Mechanized tunnelling in soft ground has evolved significantly over the last 20 years. However, the interaction between the tunnel boring machine (TBM) and the ground is often understood through idealized concepts, focused mostly on the machine actions in detriment of the reactions from the ground. These concepts cannot be used to explain several mechanisms that have been observed during the construction of mechanized tunnels. Therefore, this paper presents the path from field observations to the theoretical developments to model the TBM-ground interaction more realistically. Some ideas on how these developments can be applied into practice are presented. Finally, a discussion is proposed about how an effective collaboration between academia and industry can alleviate the current concentration of knowledge in the state of practice.
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