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STUDENT EDI TI ON
Teaching
Guide
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 2 of 24
Copyright
Information contained within this document is copyrighted and all rights are reserved by GEO
SLOPE International Ltd. You may freely reproduce or copy this document in whole or in part,
provided that you include this complete copyright notice and that you do not modify the contents
of this document.
Disclaimer of Warranty
GEOSLOPE reserves the right to make periodic modifications of this document without
obligation to notify any person of such revision. GEOSLOPE does not guarantee, warrant, or
make any representation regarding the use of, or the results of, the examples contained in this
document in terms of correctness, accuracy, reliability, currentness, or otherwise.
Teaching Guide for SLOPE/W Student Edition
Copyright © 1999
by
GEOSLOPE International Ltd.
All Rights reserved.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 3 of 24
Table of Contents
Introduction .........................................................................................4
The SLOPE/W Student Edition ....................................................................4
Lesson 1  Ordinary Method of Analysis.....................................................5
Lesson 2 – Bishop’s Method of Analysis ................................................... 10
Lesson 3 – Janbu’s Method of Analysis.................................................... 13
Lesson 4 – Effect of number of slices ..................................................... 15
Lesson 5 – Finding the critical slip surface ............................................... 16
Lesson 6 – Spencer’s Method ............................................................... 18
Lesson 7 – MorgensternPrice Method..................................................... 20
Lesson 8 – The Generalized Limit Equilibrium Method.................................. 21
Lesson 9 – NonCircular Slip Surfaces ..................................................... 23
Lesson 10 – Normal Stress Distributions along a Slip Surface .......................... 24
Concluding Remarks.............................................................................. 24
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 4 of 24
Introduction
This document is directed towards professors who wish to design a slope stability curriculum. It
highlights possible ways that the SLOPE/W Student Edition can be used to teach the
fundamentals of limit equilibrium slope stability analysis. The information is presented here as
10 lessons, any of which you can use in a classroom environment.
The SLOPE/W Student Edition is a software product designed as an aid to learning slope
stability analysis. It is an ideal teaching tool for university professors both at the undergraduate
and graduate levels. Using this document as a guide, you can develop a slope stability class that
allows students to solve real slope stability problems in a very short time.
Please note that this document is not intended to present the SLOPE/W interface procedures and
commands; you can use the SLOPE/W online Help for this purpose. If you have never used
SLOPE/W before, it is highly recommended that you complete the detailed tutorial in Chapter 3,
which will provide you with a fairly good understanding of how to use the software. You can also
see Chapters 4, 5 and 6 in the online Help for a detailed SLOPE/W command reference. Since
the online Help is context sensitive, you can highlight any command in the menu and press F1 to
get help on that command. You can also search the entire online Help for specific key words or
use the online Help index.
The data files used for each lesson are provided with this document; they can be found in the
Lessons folder.
The SLOPE/W Student Edition
The SLOPE/W Student Edition is a limited version of the complete fullfeatured software. It
includes all command names contained in the fullfeatured edition. Many SLOPE/W commands,
however, are not supported in the Student Edition. Fundamentally, with the Student Edition
you can:
§ Analyze problems with two different soils plus a bedrock layer
§ Describe soil using a total unit weight (gamma), cohesion (c) and/or a friction angle (phi)
§ Specify porewater pressure conditions with one piezometric line
§ Examine circular and noncircular slip surfaces
§ Compute factors of safety using six different methods of slices
The SLOPE/W Student Edition enables students to graphically define and view results on the
screen, allowing them to focus on slope stability fundamentals and not model creation. The
CADlike graphical user interface makes it possible to define problems on the computer just like
drawing them on paper; the screen becomes the student’s “page” and the mouse becomes the
“pen”. Before analyzing the problem, students can use the Verify command to point out errors
and missing information in the problem definition. Once the problem is analyzed, students can
then view the results in SLOPE/W’s colorful graphical environment, which greatly helps them
interpret, understand and present their solutions.
GEOSLOPE International, Ltd. provides the SLOPE/W Student Edition free of charge as a
downloadable file from our web site at http://www.geoslope.com. You can purchase the full
featured edition of SLOPE/W directly from GEOSLOPE at an educational discount. For more
information, please visit the GEOSLOPE web site.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 5 of 24
Lesson 1 – Ordinary Method of Analysis
An introduction to slope stability analysis often starts by evaluating a simple homogeneous slope
using a typical circular slip surface and no porewater pressure. The potential sliding mass is
divided into slices and a factor of safety is computed on the assumption of no interslice forces.
