Analysis of the Creep Behaviour of Tunnels in Sandstone/Shale
R Chen ^{1} and J C Small ^{2}
ABSTRACT
Timedependent deformation occurs when geomaterials are under an applied load; this may lead to additional deflection of a tunnel structure and the stress redistribution in the surrounding rock, shotcrete lining and rock bolt support system over time. A better understanding of this creep behaviour can improve the reliability of design, construction and maintenance of tunnels. Hence, the present investigation was carried out on the timedependent properties of rock, shotcrete and the combined tunnel support system. Tunnels constructed in different ground conditions were modelled. The closure changes of the tunnel with time and the redistribution of stress in the surrounding rock, shotcrete lining and rock bolts due to the creep deformation were analysed. Results of the present analysis were compared with the results from the commercial program ABAQUS.
INTRODUCTION
Due to the creep behaviour of rock and the supporting shotcrete lining, a tunnel excavated in a squeezing rock may undergo an increasing deformation over a long time period and result in final collapse. The Laerdal tunnel excavated in Norway broke down nearly four years after its excavation due to the squeezing of the rock (Grimstad, 2001). The ‘creep’ performance is complex and determined by many factors, but for many materials, a higher stress level and a higher temperature will accelerate the creep rate. Normally the creep curve is subdivided into three stages:
primary, steady and tertiary state creep, but the tertiary creep only happens when the stress is relatively high and can lead to damage of the material (Figure 1; Singh and Verma, 2005).
FIG 1  Creep curve (Singh and Verma, 2005).
The surrounding rock and shotcrete lining of an excavated tunnel will generally have different creep rates, and how the two different materials affect each other and the deformation and stress change of the whole tunnel system has been studied by many researchers before. Sahli et al (2001) modelled the creep deformation of a circular tunnel but did not consider the creep of
1. School of Civil Engineering, Room 360, University of Sydney, NSW 2006. Email: r.chen@civil.usyd.edu.au
2. Professor, ProHOD (Postgraduate and Research), School of Civil Engineering, Room 413, University of Sydney, NSW 2006. Email: j.small@civil.usyd.edu.au
the lining. Shalabi (2005) used two methods to model the creep deformation of a circular tunnel but did not consider the rock bolts and did not focus on the stress change in the materials. In their models, the shotcrete lining was applied to the whole circumference of the tunnel section. In the present paper, a tunnel with a nearly flat roof was modelled and a shotcrete lining was only applied on the crest. The surrounding rock and lining were considered to have different creep rates in the model as their creep behaviour affects the deformation of the whole structure. Steel reinforced shotcrete linings are widely used in underground tunnelling projects. In this paper, the Novotex 0730 steel fibre reinforced shotcrete (hereafter referred to as ‘Novotex’ fibre) was investigated and employed in the tunnel model. The creep properties of the shotcrete were determined by round determinate panel (ASTM C1550) tests (Bernard, 2004) and appropriate values of parameters were chosen to fit the experimental results. Three tunnels were modelled numerically and rock with different creep parameters and different elastic moduli were employed in the models to analyse the time dependent behaviour of these tunnels. The results of the present program were compared with results obtained from the commercial finite element software ABAQUS. A logarithmic function in time was used to represent the bulk and shear modulus in the present creep model. ABAQUS uses a timedependent power law to fit the creep behaviour that is simple to use, but cannot represent the tertiary stage of creep (ABAQUS Inc, 2003).
CREEP BEHAVIOUR
In the classical theory of elasticity, strain ε is linearly related to the stress σ by Hooke’s Law, in which Young’s modulus E and Poisson’s ratio υ are constants. Under simple onedimensional conditions, we may write:
σ = E ε
(1)
For this simple case, if the material were to creep we could write:
σ(t) = ε Rt( )
0
(2)
where:
σ(t) is the stress at any time
ε _{0}
R(t) is a relaxation function
If the strain is changing with time, then we must evaluate a convolution integral:
is the strain applied at time t = 0
σ(t
)
= ε R(t
0
)+
∫ t
0
R(t τ ) ε(τ ) dτ
(3)
This relationship can be simplified by applying a Laplace transformation to it:
σ= sRε
(4)
where the superior bar denotes a Laplace transform and s is the Laplace parameter.
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R CHEN and J C SMALL
A similar approach may be used for a continuum where the stressstrain relationship takes the form:
σ(t) =D(t)ε _{0}
(5)
The timedependent components of the stresses σ(t) are related to a constant set of strains ε _{0} by the timedependent matrix D(t). For general threedimensional stress states, there will be six stress components and so the D matrix is a 6 × 6 matrix. We may now apply a Laplace transform as in Equation 2 if the strains are time dependent:
σ = sDε
(6)
If we make the assumption that the bulk modulus K and shear modulus G vary with time (or ‘relax’) we can write:
⎡
⎢
⎢
+−−
2
KG
KG
2
///
3
2
KG
3
2
KG
///
/
/
3
KG
4
3
KG
4
30
30
30
0
0
0
00
0
0
0
−+−
3
KG − 2
0
0
0
3
KG
+
0
D =
G /
⎢
0
⎢ 0
⎢
⎢
⎣ 0
4
G
000
0
G
00
G
⎤
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎦
(7)
Here the bulk modulus K and shear modulus G of the materials are represented by logarithmic functions in time:
(
(
Kt
Gt
)
)
(
A
=
= +
+
K
G
0
(
0
A
B
B
log(
log(
1
1
+⋅
α
+⋅
α
t
t
))
))
where: 

