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The Frontiers of Society, Science and Technology, 2019, 1(7); doi: 10.25236/FSST.2019.010718.

A novel method of simulating under-excavation to save the leaning tower of Pisa


ShuoChen1,Liangcheng Jiang2,Chang Liu 3,*, Ronaldo I. Borja4

Corresponding Author:
Chang Liu

1 Universi ty of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A
2 Shanghai Qibaodwight High School   shanghai 200000 China
3 Ridley college    Canada
4 Stanford University  U.S.A
*E-mail: [email protected]
*Corresponding Author


This paper describes a novel simulation technique that captures the effect of under-excavation to save the leaning tower of Pisa. The method of under-excavation has been applied successfully to partially correct the excessive tilt of this world-famous monument. The method involves removing a small volume of soil underneath the foundation of the tower so that the differential settlement it generates pulls the tower to a more upright position. Instead of directly simulating the process of under-excavation, the numerical approach presented in this paper consists of applying self-equilibrating forces that compress the soil volume underneath the tower, thus generating an effect similar to under-excavation. The feasibility and effectiveness of the numerical technique is investigated using Plaxis 2D, a finite element analysis software. The simulation technique is tested in 2D with the goal of eventually extending it to 3D. Results of the simulations strongly suggest that the method of under-excavation indeed generates differential settlement that pulls the tower to a more upright position by a fraction of a degree. In the words of Professor John Burland, the reduced inclination gives the tower about a hundred more years of life.


Tilt buildings; underground excavation

Cite This Paper

ShuoChen,Liangcheng Jiang,Chang Liu, Ronaldo I. Borja. A novel method of simulating under-excavation to save the leaning tower of Pisa. The Frontiers of Society, Science and Technology (2019) Vol. 1 Issue 7: 145-160. https://doi.org/10.25236/FSST.2019.010718.


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