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Rock Tunneling Machines: Options and Methods for Variable Geology

Modern tunnel boring machines come in a variety of designs that use different excavation methods to address a wide variation of geology seen during tunneling operations. Invariably tunnels of any length run into varying geology, some of which will fall outside the traditional range of any one machine type. On projects where the majority of the drive is rock with a short percentage of a softer formation, selection of a hard rock machine with maximized advance rates, minimized operating cost and wear would be desirable. However, when there are concerns associated with risks of the machine getting stuck, of high water inflow and of subsidence in soft ground, the contractor may be driven towards the choice of a soft ground machine. This paper will review the additional features and ground treatment options that could expand the spectrum of projects benefitting from a hard rock type machine, even when sections of soft ground are present.


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