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Stability analysis of slopes reinforced with piles

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**E. Ausilio*, E. Conte, G. Dente
**

Dipartimento di Difesa del Suolo, Universita` della Calabria, 87036 Rende, Cosenza, Italy

Received 18 August 2000; received in revised form 22 March 2001; accepted 29 March 2001

Abstract

In this paper, the kinematic approach of limit analysis is used to analyse the stability of

earth slopes reinforced with piles. First, the case of slope without piles is considered and a

procedure is developed to calculate the safety factor for the slope. Results are compared with

those obtained using both the limit equilibrium method and more complex upper and lower

bound limit analysis solutions. Then, the stability of slopes reinforced with piles is analysed.

Expressions are derived allowing the force needed to increase the safety factor to a desired

value and the most suitable location of piles within the slope to be evaluated. A study is car-

ried out to illustrate the eﬀect of piles on slope stability. # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All

rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Slope stability can be increased in diﬀerent ways such as: ﬂattening of slopes by

modifying the ground surface geometry, carrying out surface and subsurface drai-

nage, using soil improvement techniques, installing continuous or discrete retaining

structures such as walls or piles. The ﬁrst remedy leads to a reduction of the driving

forces for failure; the other measures in general produce an increase of the resisting

forces.

Piles have been used successfully in many situations in order to stabilise slopes or

to improve slope stability [1–9], and numerous methods have been developed for the

analysis of piled slopes.

The ﬁnite element method is certainly the most comprehensive approach to study

pile-slope stability, as this method simultaneously solves pile response and slope

Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

www.elsevier.com/locate/compgeo

0266-352X/01/$ - see front matter # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

PI I : S0266- 352X( 01) 00013- 1

* Corresponding author.

E-mail addresses:ausilio@dds.unical.it (E. Ausilio)

stability. However, its use generally requires high numerical costs and accurate

measurements of material properties. This makes the use of the method rather

unattractive for current applications. The ﬁnite element method has been recently

used by Cai and Ugai [10] to analyse the eﬀect of piles on slope stability.

In practical applications, the study of a slope reinforced with piles is usually car-

ried out by extending the methods commonly used for the stability analysis of slopes

to incorporate the reaction force exerted on the unstable soil mass by the piles. To

date, the limit equilibrium method is the most widely used approach to analyse slope

stability due to its simplicity of use. Moreover, this method allows for the eﬀect of

seepage, loading and general soil conditions without requiring additional computa-

tional eﬀorts. Major criticisms of the limit equilibrium method are that it is generally

based on simpliﬁed assumptions, and the results obtained from this method are, in

the light of limit analysis, neither upper bounds nor lower bounds on the true solu-

tion [11].

The limit equilibrium method was used by Ito et al. [12] to deal with the problem

of the stability of slopes containing piles. In this approach the safety factor of the

piled slope was deﬁned as the ratio of the resisting moment to the overturning moment

acting on the potentially unstable soil mass. The resisting moment consists of two

components: the moment due to soil shearing resistance along the sliding surface and

the moment provided by the reaction force fromthe piles. The driving moment and the

resisting moment due to soil shearing resistance were obtained applying the ordinary

slice method. To calculate the resisting moment due to the piles, Ito et al. [12] pro-

posed the use of the theoretical equation, derived previously by Ito and Matsui [3],

to evaluate the lateral force acting on a row of piles due to soil movement.

A similar approach was developed by Lee et al. [13] in which Bishop’s simpliﬁed

method [14] was employed to ﬁnd the critical sliding surface for the slope as well as

the driving moment and resisting moment due to soil shearing resistance. The resist-

ing moment generated by the piles was obtained from the shear force and bending

moment developed in the pile at the depth of the sliding surface by the lateral soil

movement. These forces were calculated using a procedure based on the boundary

element method which was earlier proposed by Poulos [15] and later developed by

Lee et al. [16].

Recently, Hassiotis et al. [17] have extended the friction circle method to incor-

porate the pile reaction in slope stability analysis. The Ito and Matsui equation [3]

has been used to evaluate the lateral force that the failing soil mass exerts on a row

of piles.

