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Analysis of cut-and-cover tunnels against large tectonic deformation

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Tunnels are believed to be rather “insensitive” to earthquakes. Although a number of case histories seem to favor such an argument, failures and collapses of underground structures in the earthquakes of Kobe (1995), Düzce–Bolu (1999), and Taiwan (1999) have shown that there are exceptions to this “rule”. Among them: the case of tunnels crossed by fault rupture. This paper presents the analysis and design of two highway cut-and-cover tunnels in Greece against large tectonic dislocation from a normal fault. The analysis, conducted with finite elements, places particular emphasis on realistically modeling the tunnel-soil interface. Soil behavior is modeled thorough an elastoplastic constitutive model with isotropic strain softening, which has been extensively validated through successful predictions of centrifuge model tests. A primary conclusion emerging from the paper is that the design of cut-and-cover structures against large tectonic deformation is quite feasible. It is shown that the rupture path is strongly affected by the presence of the tunnel, leading to development of beneficial stress-relieving phenomena such as diversion, bifurcation, and diffusion. The tunnel may be subjected either to hogging deformation when the rupture emerges close to its hanging-wall edge, or to sagging deformation when the rupture is near its footwall edge. Paradoxically, the maximum stressing is not always attained with the maximum imposed dislocation. Therefore, the design should be performed on the basis of design envelopes of the internal forces, with respect to the location of the fault rupture and the magnitude of dislocation. Although this study was prompted by the needs of a specific project, the method of analysis, the design concepts, and many of the conclusions are sufficiently general to merit wider application.

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Correspondence to George Gazetas.

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Anastasopoulos, I., Gazetas, G. Analysis of cut-and-cover tunnels against large tectonic deformation. Bull Earthquake Eng 8, 283–307 (2010).

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