Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 327–345 | Cite as

Consistency Index and Its Correlation with EPB Excavation of Mixed Clay–Sand Soils

  • Daniela G. G. de OliveiraEmail author
  • Markus Thewes
  • Mark S. Diederichs
  • Lars Langmaack
Original Paper


The behavioural properties of excavated ground have significant influence on the excavation process performed by an Earth Pressure Balance Machine (EPBM), as they are among the main factors responsible for maintaining the pressure ahead of the face, which affects face stability. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of the excavated material along with its flow behaviour is essential for a successful EPB tunnel drive. In scenarios involving the excavation of fine-grained soils containing clay minerals, the consistency index has been widely used as a guideline to define the ideal state of the excavated material. However, there are certain restrictions for the use of this index, the first of which are the Atterberg limits. These limits become more restrictive when mixed soils are involved. This study presents a brief review of the application of the consistency index and Atterberg limits in order to predict the performance of an EPB excavation. This study presents the results of a laboratory testing campaign with artificially mixed clay–sand soils by using a flow table as a preliminary flow assessment of cohesive soils.


Earth Pressure Balance Machine EPB soil conditioning Mixed sand and clay soils Atterberg limits Consistency index Flow table 



Support for this research comes from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Canada and funding from Queen’s University. The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Collaborative Research Centre SFB 837, “Interaction Modelling in Mechanized Tunnelling”, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), as well as the laboratory team at TLB, at Ruhr-University Bochum. Special thanks to Dr. Wiebke Baille, from Ruhr-University Bochum, for the valuable discussions regarding the Flow Table results.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geological Sciences and Geological EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Institute for Tunnelling and Construction ManagementRuhr Universität BochumBochumGermany
  3. 3.Normet International Ltd.HünenbergSwitzerland

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