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Grouting Ior Tunnels

D.B.Edwards, B Sc (Hons) Man.

M.I.C.E (UK)


This paper provides only an overview
oI what is a seemingly simple process
oI injecting material into the ground. It
is signiIicantly more complex the more
one becomes involved in the process. It
seeks to provoke thought amongst
designers, and provides what can only
be a brieI synopsis oI the need Ior
methods and materials used to create a
successIul ground treatment project.

To have ground treatment or not that
is the question
In any project where excavation is
carried out in the ground, not only is
there a duty oI care on the construction
team whilst the permanent structure is
completed but there is a proIessional
and moral responsibility to ensure that
the completed structure is Iit Ior the
purpose intended.

The Tunnel Designer should ensure
that the Client brieI is complete and
that his own terms oI engagement
allow him to do the requisite
investigation and rigorous design.

My own experience over a 30 years is
that there is usually an unIoreseen
ground condition during construction
that may well have been detected iI
money was spent beIore the project got
to site and the more esoteric project
Ieatures costing more than the sum
allocated to the ground investigation.

In the mid 70`s the Managing Director
oI the largest site investigation
company in the UK suggested that the
current spending on SI was oI the order
oI 0.5° oI project value and should
and could be justiIied at 2°.

So having established that the client
and designer are probably going to Iind
it hard to justiIy the expense up Iront,
it Iollows that a risk oI adverse ground
conditions will aIIect the Contractor
and the parties to the contract whilst a
solution is sought.

It is noteworthy` some oI the most
proIitable ground treatment projects I
have assisted in devising a solution and
subsequently won, have been the
emergency mobilisation oI key
expertise and plant.

II ground treatment may be required
we have to determine:
• When ground treatment will be
done (planned and predetermined
or panic mode remedial)
• What is its purpose
• How will it be done
We also have to ask:
Do we have enough inIormation?
How will the ground treatment be paid
Who has the specialist skills, personnel
and plant?


Has the contractor got the technical
resources and staII to execute the

The amount and extent oI pre-
treatment is dictated by accessibility at
the surIace and the desirability to
minimise disruption oI the tunnelling
process. Having established that there
is suitable access probably at the
portals and interim access points the
method oI treatment will be dictated by
the depth oI tunnel Irom surIace and
the extent oI treatment deemed
Other Iactors such as the nature oI the
over burden will dictate the methods
employed by the specialist contractor
to install grout holes which are
generally 75 150 mm. The intensity
oI the pre-treatment is best discovered
by initial site investigation Iollowed by
a ground treatment trial.

Having decided the Iunction oI the
treatment, to be stabilisation oI the
tunnel strata, water control, surIace
structure maintenance or a

Post Tunnelling Treatment

What is the Iunction oI this treatment?
• Consolidation oI the rock mass
• Contact grouting
• Overall stabilisation oI the tunnel

Post tunnelling treatment may be
necessary to consolidate the rock mass,
minimise water ingress or provide
intimate contact between the tunnel
lining and the rock mass. Typically,
holes are Ior consolidation oI the rock
mass are up to 20 metres long and
conducted aIter a contact grouting
phase to Iill the void between lining
and rock. Appropriate techniques in
single phase grouting with micro-Iine
cements have been pioneered in
Norwegian hard rock tunnels saving
considerable amounts oI time and


The method eventually chosen will
reIlect the:
• purpose oI the treatment
• the access available
• availability locally oI techniques.
Vastly diIIerent techniques are
appropriate in rock and soil.

Permeation grouting
is the Iilling oI intersces oI the rock or
soil, using appropriate materials and
techniques to consolidate the ground
(Little John, 2003) provides an
historical perspective oI 200 years oI
development oI the technique. Figure 3
shows an innovative method oI
permeation grouting to enhance pile

Compaction Grouting
Is the injection, under relatively high
pressures, oI a toothpaste consistency
grout that essentially compacts soil
clay Iormations. Its application
Australia is limited but is widely used
in the USA and the UK with great
(Warner, 2003) describes compaction
grouting development

Compensation Grouting
Essentially conducted through sleeved
grout pipes or tube a manchettes to
adjust ground levels as tunnels pass
through compressible ground. Used
extensively on the new underground
Jubilee line in London it controlled
settlements and represents the leading
edge oI grouting techniques with real-
time monitoring oI settlement and
grout injection, using computer
controlled plant.

