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Application of a novel constitutive shotcrete

model to tunnelling

Chapter May 2014

DOI: 10.1201/b16955-137


3 68

4 authors, including:

Bert Schaedlich
GuD Geotechnik und Dynamik Consult GmbH


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Application of a novel constitutive shotcrete model to tunnelling
B. Schdlich & H.F. Schweiger
Computational Geotechnics Group, Institute for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Graz
University of Technology, Graz, Austria
T. Marcher & E. Saurer
ILF Consulting Engineers, Feldkreuzstrae 3, A-6063 Rum / Innsbruck, Austria

ABSTRACT: This paper presents the application of a novel constitutive model for shotcrete in a tunnelling
project. The shotcrete model is based on elastoplastic strain hardening/softening plasticity and can account for
time dependent strength and stiffness, creep and shrinkage. The tensile strength and fracture energy are cali-
brated with results from bending tests on steel fibre reinforced concrete. The tunnelling example is a NATM
tunnel with temporary side drift walls, which are subjected to significant bending and are critical to the safety
of the tunnel during excavation. Different approaches to model the shotcrete lining are employed and the im-
pact of the features of the shotcrete model is discussed.


As shotcrete linings are loaded at a very early age, The model formulation is explained in detail in
the influence of time dependent material properties Schaedlich & Schweiger (2014), therefore only a
on the deformation behaviour and bearing capacity brief summary of the model is given here. The mod-
is much more significant than in regular concrete el has been implemented in the finite element soft-
structures. Notably, shotcrete strength and stiffness ware PLAXIS 2D 2012 (Brinkgreve et al. 2012). A
increase rapidly within the first few hours after ap- compression negative notation is employed through-
plication, while ductility and creep effects decrease. out the paper.
Shotcrete also exhibits plastic material behaviour be-
fore reaching the maximum strength, and material
2.1 Model parameters
strength reduces after the maximum strength has
been mobilised. The parameters of the shotcrete model are summa-
The current engineering approach to model shot- rised in Table 1.
crete linings in numerical simulations assumes a lin-
ear elastic material with a stepwise increase of the Table 1. Parameters of the shotcrete model
(artificially low) Youngs modulus in subsequent Name Unit Remarks
excavation stages. While realistic lining defor- E28 [GPa] Youngs modulus after 28d
mations may be obtained with this method, lining [--] Poissons ratio
stresses are usually too high, in particular if the lin- fc,28 [MPa] uniaxial compressive strength after 28d
ing is subjected to significant bending. Furthermore, ft,28 [MPa] uniaxial tensile strength after 28d
[] angle of dilatancy
capturing the redistribution of forces after cracking E1/E28 [--] ratio of Youngs modulus after 1d and 28d
of the lining requires the manual introduction of fc,1/ fc,28 [--] ratio of fc after 1d and 28d
plastic hinges, which is a difficult and time- fc0n [--] normalized initial yield stress (compr.)
consuming task in more complex numerical models. fcfn [--] normalized failure strength (compr.)
Alternatively, the non-linearity of the material fcun [--] normalized residual strength (compr.)
behaviour can be taken into account directly by us- cpp [--] plastic peak strain in uniaxial compression
at shotcrete ages of 1h, 8h and 24h
ing an appropriate constitutive model for the shot- Gc,28 [kN/m] fracture energy in compression after 28d
crete in the numerical simulation. Such a material ftun [--] normalized residual tensile strength
model has been developed at TU Graz in coopera- Gt,28 [kN/m] fracture energy in tension after 28d
tion with Plaxis b.v. and ILF Consulting Engineers. cr [--] ratio of creep vs. elastic strains
The calibration of this model and its application in t50cr [--] time at 50% of creep
shr [--] final shrinkage strain
tunnelling simulations is demonstrated in this paper. 50
[--] time at 50% of shrinkage
2.2 Yield surfaces and strain hardening/softening ln E1 / E 28
s stiff (18)
Plastic strains are calculated according to strain 28 1
hardening/softening elastoplasticity. The model em-
ploys a Mohr-Coulomb yield surface Fc for devia- The same approach is followed for the evolution of
toric loading and a Rankine yield surface Ft in the shotcrete strength with time. The ratio of ft / fc and
tensile regime (Fig. 1). In this study constant values the values of fcfn, fcun and ftun are assumed to be con-
of max = 37 and = 0 are employed. stant.
Alternatively, strength evolution can also be
modelled according to the early strength classes of
EN 14487-1 (2006). Mean values of these classes
have been assumed in the model, with class J3 lying
50% above the boundary between classes J2 and J3.
Figure 3 compares the evolution of fc according
to the early strength classes with the CEB-FIP model
code formulation for fc,28 = 25 MPa.