A, B, α 
are the creep parameters 
(8)
The transformed K and G are then put into the finite element D matrix of Equation 7 to form the stiffness matrix for the problem. The resultant equations can then be solved with a three dimensional finite element analysis based on the transformed variables. Tablot’s inversion is finally used to invert the numerical solution to get the result in real time. Another creep model used was the timehardening power creep law model, which is implemented in the commercial computer code ABAQUS and can be directly used in the analysis. This power law model may be written:
− cr
ε
~
= Fq
n
t
m
(9)
where:
− ^{c}^{r}
ε
is the uniaxial equivalent creep strain rate
~
q
t
are the creep parameters and can be determined from experimental results (ABAQUS Inc, 2003)
Laboratory round determinate panel (ASTM C1550) creep
tests were carried out to determine the creep behaviour of Novotex fibre reinforced shotcrete samples (Bernard, 2004). Two constant loads of 8100 kN (test Novo21) and 7120 kN (test Novo22) were applied separately at the centre of the circular
panels and the deflection changes of the samples were recorded
over a few months or even longer. A set of creep parameters
F = 4.0e37, n = 5, m = 0.1 (the parameters depend on the units
used; here days, metres and Newtons) in the timehardening power creep law model was then selected to fit the experimental
data as shown in Figure 2, and later applied to the tunnel model.
A uniaxial creep test with specimens of dimension 54 × 54 ×
108 mm ^{3} was modelled to determine the creep parameters of sandstone samples. Pellet (2000) did several uniaxial tests on
sandstones samples, and a set of creep parameters F = 7.0e20,
n = 2.19, m = 0.98 in the power creep law model can give a
good fit to the creep deflection of Pellet’s (2000) records (Figure 3). A sandstone with the same creep parameters but much smaller initial elastic modulus was also selected in the tunnel model. Another set of creep parameters F = 3.0e19,
n = 2.2, m = 0.9 was used to represent a sandstone which creeps
faster. From Figure 4 we can see that the rock under pressure produces some instantaneous elastic strain which is dependent on this elastic modulus. The creep strain is dependent on the chosen creep parameters, which are related to many factors such as stress level and temperature.
F, m, n
is the uniaxial equivalent deviatoric stress
is the total time
NUMERICAL SIMULATION OF A TUNNEL
A typical section of the tunnel, as shown in Figure 5, was
modelled by the threedimensional finite element program developed here called SAFEA (semianalytical FE analysis) to analyse the excavation and creep behaviour. Fits of the creep data with the logarithmic model were made and are shown in
198
Time (Days)
FIG 2  Creep deflection of Novotex shotcrete sample.
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ANALYSIS OF THE CREEP BEHAVIOUR OF TUNNELS IN SANDSTONE/SHALE
Sandstone Creep Parameter
FIG 3  Creep deflection of sandstone.
FIG 4  Creep deflections of three types of sandstone of block samples.
FIG 5  Typical section of tunnel (Adams, Lechner and Lamb, 2001).
Figure 4. The parameters A, B used to achieve the fits are given in Figure 4 and also presented in Table 1, along with values used to fit the creep behaviour of the shotcrete. ABAQUS was also used to simulate the same tunnel section. The tunnel was symmetrical so only half of the tunnel was analysed. The rock was represented by a 20noded solid element, the shotcrete lining was modelled by an eightnoded shell element and the rock bolts were modelled with twonoded beam elements. The shell elements and beam elements share nodes with the solid elements, thus the shotcrete lining was modelled as tied to the exposed tunnel surface and the rock bolts were modelled as embedded into the rock elements. The dimensions and mesh for the tunnels are shown in Figure 6 and the properties of the rock, shotcrete lining and rock bolts are given in Table 1. The same shotcrete lining and rock bolts were used in each of the models but different sandstone models were applied in the analysis of the tunnel behaviour under different kinds of underground conditions. In Table 1, M5 represents a tunnel in rock which creeps according to Pellet’s (2000) records; M5C represents a tunnel in rock which creeps faster and M5D represents a tunnel in soft rock which has the same creep parameters as that of case M5 but a much smaller initial elastic modulus.
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R CHEN and J C SMALL
TABLE 1
Properties of rock, lining and bolts in tunnel model.
M5 
M5C 
M5D 

