Rock and Soil Mechanics ›› 2021, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (12): 3451-3466.doi: 10.16285/j.rsm.2021.5557

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Model test and particle flow numerical simulation of soil arching effect for unsaturated sandy soil tunnel

CUI Peng-bo1, 2, 3, ZHU Yong-quan1, 3, LIU Yong1, 3, ZHU Zheng-guo1, 3, 4, PAN Ying-dong5   

  1. 1. School of Civil Engineering, Shijiazhuang Tiedao University, Shijiazhuang, Hebei 050043, China 2. School of Transportation Engineering, Jiangsu Vocational Institute of Architectural Technology, Xuzhou, Jiangsu 221116, China 3. State Key Laboratory of Mechanical Behavior and System Safety of Traffic Engineering Structures, Shijiazhuang Tiedao University, Shijiazhuang, Hebei 050043, China 4. State Key Laboratory for Track Technology of High-Speed Railway, China Academy of Railway Sciences, Beijing 100081, China 5. School of Civil Engineering, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, Sichuan 610031, China
  • Online:2021-12-10 Published:2022-02-28
  • Contact: ZHU Yong-quan, male, born in 1960, PhD, Professor, PhD supervisor, research interests: underground engineering and tunnel. E-mail:
  • About author:CUI Peng-bo, male, born in 1986, PhD, Lecturer, research interests: underground engineering and tunnel.
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51778380), the Science and Technology Research Project of Construction System of Jiangsu Province(2020ZD28), the State Key Laboratory for Track Technology of High-speed Railway(2019YJ196).

Abstract: The apparent cohesion caused by matric suction makes the mechanical properties of unsaturated sand significantly different from those of dry sand. In order to study the soil arching effect of the unsaturated sand tunnel, trapdoor tests with different water content and buried depth were carried out. The time-dependent characteristics of soil arching in different working conditions were revealed by interpreting the failure mode of sand and the changes in earth pressure in the process of baffle falling. The influence of water content and buried depth on the soil arching effect was expounded. Meanwhile, the distribution mode of earth pressure above the baffle was analyzed based on the arc arch theory of major principal stress trajectories and considering the suction between particles. The discrete element numerical simulation is carried out based on PFC (Particle Flow Code) adhesive rolling resistance linear model, and the soil arching effect under different working conditions is analyzed from the micro perspective. The results show that the failure mode of dry sand develops rapidly from triangle to trapezoid, and the failure mode of unsaturated sand is triangle and related to water content. The earth pressure changes in three stages and the earth pressure decreases to the extreme value and then rises when the sand is dry. The extreme value of earth pressure in the unsaturated conditions is greatly reduced compared with that of dry sand. The earth pressure is less affected by the burial depth when the water content is higher. Cracks appear at the edge of the loosened area, and natural arch is formed after the local collapse. The numerical simulation shows that with the baffle falling, the direction of principal stress rotates obviously. The contact force chain changes from the loosened area to the stable area from weak to strong. The earth pressure distribution of model test and numerical simulation is consistent with the theoretical analysis. The results show that the porosity of dry sand is consistent with the earth pressure, and the porosity increases rapidly when the cracks appear in the water bearing condition, while the contact fabric evolves remarkably with the water content.

Key words: soil arching effect, unsaturated sand, failure mode, earth pressure, particle flow code