Probabilistic cost-benefit analysis for mitigating hydrogeological risks in underground construction
Journal article, 2023

Leakage of groundwater into underground facilities can subsequently cause groundwater drawdown, subsidence and subsidence damages to the built-up environment. In order to reduce the risk of damage, measures to mitigate the risks must often be implemented. The aim of this paper is to describe and demonstrate a probabilistic cost-benefit analysis approach to assess the economic profitability of investing in different risk mitigation alternatives. Since underground construction is always associated with uncertainties, the analysis uses probability distribution functions for uncertain parameters and Monte Carlo simulations to quantify probabilities of damage and implementation costs. The proposed approach is exemplified with a case study, the road tunnel project Bypass (Förbifart) Stockholm in eastern Sweden, for which four risk mitigation alternatives were evaluated. In conclusion, the approach helps to highlight the economic effects of different risk mitigation approaches and constitute a transparent support for decisions on implementation of risk mitigation. For the case study, the analysis indicates that the implementation costs of ∼ 7000 MSEK (700 million EUR) for risk mitigation needed to fulfil the legal requirements, from the Swedish Land- and Environmental court, in the form of ambitious sealing strategies are disproportionate relative to the benefits of ∼ 50 MSEK (5 million EUR) gained in the form of reduced damage risk for the built-up environment. In other words, billions SEK of taxpayers' money are spent on unnecessary expenses to fulfill legal requirements without societal benefits. The novelty of the paper constitutes the coupling of models and combination of established methods for management of hydrogeological risks.


Decision support

Subsidence damage, risk mitigation

Risk management

Cost-benefit analysis


Johanna Merisalu

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics

Jonas Sundell

Swedish Transport Administration

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics

Lars Rosen

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics

Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology

0886-7798 (ISSN)

Vol. 131 104815

Subject Categories

Transport Systems and Logistics

Environmental Management

Other Civil Engineering



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