The limit equilibrium method was also used by Chugh [18] and Poulos [8] to

analyse the stability of piled slopes. In both these approaches, it is assumed that the

piles provide an additional shear resistance along the critical sliding surface which

should increase the safety factor of the slope to a selected value.

In this paper, the stability of slopes reinforced with piles is analysed using the kine-

matic approach of limit analysis. The case of a slope without piles is ﬁrst considered,

and a solution is proposed to determine the slope safety factor, which is here deﬁned

as a reduction coeﬃcient for the strength parameters of the soil. Then, the stability

of a slope containing piles is analysed. To account for the presence of the piles, it is

592 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

assumed that a lateral force and a moment are applied at the depth of the potential

sliding surface. Theoretical solutions are derived that allow the values of these forces

to be calculated. Moreover, conclusions are drawn regarding the most suitable

locations of the piles within the slope.

2. Method of analysis

Limit analysis takes advantages of the static and kinematic theorems of plasticity

theory to ﬁnd the range in which the true solution of a stability problem falls. This

range can be narrowed ﬁnding the highest possible lower-bound solution and the

lowest possible upper-bound solution. The unknown quantity may be the bearing

capacity of a foundation, the earth pressure on a retaining wall, the safety factor or

critical height of a slope, etc. In limit analysis, soil is assumed to deform plastically

according to the normality rule associated with the Coulomb yield condition.

The static theorem considers stress ﬁelds which are in equilibrium with surface

tractions and body forces, and do not violate the yield criterion anywhere in the soil

mass (statically admissible stress ﬁeld). Application of the static theorem leads to a

set of diﬀerential equations which may be solved numerically using the ﬁnite element

method [11,19].

To solve slope stability problems, use of limit analysis has almost exclusively

concentrated on the kinematic theorem [20–25], because under certain assumptions,

this is generally simpler to use than the static approach. For instance, when the

failing soil mass is assumed to move as a rigid body, the kinematic theorem neces-

sitates the solving of a simple equation.

Application of the kinematic theorem requires to equate the rate of work done by

tractions and body forces to the internal energy dissipation rate, for any assumed

strain rate ﬁeld which is governed by the normality rule and is compatible with the

velocities at the boundary of the failing soil mass (kinematically admissible failure

mechanism). This can be expressed by the following work equation:

ð

S

T

i

v

i

dS þ

ð

V

X

i

v

i

dV ¼

ð

V

o

ij

c

.

ij

dV i. j ¼ 1. 2. 3 ð1Þ

where X

i

= body forces; T

i

= traction; v

i

= kinematically admissible velocity ﬁeld;

c

.

ij

= strain rate ﬁeld compatible with v

i

; o

ij

= stress ﬁeld relating to X

i

and T

i

.

Moreover, S and V are, respectively, the loaded boundary and the volume of the

sliding soil mass. When the unknown quantity is a force that makes the soil mass

unstable, application of the kinematic theorem leads to an upper bound for the true

solution. On the contrary, this theorem yields a lower bound solution when a stabi-

lising force has to be determined.

In this study, the kinematic approach is employed to calculate the stabilising force

which must be provided by a retaining structure to increase the safety factor for a

slope of homogeneous soils to a selected value. For simplicity, the eﬀect of pore-

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 593

water pressure on slope stability is not considered in the present work. However,

under drained loading conditions, this eﬀect can be accounted for by expressing the

second term on the left-hand side of Eq. (1) as the rate of work done by the sub-

merged soil weight and that due to the seepage forces. In addition, the term o

ij

on

the right-hand side of (1) is the eﬀective stress tensor.

The kinematic approach is ﬁrst applied to analyse slope stability without retaining

structures.

3. Stability analysis of slopes without piles

In limit analysis, the solution of a slope stability problem is usually expressed

either in terms of the critical slope height [21] or a limit load applied on some por-

tion of the slope boundary [23]. If there is no boundary loading, collapse may be

caused by the weight of the soil itself. Thus, the limit condition has been also

expressed in terms of the unit weight of soil [11].

