Modelling high-speed railway-induced vibrations around tunnels (ground-support) (EPSRC DTP)

Supervisor(s)

Dr Chrysothemis Paraskevopoulou, Dr David Connolly, Professor Peter Woodward and Dr Mark Hildyard

Contact Dr Chrysothemis Paraskevopoulou (C.Paraskevopoulou@leeds.ac.uk) to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

This project will be of interest to someone looking for a multidisciplinary project involving fieldwork, laboratory analysis and numerical modelling in the broad areas of tunnelling, geotechnical and geological engineering. The research will place the successful candidate in an ideal position to gain future employment in industry or academia.

The demand for fast commuting between densely populated cities has increased over the last 30 years. This is evident with the existence of high-speed railway lines mainly in central Europe where within in 2 hours you can travel 500 – 600 km. The need of such infrastructures has risen along with the technological advancement and the environmental advantage to cars and social benefits that encounters. The latter implies that the number of railway tunnels connecting (remote) areas faster due to topographical limitations has also risen.

One of the key considerations on railways tunnels especially high speed lines is the propagation of vibrations generated as the train(s) passes through. Although significant scientific progress has been made on investigating and analyzing on the ground vibrations from high speed rail lines (Connolly et al. 2013; 2015; 2016), it focuses commonly on embankments and soils.

There is a gap of scientific knowledge in tunneling environment where the vibrations propagate from the tunnel support to the surrounding rock or ground. The proposed project aims to develop a better understanding of the tunnel behaviour due to the initiation and propagation of vibrations induced in high speed railways.

As different rocks (rock masses) and different types of ground behave in different ways when subjected to dynamic loading, especially over time. One of the main factors controlling their mechanical behaviour is geology and more specifically the mineralogical content and its structural characteristics (Paraskevopoulou, 2016, et al. 2017, 2018).

The wave propagation path (causing vibrations) is directly influenced by the latter, as it depends on the discontinuities (joints, faults etc), elements of weaknesses (shear zones, geological contacts etc) on the geological setting and fracture stiffness (Hildyard, 2007). Being able to predict the tunnel system’s reaction can be paramount of importance especially for the system’s lifetime and therefore its resilience.

The project will involve field work, experimental testing on physical models as well numerical analyses using finite-element, finite-difference, distinct-element methods towards in developing practical tools and models that can find use not only in the field of research but also use not only in the field of research but also in industry is of utmost importance.

The main aim is to develop a better understanding of the tunnel behaviour due to the initiation and propagation of vibrations induced in high speed railways. objectives include:

  • Developing constitutive relationships to describe the mechanical behaviour of the tunnel (ground-support) system
  • Gaining understanding of how the vibration-induced mechanisms can affect the mechanical behaviour on a range of time-scales
  • Assessing the implications of these results for issues such as closure of fractures, long-term stability of tunnels. These objectives will be met with the help of state-of-the art laboratory facilities and numerical modelling software.

The proposed research project aims to investigate the mechanical behaviour of the complete tunnel system (ground-support) by performing a number of laboratory testing at Rock Mechanics, Engineering Geology and Geotechnical Laboratory (RMEGG). Numerical analyses using finite element, finite difference and distinct-element methods combined with big data analysis methods will be performed to develop a constitutive model.

Key benefits

This project will be of interest to someone looking for a multidisciplinary project involving fieldwork, laboratory analysis and numerical modelling in the broad areas of tunnelling, geotechnical and geological engineering. The research will place the successful candidate in an ideal position to gain future employment in industry or academia.

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1) or equivalent, and/or a Master's degree in the relevant subject area.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website.

If you require any further information, please contact the Graduate School Office e: apply-phd@see.leeds.ac.uk, or t: +44 (0)113 343 1634.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.