Generally conducted Irom surIace Ian
arrays or Irom specially dug shaIts
with horizontal tube a manchettes,
discreet quantities oI grout are injected
at precise locations, usually with
computer controlled and linked
electro-level monitoring techniques.
European cities with historical
structures have enIorced the use oI this
sophisticated technique to prevent
structural damage to historical

Jet Grouting
A grouting process developed in
Germany and Japan Ior their generally
uniIorm sands and silts. Using very
high pressures (5000 psi) and requiring
considerable care in application an
execution. Jet-grouted columns up to
1.5 m diameter have been achieved and
since this process requires up to
$1million investment in specialist
plant, Australia has only recently
started using the technique to underpin
and create waterprooI structures.

Soil Mixing
Deep soil mixing developed by the
Japanese in the 80`s to transIorm their
silty coast line into load-bearing
ground they have invested enormous
sums oI money one soil mix rig is in
the order oI 1.5 million $US.
SuccessIully transported to the USA
and applied on Jacksons` Lake Dam to
retro Iit Ior additional earthquake
resistance over 27 deep soil mixing
techniques have been identiIied by
(Bruce 2001). Used extensively on the
Boston Freeway and a low-pressure
version developed by the writer to
stabilize reinIorced earth-Iill behind a
wall. Scandinavians use lime and
modest plant in their glacial clays to
improve the capacity oI the ground and
whilst it is heavily used in the States,
Australia is only recently taking on
board the possibilities oI this ground
treatment technique.


Rock grout is probably the most well-
known oI grouting practices to
engineers working in design and
Despite being used on every most
permanent dams tunnels and numerous
other structures such as oil rigs, river
barges and in mines, the writer has
seldom worked with a client either
contractor or consultant who has been
closely involved with the specialist
grouting activities.
Rock grouting commenced in France
in 1802 by Charles de Berigny almost
200 years ago using cement, with
Australia advancing its use oI grouting
in the Snowy Mountains Scheme 150
years later in the 1950`s.
Lombardi has suggested that rock
grouting involves the injection oI
material into 2 or 3 ° voids existing in
typical rock Ioundations compared
with the 20-35° in soils.
The purpose oI rock grouting on each
project varies but may be:

• Reducing the permeability
against water Ilow
• Enhancing the rock strength
Ior Ioundations
• Filling oI voids in e.g. caustic

The designer must ask himselI what do
I want to achieve on the project and
how is it best achieved? Experience
suggests that the specialist Ioundation
contractors usually have options not
within the wildest imaginings oI the
design engineer.
Operating at or near the cutting edge oI
equipment, material and operational
practices the specialist can draw upon
the hundreds oI projects he has worked
on to optimize the techniques and
materials available.
Grouting oI rock is usually Ior the
reduction oI permeability reducing the
leakage under dams Irom say 100
lugeons to an average oI 3.

A typical rock-grouting scheme on a
dam serves to consolidate the
Ioundation under the dam core using a
multiple row oI shorter holes up to 15
m long and typically a single row up to
45 m deep to reduce seepage under the
The 2 km long curtain under
Thompsons Creek Dam earth Iill dam
near Bathurst involved 60 000 m oI
drilling and 30 000 tonnes oI Portland
El Cajon in Honduras a concrete arch
dam required a complex network oI
galleries/tunnels Irom which 250 000
m oI drilling was done and more than
83 thousand tonnes oI cement were
Rock grouting in tunnels is oIten not
quite so extensive and oIten involves
the consolidation oI the rock by Iissure
grouting to minimise settlements on
the tunnel lining. Typically done in
Ians extending up to 20 m Irom the
tunnel walls aIter lining installation, or
directly in rock unlined tunnels such as
the Norwegian hard rock tunnels to
reduce water inIlows.

What are the kev ingredients of
successful rock grouting?

• Site investigation and water testing
to establish the base line
permeability, joints etc.
• Bore-hole surveys as was done
on Canning Dam in WA and in
Burley tunnel Ior the remedial
• A correct deIinition oI the
requirements Ior grouting.
• Consultation with a specialist
contractor who can enlighten the
client/designer on possible and
probable solutions methods
materials and equipment.
• A suitable speciIication written Ior
the project speciIic needs, not a cut
and paste oI a bad dam grouting
• A properly thought out method oI
payment Ior the works and iI
appropriate, a schedule oI
As reported by Littlejohn (2003),
Sanborn and Lipser reported the use oI
grouting on a large scale in 1920 in
New York State. Used to strengthen
the rock around the tunnels and
provide an eIIective seal in the high
operational water pressures in the

In 1944 the Portland Cement
Association in Chicago reported the
successIul scaling oI cracks with Iiner
ground cement to seal crack widths oI
0.03 mm 0.76 mm. See table 1

Table 1
Crack Width
Water Cement
Ratio by Wt
0.03 0.13 1.15
0.13 0.25 1.0
0.25 0.76 1.0
Satisfactorv mixes for crack sealing
(modified after Calson 1944)

In practice it was more important to
determine the minimum particle sizes
and Iissure widths that could be
permeated by various grouts.
In 1935 Terzaghi stated his position in
relation to cement grouting.