Figure 1. Yield surfaces and failure envelope of the mode

Strain hardening in compression follows a quadratic

function up to the peak strength, with subsequent bi-
linear softening (Fig. 2). Due to the time dependency
of the involved material parameters, a normalised
hardening/softening parameter Hc = 3p / cpp is used,
with 3p = minor plastic strain. While hardening
yields a rotation of FC, softening is modelled by a
parallel shift of the failure envelope (cohesion sof-
Figure 3. Increase of shotcrete strength with time
tening). The softening rate is governed by the frac-
ture energy Gc, which is used within a smeared crack
approach to ensure mesh independent results. The change in shotcrete ductility is represented by a
time dependent plastic peak strain cpp. Input values
are the plastic peak strains at t = 1h, 8h and 24h. Be-
yond 24h, cpp is assumed to be constant.

2.4 Creep and shrinkage

Creep strains cr increase linearly with stress and
are related to elastic strains via the creep factor cr.
cr t t0
t cr
D t t50
Figure 2. Normalized stress - strain curve in compression where D is the linear elastic stiffness matrix. The
evolution of creep with time t is governed by the
The model behaviour in tension is linear elastic until start of loading at time t0 and the parameter t50cr. For
the tensile strength ft is reached. Linear strain soften- shotcrete utilization higher than 45% of fc, non-
ing follows, governed by the major principal plastic linear creep effects are accounted for according to
strain and the fracture energy Gt. EC 2 (2004).
Shrinkage strains shr are calculated as
2.3 Time dependent stiffness and strength t
shr t shr shr
Youngs modulus E increases with time t following t t 50
the recommendation of CEB-FIP model code
(1990): with shr being the final shrinkage strain and t50shr
the time when 50% of shrinkage has occurred.
E t E 28 e

sstiff 1 28 / t (17)
3 MODEL CALIBRATION and 143 kN/m for 30 and 60 kg/m3 of steel fibres,
respectively (Gc evaluated until 0.1fc). Softening in
All model parameters can be derived from standard compression does not play a significant role in the
shotcrete tests. These tests are uniaxial compression beam test simulation, and hence a constant value of
tests at different shotcrete ages for fc,28, E28, fc,1/fc,28, Gc = 100 kN/m is adopted. Input parameters com-
E1/E28, cpp, fcfn, fcun and Gc,28, uniaxial creep tests for mon for all beam test simulations are summarised in
cr, t50cr, shr and t50shr and bending tests for ft,28 and Table 2.
Gt,28. The model calibration for uniaxial compres-
sion and creep tests has been demonstrated by Table 2. Parameters for bend beam test simulation
Schaedlich & Schweiger (2014); focus in this study E fc cpp fc0n fcfn fcun Gc ftun
is therefore on the calibration of fracture energy and [GPa] [-] [MPa] [] [-] [-] [-] [KN/m]
__________________________________________________ [-]
tensile strength. 30.0 0.2 35.0 -1.0 0.15 0.1 0.1 100
__________________________________________________ 0.0

