Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Type

Publishable Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geological Engineering

Committee Chair

Mary MacLaughlin

First Advisor

Beverly Hartline

Second Advisor

Lei Wang

Third Advisor

Diane Wolfgram


Tunnels are widely used for underground space development in urban areas such as mass transit. However, tunneling in heavily congested areas is a very risky operation that can impose significant damage to adjacent buildings. In the traditional analysis of tunnel structures, the deterministic approach is commonly used. The owners or regulatory agencies establish the limiting ground surface settlement value and angular distortion value for buildings as a means of preventing tunneling-induced failure and damage to adjacent buildings. In addition, significant uncertainties in geotechnical parameters exist in the prediction of tunneling-induced ground settlement and damage to adjacent buildings. Design and analysis found through the deterministic approach is often prone to violate the limiting deflection values due to these uncertainties. In this paper, a probabilistic assessment methodology is proposed to account for the stochastic nature of geotechnical parameters for tunneling-induced ground settlement and damage to adjacent buildings. This method combines both moment methods and finite difference analysis for probabilistic assessment since the performance function for tunneling analysis is usually a numerical model without an explicit function. A series of moment methods were used to evaluate the failure probability based on the solutions obtained from FLAC 2D, a commercially available finite difference code. The efficiency of the probabilistic assessment framework for tunneling-induced ground settlement and damage to adjacent buildings is demonstrated using a case study and the results provide engineers with the appropriate data to make risk based decisions.


A publishable paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.

Included in

Geology Commons