Inventory of geomechanical phenomena related to train-induced vibrations from tunnels

Abstract: Banverket is expecting that the number of railway tunnels in densely populated areas will increase over the next 20 years due to the lack of available space on the ground surface, but also since the railway is considered an environmentally friendly solution of transportation for the future. The need for good predictions of vibration and noise levels in dwellings along the planned tunnels is therefore evident. Due to lack of understanding of the propagation of train-induced vibrations from tunnels in rock a research project has been initiated by Banverket. This thesis constitutes the first stage of that project. In this thesis, the propagation of vibrations through a rock mass has been reviewed. The emphasis has been on wave propagation in hard rock masses. Areas, such as the generation of vibrations at the train-rail interface, the response of buildings and humans, national and international recommended noise and vibrations levels, and possible countermeasures are briefly reviewed as well. Finally, suggestions for the continued research are presented. The propagation of waves is influenced by attenuation along the propagation path. The attenuation can either be through geometric spreading, energy loss within the material, or reflection and refraction at boundaries. In a rock mass, where heterogeneities of various scales are present, the attenuation of (train-induced) waves through the ground therefore mainly depends on the properties of the discontinuities. Theoretical models of wave propagation across individual fractures have been presented in the literature. These models can be used to study the attenuation at the fracture for different combinations of joint stiffness, impedance, and angle of incidence. Also multiple parallel joints can be theoretically analysed. The attenuation of low-frequency waves is more prominent in weak rock masses and virtually negligible for hard rock masses. An increased amount of random oriented joints, faults and boundaries increases the attenuation of the waves, but is not possible to study with the aid of theoretical models. The rock mass is in most cases inhomogeneous due to all heterogeneities present. Despite this fact, the rock mass and soil is always treated as an isotropic, homogeneous material in the analyses of ground-borne noise and ground-borne vibrations. This concerns both numerical and empirical methods. Thus, there is a lack of a method that considers the influence of various heterogeneities present in a rock mass on the propagation of waves. Future research regarding train-induced vibrations should focus on combining the models of attenuation in the material with the models of attenuation across joints. Thereafter, conceptual models should be used to determine the propagation of low-frequency waves in a rock mass containing various amounts of heterogeneities (from isotropic to highly inhomogeneous) which should be compared to the theoretical methods available. Once the behaviour of waves in an inhomogeneous rock mass has been established, conceptual models should be used together with measurements from a few well documented cases. From the results of the analysis, guidelines for analysis of railway tunnels with regard to ground-borne noise and ground-borne vibrations should be established.

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