ground", Journal of Engineering Mechanics, Vol. 127, No. 12, (2001), 1258-1266. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9399(2001)127:12(1258)
  9. Moorak, S. "Response analysis of nearby structures to tunneling-induced ground movements in clay soils", Tunneling and Underground Space Technology, Vol. 56, (2016), 90-104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tust.2016.01.032
  10. Dalong, J., Dajun, Y., Xinggao L., Haotian, Z.  "Analysis of the settlement of an existing tunnel induced by shield tunneling underneath", Tunneling and Underground Space Technology Vol. 81, (2018), 209-220. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tust.2018.06.035
  11. Selby, A.R. "Tunneling in Soil Ground Movement and Damage to Building in Workington, UK", Geotechnical and Geologocal Engineering, Vol. 17, (1999), 351-371. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1008985814841
  12. [12] Franzius, J.N., Potts, D.M. "Influence of mesh geometry on three-dimensional finite element analysis of tunnel excavation", ASCE International Journal of Geomechanics Vol. 5, No. 3, (2005), 256-266. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)1532-3641(2005)5:3(256)
  13. Cao, L., Zhang, D., Fang, Q. “Semi-analytical prediction for tunneling-induced ground movements in multi-layered clayey soils”,  Tunneling and Underground Space Technology, Vol. 102, (2020), DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tust.2020.103446
  14. Barla, C. "Continuum and Discontinuum Modeling in Tunnel Engineering", Italian Ministry for University and Technological Research (M.U.R.S.T) as part of the Research Program, Tunneling in Difficult Condition, Vol. 12, No. 1, (2000), 45-57. DOI: https://hrcak.srce.hr/5033
  15. Mahmoudi, M., Rajabi, A.M “Application of numerical back analysis for determination of soil mass specifications during tunnel construction”. Arabian Journal of Geosciences, Vol. 13, No. 19, (2020), 1-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12517-020-05935-1
  16. Manual, A.: ABAQUS documentation version 6.13. Dassault Systems SIMULIA Corp., Providence, RI, USA (2013)
  17. Civaleka, Ö., Öztürkb  B. “Discrete singular convolution algorithm for non-linear transient response of circular plates resting on Winkler-Pasternak elastic foundations with different types of dynamic loading." Indian Journal of Engineering & Materials Sciences, Vol. 16 (2009), 259-268. DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/6038
  18. Cengiz, C., Guler, E. “Load bearing and settlement characteristics of Geosynthetic Encased Columns under seismic loads.” Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, Vol, 136, (2020), 106244. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soildyn. 2020.106244
  19. Feng, W-Q., Yin, J-H., Chen, W-B., Tan M D-Y., Wu P-Ch. “A new simplified method for calculating consolidation settlement of multi-layer soft soils with creep under multi-stage ramp loading.” Engineering Geology, Vol. 264, (2019), 105322.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enggeo. 2019.105322
  20. Wu, P.-Ch., Feng, W-Q., Yin, J-H. “Numerical study of creep effects on settlements and load transfer mechanisms of soft soil improved by deep cement mixed soil columns under embankment load.”, Geotextiles and Geomembranes, Vol. 48, (2020), 331-348. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geotexmem. 2019.12.005