Digging for Solutions: Three Challenges Tunnel Engineers Must Face

underground tunnelUnderground tunnels are among engineering’s greatest feats. More than just a process of excavating, these tunnels involve the use of complex and advanced engineering techniques – a job reserved for the skilled and knowledgeable few. Luckily, tunnel engineers now have modern equipment at their disposal to make the job much easier and safer.

Tunnel constructions projects are riddled challenges specific to the project, and it is the engineer’s job to determine any possible setbacks that might affect the project. Regardless of the project’s geographical location, though, there are constants that must be taken into consideration.

Listed below are three common challenges encountered by tunnel engineers:


In physics, statics define the different interacting forces that help produce structural equilibrium. Tunnel engineers must make full use of these forces – which include tension, comprehension, shearing, and torsion – to create a structure that can withstand weight load stress and the internal and external pressure. One minor miscalculation can result in a cave-in. Tunneling tool professionals like Laser Tools Co says the use of laser technologies produces precise measurements for projects of all sizes.

Groundwater Seepage

To some professionals, groundwater seepage is perhaps one of the most dangerous hazards tunnel engineers must face. Seepage is highly unpredictable and causes the heaviest damage during construction. Engineers need to design an effective drainage system to prevent possible groundwater inflow and to eliminate the chances of injury during construction.

Rock Mass

Rocks do not always stay stable during excavation. Conditions like temperature, season, and strength may change during the course of tunneling, which could alter the flow of operations. With a thorough investigation into ground conditions, engineers get a clear idea of what to expect. Unfortunately, the most exhaustive ground survey recovers less than the ideal volume of samples needed to make a good estimate.

As time progresses, so does the methods in tunnel construction improve. In the future, engineers will be able to create more tunnels and explore more options in advancing modern living standards. By knowing possible issues beforehand, they can better expect stumbling blocks to progress and create effective solutions for them.

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