3.1 Bending beam test 3.3 Results

The tensile strength ft,28 and the fracture energy Gt,28 Figure 5 shows the load-displacement-curves of
can in principle be derived directly from uniaxial the beam test simulation in comparison with the ex-
tension test results. Due to the experimental difficul- perimental data (Fy vertical force, uy vertical
ties involved in these tests, however, indirect tests displacement at mid span). Good match is obtained
like the 4-point bend beam (EN 14488-3) test are with Gt = 2.5 kN/m, ft = 1.5 MPa for 30 kg/m3 and
more common and currently the standard procedure Gt = 6.9 kN/m, ft = 3.0 MPa for 60 kg/m3 of steel fi-
to obtain ft,28 and Gt,28. As a drawback of indirect bre content. The test data for plain concrete are
testing, material parameters can only be derived by matched well with Gt = 0.1 kN/m and ft = 3.0 MPa.
semi-analytical correlations or inverse analysis. Strain hardening in compression does not contribute
Here, test results presented by Barros & Figueiras significantly to the overall fracture energy.
(1999) are back-analysed numerically with the shot- The Gt-values obtained in the back analyses com-
crete model. They carried out 3-point-bending tests pare very well with the equation proposed by Barros
on notched beams of steel fibre reinforced concrete & Figueiras (1999)
with varying fibre content and proposed a correla-
tion between fracture energy and fibre content Wf.
Gt 1 13.159 W f 1.827 Gt 0 (25)
where Gt0 is the fracture energy of plain concrete
3.2 FE-Model and input parameters (~0.1 kN/m) and Wf is the fibre percentage in weight
Beam dimensions and the FE-model used in the (1.25% for 30 kg/m3 and 2.5% for 60 kg/m3).
simulation are shown in Figure 4. Stiff plates with It can be seen in Figure 5 that for low fibre con-
hinges are used to model bearings without rotational tent, the experimental load-displacement curve ini-
restraint. No time dependency of material parame- tially follows the plain concrete, but stabilizes after a
ters is considered. sharp initial drop. This initial peak cannot be cap-
The back analysis focusses on the test series s4 tured by the shotcrete model, which employs linear
with fibre contents of 30 and 60 kg/m3. Steel fibres post-peak softening. The practical relevance of the
Dramix TX60/.80 were used. Uniaxial compression initial peak, however, is small, as its contribution to
tests yielded fc 35 MPa, with slightly higher the overall fracture energy is negligible.
strength for the lower fibre content. Youngs modu-
lus and peak strain were reported as E = 30 GPa and
cp = -2.2, which yieldscpp = cp + fc / E = -1.0.
The fracture energy in compression can be estimated
from the given stress-strain curve as Gc = 101 kN/m

Figure 5. Load-displacement curves of bend beam test for dif-

Figure 4. Beam dimensions [mm] and FE-model ferent steel fibre content

4.1 Project description

The Nivy railway station project in Bratislava
(Marcher et al. 2012) is analysed here but has been
slightly modified for the purpose of this study. The
maximum overburden is approx. 24 m above the
tunnel crown. The station consists of two platform
tunnels with approx. 120 m cross section each. The
axial distance between the platform tunnels is ap-
prox. 30.5 m. The length of the platform (station)
tunnels is 150 m. For simplicity for this study the
analysis has been performed with only one of the
two platform tunnels under drained conditions, the
water table being approximately 5.5 m below the
The geological environment consists of Quater- Figure 7. Close-up of FE-model (dimensions in m)
nary capping sediments and Neogene strata of vary-
ing thickness. Sand sediments consist of fine- Table 3. Soil parameters
grained additions to loamy sands, which are altered Soil layer ' c K0
by cohesive soils of clayey character with medium [MPa] [-] [] [kPa] [] [-] [kN/m
plasticity and sandy clays of stiff consistency. At the Q1 9.5 0.3 20 16 0 0.66 20
depth of the Station Nivy mostly sand fractions are Q5 140 0.3 34 0 0 0.44 20
present, while the upper parts of the stratum exhibits N1 52 0.3 25.5 21 0 0.57 20
cohesive soils of clayey character with lower and N5 85 0.3 27 5 0 0.55 20
medium plasticity and sandy clays of stiff consisten-
cy. Table 4. Shotcrete parameters - part I
E28 fc,28 ft,28 E1/E28 fc,1/fc,28 fcfn fcun ftun
[GPa] [-] [MPa] [MPa] [-] [class] [-]
__________________________________________________ [-] [-]
4.2 FE-Model and input parameters 30.0 0.2 35.0 3.0 0.6 J2 0.1 0.1 0.0
Computations have been performed with 2D plane-
strain finite element models using the commercial Table 5. Shotcrete parameters - part II
FE code PLAXIS 2D 2012 (Brinkgreve et al. 2012). cpp Gc,28 Gt,28 cr t50cr shr t50shr
The geometric layout, the finite element mesh (using [] [MPa] [KN/m] [-] [d] []
__________________________________________________ [d]
15-noded triangles), the soil profile and excavation 1
-30/-1.0/-1.0 100.0 6.9 2.6 1.5 -0.5 28
sequence follow from Figures 6 and 7. 1
at t = 1h / 8h / 24h
A simple Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion (pa-
rameters in Table 3) for the soil is employed here
because the emphasis of this study is on the constitu- 4.3 Calculation phases
tive model for the shotcrete. Shotcrete parameters
Excavation of each section is modelled by a stress
are given in Table 4 and 5. Tensile strength parame-
release phase (to account for 3D-effects in the 2D
ters ft,28 and Gt,28 represent a steel fibre content of 60
simulation), followed by activation of the shotcrete
kg/m3. The remaining parameters have been cali-
lining. The stress release factors listed below were
brated with experimental data from uniaxial com-
based on experience from projects under similar
pression tests at different shotcrete ages and multi-
conditions. The time assigned to each phase repre-
stage creep tests (Schdlich & Schweiger 2014).
sents the tunnel advance rate.

