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Case study

3D modelling on Melbourne West Gate Tunnel project

12 March 2018

The multi-billion dollar West Gate Tunnel is one of the largest diameter bored excavation projects in the world. Here, we describe how 3D modelling software Leapfrog Works was used to provide fast and dynamic visualisation of the ground conditions.

3D modelling on Melbourne West Gate Tunnel project
West Gate Tunnel project, Melbourne: biggest ever diameter bored excavation in southern hemisphere

The West Gate Tunnel Project in Melbourne, Australia, will provide a much needed second river crossing, quicker and safer journeys, and remove thousands of trucks from residential streets.

The project is significant due to the two purpose-built mega sized tunnel boring machines that will be used to build twin tunnels between the West Gate Freeway and the Maribyrnong River.

The cost of the project is significant, estimated to be in excess of AU$5.5bn and it is therefore essential to establish a thorough understanding of the geological risks to minimise impact on the project’s progress, cost and success.

The project is anticipated to generate over 2 million (bank) m3 of earth and rock spoil material during the construction of the 6km of tunnels and supporting road upgrades.

The tunnel passes through a complex geological and geomorphological region, and Golder Associates were tasked to undertake an impact assessment for the project. Looking at the 3D outputs from Leapfrog Works, Golder geologists immediately spotted an issue with a snaking creek that criss-crossed the tunnels as they went under the freeway.

“Getting a sense of how those geometries interacted was very difficult in 2D,” said Golder’s Senior Environmental Engineer Scott Ambridge. “But in Leapfrog’s 3D environment we could see much more and determine the risks from a geotechnical point of view.”

Addressing challenges with 3D modelling

Golder made the decision to use Leapfrog Works to assist in a detailed assessment of the ground conditions. Built specifically for the civil engineering industry, Leapfrog Works provides a complete solution for fast and dynamic modelling of ground conditions, analysis of the interactions with the engineering design and intuitive 3D visualisation.

Leapfrog is the leading geological modelling software in the mining industry where it has been used for over a decade and is relied on by all the major mining companies and consultancies. It uses a proven implicit modelling engine.

Leapfrog Works allows engineers and technicians to see the bigger picture and have the clarity and confidence to make better design and construction decisions -whether it’s for a road, a building, a dam, or a tunnel.

“Seeing and comprehending in 3D gave clarity and meaning to the data and we were able to use 3D visualisations to communicate this to the client with clarity and confidence," says Golder Senior Environmental Engineer Scott Ambridge.

"Golder strongly believes that our engineering must preserve earth’s integrity. Using sophisticated, industry specific tools like Leapfrog Works means we can stay on track to achieve this.”

This is a sponsored case study provided by Leapfrog Works. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of ICE.

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  • Adam Kirkup, engineering communities manager at ICE