Slope stability analysis is traditionally formulated in terms of the safety factor

with respect to soil shearing strength parameters [26], which is analytically deﬁned

as

FS ¼

c

c

m

¼

tg’

tg’

m

ð2Þ

where FS indicates the safety factor; c and ’ are the cohesion and the shearing

resistance angle of the soil, respectively; c

m

is the mobilized cohesion, and ’

m

is the

mobilized angle of shearing resistance. In other words, FS is deﬁned as the factor by

which the soil shearing strength parameters should be divided to give the condition

of incipient failure. Karal [22] and Donald and Chen [25] accepted Eq. (2) as the

deﬁnition of the safety factor to analyse slope stability using the kinematic approach

of limit analysis. As pointed out by Karal [22], a direct consequence of Eq. (2) is

that, for frictional materials, the sliding surfaces are surfaces of potential yield, and

the displacements and the failure mechanism depend on the safety factor. This deﬁ-

nition of FS is also adopted in the present study.

The kinematically admissible mechanism considered is shown in Fig. 1, where the

sliding surface is described by the log-spiral equation

r ¼ r

0

e

±À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

ð3Þ

where r

0

=radius of the log-spiral with respect to angle ±

0

. The failing soil mass

rotates as a rigid body about the centre of rotation with angular velocity o

.

. This

mechanism, which was earlier considered by Chen [21], is geometrically deﬁned by

angles [

0

, ±

0

, ±

h

(Fig. 1) and mobilized angle of shearing resistance

tg’

FS

. The slope

geometry is speciﬁed by height H, and angles o and [ which are also indicated in

Fig. 1.

594 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

The rate of external work is due to soil weight and surcharge boundary loads.

These two components of the external work rate are indicated in this study as W

.

and

Q

.

, respectively. The rate of work due to soil weight takes the form [21]

W

.

¼ , r

3

0

o

.

f

1

À f

2

À f

3

À f

4

½ ð4Þ

where ,=soil unit weight; functions f

1

–f

4

depend on the angles ±

0

, ±

h

, o, [ and [

0

,

and the mobilized angle of shearing resistance. Expressions for f

1

–f

4

can be found in

Chen [21]; for the sake of completeness they are also reported in the Appendix of

this paper. In deriving Eq. (4), it is assumed that the sliding surface passes below the

toe of the slope (Fig. 1). However, for the case in which the sliding surface passes

through the toe of the slope, the same expression for W

.

can be used provided f

4

=0

and [

0

=[.

When the slope is subjected to a surcharge boundary load, as shown in Fig. 1, the

rate of work done by this load is

Q

.

¼ q L o

.

r

0

cos ±

0

þ o ð Þ À

L

2

!

þ s L o

.

r

0

sin ±

0

þ o ð Þ ð5Þ

where L=distance between the failure surface at the top of the slope and the edge of

the slope (Fig. 1); q=applied normal traction; s=applied tangential traction.

For the rigid-block mechanism considered, the only energy dissipation takes place

along the sliding surface. The rate of energy dissipation, D

.

, can be written as [21]

D

.

¼

c r

2

0

o

.

2 tg’

e

2 ±

h

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

À 1

h i

ð6Þ

Fig. 1. Slope failure mechanism.

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 595

By equating the rate of external work to the rate of energy dissipation, we have

W

.

þ Q

.

¼ D

.

ð7Þ

and substituting the expressions for W

.

, Q

.

and D

.

into Eq. (7) yields

,

H

A

f

1

À f

2

À f

3

À f

4

ð Þ þ q B cos ±

0

þ o ð Þ À

B

2

!

þ s B sin ±

0

þ o ð Þ

¼

c

2 tg’

e

2 ±

h

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

À 1

h i

ð8Þ

where [21]

A ¼

sin[

0

sin [

0

À o ð Þ

sin ±

h

þ o ð Þe

±

h

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

À sin ±

0

þ o ð Þ

n o

ð9Þ

B ¼

sin ±

h

À ±

0

ð Þ

sin ±

h

þ o ð Þ

À

sin ±

h

þ [

0

ð Þ

sin ±

h

þ o ð Þ sin [

0

À o ð Þ

sin ±

h

þ o ð Þe

±

h

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

À sin ±

0

þ o ð Þ

n o

ð10Þ

The quantities A and B can be related to H and L, respectively, by the following

expressions

H ¼ A r

0

ð11aÞ

L ¼ B r

0

ð11bÞ

where distance L is indicated in Fig. 1.