1. Initial stress state K0 = 1 - sin'

2. Dewatering around tunnel excavation
3. Stress release of th right 15% (1 day)
4. Excavation of th right 50% (1 day)
5. Stress release of bench right 15% (1 day)
6. Excavation of bench right part 100% (1 day)
7. Stress release of th left 15% (5 days)
8. Excavation of th left 50% (1 day)
9. Stress release of bench left 15% (1 day)
Figure 6. Finite element model (dimensions in m)
10. Excavation of bench left 100% (1 day)
11. Stress release of th centre 30% - (5 days)
12. Excavation of th centre 70% (1 day)
13. Stress release of bench centre 15% (1 day)
14. Excavation of bench centre 90% (1 day)
15. Deactivate side drift walls 100% (1 day)
16. Standstill (100 days)
17. Reset groundwater (300 days)

4.4 Results
The shotcrete model can account for various aspects
of shotcrete behaviour, namely hardening/softening
plasticity, time dependent strength and stiffness,
creep and shrinkage. However, not all of these as-
pects of shotcrete are equally important in a given Figure 9. Vertical lining deformation - shotcrete model
project. Therefore the model features have been ac-
tivated separately and their influence is compared is representative for a steel fibre content of
with regard to a reference elastic calculation, in 30 kg/m3) results in failure during excavation of the
which a stepwise increase of E from 5 to 15 GPa in central pillar. This demonstrates that the tensile
subsequent excavation phases is assumed. strength of the shotcrete is essential for the tunnel
Figure 8 compares the vertical lining displace- stability, even though there is little influence of ten-
ments along the circumference after phase 15 (end sion softening on lining deformations.
of excavation) for 3 elastic cases. The largest defor- This becomes obvious if stresses in the side drift
mations occur at the tunnel crown (L = 19 m). Less walls are considered, which are subjected to signifi-
surprisingly, assuming a constant E = 30 GPa yields cant bending. Figure 10 shows the tensile principal
the smallest deformation, but also the model with stresses for different assumptions for the shotcrete
time dependent stiffness is stiffer than the approach after centre bench excavation. The elastic calcula-
with E = 5/15 GPa. tion with E = 5/15 GPa yields tensile stresses of ~15
MPa, which are far beyond the tensile strength of the
material. Applying the shotcrete model without the
softening part limits tensile stresses to the tensile
strength of 3.0 MPa, but only with the softening part
of the model the tension cracking and subsequent
strength reduction can be taken into account. As-
suming a lower tensile strength and fracture energy
facilitates an additional hinge forming at mid height
of the side drift walls, and leads to subsequent col-
lapse of the tunnel. Adding creep strains reduces
stresses slightly, but does not prevent the occurrence
of tensile cracks.