Sandstone 
E 
= 
4.976e9 Pa 
E 
= 
4.976e9 Pa 
E 
= 
2.227e9 Pa 

ν 
= 0.3 
ν 
= 0.3 
ν = 0.3 

Creep parameters 
Creep parameters 
Creep parameters 

F 
= 
7.0e20 
F 
= 
3.0e19 
F 
= 7.0e20 

n 
= 2.19 
n 
= 2.2 
n = 2.19 

m 
= 0.98 (ABAQUS) 
m 
= 0.9 (ABAQUS) 
m 
= 0.98 (ABAQUS) 

A = 1 
A 
= 1, 
A 
= 1 

B 
= 
0.0066 
B 
= 0.027 
B 
= 0.003 

Alpha = 100 (SAFEA) 
Alpha = 100 (SAFEA) 
Alpha = 100 (SAFEA) 

Shotcrete lining 
E 
= 
5.848e9 Pa 
E 
= 
5.848e9 Pa 
E 
= 
5.848e9 Pa 

(Novotex fibre) 
ν 
= 0.15 
ν 
= 0.15 
ν = 0.15 

Thickness = 0.2 m 
Thickness = 0.2 m 
Thickness = 0.2 m 

Creep parameters 
Creep parameters 
Creep parameters 

F 
= 
4.0e37 
F 
= 
4.0e37 
F 
= 4.0e37 

n 
= 5.0 
n 
= 5.0 
n = 5.0 

m 
= 0.1 (ABAQUS) 
m 
= 0.1 (ABAQUS) 
m 
= 0.1 (ABAQUS) 

σ = 1.8 MPa 
σ =1.8 MPa 
σ = 3.6~0.8 MPa 

A = 1 
A = 1 
A 
= 1 

B 
= 0.266 
B 
= 0.266 
B = 0.26* σ + 0.14 Alpha = 0.1 

Alpha = 0.1 
Alpha = 0.1 

σ = 0.5 MPa 
σ = 0.5 MPa 
σ = 1.1~0.6 MPa 

A = 1 
A = 1 
A 
= 1 

B 
= 0.032 
B 
= 0.032 
B = 0.533* σ + 0.2499 

Alpha = 0.01 (SAFEA) 
Alpha = 0.01 (SAFEA) 
Alpha = 0.01 (SAFEA) 

