Influences of buried depth and grain size distribution on seepage erosion in granular soils around tunnel by coupled CFD-DEM approach

Jian Gu Qian, Wei Yi Li, Zhen Yu Yin, Yi Yang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


For tunnels built in the saturated silty sand ground, fine particles may be migrated into tunnels through seams of tunnel segmental joints and then seepage erosion is triggered, which may induce ground settlement. However, the process from fine particles erosion to the stress redistribution and soil properties’ change surrounding the tunnel and ground settlement has not been clarified up to now. For this purpose, five numerical tests of seepage erosion in granular soils around the tunnel are conducted using the Computational Fluid Dynamics and Discrete Element Method (CFD-DEM) coupling method. The influences of buried depth and grain size distribution (GSD) of gap graded soils (mainly controlled by the fines content and mean particle size ratio from coarse to fine) on the seepage erosion around the tunnel are investigated. Eroded mass, fines loss mode, surface vertical displacement, stress redistribution, fabric anisotropy, soil behavior and water pressure around the tunnel during the seepage erosion process for five tests are presented and compared. The following results can be upscaled to the practical tunnel engineering, such as: (1) the number of fines loss, the eroded zone and the ground settlement increase with buried depth and mean particle size ratio; (2) the earth pressure near the crack significantly increases due to the stress redistribution induced by fines loss, and the stress redistributed area expands with buried depth; (3) the strength and stiffness of granular soils around the crack are significantly reduced by the seepage erosion. All results revealed that the CFD-DEM simulations provide a new sight on understanding the mechanics of tunnel seepage erosion from a microscopic perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100574
JournalTransportation Geotechnics
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Grading
  • Seepage
  • Silty sand
  • Suffusion
  • Tunnel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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