This is referred to as the Ordinary method in SLOPE/W. Ignoring the interslice forces makes
the factor of safety equation linear (that is, no iterations are required in SLOPE/W).
Consequently, it is relatively simple to compute the factor of safety with a spreadsheet program
such as Microsoft Excel.
It is highly instructive and educational to calculate the factor of safety manually, slice by slice,
for a few simple examples. Once students have manually done the calculations, they can use
SLOPE/W to verify the results. Going through this exercise also helps to understand the
meaning of the data presented by SLOPE/W.
Consider the simple 1.5H:1V, 6 m high slope shown in Figure 1, with the soil properties listed in
the figure. We are going to analyze a slip surface that intersects the slope toe. The rotation
center is located at coordinate (15, 14), making the slip circle radius 10.198 m. In this case, we
will restrict the slip surface discretization to six slices in order to keep the spreadsheet
calculations to a minimum and still obtain reasonable results.
Figure 1 Simple homogeneous slope analyzed using the Ordinary method
1.476
Unit Weight 18 kN/m3
Cohesion 5 kPa
Phi 30 degrees
Distance  metres
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
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In SLOPE/W DEFINE, you can create a perfectly scaled copy of the problem by printing it at a
zoom percentage of 100%. This will result in a scaled printout at 1:100 that students can use to
scale off the midheight and width of each slice.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 6 of 24
The factor of safety can be computed by completing the following table in a spreadsheet:
Slice B H W α W
sinα
L N C x L N
tanφ
1 2.4 2.0 55.1
2 1.8 3.6 37.0
3 1.8 3.4 25.1
4 1.8 2.9 14.3
5 1.8 2.0 4.0
6 1.8 0.7 6.2
Sum
The meanings of the column headings are as follows:
B = slice width (obtained from the scaled printout)
H = slice midheight (obtained from the scaled printout)
W = weight
α = inclination of slice base
L = sloping length of slice base
C = cohesion
N = normal = W cos α
The factor of safety equation is defined as:
F of S = ∑ (C L) + ∑ ( N tan φ) / ∑ ( W sin α)
You can obtain the summation values in the equation by summing Columns 6, 9 and 10 in the
spreadsheet. This results in a factor of safety equal to 1.47. The SLOPE/W computed factor of
safety using the Ordinary method is 1.476.
You can now verify the forces applied to each slice by using the View Slice Forces command in
SLOPE/W CONTOUR. Once you have selected this command, you can click on any slice and a
free body diagram and force polygon will be displayed. Figure 2 shows the display for Slice 2;
note the absence of interslice forces.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 7 of 24
Figure 2 Free body diagram and force polygon
Slice 2  Ordinary Method
115.75
43.81
92.439
Included with this diagram is all the information that SLOPE/W has used to compute the factor
of safety. The following list contains the information, including forces, for Slice 2:
§ Slice 2  Ordinary Method
§ Factor of Safety 1.476
§ Phi Angle 30
§ C (Strength) 5
§ C (Force) 11.269
§ Pore Water Pressure 0
§ Pore Water Force 0
§ Pore Air Pressure 0
§ Pore Air Force 0
§ Slice Width 1.8
§ MidHeight 3.5725
§ Base Length 2.2539
§ Base Angle 37.002
§ Polygon Closure Error 26.622
§ Anisotropic Strength Modifier 1
§ Weight 115.75
§ Base Shear Force 43.81
§ Base Normal Force 92.439
These SLOPE/Wcomputed values can be compared with the table values that were used to
compute the factor of safety in the spreadsheet.
At this point, it is important to observe that the force polygon for Slice 2 does not close. It is
particularly bad where the slice base is near horizontal, as shown for Slice 5 in Figure 3. By
ignoring the interslice forces, there is nothing in the analysis to counteract the horizontal
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 8 of 24
component of the base shear. Therefore, the slices are not in force equilibrium. This shows that
the Ordinary method can lead to considerable errors in a stability analysis.