Rock bolts 
M22 × 3000 mm 
M22 × 3000 mm 
M22 × 3000 mm 

E 
= 
2.0e11 Pa 
E 
= 
2.0e11 Pa 
E 
= 
2.0e11 Pa 

ν 
= 0.3 
ν 
= 0.3 
ν = 0.3 
FIG 6  Dimension and mesh of tunnels (unit: metres).
During the analysis, the initial ground stress was created by gravity forces and initial deformation was set to zero since the deformation was already finished. The tunnel was divided into ten sections longitudinally and the excavation of the tunnel was stimulated by removing the element in ten steps. During each step, rock elements were excavated and the corresponding supporting shotcrete lining elements and bolt elements were activated in the follow step. The total excavation length in the analysis was 40 metres so that the tunnel deformation in the middle section would not be affected much by the face boundary restraints. The deviator stress caused by excavation around the tunnels is a maximum in a surrounding region of the tunnel. This area is set as the ‘creep zone’ since it is assumed that it is mainly the change of the deviator stress that will make the materials creep (Figure 7). After excavation, the deviator stress around the tunnel and on the shotcrete lining can been obtained. In the present analysis (using program SAFEA), the elastic modulus of the sandstone in the ‘creep zone’ and shotcrete lining will decrease according to a logarithmic law, while the elastic modulus of the rock bolts was taken as constant. The following
FIG 7  Creep zone (unit: metres).
creep analysis was based on the deviator stress level σ and the creep parameters were selected based on the stress level (Table 1). Since stress on the lining’s curved corners is higher than that on the flat part, two sets of creep parameters for the lining were chosen to fit the creep in the higher and lower stress zone. The stress in the lining changes a lot in the soft rock (M5D), and so the creep parameter for this case also changes based on stress level. The deviator stresses were applied to the numerical uniaxial test and the creep parameters of the present model were chosen to fit the numerical curve of ABAQUS with the power law creep model. The displacement diagram (Figure 8) shows the vertical closure displacements of the tunnel. It can be seen that tunnels built in soft and hard rock (M5D versus M5) that have the same creep rates will close at nearly the same rate. Also, the initial closure in soft rock is bigger than in the hard rock, while a tunnel in the rock that creeps faster will also close at a faster rate (M5D
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ANALYSIS OF THE CREEP BEHAVIOUR OF TUNNELS IN SANDSTONE/SHALE
Tunnel displacement
Time (day)
FIG 8  Creep closures of tunnels.
Lining stress on top shell element (MPa) versus time (day)
Time (day)
FIG 9  Stress behaviour in lining of tunnels.
versus M5C). Figure 9 shows the change of vertical stress in the shell element on the crown of the tunnels. It can be seen that in the long term the stress in the lining will decrease. In soft rock, the stress in the lining will drop at a faster rate that in the hard rock since in soft rock, the shotcrete lining will carry more load and thus the initial stress in the lining will be relatively higher than for the hard rock and the shotcrete material will creep faster at a higher stress level. In some cases (Figure 9, M5C), if the rock creeps at a relatively faster rate, the stress in the lining may increase in the initial period and then decrease since the stress in the surrounding rock and lining redistribute because of the different creep rates of the two materials. Figure 10 shows the change of vertical stress in the rock at the top of the tunnel. The stresses in the hard and soft rock (M5D versus M5) are close and decrease at a similar rate, while the stress in the rock which creeps at a faster rate (M5C) decreases at a faster rate. Figure 11 shows the tension stress in the rock bolts. The stress in all cases increases, although initial stresses are different for bolts in soft and hard rock (M5D versus M5) since in soft rock, the rock bolts will carry more load, the stress increases at a similar rate in these two cases. The stress in bolts in rock which creeps faster (M5C) will increase at a faster rate.
CONCLUSIONS
Conclusions are drawn based on the specific material moduli and creep parameters selected in the numerical model. The creep parameters of the Novotex fibre shotcrete material are sensitive to the stress level. Tunnels built in different underground situations will undergo different amounts of internal closure, while a higher initial closure does not necessarily mean a faster closure rate. The initial closure displacement, initial lining stress and initial bolt stress of tunnels built in soft rock are higher than in hard rock, while the initial rock stress in all three cases is similar. The closure displacement, bolt stress and rock stress of tunnels built in rock which creeps faster will also change at a faster rate while the lining stress of a tunnel built in soft rock decreases faster since the Novotex fibre shotcrete lining creeps much faster at a high stress level. The stress in the shotcrete lining and surrounding rock were predicted to decrease while the stress in the rock bolts was predicted to increase. This shows that during the creep process, the load carried by the lining and surrounding rock will transfer to the rock bolts.
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R CHEN and J C SMALL
Stress on top rock element (MPa) verus time (day)
Time (day)
FIG 10  Stress behaviour in surrounding rock of tunnels.
Stress on top bolt element (MPa) versus Time (day)
Time (day)
FIG 11  Stress behaviour in rock bolts.
For the Novotex fibre shotcrete, these three analyses show that the 1000 day creep closure might reach about 1.04 (M5), 1.05 (M5D) or 1.22 (M5C) times the original closure. The creep deformation is acceptable in these cases.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors would like to thanks their industry partners – Readymix Holdings, ElastoPlastic Concrete Pty Ltd (EPC), the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales (RTA), BOSFA and the Australian Research Council (ARC) – for their support of this research.
REFERENCES
ABAQUS Inc, 2003. Analysis User’s Manual, version 6.4 (ABAQUS, Inc, USA). Adams, D N, Lechner, M K and Lamb, I, 2001. M5 east tunnels: A flat roofed, bolt and shotcretelined highway, in RETC Proceedings, pp 501512.
Bernard, E S, 2004. Creep of cracked fibre reinforced shotcrete panels, in Shotcrete: More Engineering Developments, pp 4757 (Taylor and Francis Group: London). Grimstad, E, 2001. Behaviour of steel fibre reinforced shotcrete during large deformations in squeezing rock, in Shotcrete: Engineering Developments, pp 119122 (Swets and Zeitlinger: Lisse). Pellet, F, Sahli, M, Boidy, E and Boulon, M, 2000. Modelling of timedependent behaviour of sandstones for deep underground openings, in Proceedings International Symposium on Civil Engineering in the 21st Century, Beijing, pp 431438. Sahli, M, Pellet, F, Boidy, E and Fabre, G, 2001. Modeling of viscous behaviour of rocks for deep tunnel, presented to ISRM Regional Symposium, Eurock. Shalabi, F I, 2005. FE analysis of timedependent behaviour of tunneling in squeezing ground using two different creep models, in Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology, 20:271279. Singh, T N and Verma, A K, 2005. Prediction of creep characteristic of rock under varying environment, Environ Geol, 48:559568.
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