Soil Strength and Slope Stability

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The definitive guide to the critical issue of slope stabilityand safety Soil Strength and Slope Stability, Second Editionpresents the latest thinking and techniques in the assessment ofnatural and man-made slopes, and the factors that cause them tosurvive or crumble. Using clear, concise language and practicalexamples, the book explains the practical aspects of geotechnicalengineering as applied to slopes and embankments. The new secondedition includes a thorough discussion on the use of analysissoftware, providing the background to understand what the softwareis doing, along with several methods of manual analysis that allowreaders to verify software results. The book also includes a newcase study about Hurricane Katrina failures at 17thStreet and London Avenue Canal, plus additional case studies thatframe the principles and techniques described. Slope stability is a critical element of geotechnicalengineering, involved in virtually every civil engineering project,especially highway development. Soil Strength and SlopeStability fills the gap in industry literature by providingpractical information on the subject without including extraneoustheory that may distract from the application. This balancedapproach provides clear guidance for professionals in the field,while remaining comprehensive enough for use as a graduate-leveltext. Topics include: * Mechanics of soil and limit equilibrium procedures * Analyzing slope stability, rapid drawdown, and partialconsolidation * Safety, reliability, and stability analyses * Reinforced slopes, stabilization, and repair The book also describes examples and causes of slope failure andstability conditions for analysis, and includes an appendix ofslope stability charts. Given how vital slope stability is topublic safety, a comprehensive resource for analysis and practicalaction is a valuable tool. Soil Strength and Slope Stabilityis the definitive guide to the subject, proving useful both in theclassroom and in the field.


J. MICHAEL DUNCAN is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Co-Director of the Center for Geotechnical Practice and Research (CGPR) at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

STEPHEN G. WRIGHT is a professor emeritus of Geotechnical Engineering in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

THOMAS L. BRANDON is an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the W. C. English Geotechnical Research Laboratory at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.



Soil Strength and Slope Stability is the essential text for the critical assessment of natural and man-made slopes. Extensive case studies throughout help illustrate the principles and techniques described, including a new examination of Hurricane Katrina failures, plus examples of soil and slope engineering from around the world. Extraneous theory has been excluded to place the focus squarely on the practical application of slope design and analysis techniques, including information about standards, regulations, formulas, and the use of software in analysis. Readers will learn to:

  • Recognize the mechanics of soil and limit equilibrium procedures, and the behavior of each soil type
  • Analyze slope stability, rapid drawdown, partial consolidation, reinforced embankments, and seismic stability
  • Perform safety, reliability, and stability assessments, including techniques for failure probability calculations
  • Master the manual analysis methods that enable verification of software analysis results

Slope stability is a fundamental element of geotechnical engineering, involving the assessment of existing slopes, design of man-made slopes, and the factors that cause them to survive or fail. Soil Strength and Slope Stability is the definitive guide to the practice, essential for every civil engineering project.


Foreword ix

Preface xi

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Summary 3

Chapter 2 Examples and Causes Of Slope Failures 5

2.1 Introduction 5

2.2 Examples of Slope Failure 5

2.3 The Olmsted Landslide 11

2.4 Panama Canal Landslides 12

2.5 The Rio Mantaro Landslide 12

2.6 Kettleman Hills Landfill Failure 13

2.7 Causes of Slope Failure 13

2.8 Summary 17

Chapter 3 Soil Mechanics Principles 19

3.1 Introduction 19

3.2 Total and Effective Stresses 20

3.3 Drained and Undrained Shear Strengths 21

3.4 Basic Requirements for Slope Stability Analyses 26

Chapter 4 Stability Conditions for Analysis 31

4.1 Introduction 31

4.2 End-of-Construction Stability 31

4.3 Long-Term Stability 32

4.4 Rapid (Sudden) Drawdown 32

4.5 Earthquake 33

4.6 Partial Consolidation and Staged Construction 33

4.7 Other Loading Conditions 34

4.8 Analysis Cases for Earth and Rockfill Dams 34

Chapter 5 Shear Strength 37

5.1 Introduction 37

5.2 Behavior of Granular MaterialsSand, Gravel, and Rockfill 37

5.3 Silts 52

5.4 Clays 57

5.5 Municipal Solid Waste 78

Chapter 6 Mechanics of Limit Equilibrium Procedures 81

6.1 Definition of the Factor of Safety 81

6.2 Equilibrium Conditions 82

6.3 Single Free-Body Procedures 82

6.4 Procedures of Slices: General 87

6.5 Procedures of Slices: Circular Slip Surfaces 87

6.6 Procedures of Slices: Noncircular Slip Surfaces 94

6.7 Procedures of Slices: Assumptions, Equilibrium Equations, and Unknowns 105

6.8 Procedures of Slices: Representation of Interslice Forces (Side Forces) 105

6.9 Computations with Anisotropic Shear Strengths 112

6.10 Computations with Curved Strength Envelopes 112

6.11 Finite Element Analysis of Slopes 112

6.12 Alternative Definitions of the Factor of Safety 113

6.13 Pore Water Pressure Representation 116

Chapter 7 Methods of Analyzing Slope Stability 125

7.1 Simple Methods of Analysis 125

7.2 Slope Stability Charts 126

7.3 Spreadsheet Software 128

7.4 Finite Element Analyses of Slope Stability 129

7.5 Computer Programs for Limit Equilibrium Analyses 130

7.6 Verification of Results of Analyses 132

7.7 Examples for Verification of Stability Computations 134

Chapter 8 Reinforced Slopes and Embankments 159

8.1 Limit Equilibrium Analyses with Reinforcing Forces 159

8.2 Factors of Safety for Reinforcing Forces and Soil Strengths 159

8.3 Types of Reinforcement 160

8.4 Reinforcement Forces 161

8.5 Allowable Reinforcement Forces and Factors of Safety 162

8.6 Orientation of Reinforcement Forces 163

8.7 Reinforced Slopes on Firm Foundations 164

8.8 Embankments on Weak Foundations 164

Chapter 9 Analyses for Rapid Drawdown 169

9.1 Drawdown during and at the End of Construction 169

9.2 Drawdown for Long-Term Conditions 169

9.3 Partial Drainage 177

9.4 Shear-Induced Pore Pressure Changes 177

Chapter 10 Seismic Slope Stability 179

10.1 Analysis Procedures 179

10.2 Pseudostatic Screening Analyses 182

10.3 Determining Peak Accelerations 184

10.4 Shear Strength for Pseudostatic Analyses 184

10.5 Postearthquake Stability Analyses 188

Chapter 11 Analyses of Embankments with Partial Consolidation of Weak Foundations 193

11.1 Consolidation During Construction 193

11.2 Analyses of Stability with Partial Consolidation 194

11.3 Observed Behavior of an Embankment Constructed in Stages 195

11.4 Discussion 197

Chapter 12 ...

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Soil Strength and Slope Stability
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