Meaning of TUNNEL in English



Horizontal or nearly horizontal underground or underwater passageway.

Tunnels are used for mining, as passageways for trains and motor vehicles, for diverting rivers around damsites, for housing underground installations such as power plants, and for conducting water. Ancient civilizations used tunnels to carry water for irrigation and drinking, and in the 22nd century BC the Babylonians built a tunnel for pedestrian traffic under the Euphrates River. The Romans built aqueduct tunnels through mountains by heating the rock face with fire and rapidly cooling it with water, causing the rock to crack. The introduction of gunpowder blasting in the 17th century marked a great advance in solid-rock excavation. For softer soils, excavation is accomplished using devices such as the tunneling mole, with its rotating wheel that continuously excavates material and loads it onto a conveyor belt. Railroad transportation in the 19th–20th century led to a tremendous expansion in the number and length of tunnels. Brick and stone were used for support in early tunnels, but in modern tunneling steel is generally used until a concrete lining can be installed. A common method of lining involves spraying shotcrete onto the tunnel crown immediately after excavation.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia.      Краткая энциклопедия Британика.