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Ground movements associated with

trench excavation and their effect


on adjacent services
by P. B. RUMSEY", BSc(Eng), MSc(Eng), MICE

is excavated movements occur in the adjoining ground. The


amount of movement depends on the geometry of the trench, the type and properties of the soil, the location relative to the
trench, methods of excavation, ground
support, standard of construction and level
of inspection.
At present the influence of these factors
cannot be reliably assessed due to lack
of field data on ground movements due to
trenching (Symons, 1980; O'ourke, 1980).
A pipe buried in ground affected by trenching is likely to be subjected to both transient and long-term flexural strains which
could damage the pipe.
WHEN

To build up a series of case histories on ground movements due to


trenching in a range of ground conditions, and
To develop a reliable method of predicting the effect of trenching on
adjacent buried services.

(b)

Introduction

I. COOPER>, BSc, MSc, MIMM

IIL

A TRENCH

(c)

movement due to trenching has


been proposed by Crofts et al (1977) who
also described a method of predicting
strain in an adjacent pipe using an elastic
model consisting of a beam embedded in
an elastic foundation.
More recently a
design procedure based on finite element
analysis has been derived by Kyrou (1980)
which allows fundamental
soil properties
(E and K,) to be employed in the predicground

Previous work
of

method

empirical

An

predicting

Strain gauges

To datum 20m

Water Research Centre programme

A major research

programme has been


initiated in this area by the WRC Engineering Centre to enable the water industry
to assess the likely effect of sewer trenching on adjacent buried services and to
specify amendments to trenching practice
to limit ground movements where this is
required.
The aims of this programme may be
broadly defined as follows:
(a) To establish the scale of the problem,

0
E

0
30
a'

Strain gauges

Taping/levelling

Inclinometer/settlement

ct.

point
gauges

Piezometer

5 metres

*Geotechnics

Section Leader, and )Manager, Enineering


Services, WRC Engineering
Centre,
windon, Wilts.

Fig.

f. Detailed

trench experiment

typical

Distance from trench face (m)

Distance from trench face (m)

0.5

2
t

I
I

I
I

I
I

I
I

10
10

movement

0
10

(mm)

10
0

10

10
0

I
I

II

-3

o.

aCL 4

I
I
I

28

Ground

Engineering

j
I

6.5
I

(mm)

10
5

I
I

I
I

tube profiles

movement

0
10

4.5

Fig. 2. Site 1iinclinometer

I
t

I
I

Horizontal
Horizontal

-0

plan layout

Fig.

3. Site 2; inclinometer tube

profiles

Distance from trench face (m)

15

04
I

I
I

I
I

Distance from trench face (m)

0.5

I
I

Lv

Horizontal

movement

10
0

0
10

Horizontal

(mm)

0-

I
I

oC

20

10

20
0

10
I

1.9
1

4.2

movement

7.1

(mm)

0
20

10

20

10

4
E

vo.
Cl

I
I
I

I
I
I
I
I

4
E

II

II
I

I
I
I

I
I
I

10-

10
Fig. 4. Site 3;inclinometer tube profiles
tion of pipe strain adjacent to a trench.
Both methods have yet to be checked
against field measurements.
Records of ground movements available
to date are limited to those published by
TRRL (Symons, 1980) and British Gas
(Howe et al, 1980) from which the figures presented in Table I have been ex-

tracted.
Movement due to trench excavation on
any one contract can vary over small distances along the length of the trench even
where the factors controlling the movement
are apparently similar. Hence in practice,
statistical analysis of a large sample of
field data, and development of an empirical
model of ground movement, may provide
the best approach to a practical method

of prediction.

Field experiments
In order to substantially

increase the
available data on ground movements induced by current trenching practice, measurements
of surface and subsurface
movement are currently being carried out
at a large number of Water Authority sites
throughout England and Wales. The field
experiments take two forms; simple experiments in which horizontal and vertical
are recorded
ground surface movement
along a line perpendicular to the direction
of a passing trench, and more detailed experiments in which ground movements at
depth are monitored using inclinometers
and settlement gauges, and pipe strain is
measured
by means of strain gauges
mounted on adjacent mains (Fig. 1). In
both cases the instruments are read prior
to, during, and, where possible, for a long
period (up to 2 years) after excavation.
The results of up to 50 simple experiments are expected to be available by the
end of the programme. A total of six or
more detailed experiments in a variety of
ground conditions will be carried out. Four
of the latter have been carried out to date,
the results of which are summarised

Fig.

5. Site 4;inclinometer tube

below.