For a given FS value, an upper bound for the slope height is obtained solving Eq.

(8), i.e.

H ¼

A

,

c

2 tg’

e

2 ±

h

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

À 1 À q B cos ±

0

þ o ð Þ À

B

2

!

À s B sin ±

0

þ o ð Þ

f

1

À f

2

À f

3

À f

4

ð Þ

2

6

6

4

ð12Þ

The least upper bound for H can be found minimising the function H ¼

f ±

0

. ±

h

. [

0

ð Þ with respect to ±

0

, ±

h

and [

0

[21]. The angles thus obtained deﬁne the

potential sliding surface. In addition, substituting these angles into Eq. (12) yields

the critical height of the slope. This is the maximum height at which it is possible for

the slope to be stable with the assumed FS value. The true value of the safety factor

could be then found by an iterative procedure in which the resistance parameters of

596 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

the soil are progressively changed according to Eq. (2), until the critical height is

equal to the actual height of the slope.

Alternatively, the safety factor can be directly found by solving the following set

of equations

o H

o ±

0

¼ 0

o H

o ±

h

¼ 0

o H

o [

0

¼ 0

H ¼ H

actual

8

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

<

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

:

ð13Þ

where H

actual

denotes the actual slope height. In Eq. (13), the unknown quantities

are ±

0

, ±

h

, [

0

and FS. Therefore, the solution of Eq. (13) gives both the values of FS

and the position of the potential sliding surface.

Comparisons of the FS values derived from Eq. (13) to those obtained by other

authors using diﬀerent methods are presented below.

Table 1 shows a comparison of the safety factor calculated by Eq. (13) and that

obtained by Cao and Zaman [27] using three diﬀerent methods: Bishop’s method

Table 1

Comparison of slope safety factor calculated using diﬀerent methods (adapted from Ref. [27])

b

(ratio)

c

(kPa)

’

(degree)

FS

analytical method

FS local

FS method

FS

Bishop’s method

FS

Eq. (13)

1:1 25 20 1.81 1.87 1.74 1.73

1:1 20 20 1.60 1.68 1.50 1.51

1:1 15 20 1.39 1.46 1.29 1.28

1:1 10 20 1.17 1.00 1.05 1.04

1:1 30 15 1.81 1.85 1.75 1.76

1:1 25 15 1.60 1.65 1.53 1.55

1:1 20 15 1.40 1.45 1.32 1.34

1:1 15 15 1.19 1.24 1.11 1.12

1:1 10 15 0.98 1.00 0.89 0.89

1:1 25 10 1.40 1.42 1.35 1.38

1:1 20 10 1.20 1.23 1.15 1.17

1:1 15 10 1.00 1.00 0.97 0.96

2:1 20 20 2.01 2.05 2.09 2.07

2:1 15 20 1.76 1.85 1.82 1.81

2:1 10 20 1.51 1.60 1.54 1.53

2:1 5 20 1.24 1.23 1.21 1.21

2:1 25 15 1.98 1.87 2.05 2.05

2.1 20 15 1.74 1.72 1.78 1.79

2:1 15 15 1.49 1.54 1.53 1.54

2:1 10 15 1.25 1.29 1.29 1.27

2:1 5 15 0.99 1.00 0.99 0.98

2:1 15 10 1.23 1.19 1.27 1.27

2:1 10 10 0.99 1.00 1.03 1.02

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 597

[14], the local minimum factor-of-safety method proposed by Huang and Yamasaki

[28], and the analytical method developed recently by Cao and Zaman [27]. As

shown in Table 1, safety factors derived from Eq. (13) are very close to the values

calculated using Bishop’s method, and are in good agreement with all the results

presented by Cao and Zaman [27].