Figure 3 Force polygon for Slice 5
Slice 5  Ordinary Method
63.957
31.079
63.805
You can plot various parameters along the slip surface using the SLOPE/W CONTOUR Draw
Graph command. Figure 4 shows the shear strength and mobilized shear distribution along the
slip surface. Note that the ratio of shear strength to shear mobilized for every slice is a constant
1.47; this ratio is the factor of safety. In other words, the local factor of safety is the same for
each slice and is also the same as the global factor of safety. The graph data in Figure 4 can be
copied to the clipboard and pasted into a spreadsheet to verify that the ratio is a constant.
Figure 4 Shear resistance along the slip surface
Shear Resistance vs. Slice #
Shear
Strength
Shear Mob.
S
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a
r
R
e
s
i
s
t
a
n
c
e
Slice #
0
10
20
30
40
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
You can extend this simple problem by adding a water table, as shown in Figure 5. It is
relatively simple to do the spreadsheet calculation, even with the added water table. You will
need to insert another column for the porewater pressure for each slice; the porewater can then
be included in the shear strength calculation. This example problem will clearly show how
including porewater pressure in the analysis decreases the resulting factor of safety.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 9 of 24
Figure 5 Introductory problem with water table
1.185
Unit Weight 18 kN/m3
Cohesion 5 kPa
Phi 30 degrees
Distance  metres
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You could further extend this simple introductory problem by finding the slip surface with the
minimum factor of safety. However, it is probably better to introduce this concept in the next
lesson.
In conclusion, the important points to learn from doing the Ordinary method of analysis are:
1. It is easy to use hand calculations to introduce the basic analysis concept of dividing the
potential sliding mass into slices and then summing the forces on the slices.
2. The Ordinary method only satisfies moment equilibrium.
3. Ignoring the interslice forces means that the individual slices are not in force equilibrium.
4. The failure of the force polygon to close indicates that results from the Ordinary method of
analysis can be in considerable error.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 10 of 24
Lesson 2 – Bishop’s Method of Analysis
The purpose of Lesson 2 is to show how you can use SLOPE/W to illustrate the effect of including
interslice normal forces in the analysis. Bishop’s simplified method of analysis will be used,
since it considers the normal forces between the slices but ignores the shear forces. Bishop’s
method also only satisfies moment equilibrium.
One form of the factor of safety equation for Bishop’s method is:
∑
∑
′
+
′ − + ′
=
α
α φ
α
φ
sin
tan tan
1
sec
) tan ) 1 ( (
W
F
r W b c
F
u
This is not the form used in the SLOPE/W formulation, but it illustrates the important point
here that F (factor of safety) appears on both sides of the equation. This means that the factor of
safety equation is nonlinear and an iterative technique is required to solve for F.
Many textbooks show how to use a spreadsheet table to solve for the Bishop factor of safety,
similar to the approach used in Lesson 1. This technique is also illustrated in the LamWhit
example in Chapter 9 of the SLOPE/W online Help. You may want gradate students to do this
as an exercise, but will probably find it inappropriate for undergraduate students.
Figure 6 shows the SLOPE/W results using the Bishop method of analysis for the Lesson 1
problem that included the water table. The first point to notice is the difference in factor of
safety between the two analyses. For the Ordinary method, the factor of safety is 1.185, while
for the Bishop method, the factor of safety is 1.314. This is a significant difference.
SLOPE/W does not display the number of iterations required to reach a solution for Bishop’s
method. If you are interested, you can view the .FAC output file in a text editor (All SLOPE/W
files are in simple ASCII text format. Chapter 5 of the online Help describes the output file
details). For this simple example, SLOPE/W performed five iterations to get the Bishop factor of
safety.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 11 of 24
Figure 6 Result for Bishop's Method
1.314
Unit Weight 18 kN/m3
Cohesion 5 kPa
Phi 30 degrees
Distance  metres
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The main reason for the difference in factor of safety between the two methods is that by
including the interslice normal forces, we get much better closure on the force polygons for each
slice. Figure 7 shows the free body diagram and force polygon for Slice 3. Note the normal
forces now acting on the sides of the slice. The force polygon does not close exactly, but it is
much closer than for the Ordinary method. This near closure of the force polygon indicates that
the slice is close to being in force equilibrium.
