Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 50, Issue 10, pp 2805–2816 | Cite as

Determining the Particle Size of Debris from a Tunnel Boring Machine Through Photographic Analysis and Comparison Between Excavation Performance and Rock Mass Properties

  • A. Rispoli
  • A. M. Ferrero
  • M. Cardu
  • A. Farinetti
Original Paper


This paper presents the results of a study carried out on a 6.3-m-diameter exploratory tunnel excavated in hard rock by an open tunnel boring machine (TBM). The study provides a methodology, based on photographic analysis, for the evaluation of the particle size distribution of debris produced by the TBM. A number of tests were carried out on the debris collected during the TBM advancement. In order to produce a parameter indicative of the particle size of the debris, the coarseness index (CI) was defined and compared with some parameters representative of the TBM performance [i.e. the excavation specific energy (SE) and field penetration index (FPI)] and rock mass features, such as RMR, GSI, uniaxial compression strength and joint spacing. The results obtained showed a clear trend between the CI and some TBM performance parameters, such as SE and FPI. On the contrary, due to the rock mass fracturing, a clear relationship between the CI and rock mass characteristics was not found.


Debris size distribution Photographic analysis Field specific energy Coarseness index TBM performance Hard rock TBM 



The authors want to thank TELT s.a.s., the owner company of the project, for the permission to publish the results of this study and for the support provided during the work performed at the Maddalena tunnel.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversità degli Studi di TorinoTurinItaly
  2. 2.DIATI-Politecnico di Torino; IGAG-CNRTurinItaly
  3. 3.Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin (TELT) sasTurinItaly

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