Yu et al. [11] have recently presented rigorous upper and lower bound solutions

for the stability analysis of slopes. These solutions have been achieved using two

newly developed numerical procedures that are based on ﬁnite element formulations

of the bound theorems of limit analysis and linear programming techniques. For

comparison, Yu et al. [11] also applied Bishop’s limit-equilibrium method [14] to

calculate the slope safety factor. Results have been presented by Yu et al. [11] in

graphic form in terms of the stability number N

F

¼

, H FS

c

against the dimensionless

parameter l

c’

¼

, H tg’

c

earlier introduced by Janbu [29]. Figs. 2 and 3 show a com-

parison of the values of N

F

obtained in this study with those provided by Yu et al.

[11], for two values of slope angle [. As can be seen, Eq. (13) gives results that are

substantially in good agreement with those calculated using both the ﬁnite element

method and Bishop’s method. Moreover, it should be noted that the proposed upper

bound solution, based on a simple rigid-block mechanism, provides FS values that

are smaller than those obtained by Yu et al. [11] using a more complex upper bound

solution in which a failure mechanism including both rigid body motion and con-

tinuous deformation was considered.

Finally, a slope with H=13.7 m and [=30

**is analysed as another example. Soil
**

properties are: c=23.94 KPa, ’=10

, and ,=19.63 KN/m

3

. This case was exam-

ined by Hassiotis et al. [17]; they calculated a FS value for the slope equal to 1.08.

Fig. 2. Comparison of stability number N

F

, for a slope with [=45

**(adapted from Ref. [11]).
**

598 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

Hassiotis et al. [17] used the friction circle method. Applying Bishop’s method, Hull

and Poulos [30] found that the safety factor for the same slope is 1.12. The FS value

obtained solving Eq. (13) is 1.11, midway among those calculated by the other

authors. The potential sliding surfaces found applying the three diﬀerent methodol-

ogies are shown in Fig. 4. Their positions are consistent with the corresponding FS

values.

4. Stability analysis of slopes reinforced with piles

When the safety factor for a slope is considered to be inadequate, slope stability

may be improved installing a retaining structure such as a row of piles (Fig. 5). The

piles should be designed to provide the stabilising force needed to increase the safety

factor to a selected value.

In this section, the kinematic approach is applied to assess the additional force that the

piles must provide to increase slope stability. To account for the presence of the piles, a

Fig. 3. Comparison of stability number N

F

, for a slope with [=60

**(adapted from Ref. [11]).
**

Fig. 4. The critical sliding surfaces found by Hassiotis et al. [17], Hull and Poulos [30], and using Eq. (13).

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 599

lateral force and a moment are assumed to be applied at the depth of the potentially

sliding surface. Under this assumption, the rate of energy dissipation becomes

D

.

¼

c r

2

0

o

.

2 tg’

e

2 ±

h

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

À 1

h i

þ F r

0

sin±

F

o

.

e

±

F

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

À M o

.

ð14Þ

in which FS is the target safety factor of the slope; angle ±

F

speciﬁes the position of

the retaining structure along the sliding surface (Fig. 5); F is the stabilising force,

per unit width of soil, which the piles have to provide to improve slope stability;

moment M accounts for F distribution with depth in the portion of the piles above

the sliding surface, it is given by

M ¼ F m h ð15Þ

where h is the height of the portion of the piles above the sliding surface (Fig. 5), and

m is a coeﬃcient less than unity. For instance, if F is assumed to be linearly dis-

tributed between the ground surface and the sliding surface, m is set equal to 1/3.

When m=0, the presence of the piles on slope stability is expressed by an additional

shearing resistance along the potential sliding surface, as assumed also by Poulos [8].

Height h can be calculated using one of the following expressions according to the

abscissax

F

which is measured from the slope toe (Fig. 5):

h ¼ r

F

sin±

F

À r

h

sin±

h

if À D4x

F

- 0 ð16aÞ

Fig. 5. Piled slope stability problem.