'No Iissure can be cemented
with a width oI less than about
0.1 mm. For the same reason
no Iine sand or gravel with an
admixture oI Iine sand can be
grouted iI the eIIective size oI a
compact sand is smaller than
about 1 .4 mm or that oI a loose
sand smaller than 0.5 mm the
grout merely displaces the

J P Morgan invented the colloidal mill
in 1934 in which the high shear action
removed air, improved wetting and
increased the proportion oI Iine cement
particles. This colloidal mixer is still in
use today.
In the USA in 1951 grout injection
reIusal was reported to limit the Ilow
rate at a speciIied injection pressure
signiIicantly lower than today`s
practice. 1.4 litres/minute Ior 20
minutes at 345 kN/m·, (1 cubic Ioot
over 20 minutes at 50 psi equivalent
5.67 litres/min at 1380kN/m·).
Grouting pressures on dams in the
1950`s (Grundy 1955) stated that
allowable grouting pressures should be
twice the weight oI overburden above
the stage being grouted.
Lippold (1958) suggested that saIe
injection pressures with patches varied
between 1.6 to 5.3 kN/m· per metre oI
cover, again dependent on overlying
mass and geological structure.

In the last 50 years the ability oI
specialist grouting engineers to place
stable grouts in the variable Iissures in
rock has increased. These have been
well documented in the ASCE
conIerences in 1982, 1992 and 2003
with notable milestones being:

1. Hornsby (1992) and his
interpretation oI modiIied
Lugeon water tests.
2. The introduction oI microIine
cements and super plasticisers
described by Gause & Bruce
3. The adoption oI real time
computer monitoring oI the
drilling and grouting process
throughout the 1990`s.

Lombardi and Deere in 1993 deriving
the Grout Intensity Number GIN to use
a single stable grout throughout the
grouting process. This is probably the
most signiIicant step in progress to
Iind its way to Australia. The
establishment cost barrier Ior the
limited ground treatment market being
too great Ior Australian specialists.


A soil mass can exhibit an inIinite
variability that tests the specialists
ability to design a grouting scheme to:

• Improve the stability oI the soil
• Reduce seepage into or through
the soil.

The key ingredients to success are
deIined by Littlejohn (2003) when the
site investigation provides suIIicient
inIormation to answer.

1. Can the ground be grouted?
2. What types and amounts oI
grout are required?
3. Following treatment what
strength improvement or
permeability reduction can
be anticipated?

Guidelines are laid out in European
Standard EN 12715 Execution oI
Special Geotechnical Work
Grouting, to assist the designer with
his site investigation planning.
As a Iirst assessment the grouting
specialist will study the grain size oI
the material and most importantly the
proportion passing the 75 micron. For
soils with greater than 15° passing the
75 micron sieve permeation grouting
with Portland Cement grouts.

Important practical limits on the
coeIIicient oI permeability prior to
grout treatment include:

• 5 x 104 m/sec Ior cement based
• 5 x 105 m/sec Ior clay chemical
• 1 x 105 to 5 x 106 m/sec Ior
chemical grouts.

The pre-treatment oI a soil mass was
successIully done Ior the DartIord
Tunnel under the River Thames in
Thames gravel using a clay cement and
clay chemical grout in the mid 1950`s.
This was the Iirst use oI the technique
in UK tunnelling through alluvium
with a Iull scale trial proving a
reduction in permeability 1000 Iold
Irom 30.1 x 104 to 50 x 107 m/sec.

Since that time the development oI
chemical grouts such as silicates
resorcinol Iormaldehydes acrylamides
and polyurethanes led to the routine
adoption oI multiphase clay cement
silicate tube a manhette injection Ior
much oI the Hong Kong Metro. Figure
2 shows limitations oI silicate

In 1967 Soletanche used clay cement
and silicate acetate grouts to improve
the compressive strength and reduce
seepage at the Auber Metro Station in
Paris within the Seine Alluvium. With
a tunnel crown 18 m below street level
and mainly below the water table the
process is described by Jamin and Le
Sciellor, (1970).
Warner (1972) reported the strength
testing oI chemically grouted sands.
CamberIort (1977) produced
guidelines on the limits oI permeation
oI grouts based on permeability ( Fig.

