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Computers and Geotechnics 1 (1985) 207-220

FINI~

KI~NT

ANALYSIS OF EXCAVATION

P.T. Brown and J.R. Booker


School of Civil and Mining Engineering
University of Sydney
Sydney, N.S.W., 2006
Australia

ABSTRACT

The finite element method has often been used to simulate excavation.
When the soll is linearly elastic, the results of excavation should be
independent of the number of stages in the excavation process, and lack of
such independence
indicates an incorrect procedure.
The simple direct
method described in this paper provides the required independence In the
case of linearly elastic materials, and hence can be used for multl-stage
excavation
in non-linear
problems
without
excessive
errors.
However
methods whose errors increase with the number of stages of excavation are
quite unsuitable for non-llnear problems.
Alternative methods of analysis,
errors arising from the inability of the elements to model adequately
the
stress gradients near the toe of the excavation and excavation adjacent to
a diaphragm wall are discussed.

INTROML~FION

The

finite

potentially
However,

element

powerful

method

tool

for

care must be taken

provides

geotechnlcal

simulation

of

the

engineers

excavation

with

process.

in the use of this tool if significant

errors

are to be avoided.

For example
errors

Christian

discovered

braced excavations.
as

few

stages

concentration

While

as

while

and Wong

in reference

developing

a program

They concluded
possible,

to simulate

that excavations

because

trouble

reported

arises

some serious

construction

of

should be simulated

in

when

points

of stress

are excavated.

it may

be

satisfactory

to simulate

an

excavation

in

linearly

207

Computers and Geotechnics 0266-352X/85/$03.30 Elsevier Applied Science


Publishers Ltd, England, 1985. Printed in Great Britain

208
elastic

material

unlikely

to

be

by

excavation

satisfactory

in

when

one

stage,

this

the

material

form of

behaviour

simulation
is

non-linear.

Hence the authors of this paper sought a method which did not introduce
errors

referred

elastic
as

to above.

This method

case as the results

shown

in

intended

reference

as

the

should

[2].

basis

checked

be independent

Such

for

could be

method

simulation

is

of

for

is

the

the

linearly

of the number of stages


presented

excavation

here,
in

and

is

non-linear

materials.

EXCAVATION SIMULATION"

The

basic

aspects

of

simulation

method are summarised as follows.


the

shaded

portion

of excavation

by

the

finite

element

Fig.l(a) shows a body of soil from which

A is to be excavated,

leaving

the unshaded

portion B.

The behaviour of B will be identical if material A is removed and replaced


by

the

tractions

(T) which

were

mass, as indicated in Fig.l(b).

previously

internal

stresses

Then the behaviour of B due to excavation

will be the behaviour of B when the tractions T are removed,


applying equal and opposite tractions,

Simulation

of

the tractions T at the new portion of the soil boundary,

determination

of

of

the

stage

as shown in Fig.l(c).

determination

stiffness

for example by

involves

the

of

in the soil

of excavation

soil mass

thus

B, and application

of tractions

-~ to the

new portion of the boundary.

Finite

(a)

element

implementation

of

this

process

involves

(b)

()

FIGURE i.

Simulation of Excavation

determination

209
of

the

nodal

forces

which

are

equivalent

to

the

tractions

shown

in

Fig. l (c).

This may be carried


considered

methods

lent

nodal

were

dependent

involving

forces

from known

determination

values

These

and as Christian

in reference

to determine

[3]

the excavation

report

and equlva-

except

when

which
a high

The implementation

and Nong

say,

of

the method

problem.

that

boundary

and Wong

gave results

of excavation,

to all types of excavation

and Mana

Christian

of tractions

of stress.

of stages

laborious,

may not be applicable

proposed

of methods.

was used for stress extrapolatlon.

appears

Clough

direct

on the number

order polynomial
such methods

out by a variety

blana in reference

[4]

forces as

~
in which

unexcavated
vector,
in

is

reference

column

number

elements,

and

results

the

report

elements.

Desal

which

and

this paper,

each

work

stresses

is

unable

excavation

Sargand

propose

Desal and Sargand

to

produce

correct

off the top of a single


a method

using

of stresses,

hybrid

but includes

which is the basis of this paper,

equation

forces

that total

of excavation.

are

with

tractions on the boundary of the domain.

including

tractions.

body

boundary

o is the stress

However,

Then

as

the

terms

is shown

due

conceptually

and

external

equillbrit~n

While

methods

simpler,

the

tractions

to stresses,

throughout

method

is

of

integrathe

maintained

on extrapolation

recommended

body

section

numerical

is approximately
based

is to start

in the next

the nodal forces can be found by appropriate

in such a way
stage

and

a common

strain matrix,

method

involving

approach,

external

tion of stresses,
mass,

have

is also based on integration

An alternative
from the virtual

this

that

problem

integration of surface

forces

which

is the vector of nodal forces.


[5]

stress model,

of elements

B is the displacement

for a simple
of

f sTo dV

m=l v

soil
at

of known
easier

to

210
implement

~Ithout

loss

of

accuracy.

Other

ignore part or all of the contribution


energy,
adequate

will

in general

solutions

give

incorrect

integration

of body

forces

results,

methods,

which

to the total

strain

although

they may provide

to some problems.

FI]IITE ELEMENT IMPI..EMlmT&TXON

Let us consider a multi-stage


are

no'

The

soil mass

the

excavation,

excavation

and the initial strains are

strains are

is subject

to body

and

after

and

~i

and are zero as shown in

forces ~ and surface

i-th

stage

of

tractions

excavation

the

Fig.2.

t outside

stresses

and

respectively.

V i is the volume of the soll mass

mass after the i-th stage of excavation

has taken place, and it is required

to determine
to simulate

~i

the

~o~

for which the inital stresses

the nodal forces which must be applied


satisfactorily

to this volume in order

the process of the i-th stage of excavation.

iili

.~o: O
Initk~l

store

g=.~l

~ : . o -o

Vo---

-.~o = D .~1

J
V~

End of f i r s t

stage

ti1t

_~ = .~2

O'2- O1 = D (e2-el)
End of s e c o n d stage

FIGURE 2.

Definition of stresses and strains at each stage.

211
The
impose
stage

procedure

an arbitrary
of

performed
the

adopted

(virtual)

excavation.
during

i-th

stage

incremental

for determination

Then

nodal
by

that displacement,
of

excavation

displacement

equating

nodal

of these

the

at

the

internal

the nodal

forces

forces

end

and

of

to

the

i-th

external

work

required
based

is

to simulate

can

be

determined,

on

be

6u

and the corresponding

total

not

equilibrium.

Let the virtual displacement

strains and

nodal displacements

be

6e

and ~a.

Equating

the internal work done by the

stresses and the external work done by the body forces ~

f(6~T~i)dV

= f (~uT!)dV +

Vi
where

(1)

f(~T!)dS

Vi

S i is the surface

and the tractions

Si

of the soll mass at the end of the i-th stage of

excavation.

Now writing

equation

A~i

ffi ~i

A~i

ffi ~i

Ao
i~

DAei~

~i-I and taking ~o = 0

Zi-1
where D
matrix

is

the

incremental

stress-strain

(i) can be re-written as

f(~cT(Aoi + Zi_l))dV
Vi ~

= f (~uT~) dv + f(6~T~)dS

Vi ~ ~

f(6~TDA~i)dV
Vi

f(~aTBTDBAai)dV
Vi

Si

-f(6Toi_l)dV
Vi

+ f(6uT~)dV + f(eTt)dS
Vi ~ ~

Si

ffi -f(~aTBToi_l)dV + f ( 6 a ~ T ~ ) dV + f(~aTNT~)d$


Vi
Vi
Si

where N is the matrix of shape f u n c t i o n s .

(2)

212
Since the above relationship holds for arbitrary displacements
(~(BTDB)dV)Aa
Vi

= -f(BToI_I)dV+f(NTy)dV + f(NTt)dS

Vi

- _

VI

Si

or in finite element form

K'A~i

= [i,i-1

+ ~i + ~i

(3)

where ~i'i-l' ~i' ~i

are the vectors of nodal forces arising from integra-

tion of ~i-l' ~

and

respectively and the first subscript indicates the

the body over which the integration takes place, and the second subscript
(if any) indicates the stress state which is integrated.

The sum of the vectors


need

to be applied

f, g and

to retain

h~

represents the nodal forces which

total equilibrium

in carrying

out the

i-th

stage of excavation.

Restricting

attention

now

to

the

linearly

elastic

case,

it

is

of

interest to rewrite equation (2) in the form

f(6~ TD ~i)dV
Vi

(4)

ffi -f6eT(Oi_l - D~i_l)dV + f(6uT~f)dV~


~
+ f(6uTt)dS~
~
Vi
Vi
Si

From Fig 2 it will be seen that


~i-I - D ~i-I
and

making

this

~o

substitution

(5)
in

equation

(4)

and

converting

to

finite

element form
K'~i

Equation
precisely

(6)

ffi ~i,O +

corresponds

equivalent

to

to

repeated

~i

~i

single

application

(6)

stage
of

excavation,

equation

(3)

and
for

is
the

linearly elastic case, provided that the sample points used to evaluate the
stiffness matrix are also used to evaluate the nodal forces corresponding
to each

'initial stress'.

Thus while there will be errors in the results

213
obtained due to inadequate
finite

elements,

number

of excavation

achieves

the

multi-stage

no

representation

additional
stages,

theoretically

errors

of the stress distribution


will

be

if this method
correct

caused

by

is used.

equality

increasing

Hence

between

by the
the

this method

single-stage

and

Gauss

per

excavation.

DISCUSSION OF RXSULI'S

Finite
element

element

and

analyses

the

meshes

were

shown

carried
in

out

Fig.3,

using
which

P,|

consist

1"0

Im

1'0
1.0

smoot h ~

1"0
fixed

0 1"0 1-0 1"0 1'0 1"0 1'0 1"0


(a)

1.0
0.9 0.1
~--------0.1
"~'0.2

smooth~
0.1k~7 1'0 1.0 1-0 1.0 1-0
(b)

1.0
"'fixed

o.1 0.2

not to scale

~0<)6

"'I;',;~1111
.' ., .I.I.I I I,I,I,I,

~0"06

IIII

smooth~__

(c)

0"72

Y/) IIII

III111111 0

1.0 " 0 . 7 2
1.0 1.0 1-0 1.0 " ' f i x e d

b o6cb(b(b66

FIGURE 3.

Finite element meshes used.

points
of

8-noded

214
isoparametric

rectangles,

and linearly elastic.


the

excavation

consisting

of

the

the material was homogeneous

The excavated

carried

one

displacements
whether

was

and where

out

horizontal

obtained

at

elements have been cross-hatched,

in

row

the

one-stage,
of

or

elements.

completion

of

in
In

several
each

excavation

Poisson's

discussed

ratio

in this

(v) was

0.47,

paper

Young's

Ko

= 0.5

shown

in

and

stages

case

the

were

the excavation was carried out in one or several

analyses

isotropic

(E) was

the unit

weight

each
nodal

identical,

stages.

modulus

and

For all

I0,000 kPa,
of

the

soil

was 20 kN/m 3 .

Analyses

using

the

mesh

using 4 Gauss points per element,


by linear extrapolation
next

to be excavated.

3(a),

were

also

carried

out

in which the nodal forces were determined

of stresses
This was

Fig.

from the Gauss

points

in the elements

followed by fitting a straight

line to the

resulting values of stress on the excavation boundary for each element, and

/l/'/~'2'

,// ~
/:~ /
JJ I
"k~

"-~
3

Proposed Method
Stress Extrapolation:
2 Stage. 0.Sm Elements o o o
2 Stage, ~Om Elements . . . . .
4 Stage, C)-Srn Elements . . . . . . .

Horizontal Displacement (mm)


FIGURE 4.

Displacements

of side of cut using stress extrapolation.

215
calculation
carried

of

the

out with

into elements

equivalent

the

nodal

two upper

each of height

forces.

rows

of

0.5 m,

Two

elements

similar

in

Fig.

analyses

3(a)

were

subdivided

in order that the excavation could be

carried out in 4 stages and also in 2 stages of two rows of elements.


horizontal

displacements

recommended

method,

shown in Fig. 4.
recommended
using

number

of

the

analyses

Excavation

the stress

in 2 stages

of the side of the cut resulting from use of the

and

method,

but

based

progressively

and 4 stages.

on

stress

extrapolation

are

in one stage produced the same results as the

extrapolation

excavation

The

method,

Similar

stages

greater

were

when

errors

the excavation

increases
reported

are

in error
by

seen

occur,

is carried

with

Christian

to

an

out

increasing

and

Wong

when

evaluating nodal forces only from elements near the excavation (not using a
high

order

polynomial

note

that at most

for

depths

extrapolation).
there

is a smaller

However
error

it is of

interest

for 2 stage

to

excavation

with the finer mesh than with the coarser mast.

Nodal forces were found to arise only on the excavated boundary of the
current

stage when the recommended method was used.

When the contribution

to

nodal

is

the

forces

arising

from

the

body

forces

ignored,

vertical

forces arise at every node in the soil mass, and produce grossly erroneous
results.
on

the

However if one also ignores


current

excavated

boundary,

the nodal forces except at the nodes

a reasonably

obtained.

Table i shows

the vertical

excavated

in

stage

the

first

Fig. 3(a), and 9 Gauss


integration

of

the total nodal

stresses
forces

of

nodal

and

body

forces

for each of

locations are shown in Fig. 5.

forces on

excavation

points per element.

the

are

satisfactory

using

the boundary
the

mesh

The contributions
shown

relevant

separately,

nodes,

solution

whose

is

to be

shown

arising

in
from

as well as
numbers

and

216
TABLE i
Vertical Nodal Forces (kN)

Node

fBTo dV

fNT~ dV

Total

7
13
21
27
35
36
37

1.67
20.00
3.33
20.00
-1.67
6.67
-1.67

1.67
-6 67
3.33
-6.67
5.00
-6.67
1.67

3.33
13.33
6.67
13.33
3.33
0
0

Total

48.33

-8.33

40.00

--Node

Numbers ( ~

.0.5

o 1 2 3 4 5 Cram)/ ~

1.5

(>5

Distance from Side of Cut (m)


FIGURE 5.

It

can be

significant

seen

error

Displacements at end of excavation.

that

in the

ignoring
vertical

the second stage of excavation.


upper

two

significant

rows

of

effect

elements
on

the

the body
nodal

forces.

Refinement
into

final

force contributions,
Similar

errors

leads

to

occur

in

of the mesh by subdividing the

elements

of

displacements.

height

0.5

Despite

these

m,

had
errors

no
in

217
vertical

nodal

excavation

forces,

resulting

integration

from
body

final
use

displacements

of

the

of

and non-boundary

displacements

as shown in Fig. 5.

The recommended

solution

for

the

since

solution

for

one-stage

selected

method

mesh,

excavation

provides

it

using

a solution

for the vertical displacements

is

which

boundary

method,

forces,

of

the

and

stress

produce

similar

method gives the correct

precisely

this

mesh.

the

same

However

is reasonably

as

the

this

stress

similar

except

near the top of the cut.

mesh in f

c/ /a

the

recommended

forces

integration

ignoring

the

I
I

Horizontal deflection (mm)


FIGURE 6.

Horizontal
points.

A very coarse
to model
Better
of a

deflections

mesh

such as that shown

the stress concentrations

representation
finer

mesh

displacements.
element analyses

near

of side of excavation when using 9 Gauss

in Fig.3(a)

at the bottom corner of the excavation.

of the stress distribution


the

corner,

should

in this region,

produce

This aspect was investigated


using the meshes

cannot be expected

more

accurate

by the use
values

by means of additional

shown in Fig.3(b)

and (c).

of

finite

The resulting

218
horizontal

nodal

displacements

along

the vertical

case of 9 Gauss points are shown in Fig.6.


to an increase

in deflection

of the

however the second mesh refinement

excavated

face

for

The first mesh refinement

top corner

of the excavation

only leads to an additional

the

leads

of 15%,

increase

in

deflection of 3%.

It is also of

interest

size when the excavation


this purpose
in

Fig.7

finite

which

to examine

is carried out adjacent

element

include

the effects

analyses

a concrete

were

carried

diaphragm

of

changes

in element

to a diaphragm wall.
out on the meshes

wall.

The wall

For
shown

deflections

above the base of the excavation are sbown in Fig.8.

~,
/

srnooth

i 1'0

1.0 1.0 0.5 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0

L~fixed

1.O

1.0
....~ 0-1
~0.2
0.7
f
smooth.
0

FIGURE 7.

The
present,

effect

of

1 0.5

Finite Element Meshes used for diaphragm wall.

refining

as the increase

is only 10%.

1.0
"
0 1-0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1-0 ' f i x e d

the

mesh

in deflection

is

smaller

than

when

no

wall

was

at the top corner of the excavation

219

Finer mesh

4 Gauss points

//
I

9 Gcuss points

3
2
Well deflection (ram)
FIGURE 8.

Deflections of diaphragm wall.

CONCLUSIONS

A theoretically sound basis has been established for a simple correct


method of finite element simulation of excavation.

This produces

results

which are independent of the number of stages in which the excavation is


carried out for the case of a linearly elastic medium.

The implementation

of this method appears to be more economical to program than the high order
polynomial

fitting proposed

other suggested methods.

in reference

[I], aud is more accurate

than

The method described is therefore recommended as

the basis for simulation of excavation in non-llnear materials.

It has been demonstrated that for a linearly elastic material,


little refinement of the mesh

very

is required in order to obtain horizontal

deflections of engineering accuracy.

220
ACKIIOIIL~IqTS

The work described in this paper was carried out with the aid of a
grant from the Australian Research Grants Committee.

REIzgRENCKS

i.

Christian, J.T., and Wong, I.H.,


Errors in simulating excavation in elastic media by finite elements.
Soils Fdns. (Japan). 13 (1973) i-i0.

2.

Ishihara, K.,
Relations between process of cutting and uniqueness of solutions.
Soils Fdns. (Japan). IO (1970) 50-65.

3.

Clough, G.W., and Mana, A.I.,


Lessons learned in finite element analysis of temporary excavations.
Proc. 2nd Int. Conf. Num. Meth. Geomech., A.S.C.E. I (1976) 496-510.

4.

Mana, A.I.,
Finite element analysis of deep excavation behaviour.
Ph.D. Thesisp Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. (1976).

5.

Desai, C.S., and Sargand, S.,


Hybrid FE procedure for soil-structure interaction.
J. Geotech. Ensg. , A.S.C.E. iio (1984) 473-486.