Figure 8. Vertical lining deformation - elastic lining

Slightly larger deformations are obtained with the

shotcrete model (Fig. 9). Softening in compression
and tension, however, does not have a significant in-
fluence on lining deformations. Activation of creep
and shrinkage increases crown displacements by
~5 mm, with a more pronounced effect if later calcu-
lation phases are considered (not shown here).
Apparently, tensile strength and tension softening
do not play a major role in this example, but drawing
such a conclusion would be premature. Neglecting
the shotcrete tensile strength completely results in
collapse in the first excavation phase. Also the as- Figure 10. Major principal stresses (tension) at side drift - outer
sumption of ft,28 = 1.5 MPa, Gt,28 = 2.5 kN/m (which lining intersection after phase 14 (scale from 0 to 3.0 MPa)
Figure 11 compares bending moments M and normal
forces N of the left side drift wall after phase 14. The
internal forces have been obtained by numerical in-
tegration of the lining stresses. Accounting for plas-
ticity and softening does not only reduce maximum
bending moments, but also normal forces, as the side
drift wall becomes softer relative to the outer lining.
Creep, however, has a negligible effect on both N
and M at this stage.
The effect of creep is more pronounced for the
outer lining at 100 days after excavation (Fig. 12,
Fig. 13). Bending moments decrease by up to 60% if
creep is taken into account, whereas normal forces
(not shown here) decrease only by ~10%.
Figure 13. Bending moments of outer lining after phase 16

vourable to use panel bending tests as specified in

EN 14488-5, back analysis of panel tests requires a
3D numerical model, which was beyond the scope of
this study.
2. In the tunnelling example, tension softening pri-
marily occurred in the side drift walls, but did not
have a notable effect on overall lining deformations
and internal forces. However, tunnel stability during
excavation was very sensitive to the chosen tensile
strength and fracture energy, which highlights the
importance of correct calibration of these parame-
3. The effect of creep on internal forces was not sig-
nificant during excavation, which appeared to be
Figure 11. Internal forces of left side drift wall after phase 14 primarily load controlled. At later stages, however,
considering creep effects resulted in a notable reduc-
tion of bending moments.


Barros, J. A. O. & Figueiras, J. A. 1999. Flexural behaviour of

SFRC: testing and modelling. J. Mat. Civ. Eng. ASCE 11:
Brinkgreve, R.B.J., Engin, E. & Swolfs, W.M. 2012. Finite el-
ement code for soil and rock analyses. Users Manual. Plax-
is bv, The Netherlands.
CEB-FIP model code 1990. Design code comite Euro-
international du Beton. London: Thomas Telford.
EN 1992-1 2004. Eurocode 2: Design of concrete structures.
European Committee for Standardization.
EN 14487 2006. Sprayed concrete. European Committee for
Figure 12. Bending moments of outer lining after phase 14 Standardization.
EN 14488 2006. Testing sprayed concrete. European Commit-
tee for Standardization.
5 CONCLUSION Marcher, T., Jiricny, F., Schweiger, H.F. and Nasekhian, A.
2010. Nonlinear FE-analyses of tunnel structures based on
EC7 design approaches a case study based on the Nivy
A new constitutive model for shotcrete has been ap- station, Bratislava. Proc. 14th Dan.-Eur. Conf. Geot. Eng.
plied to the simulation of a NATM tunnel excava- (Frankovska, Hulla, Ondrasik, Turcek, eds.), Bratislava, 2.-
tion. The following conclusions can be drawn from 4. June 2010, CD-Volume.
this study: Schaedlich, B. & Schweiger, H.F. 2014. A new constitutive
model for shotcrete. Proc. 8th Eur. Conf. Num. Meth. Geot.
1. The fracture energy and tensile strength of steel Eng., accepted for publication.
fibre reinforced shotcrete can be obtained by inverse
analysis of bend beam tests. While it would be fa-

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