600 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

h ¼ r

F

sin±

F

À r

h

sin±

h

þ x

F

tg[ if 04x

F

4H ctg[ ð16bÞ

h ¼ r

F

sin±

F

À r

h

sin±

h

þ H þ x

F

À H ctg[ ð Þtgo if x

F

> H ctg[ ð16cÞ

where

x

F

¼ r

F

cos0

F

À r

h

cos±

h

À D ð17aÞ

D ¼

sin [ À [

0

ð Þ

sin[ sin[

0

H ð17bÞ

r

F

¼

H

A

e

±

F

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

and r

h

¼

H

A

e

±

h

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

ð17cÞ

For a selected FS value, h is a function of angles ±

0

, ±

h

, [

0

and ±

F

.

The rate of external work is given again by the sum of W

.

and Q

.

. These latter are

expressed by Eqs. (4) and (5), respectively. Therefore, equating the rate of external

work to the rate of energy dissipation leads to the following expression for F:

F ¼

, H

A

f

1

Àf

2

Àf

3

Àf

4

ð Þ þq B cos ±

0

þo ð Þ À

B

2

!

þs B sin ±

0

þo ð Þ À

c

2 tg’

e

2 ±

h

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

À1

h i

A

H

sin±

F

e

±

F

À±

0

ð Þ

tg’

FS

Àmh

A

H

!

ð18Þ

Eq. (18) gives the force, per unit width of soil, which must be provided by a

retaining structure to achieve the desired value of the safety factor of the slope. If the

retaining structure consists of a row of piles, the lateral force acting on each pile may

be obtained in an approximate manner multiplying F by the centre to centre spacing

between the piles. To evaluate more suitably the force acting on the piles, arching

between adjacent piles should be considered.

When a retaining structure is inserted in a slope, the additional resistance pro-

vided by this structure changes both the slope safety factor and potential failure

mechanism with respect to the case without piles. As a consequence, other possible

sliding surfaces could be more critical than the one found for the slope without piles.

The most critical surface is that for which the highest F value is required to increase

the safety factor to the desired value. From the computational point of view, this

surface can be found maximising function F ¼ F ±

0

. ±

h

. ±

F

. [

0

ð Þ with respect to angles

±

0

, ±

h

and [

0

under the condition that the position of piles within the slope is given.

To this end, the following set of equations has to be solved

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 601

o F

o ±

0

¼ 0

o F

o ±

h

¼ 0

o F

o [

0

¼ 0

x

F

¼

H

A

cos±

F

e

±

F

À±

o

ð Þ

tg’

FS

Àcos±

h

e

±

h

À±

o

ð Þ

tg’

FS

h i

ÀH

sin [À[

0

ð Þ

sin[ sin[

0

8

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

<

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

:

ð19Þ

where x

F

speciﬁes the position of the piles with respect to the toe of the slope (Fig. 5).

The value of x

F

should be assumed keeping in mind the critical sliding surface found

for the slope without piles. This surface indicates, in fact, the range of positions

where piles have to be placed for increasing eﬀectively slope stability. A retaining

structure outside the region of soil aﬀected by this sliding surface could have no

inﬂuence on slope stability [30].

In Eq. (19), the unknown quantities are ±

0

, ±

h

, [

0

and ±

F

. Angles ±

0

, ±

h

, and [

0

specify the critical potential sliding surface, and the maximum F value is calculated

substituting these angles into Eq. (18). However, it should be noted that, if m is

assumed not to be zero, F depends on height h which can be determined from ±

0

, ±

h

,

±

F

and [

0

using Eqs. (16) and (17). This implies that Eq. (19) has to be solved con-

sidering the expression for h relevant with the assumed value of x

F

, according to

Eqs. 17.

Once force F is obtained, pile geometry, centre-to-centre distance at which the

piles have to be placed, and structural requirements for the piles can be determined

from a pile-soil interaction analysis [1,4,12,16,17,31–36]. Maximum displacement,

shear and bending moments acting on the piles should be considered to assure

that the design is adequate. This matter is however outside the scope of the present

work.

