Taking the softer approach

28 January 2022

As a non-engineer, my knowledge of tunnelling would have been undeniably poorer without my well-thumbed copy of ‘Introduction to Tunnel Construction’ by Chapman, Metje and Stärk. Thus invaluable ‘bible’ of a book, with its hugely ambitious scope, has been my trusted reference over the years, guiding me ever so gently through the difficult ground of tunnelling.

But recently, I realised that it does not have a dedicated chapter on soft ground (although the topic appears briefly under other headings). And imagine my greater surprise to learn that, to date, there has been no comprehensive textbook published on soft-ground tunnel design. Ever.

As a non-engineer, I find this rather odd. Is soft ground a quagmire that potential authors steer clear of? Or is there insufficient knowledge or practical experience of the subject? After all, it’s not as if the soft-ground phenomenon has only just been discovered; I believe it has existed for quite some time. So why the paucity of published texts?

One engineer who has started to rectify the matter is Dr Benoit Jones. His new book, ‘Soft Ground Tunnel Design’ is published by CRC Press and reviewed in this issue by Paul Perry. It is important because it is the first-ever comprehensive textbook on soft ground design and I very much look forward to seeing it.

In an age where information is increasingly consumed electronically, it is good to see that not only is book publishing still flourishing but (in the UK) it is actually on the rise due to increased demand, despite the onslaught of Kindle and other platforms. Long may this continue.

Can I lastly draw your attention to our launch in this issue of the T&T ‘Give it your best shot’ photo competition. Free to enter, it provides a golden opportunity to show-off your photographic skills to T&T’s global readership, and to express (in colour or black & white) your interpretation of the allure of the tunnelling process.

Photos can be taken with any camera or smart phone, as long as the files comply with the requirements. So get snapping and give it your best shot!

George Demetri Editor