Figure 7 Free body diagram and force polygon for Bishop's method
Slice 2  Bishop Method
115.75
48.934
108.1
30.312
51.064
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 12 of 24
Another very important point to notice is that the water force acting on the slice base is not
included in the force polygon. The water pressure is used to compute the shear on the slice base,
which is included in the force equilibrium, but the associated water force is not included directly
in the analysis. If the water pressure was not included in the shear force calculation, then the
normal and interslice forces would be different. Therefore, the water pressure is included
indirectly in the analysis through the shear force calculation.
In conclusion, the important points to learn from doing the Bishop method of analysis are:
1. Bishop’s simplified method of analysis considers the normal forces between the slices but
ignores the shear forces between the slices.
2. Bishop’s method only satisfies moment equilibrium.
3. Including the interslice normal forces means that Bishop’s method is close to being in force
equilibrium, as indicated by the force polygon for each slice.
4. The Bishop factor of safety equation is nonlinear, and therefore an iterative technique is
required to solve the equation.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 13 of 24
Lesson 3 – Janbu’s Method of Analysis
SLOPE/W is formulated to solve two factor of safety equations: one with respect to moment
equilibrium and the other with respect horizontal force equilibrium. Remember from Lesson 2
that Bishop’s method satisfies only moment equilibrium. In the context of SLOPE/W, Janbu’s
simplified method is identical to Bishop’s method, except it satisfies only horizontal force
equilibrium. Like Bishop’s method, Janbu’s method includes the interslice normal forces but not
shear forces.
Figure 8 shows the SLOPE/W results using the Janbu method of analysis for the Lesson 2
problem. The resulting factor of safety of 1.175 is significantly different from the Bishop value
of 1.314, in spite of the fact that the force polygon closure is quite good, as shown in Figure 9.
The reason for the difference will become clear in a later lesson.
Figure 8 Result for Janbu's method
1.175
Unit Weight 18 kN/m3
Cohesion 5 kPa
Phi 30 degrees
Distance  metres
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Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 14 of 24
Figure 9 Free body diagram and force polygon for Janbu's method
Slice 2  Janbu Method
115.75
53.213
105.07
30.312
51.064
The important points to learn from doing the Janbu method of analysis are:
1. The Janbu simplified method of analysis is identical to Bishop’s method, except it satisfies
only horizontal force equilibrium.
2. The Janbu factor of safety can be significantly different from the Bishop value, in spite of the
fact that the force polygon closure is quite good for both methods.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 15 of 24
Lesson 4 – Effect of number of slices
In the previous lessons, we have used only six slices to illustrate some basic concepts and to
compare the SLOPE/W results with hand calculations. In practice, six slices are not enough. If
we reanalyze the problem in Lessons 13 using 30 slices (the default number of slices in
SLOPE/W), the factors of safety are as follows:
F of S (6 slices) F of S (30 slices)
Ordinary method 1.185 1.222
Bishop’s method 1.314 1.328
Janbu’s method 1.175 1.231
Increasing the number of slices from 6 to 30 does make a difference in the factor of safety.
Increasing the number of slices beyond the default number of 30, however, has very little effect.
You could ask students to try various numbers of slices and plot the factor of safely against the
number of slices as a learning exercise. Generally, SLOPE/W is formulated in such a way that
the results are insensitive to the number of slices, provided that you use at least the default
number of slices as a minimum.
Note that SLOPE/W does not divide the sliding mass into slices with a constant width; the slice
widths will vary. The procedure that SLOPE/W uses to select slice widths is described in the
Theory chapter in the online Help.
The important point to learn from this lesson is:
1. The number of slices used to discretize the potential slip surface can affect the resulting
factor of safety, but once you have a reasonable number of slices, the factor of safety is
insensitive to the number of slices in the SLOPE/W formulation.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 16 of 24
Lesson 5 – Finding the critical slip surface
In the previous lessons, we have only analyzed one slip surface in order to highlight certain
points regarding slope stability. A more typical need is to examine a wide range of potential slip
surfaces in order to find the one with the minimum factor of safety. This particular slip surface
is known as the critical slip surface. In the SLOPE/W Student Edition, we can do this using the
Grid and Radius slip surface option, as shown in Figure 10. SLOPE/W will analyze 6 potential
circular slip surfaces for each one of the 36 intersection points on the rotation grid, resulting in a
total of 216 trial slip surfaces that will be evaluated.