Site 1
At this site a sewer was under construction in a rural area. The trench was 4.5m
deep by a nominal 1.5m wide. Ground
conditions comprised silty sands and gravels to a depth of 3m and silty sandy clay
below 3m. Groundwater level was about
2m below ground level. The trench support
system consisted of 3m long by 2.4m high
trench boxes.
Maximum horizontal and vertical movements of the order of 7mm and Smm
respectively were recorded immediately
excavation and reinstatement.
following
Movement
during Sq months
following
reinstatement has been very small (1-2mm

or less).
The maximum recorded change in strain
on a 100mm dia. main parallel to the trench
and 1.8m distant was 75 microstrain. This
strain has decreased significantly (possibly as a result of seasonal temperature
variation) since trench reinstatement.
Profiles of inclinometer
tubes located
along a line perpendicular
to the trench
wali, nearly six months after excavation
and reinstatement
of the trench, are presented in Fig. 2.

Site 2
A 3.7m deep

by 1.3m wide trench in


sand was excavated at this site in a minor
urban road. Groundwater level was about
2m below ground level. Trench sheets

were used as support.

Maximum horizontal and vertical movements were consistently small (generally


1-2mm) during
excavation
and for 3
months following reinstatement.
Maximum recorded change in strain in
100mm and 150mm diameter cast iron
mains parallel to the trench at distances
of 0.5m and 2.5m was 80 and 55 microstrains respectively. This strain has decreased significantly (possibly as a result of seasonal
temperature
variation)

profiles

since one month following trench reinstatement.


Profiles of inclinometer
tubes, three
months after excavation and reinstatement, are presented in Fig. 3.

Site 3
Excavation of a 4.3m deep by 1.2m
wide trench, supported by close sheeting,
was carried out in a dense sand in a minor
urban road. Groundwater level was about
3.5m below ground level.
Maximum horizontal and vertical movements were very small (about 1mm) during excavation and up to one month after
reinstatement.
Strain was recorded at three locations
in a 100mm diameter cast iron water main
running
parallel to the trench at a distance of 1m. The maximum
measured
change in strain immediately following excavation was 65 microstrain. Each set of
gauges showed a strain "wave" travelling
along the pipe with the advance of the
trench head, the effects of which appeared
to dissipate after reinstatement.
Profiles of inclinometer tubes, one month
after excavation and reinstatement,
are
presented in Fig. 4.

Site 4
A 3.8m deep by 1.2m wide trench was
excavated in firm to stiff sandy silty clay
in a minor rural road. The trench was supported by a 3m long by 2m high trench
box. Groundwater level was about 1.5m
below ground level.
Maximum
movements
towards
the
trench recorded by inclinometers at distances of 0.5m, 1.9m, 4.2m and 7.1m from
the trench wall were 17mm, 8.5mm, 5mm
and 1.5mm (horizontal) and 6mm, Omm,
1mm and 1mm (vertical) respectively,
three weeks after excavation and reinstatement.
Strain gauges were installed some distance from the inclinometer line on an
80mm diameter cast iron main running

March, 1982

29

parallel to the trench and within 0.5m of


the trench wall.
The maximum
changes in strain recorded by gauges mounted on the pipe at
two locations were 110 and 50 microstrains. Both sets of gauges showed a
strain "wave" effect, with strains tending
to return to values recorded prior to the
trench being excavated.
Profiles
of inclinom etc r tubes, two
months after excavation and reinstatement, are presented in Fig. 5.

Discussion
Published data on ground movements
and pipe strain associated with trench
excavation are summarised in Table I.
There is at present no general agreement on allowable strains in cast and ductile iron pipes due to trenching taking
into account such factors as installation,
environment
changes and traffic loading,
nor on the relationship
between movement and pipe strain. Hence no attempt
will be made to draw conclusions from
the records of measured strain presented
in Table I, and elsewhere
in this Paper.
However, work currently being carried out
at the WRC Engineering Centre suggests
that the measured strain associated with
the installation of new pipes, and, indeed,
the strain resulting from instrumentation
of a buried pipe for experimental
purposes, may well be of the same order as,
or more than, the pipe strain resulting from
trench excavation.
Ground movements
measured at Sites
1 to 4 are generally
significantly less than

those presented in Table I, particularly in


the case of the trenches excavated in sand
or sand and gravel. Peck (1969) concluded, in connection with deep excavation,
that "the minimum settlements that can
be expected corresponding
to the best
open-cut construction practice, vary considerably with the type of soil. They are
likely to be negligibly small adjacent to
cuts in dense sands and relatively stiff
cohesive granular materials"...
"excessive adjacent to cuts in soft plastic clays". The measured horizontal movements (which are in all cases greater than
the vertical downward
movements)
at
sites 1, 2 and 3 where ground conditions fall into the former category are,

but...

