Seikan Undersea Tunnel

by Boyd C. Paulson, Jr., (M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Stanford Univ., Stanford, Calif. 94305,

Serial Information: Journal of the Construction Division, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 3, Pg. 509-525

Document Type: Journal Paper


The 5.5m diameter Seikan Tunnel in Japan will extend 54 kilometers, crossing under the Tsugaru Straits. When completed the –2 billion tunnel will be the longest in the world, and will carry both standard-gauge rail traffic as well as the 260 km/hr Shinkansen passenger express trains. To construct this tunnel, however, it has been necessary to go through extremely difficult geologic conditions, including about a dozen major faults, volcanic strata, and areas with water bearing formations transmitting up to the full 250-meter hydrostatic head from the sea above. The main construction procedures are outlined, including excavation of a pilot bore and service bore as well as the main tunnel. Long horizontal exploratory drilling has been employed, and excavation itself is preceded by extensive chemical grouting.

Subject Headings: Underwater structures | Tunnels | Rail transportation | Excavation | Chemical grouting | Railroad trains | Traffic management | Passengers | Japan | Asia

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