Figure 10 Problem definition for finding the critical slip surface
1
2
1 2
3 4
5 6
8
9
1 0
1 1 12
13
1 4
15 16
Unit Weight 18 kN/m3
Cohesion 5 kPa
Phi 30 degrees
Distance  metres
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Figure 11 shows the critical slip surface that was found. The overall minimum factor of safety is
1.291 (using Bishop’s method). The minimum factors of safety found at all other Grid center
points have been contoured to assist with the interpretation and presentation of the results.
Note that the minimum value is inside the Grid. This is often used as a guide to indicate that
the minimum factor of safety has been found, and that it does not lie outside the range of
analyzed slip surfaces.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 17 of 24
Figure 11 Critical slip surface search result
1
.
3
5
1
.
3
5
1
.
4
5
1
.
6
5
1.291
Unit Weight 18 kN/m3
Cohesion 5 kPa
Phi 30 degrees
Distance  metres
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The position of the critical slip surface is dependent on the soil strength parameters. If the soil
cohesion is zero, the critical slip surface will tend be shallow and parallel to the slope. If Phi (ϕ)
is zero but cohesion is greater than zero (i.e., the undrained case), the critical slip surface will
tend to be very deep. It is a worthwhile exercise for students to experiment with different
combinations of strength parameters to see the effect on the position of the critical slip surface.
As a broad observation, the position of the critical slip surface will be the most realistic if you use
realistic effective strength parameters.
The important points to learn from this lesson are:
1. The critical slip surface is found by analyzing a wide range of potential slip surfaces and
finding the one with the minimum factor of safety.
2. When the critical slip surface center lies inside the Grid, it is often an indication that the
minimum factor of safety has been found, and that the true minimum does not lie outside the
range of analyzed slip surfaces.
3. The position of the critical slip surface is dependent on the soil strength parameters.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 18 of 24
Lesson 6 – Spencer’s Method
Spencer’s method considers both normal and shear interslice forces, and satisfies both force and
moment equilibrium. The unique condition in Spencer’s method is that the ratio of shear to
normal interslice forces is a constant, and is therefore the same for each slice.
SLOPE/W computes one factor of safety with respect to moment equilibrium (Fm) and a second
factor of safety with respect to horizontal force equilibrium (Ff) for various sheartonormal ratios
(this ratio in SLOPE/W is referred to as lambda). The iterative process continues until Fm and Ff
are approximately the same. When they are within a specified tolerance, the solution is said to
have converged to the Spencer factor of safety.
Figure 12 shows the SLOPE/W SOLVE window when the Spencer’s method is used to analyze
the problem from Lesson 5. For Spencer’s method, the value for Fm is 1.294 and the value for Ff
is 1.302. The difference is 0.008, which is within the default allowable tolerance of 0.01. The Fm
value is actually very close to the Bishop value; the reason for this will be become clear in a later
lesson.
Figure 12 SOLVE window when computing the Spencer factor of safety
If you use the Draw Slip Surfaces command in SLOPE/W CONTOUR, you will see that the value
for lambda is 0.4262, meaning that the interslice shear forces are 0.4262 times the interslice
normal forces. You can check that this is the case by viewing the slice forces or by graphing the
interslice force function, as shown in Figure 13. The specified interslice function is a constant
1.0 for each slice (implied by the Spencer method), and the actual applied function is a constant
value of 0.4262.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 19 of 24
Figure 13 Constant specified and applied interslice force functions
Interslice Force Fn. vs. Distance
Applied Fn.
Specified Fn.
I
n
t
e
r
s
l
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c
e
F
o
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c
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F
n
.
Distance
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1.0
0 5 10 15
Figure 14 shows a typical free body diagram and force polygon for the Spencer analysis method.
Notice that there are now both shear and normal forces on the sides of the slice. On the left side,
the ratio of shear to normal is 12.996/30.496 = 0.426 and on the right side the ratio is
15.135/35.514 = 0.426.
Another important observation is that the force polygon closure is now nearly perfect. Again,
this means that the forces applied on the slice put the slice in nearperfect force equilibrium.
Figure 14 Typical free body and force polygon when using the Spencer method
Slice 8  Spencer Method
20.075
7.7567
16.929
30.496
12.996
35.514
15.135
The important points to learn about Spencer’s method are:
1. Spencer’s method considers both normal and shear interslice forces and satisfies both force
and moment equilibrium.
