Applicability of the Convergence-Confinement Method to Full-Face Excavation of Circular Tunnels with Stiff Support System

  • Manuel De La Fuente
  • Reza Taherzadeh
  • Jean SulemEmail author
  • Xuan-Son Nguyen
  • Didier Subrin
Original Paper


The ConVergence-ConFinement (CV-CF) method is widely used in conventional tunneling at a preliminary stage of the design. In this method, the rock–support interaction is simplified by means of a two-dimensional plane-strain assumption. However, when the ground exhibits large deformation and/or when the support is very stiff and installed close to the tunnel face, the results obtained with the CV-CF method may significantly differ from those obtained using 3D numerical computations. The strong interaction taking place between the rigid lining and the rock mass is not considered in the most common use of the CV-CF method. Some improvements of the CV-CF method as the so-called implicit methods have been developed to better account for this interaction. In this paper, the applicability of the CV-CF methods is discussed for full-face excavation tunneling with a stiff support system. An in-depth comparison between plane-strain closed form solutions and numerical results which properly accounts for the 3D effects at the vicinity of the tunnel face is carried out. The range of application of the different approaches of the CV-CF method is discussed. Finally, some simple empirical formulae which can be used in preliminary design for a large range of ground conditions are proposed.


Convergence-confinement method Tunneling Single-shield TBM Ground–lining interaction 

List of Symbols


Distance to the tunnel face


Tunnel radius


Tunnel diameter


Distance of support/lining installation from the tunnel face


Distance between the edge of the lining and the tunnel face (unsupported length)


Step round length in the numerical simulations


Thickness of the support or the lining


Outer radius of a lining


Inner radius of a lining

\(\lambda \left(x\right)\)

Deconfining rate which depends on the distance to the advancing face x


Cohesion of the ground


Friction angle of the ground


Dilatancy angle of the ground


Friction parameter of the ground


Dilatancy parameter of the ground


Poisson’s ratio of the ground


Young’s modulus of the ground


Shear modulus of the ground

\({\upsilon _{\text{l}}}\)

Poisson’s ratio of the support or the lining


Young’s modulus of the support or the lining


Shear modulus of the support or the lining


Stability number


Plastic radius (unsupported opening)


Normal stiffness of the support


Normal stiffness of a lining

\(u\left( x \right)\)

Radial displacement at the tunnel wall which depends on the distance to the advancing face \(x\) (unsupported opening)

\(\bar {u}\left( x \right)\)

Radial displacement at the tunnel wall which depends on the distance to the advancing face \(x\) (supported opening)


Fictitious pressure applied to the tunnel boundary (to account for the influence of the tunnel face)

\({\sigma _0}\)

Initial isotropic stress state in the ground

\({\sigma _{\text{c}}}\)

Uniaxial compression strength


Radial pressure acting upon the outer boundary of the lining

\({\sigma _{\text{max}}}\)

Maximal hoop stress developed in the support or the lining at the state of equilibrium


Homothetic ratio in the Self Similarity Principle

\(\ldots {,^*}\)

Normalized parameter/variable

\(\ldots ,{~_{{\text{el}}}}\)

Elastic parameter/variable

\(\ldots ,{~_{{\text{pl}}}}\)

Elastoplastic parameter/variable



This work is part of the Ph.D. thesis of the first author, carried out at Ecole des Ponts ParisTech in partnership with Tractebel ENGIE and CETU (Centre d’Études des Tunnels). The authors wish to thank ITASCA for supporting the first author through the Itasca Education Partnership Program (IEPP).

Supplementary material

603_2018_1694_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (6.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 6405 KB)
603_2018_1694_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (6.7 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 6847 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel De La Fuente
    • 1
    • 2
  • Reza Taherzadeh
    • 1
  • Jean Sulem
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xuan-Son Nguyen
    • 1
  • Didier Subrin
    • 3
  1. 1.Tractebel EngieGennevilliersFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire Navier/CERMESEcole des Ponts ParisTech, IFSTTAR, CNRS, Université Paris-EstMarne la ValléeFrance
  3. 3.Centre d’Etudes des Tunnels (CETU)Bron Cedex 1France

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