indeed, very small. Further experiments


are programmed for soft clay sites.
The site for most trenching
projects
is generally of considerable length. Furthermore, it is unusual for excavation to
be restricted to one soil type only. The
length of the trench and the cost of the
project generally dictate that information
on soil and ground water conditions on
any one section is of a general nature
only since the cost of ground investigation and testing to provide sufficient information to derive reliable predictions of
ground
behaviour along the full length
of the trench would be prohibitive. Construction procedures and workmanship are
also important, and often unpredictable,
parameters
in assessing
likely ground
movement. Consequently, a statistical approach to the prediction of ground movements may constitute the most realistic

solution
to providing
information
for
industry.
In current practice, large ground movements causing significant damage to structures are the exception rather than the
rule where workmanship
is of a high standard. The evaluation of a large number of
field experiments will highlight those areas
where damaging
movements
may occur
and enable special precautions to be formulated and applied, reducing the frequency and extent of damage to adjacent

services.

References
I. F. (1978): Discussion of "Lateral
displacement of shallow burled pipelines due
to adjacent deep trench excavations", (Crofts,
J, E., Msnzies, 8, K. & Tarzi, A. I.) Geotech-

1. Symons,

nique 18, No. 2.


2. O'ourke, T. D. (1978): Discussion of "Lateral

displacement of shallow buried pipelines due


to adjacent deep trench excavations", (Crofts,
E., Menzies, B. K. & Tarzi, A. I.) Geotechnique 18, No. 2.
3. Crofts, J. E., Menzies, B, K. & Terzi, A. I.
(1977): "Lateral displacement of shallow buried
pipelines due to adjacent deep trench excavation". Geotechnique 17, No. 2, 161-179.
4. Kyrou, K, (1980): "The effect of trench excavation induced ground movements
on adjacent
buried pipelines". PhD Thesis (unpublished).
Department of Civil Engineering,
University of
Surrey.
5. Symons, I. F. (1980): "Ground movements and
their influence on shallow buried pipes". The
Public Health Engineer, Vol. 8, No, 4, pp. 149153, 172.
6. Howe, M. P., Hunter, P. & Owen, R. C. (1980):
"Ground movements caused by deep excavations and tunnels and their effect on adjacent
mains". Second Conference on Ground Movements and Structures, Cardiff.
7. Peck, R. B. (1969): "Deep excavations and tunnelling in soft ground", Proc. 7th International
Conference Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Mexico 225-290.

J.

TABLE I.

RECENT PUBLISHED RECORDS OF GROUND MOVEMENT AND PIPE STRAIN NEAR TRENCHES

Source

Trench/geometry

Main'round

Site 1t

5.5m deep
3.5m wide

230mm (4.7m)
Parallel to trench

'Max measured

Soft sandy
clay

Trench support

movement

Hydraulic
shoring (failed)

120mm H
230mm V

Max measured
strain in main

(1.5m)
Site

2'.0m
deep
3.6m wide

305mm

Stiff sandy
clay

(2.7m) Parallel to

Close trench sheets

trench

Site

3'.0m
deep
0.76m wide

Site

4'nknown

depth

Site

deep
4.0m wide

A'm3.3m

100mm
Ductile iron crossing
trench

Firm clay

Nil

305mm cast iron


crossing trench

Unknown

Unknown
minimal" )

100mm steel crossing


trench

Unknown

Unknown
("minimal" )

Unknown

100mm cast iron


crossing trench

Unknown

Nil

Unknown

Clay over
gravel

Steel plates

deep
1.5m wide

43mm H
115mm V
("close" )

("

B'.3m
deep
1.9m wide

1.5m fill
over sand

Steel sheets

C'm

50mm H
25mm V

100mm V

(0.5m)

deep

Nil

London

clay

Hydraulic
units

Nil

London

clay

Steel sheets

1m wide

Site Ds

5m deep
1m wide

shoring

30+mm
(1.3m)

30

Howe et el, 1980


Symons, 1980
Figures in brackets

Horizontal

vertica

given

Ground

Engineering

distance

of measurement

point

or main

from

edge

of trench

30mm H
20mm V

(0.5m)

000jzs

Main fractured

with gravel

Site

175p,s

22mm H

(1.5m)
Site

230jts

(1.5m)

(supported)

Site 5t

70mm H
170mm V