2. The unique condition in Spencer’s method is that the ratio of shear to normal interslice forces
is a constant, and is therefore the same for each slice.
3. The force polygon closure for Spencer’s method is nearly perfect, indicating that the forces
applied on each slice put the slice in nearperfect force equilibrium.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 20 of 24
Lesson 7 – MorgensternPrice Method
The Spencer method is limited to a constant interslice force function, as described in the previous
lesson. The MorgensternPrice method is similar to the Spencer method, except it allows you to
specify an interslice force function. The SLOPE/W online Help lists a variety of interslice force
functions that you can choose; in the Student Edition, however, you can only select a constant or
halfsine function.
Figure 15 shows the specified and applied functions resulting from analyzing the Lesson 6
problem using the MorgensternPrice method. The specified function starts at zero at each end
and peaks at 1.0 near the centre of the slip surface. Since the Lambda value for this analysis is
0.5030, the applied function is 0.5030 times the specified function. In physical terms, this means
that the interslice shear forces are very small relative to the normal forces at the crest and at the
toe of the slip surface. In the middle where the specified function reaches 1.0, the shear to
normal ratio reaches 0.5030. You can check this by viewing the slice forces at the crest, the
middle and the toe of the slip surface.
You will notice that there is virtually no difference in the factors of safety when using the
Spencer method or the MorgensternPrice method with a halfsine interslice force function. The
reason for this will be explained in the next lesson.
It is worthwhile to note that using the Spencer method is identical to using the Morgenstern
Price method with a constant interslice force function. Both methods are available so that you
can easily compare them to published literature. Practically, they are the same unless you use a
nonconstant interslice force function.
Figure 15 Halfsine specified and applied interslice force functions
Interslice Force Fn. vs. Slice #
Applied Fn.
Specified Fn.
I
n
t
e
r
s
l
i
c
e
F
o
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c
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F
n
.
Slice #
0.2
0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1.0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
The important points to learn about the MorgensternPrice method are:
1. The MorgensternPrice method, like Spencer’s method, considers both normal and shear
interslice forces and satisfies both force and moment equilibrium. The only difference
between the methods is that the MorgensternPrice method allows you to specify different
types of interslice force functions.
2. The SLOPE/W Student Edition is limited to two types of interslice force functions: constant
and halfsine.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 21 of 24
Lesson 8 – The Generalized Limit Equilibrium Method
The Generalized Limit Equilibrium (GLE) method embodies the concepts of all other methods.
Using the GLE method is extremely useful for understanding the differences between methods
and for interpreting results.
When you use the GLE method, you must specify a series of lambda values. SLOPE/W computes
Fm and Ff factors of safety for each specified lambda value; you can then plot these factors of
safety using the Draw Slip Surfaces command in SLOPE/W CONTOUR.
Analyzing the problem in the previous lesson using the GLE method produces a factor of safety
versus lambda graph as shown in Figure 16. Using this graph, you can identify the factors of
safety for several different methods. The Morgenstern Price factor of safety occurs at the point
on the plot where Fm is equal to Ff, since this method satisfies both force and moment
equilibrium. The Bishop method satisfies only moment equilibrium and ignores interslice shear
forces. Since the zero interslice shear condition occurs when lambda is zero, the Bishop factor of
safety therefore lies on the moment equilibrium curve where lambda is equal to zero. The Janbu
simplified method satisfies only force equilibrium and also ignores interslice shear forces; the
Janbu factor of safety is therefore the point on the force equilibrium curve where lambda is equal
to zero.
Figure 16 Factor of safety versus lambda
Factor of Safety vs. Lambda
Moment
Force
F
a
c
t
o
r
o
f
S
a
f
e
t
y
Lambda
1.0
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8
It is important to note the slope of the moment and force equilibrium curves in Figure 16. The
moment curve is essentially flat, while the force curve is at a significant slope. This means that
moment equilibrium is insensitive to interslice shear forces, while force equilibrium is quite
sensitive to interslice shear forces.
Since the moment curve is so flat, the Bishop, MorgensternPrice, and Spencer factors of safety
are very similar. The Janbu factor of safety is quite different from the rest, however, since it is
based only on force equilibrium. This explains some of the observations made earlier about
factors of safety for the different methods. For more information on this topic, see the “Adopting
a Method” topic in Chapter 7 of the online Help.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 22 of 24
Generally, moment equilibrium is insensitive to interslice shear forces when the slip surface is
circular and the only applied loading is gravitational force. This may not hold true for
noncircular slip surfaces or when you include highly concentrated line loads such as anchors.
While you cannot apply concentrated loads with the SLOPE/W Student Edition, you should be
aware of it when using the fullfeatured version in practice.
The important points to learn in this lesson are:
1. The Generalized Limit Equilibrium (GLE) method embodies the concepts of all other
methods. Using the GLE method is extremely useful for understanding the differences
between methods and for interpreting results.
2. The GLE method calculates both moment and force factors of safety for all specified lambda
values.
3. The MorgensternPrice factor of safety occurs at the lambda value where the moment factor
of safety is equal to the force factor of safety.
4. The Bishop, MorgensternPrice, and Spencer factors of safety are very similar, since moment
equilibrium is usually insensitive to interslice shear forces. This may not hold true, however,
when you apply highly concentrated line loads or if the slip surface is noncircular.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 23 of 24
Lesson 9 – NonCircular Slip Surfaces
The SLOPE/W Student Edition allows you to analyze noncircular slip surfaces. You can use the
same Grid and Radius technique that have been used in the previous lessons; the only addition
you will need to make is a bedrock layer, which can be added with the KeyIn Soil Properties and
Draw Lines commands. Figure 17 illustrates the shape of the computed slip surface. The slip
surface shape follows the arc of a circle until it intersects the bedrock layer. It then follows the
bedrock surface until it again intersects the slip circle. The soil strength used along the bedrock
surface is the strength of the soil immediately above the bedrock.
Figure 17 Noncircular slip surface
1.373
Unit Weight 18 kN/m3
Cohesion 5 kPa
Phi 30 degrees
Bedrock
Distance  metres
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
E
l
e
v
a
t
i
o
n

m
e
t
e
r
s
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
When analyzing noncircular slip surfaces, you will notice that SLOPE/W computes factors of
safety for all specified methods, just like it does for circular slip surfaces. This is true for the
Ordinary and Bishop methods, even though they are traditionally formulated and discussed in
the literature only in terms of circular slip surfaces. The important message here is that the
difference between the methods is not in the shape of the slip surface; the difference is in the
interslice force assumptions and what equilibrium equations each method satisfies. Therefore,
the Bishop method can be applied to noncircular slip surfaces just like the Janbu, Spencer, or
MorgensternPrice methods.
The important points to learn in this lesson are:
1. Noncircular slip surfaces can be included in the SLOPE/W Student Edition by adding a
bedrock soil layer.
2. You can obtain factors of safety for any analysis method using noncircular slip surfaces.
Teaching Guide for the SLOPE/W Student Edition
Page 24 of 24
Lesson 10 – Normal Stress Distributions along a Slip
Surface
A key unknown in limit equilibrium analysis is the normal stress at the base of each slice. In
fact, the normal stress distribution along the slip surface is dependent on the analysis method.
To illustrate these effects, it is useful to plot the normal stresses for the various methods. You
can do this by first graphing the normal stress versus slice number for each method in
CONTOUR. Then, for each method, copy the data to the clipboard and paste it into a
spreadsheet. Once the data is in the spreadsheet, you can delete duplicate columns of slice
numbers and then graph the normal stresses versus slice number for the various methods.
This is a fairly advanced exercise that you will likely only assign at the graduate level.
Concluding Remarks
This document has been designed to illustrate how you can use the SLOPE/W Student Edition to
assist you in teaching the fundamentals of limit equilibrium slope stability analysis. Once you
have gone through these exercises, you will likely develop your own ideas of how to use the
Student Edition in a teaching environment. If your educational institution is involved in
research or advanced studies involving limit equilibrium methods, you will likely want to acquire
the fullfeatured version of SLOPE/W.
Chapter 8 in the SLOPE/W online Help presents detailed information on limit equilibrium
theory and on the fundamentals used in the SLOPE/W formulation. You may find this
information useful for teaching limit equilibrium fundamentals and for applying the SLOPE/W
Student Edition.
We welcome your feedback on the SLOPE/W Student Edition. Please submit your comments via
email to info@geoslope.com.
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