Journal article

Analysis and prediction of TBM performance in blocky rock conditions at the Lotschberg Base Tunnel

This paper focuses on the analysis of the TBM performance recorded during the excavation of the Lotschberg Base Tunnel. The southern part of the tunnel was excavated by two gripper TBMs, partly through blocky rock masses at great depth. The jointed nature of the blocky rock mass posed serious problems concerning the stability of the excavation face. A detailed analysis has been carried out to obtain a relationship between the rock mass conditions and the TBM performance, using the Field Penetration Index (FPI). In blocky rock conditions, the FPI is defined as the ratio between the applied thrust force and the actual penetration rate. A database of the TBM parameters and the geological/geotechnical conditions for 160 sections along the tunnel has been established. The analysis reveals a relationship between the FPI and two rock mass parameters: the volumetric joint count (J(v)) and the intact rock uniaxial compressive strength (UCS). Through a multivariate regression analysis, a prediction model for FPI in blocky rock conditions (FPIblocky) is then introduced. Finally, other TBM performance parameters such as the penetration rate, the net advance rate and the total advance rate are evaluated using FPIblocky.


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