The outlined approach is illustrated considering the same slope shown in Fig. 4, as

an example. The safety factor for this slope without pile reinforcement is 1.11. The

critical sliding surface is also indicated in Fig. 4. Since a safety factor of 1.11 is

considered inadequate, the slope may be reinforced installing a row of piles to

increase the safety factor to a selected value. For this example, it is assumed that the

required safety factor is 1.50. The piles are assumed to be located at x

F

¼13.7 m.

The stabilising force, for unit width of soil, which has to be provided by the piles to

increase slope stability, is evaluated using Eqs. (18) and (19) in which m is set equal

to 1/3. In the case examined, this force is equal to 515 kN/m, and is assumed to be

linearly distributed between the ground surface and the sliding surface. Moreover,

from Eq. (16) the height of the portion of the pile above the sliding surface is

h=12.7 m. Therefore, the total length of the piles may be preliminarily assumed as

L

p

%2 h=25 m [8]. The potential sliding surface for the slope without piles and that

for the piled slope are shown in Fig. 6. As can be noted, the sliding surface for the

slope reinforced with piles is deeper and passes beneath the toe of the slope. The

writers have found that this occurs generally for low values of the soil shearing

602 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

resistance angle or when the achievement of a high FS value is required, especially

when the slope is gentle.

5. Results

As can be noted from Eq. (18), force F depends on the position of the piles within

the slope which is speciﬁed by angle ±

F

or equivalently by abscissa x

F

. The most

suitable position for the piles is that where the piles are most eﬀective for improving

slope stability.

Many studies have been conducted in order to establish the optimal location of

the piles within a slope. However, the results obtained are rather diﬀerent, and in

some cases even contrasting.

Ito et al. [12] showed that the maximum eﬀect of piles on slope stability is when

they are placed in the upper-middle part of the slope. Hassiotis et al. [17] arrived at

similar conclusions. According to these latter authors, the piles should be located

close to the top of the slope to achieve the maximum safety factor, especially when

the slope is steep. Lee et al. [13] analysed the case of a purely cohesive soil slope.

They found that when the piles are installed into a homogeneous soil the most

eﬀective pile positions are the toe and crest of the slope. By contrast, the piles have

little eﬀect on stability when they are located close to the middle of the slope. For a

two-layered soil slope where the upper soft layer is underlain by a stiﬀ layer, Lee et

al. [13] showed that the piles are more eﬀective when installed between the middle

and the crest of the slope. However, if the soil proﬁle is reversed, according to Lee et

al. [13] the most eﬀective positions for the piles are again the toe and the crest of the

slope. Recently, Cai and Ugai [10], using the ﬁnite element method, have pointed

out that the piles should be located in the middle of the slope to achieve the max-

imum safety factor for the slope. The same authors have also applied a modiﬁed

version of Bishop’s method in which the reaction force from the piles is expressed by

Ito–Matsui’s equation [3]. Using this approach, Cai and Ugai [10] have found that

the piles have to be installed closer to the top of the slope to give the best result.

In order to illustrate the eﬀect of the pile position on slope stability, the example

shown in Fig. 7 is considered. Soil strength parameters are assumed to be: c=4.7

Fig. 6. Critical sliding surface for the slope without piles and for the piled slope.

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 603

kPa and ’=25

; unit weight is 20 kN/m

3

. For this slope, the safety factor is equal to

1.19 as derived from Eq. (13). The optimal position of the piles within the slope is

determined when the stabilising force needed to increase the safety factor to the

desired value takes the minimum value. Assuming that the pile position varies

between the base and the top of the slope, the force provided by the piles is calcu-

lated using Eqs. (18) and (19), and is plotted against the dimensionless abscissa

x

F

L

x

,

where L

x

¼ H ctg[ (Fig. 7). It should be noted that when

x

F

L

x

¼ 0 or

x

F

L

x

¼ 1 pile

position is the toe or the crest of the slope, respectively. Moreover, values of

x

F

L

x

greater than unity indicate that the piles are located at the top of the slope. The

stabilising force is expressed in a dimensionless form as K ¼

F

1,2 , H

2

. Coeﬃcient m is

Fig. 7. Illustrative example of a slope reinforced with piles.

Fig. 8. Eﬀect of pile location on dimensionless force K, when m=0.

604 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

assumed to be 0, 1/3 or 1/2. The results are given in Figs. 8–10 for three diﬀerent

values of the improvement ratio j which is deﬁned as

j ¼

FS

FS

0

ð20Þ

where FS=safety factor of the piled slope problem, and FS

0

=safety factor of the

slope without piles.

As can be expected, K increases with increasing j. The increase in K is greater

when m=1/2, although the results appear not to be greatly aﬀected by the value of

m. In all the cases examined, the optimal location of the piles is near the toe of the

slope, where the force provided by the piles to achieve the selected value of the

improvement ratio takes the lowest value. This is due to the shape of the sliding

surface which is a log-spiral curve having a radius that increases as the surface

develops from the top to the base of the slope. For a rotational failure mechanism as

shown in Fig. 5, the required stabilising moment due to F, with respect to the rota-

tion centre, has an arm that increases as the location of the piles approaches to the

slope toe, and consequently force F decreases. However, Figs. 8–10 show that the

piles are also very eﬀective when they are located between the middle and the toe of

the slope, especially when m is assumed to be zero. The ﬁgures also show that the

region where the piles are more eﬀective reduces as j increases, and is located closer

to the toe of the slope. Therefore, when the achievement of a high improvement

ratio value is required, the piles should be located with greater care within the slope.

Fig. 9. Eﬀect of pile location on dimensionless force K, when m=1/3.

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 605

Fig. 10. Eﬀect of pile location on dimensionless force K, when m=1/2.

Fig. 11. Safety factor for the slope without piles against l

c’

.

606 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

In the following, the results of a parametric study are also presented in order to

illustrate the eﬀect of several factors on the stabilising force that the piles have to

provide to increase slope stability. The calculations have been carried out with three

values of the slope angle, [=30, 45 and 60

**. The results are given for diﬀerent values
**

of j which are chosen to adequately improve slope stability. In all the calculations, it

is assumed that m is equal to 1/3.

The slope safety factor without piles, FS

0

, can be determined from the results

presented in Fig. 11 which have been obtained using Eq. (13). As can be noted, the

values of FS

0

decrease when increasing the slope angle and increasing the parameter

l

c’

that has been deﬁned in a previous section. It should be noted that the value of

l

c’

also indicates the position of the potential sliding surface within the slope. As

pointed out by Duncan and Wright [37], when l

c’

is small the sliding surface

becomes deeper and expands into the soil, especially when the slope is gentle. By

contrast, as the value of l

c’

increases, the critical sliding surface becomes increas-

ingly shallow. Duncan and Wright [37] considered sliding surfaces of circular shape.

However, this also occurs when log-spiral sliding surfaces are considered, as shown

in Fig. 12.

Fig. 12. Critical sliding surfaces of a slope with [=30

**for diﬀerent values of l
**

c’

.

Fig. 13. Force K against l

c’

for a slope with [=30

.

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 607

The piles are assumed to be located at the middle of the slope which should be a

suitable location for the piles. Following Poulos [8], a retaining structure which is

located near the toe or the crest of the slope could restrain only a small mass of the

soil, while a lot of the soil mass behind or in front of the structure could be unstable.

Moreover, this location is consistent with the assumption that the piles are laterally

loaded. At the crest of the slope, the axial response could be more important than

the lateral one, because of soil movement is here predominantly down the piles and

not laterally across them [30].

Fig. 14. Force K against l

c’

for a slope with [=45

.

Fig. 15. Force K against l

c’

for a slope with [=60

.

608 E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611

The results are presented in Figs. 13–15 in terms of K against Janbu’s dimension-

less parameter l

c’

. These ﬁgures show that the stabilising force provided by the piles

are aﬀected by both j and l

c’

. As previously observed, K strongly increases as the

improvement ratio increases. On the contrary, the stabilising force decreases with

Janbu’s parameter, and the lowest values of K occur when l

c’

is high. This implies

that the use of piles is a very eