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Arching is a phenomenon that is seen in many geotechnical engineering applications where

buried structures are constructed or voids are backfilled. A few common applications in
geotechnical engineering, where arching can be observed, are backfilled trenches overlying
conduits, conduits covered with an embankment, and backfills behind retaining walls. Due
to the frictional resistance provided by the vertical or inclined walls, only a fraction of the
self-weight of the backfill material is transferred to the bottom, and the rest is transferred to
the walls in the form of shear stresses. This phenomenon is known as arching. The effect of
arching therefore works in favour of the designer, enabling the design of the buried
structures and stability analysis of the stopes to be carried out to withstand lower loadings
than what is expected when arching is ignored. A better understanding of arching and
rational methods to quantify the reductions in the stress conditions within the backfill will
always lead to technically effective and economical design of structures. The stress
conditions within the backfill show that the geometry of the voids/trenches/filling areas,
wall roughness defined in terms of interface friction angle (or angle of interface shearing
resistance) , friction angle (or angle of shearing resistance) of the backfill, and unit
weight of backfill greatly govern the arching action within the backfill. Two essential
prerequisites for arching to develop in soil are:

1. Inducement of a relative movement within the mass, and

2. Availability of shear strength.

The relative movement is what causes the shear strength, which is latent in the soil, to
mobilise itself; hence if there is no relative movement there is no arching and the
consequence reduction in pressure. On the other hand, if there is sufficient relative
movement, but no shear strength, there is no arching either. Thus arching cannot develop in
a medium like water which has no shear strength.

Theory of Arching in Soils


1. Arching is fully developed.

2. Surfaces of sliding are vertical and shear strength is fully mobilised on these

Soil at a variable depth z = nB is considered within a yielding mass of soil of width 2B,
and subjected to a surcharge q at z = 0 (Fig. ). Originally the vertical pressure at this
depth = z. Due to arching, caused by the downward movement of the mass, the pressure
decreases and reaches a finite value corresponding to the development of full arching, and
this finite value of pressure is investigated. Let the unit weight of the soil be . The shear
strength of the soil, s= c + tan . In order to develop the expression for the expression for
the vertical pressure v at a depth z due to arching, it is necessary to consider an elemental
strip of the soil at depth z and having thickness dz. The forces is examined which keeps this
strip of the soil in equilibrium at the stage arching is fully developed (Fig. ). Among
them while v (the unknown in the problem) is the pressure exerted by the soil above on the
strip, v + dv is the pressure exerted by the soil below on the strip which is actually equal
and opposite to the pressure exerted by the strip on the soil below. The former is considered
because concerned forces are those acting on the strip which keeps it in equilibrium. As far
as the shear strengths acting on the sides (exerted by the soil outside the strip on the strip)
are concerned, the contribution of the shear strength parameter to shear strength depends
upon the horizontal pressure h. But h in turn is a function of v, stated as, h= Kv, where
K is an appropriate coefficient of earth pressure. Writing the equation for equilibrium,
V=0, as,

2 B v + 2 B dz 2 B ( v + d v ) 2 dz ( c + K v tan ) =0

Simplifying and transposing,

Bd v + K v tan dz=B dzc dz

Dividing by Bdz,

v K tan c
+( B ) ( )

This is a linear differential equation with constant coefficients of the form: + Py=Q ,
the solution of which is obtained by multiplying the integrating factor exp ( Pdx).The
general solution will contain one arbitrary constant which can be determined in the present
case by invoking the boundary condition that at z = 0, v =q . The general solution so
obtained is,

B ( )
K tan (
1exp K
B ( ( ) ))
tan +q exp K
tan ( () )
Equation ( ) is the general expression for the vertical pressure at the depth z in case of
C - soil carrying a surcharge q. Now if q=0 and c=0 and substituting z=nB, where n is a
nondimensional factor representing the depth. The result is:

v= ( 1exp (K n tan ) )
K tan

If exp (K n tan )=b , and ( 1b )=a Eq. ( ) reduces as,
K tan

v =B a

At z = 0, n = 0, b = 1, a = 0.

At z = , n = , b = 0, a =
K tan


At z = 0, v =0 , and

At z = , v =
K tan
The code covers the structural design of cut and cover concrete conduits meant for
transporting water under pressure or otherwise. The provisions of the code are applicable
only to conduits installed in a trench dug in undisturbed soil and backfilled to final grade.
The structural design of cut and cover concrete conduits is affected by many factors,
namely, type of installation, rigidity of conduit, shape of conduit, nature of foundation,
physical characteristics and degree of compaction of fill materials.
Depending upon site conditions, a cut and cover concrete conduit, in addition to its self-
weight, is subjected to the forces listed below. The structural design of the conduit shall be
based on the most unfavourable combination of all loads and effects listed below acting
1. Loads due to backfill,
2. Internal water pressure,
3. External water pressure,
4. Loads due to concentrations and surcharge including effects of live load, and
5. Seismic effects.
VERTICAL LOAD - The vertical load due to backfill on rigid trench conduits resting on
natural strata shall be given by equation:
W = 10 Ct Bt2


W = vertical load at the top of conduit in N/m;

= unit mass of fill material in kg/m3;

Bt = width of trench at the crown level of the conduit in m;

2 K a
( BH )tan

Ct =
2 K a tan


Ka = tan2 (45- /2),

= angle of friction between the backfill and the natural soil on the side of
the trench,

H = difference of final grade and top of conduit, and

= angle of internal friction of fill material.


The lateral pressure diagram due will be trapezoidal i. e. due to overburden it will be
rectangular and due to soil between crest and bottom of the tunnel lining it will be
triangular. The value of rectangular pressure will be = Ka v and Ka H for triangular


The permissible stresses in concrete and steel reinforcement shall conform to IS: 456

The crack width in concrete face shall normally be restricted to 0.2 mm.


This monograph presents the results of the stress analysis, by means of the Beggs
Deformeter apparatus, of nine shapes of single-barrel conduits. A partial analytical check
was made using the least work method to determine the redundant reactions for all shapes
due to a uniform vertical load and a uniform horizontal load. Reaction coefficients for bending
moment, thrust, and shear at selected locations along the centroidal axis of the conduits have
been determined for 15 different loading conditions. A conduit of unit length was
considered in the analysis. Bending moment, thrust, and shear coefficients were determined
at the various locations shown, and are expressed in terms of unit intensity of loading and
unit internal crest radius. Multiplying the reaction coefficient by the proper load factor gives
the total bending moment, thrust, or shear at the centroid of the section under consideration.
The foundation load distribution due to a vertical load on the conduit must be assumed, and
is influenced by the modulus of elasticity of the foundation material. As the foundation
modulus increases, the foundation load distribution approaches a concentration at the
outside corners of the conduit, and as it decreases the load approaches a uniform
distribution. So in case of pure rock foundation triangular foundation reaction occurs and in
pure soil uniform foundation reaction occurs. For the dead load the assumed foundation
reaction is minimum at the centre varying linearly to a maximum at the outside corners,
with the intensity at the center equal to the intensity of the weight of the conduit at the
centre of the base.

t = r/2 t = r/3 t = r/6

0.33333 0.33333 0.33333

r r r
1.50000 1.33333 1.16667
r r r
Area (r ) 4.4635 2.7773 1.2895

The theory divides the ring into 16 equal divisions with the external loads combined to give
16 point loads, one acting upon each of the divisions. Then it can be shown that

PV (for points 1 to 4) PV = 0.063 (Hn - Hw)

PV (for points 5 to 8) PV = -0.100 Hw - 0.125(Hn - Hw)

Ph = 0.100/3 Hn - 0.063 (Hn - Hw)


Hn equals the depth from the surface to the point

Hw equals the depth to the water table.

Thus Pv and Ph can be calculated together with the weight of the lining for each point.

The bending moments and thrusts can then be determined for the active and soil reaction
forces, using constants given by Bull and summated to give the total values at each point
and thus the bending stresses.


Pecks design methods utilises the strength of the surrounding soils and considers four
separate steps.

The provision of adequate hoop load in the lining of the anticipated distortion due to
bending of buckling of other external loads not included in the above.

The hoop stress can be calculated using conventional methods

Ring stress = pz where pz is the vertical pressure at axis = z

From the known distortions of tunnels an estimate can be made of the likely distortion of
the tunnel under load. Thus the bending moment due to stress distortion can be calculated
by conventional theories.

For the consideration of buckling Peck uses the formula

H 3 2
Number of rams is calculated that could act on one segment and the maximum force from
each ram: Calculate the moment of inertia of the segment cross-section.

Thus direct compressive force = P/A = Total force/area

Bending stresses are My1/I and My2/I for the extreme fibre point thus the combined stresses
in compression or tension.

Shear stress is calculated for loading directly onto, and for the rams positioned midway
between any transverse ribs or gussets in the segment.