By 1982 the mechanical behaviour oI
chemically grouted soils was better
appreciated and in general strength was
known to increase with increasing
density and decreasing eIIective size
D10 and the question oI grout
longevity was posed at the 8

European ConIerence on Soil
Mechanics and Foundation

Finer ground cement became available,
along with concrete technology

In 1988 the USBR employed super
plasticisers Ior the Iirst time in cement
grouting Ior the Waddell Dam in

Lenses oI glacial till at the Vernier
Tunnel on the Geneva Motorway were
treated with ultra-Iine cement with the
new combination oI silicon and
calcium that would treat non-cohesive
soils with permeability`s down to 1.5 x

The treating oI a soil mass to improve
its properties may be by using:

• Permeation grouting
• Displacement (compaction)
• Jet grouting
• Soil mixing

The most cost-eIIective process is
dictated by not only the quality oI the
site investigation but the physical
location and accessibility oI the site.
The grouting treatment designer must

1. The depth to and thickness oI
treatment required.
2. Access Irom the surIace, Irom
adjacent land, or Irom within
the tunnel

In some situations the pre-treatment oI
ground to be tunneled through may be
essential, desirable or occasionally
impracticable. The ground may be
treated Irom the surIace as oIten done
in the Hong Kong Metro, Irom small
diameter shaIts sunk adjacent to the
tunnel alignment as on the London
Jubilee line or treated in advance oI
tunnel excavation as in the Subsea
tunnels in Norway.

The application oI grout to the ground
will depend upon the nature oI the
ground to be treated and the relative
costs oI treatment by grouting or other
alternative tunnelling methods.

Where unexpected conditions are
encountered during tunnel excavation
the selection oI treatment will depend
on the nature oI the ground being
In the Malgovert Tunnel in France the
alpine gypsiIerous triassic quartzine
was severely crushed and 5 phases oI
treatment were required to get through
the 524 It over a 2 year period.

Four stages oI grouting treatment
involving silicate grout Iollowed by a
cement grout injected to Iissure the
ground and compact the quartzite sand.
A third stage quick (15 min.) setting
chemical grout to give cohesion
Iollowed by a Iinal round oI cement
grouting to compress the ground.

The resulting ground required
explosives to break it out.


The purpose oI grouting is to inject
material Iluid into voids in the soil or
rock. The objective may be to create a
temporary change in the strata by void
Iilling or to aIIect a permanent or
liIetime oI the structure. Grout is
usually in the Iorm oI a Iluid Iormed
Irom a plethora oI materials available.

Bruce et al.(1998) DeIine Iour
categories oI materials listed below in
order oI rheological perIormance and

1. Particulate grouts (suspension or
cementitious) having a Bingham

2. Colloidal solutions which are
evolutive Newtonian Iluids in
which viscosity increases with time

3. Pure solutions in which viscosity
remains essentially consistent with
the adjustable setting period

4. Miscellaneous materials

These comprise mixtures oI water and
one or several particulate solids such
as cement, pozzolans, clays, sand and
additives to modiIy viscosity.

Depending on the mix it may be stable
or unstable (having signiIicant bleed).
Particulate grouts remain highly
popular due to their basic
characteristics and relative economy,
and remain the most commonly used
Ior routine waterprooIing and ground

Water to solids ratio is the prime
determinant oI their properties and
basic characteristics oI stability,
Iluidity, rheology, strength and


Particulate Grouts

The basic characteristics, and relative economy oI these grouts remain the most
commonly used Ior both routine waterprooIing and ground strengthening. Water to
solids ratio is the prime determinant oI their properties and basic characteristics. Five
broad subcategories can be identiIied:

1. Neat cement grouts
2. Clay/bentonite-cement grouts
3. Grouts with Iillers
4. Grouts Ior special applications
5. Grouts Ior enhanced penetrability

It should be borne in mind that many particulate grouts are unsuited Ior sealing high
Ilow, high head conditions: they will be diluted or washed away prior to setting in the
desired location.

Colloidal Solutions

These comprise mixtures oI sodium silicate and reagent solutions, which can change
in viscosity over time to produce a gel. Sodium silicate is an alkaline, colloidal
aqueous solution. In order to obtain a satisIactory hardening time, the silicate must be
strongly diluted, and so these gels are typically weak, and thereIore oI use only Ior
waterprooIing. Typical inorganic reagents are sodium bicarbonate and sodium

The reletive proportions oI silicate and reagent will determine by their own chemistry
and concentration the desired short and long-term properties such as gel setting time,
viscosity, strength, syneresis and durability, as well as cost and environmental

In general, sodium silicate grouts are unsuitable Ior providing permanent barriers
against general high-Ilow/high-head conditions, because oI their relatively long
setting time (20-60 minutes), low strength (less than 1 Mpa) and poor durability. This
is a diIIerent case Irom using sodium silicate solution (without reagent) to accelerate
the stiIIening oI cementitious grouts a traditional deIence against Iast Ilows.

Pure Solutions

Resins are solutions oI organic products in water, or a non-aqueous solvent, capable
oI Iorming the Iormation oI a gel or Ioam with speciIic mechanical properties under
normal temperature conditions and in a closed environment. They exist in diIIerent
Iorms characterised by their mode oI reaction or hardening:

D.A. Bruce, A. Naudts, W.G.Smoak, High Flow Reduction in Mafor Structures, Materials,
Principles, and Case Histories, Preceedings oI Sessions oI Geo-Congress 98, Boston, Massachusetts
• Polymerisation: activated by the addition oI catalysing element (e.g., poly-
acrylamide resins, water reactive polyurethanes).
• Polymerisation and Polycondensation: arising Irom the combination oI two
components reacting in stoechiometric proportions (e.g., epoxies, aminoplasts,
two component polyurethanes, vinyl esters).

Mostly, setting time is controlled by varying the proportions oI reagents or
components. Resins are used when category 1 or 2 grouts prove inadequate, Ior
example when the Iollowing grout properties are needed:

• Particularly low viscosity
• Very Iast gain oI strength (a Iew hours)
• Variable setting time (Iew seconds to several hours)
• Superior chemical resistance
• Special rheological properties (pseudoplastic)
• Resistance to high groundwater Ilows

Resins are used Ior both strengthening and waterprooIing in cases where durability is
essential, and the above characteristics must be provided. Four categories can be
recognised: acrylic, phenolic, aminoplastic, and polyurethane (see Table 1 appendix

Miscellaneous Grouts

These grouts are essentially composed oI organic compounds or resins. In addition to
waterprooIing and strengthening, they also provide very speciIic qualities such as
resistance to erosion or corrosion, and Ilexibility. Their use may be limited by speciIic
concerns such as toxicity, injection and handling diIIiculties, and cost and may
include latex hot bitumen and epoxies.

FIGURE 1:General Theoretical limits oI Grout Permeation. AIter FHA-15

D.A. Bruce, J.A Shirlaw, Grouting of completelv weathered granite with special reference to the
construction of the Hong Kong mass transit railwav, Institution oI Mining and Metallergy & British
Tunnelling Society, Transport and Road Research Laboratory, Brighton, England, 10-15 March 1985
FIGURE 2: Limits oI Silicate permeation in alluvial soils.

FIGURE 3: Production Grouting Procedure

D.A. Bruce, J.A Shirlaw, Grouting of completelv weathered granite with special reference to the
construction of the Hong Kong mass transit railwav, Institution oI Mining and Metallergy & British
Tunnelling Society, Transport and Road Research Laboratory, Brighton, England, 10-15 March 1985

GS Littlejohn, J. Ingle, K Dadasbilge, Improvement in Base Resistance of Large Diameter Piles found
in Siltv Sand, 8
European ConIerence on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Helsinki, 1983

Type of resin

Nature of ground
Use/ Application


Granular, very Iine soils

Finely Iissured rock

WaterprooIing by mass

Gas tightening (mines,
Strengthening up to 1.5
Strengthening oI a
granular medium subjected
to vibrations


Granular, very Iine soils



Schists and coals
Strengthening (by
adherence to materials oI
organic origin)


Large voids

Formation oI a Ioam that
Iorms a barrier against
running water (using water
reactive resins)
Stabilisation or localised
Iilling (using two
component resins)

Table 1. Uses and applications of Resins (AFTES, 1991)

OI the Iour subclasses in table 1, only two groups oI polyurethanes are usually
appropriate Ior remedial grouting given cost, perIormance and environmental

• Water-reactive polyurethanes : Liquid resin, oIten 'reactively diluted¨ or in a
plasticising agent, typically with added accelerator, reacts with groundwater to
provide either a Ilexible (elastomeric) or rigid Ioam. Viscosities range Irom 50 to
1,000 cP (at 25°C). There are two subdivisions:

1. Hydrophobic react with water but repel it aIter the Iinal (cured) product
has been Iormed.

2. Hydrophilic react with water but continue to physically absorb it aIter
the chemical reation has been completed.

• Two component polyurethanes: Two compounds (polyol and isocyanate) in liquid
Iorm react to provide either a rigid Ioam or an elastic gel. Such resins have
viscosities Irom 100 to 1000 cP and strengths as high as 2 Mpa. A thorough
description oI these grouts was provided by Naudts (1996).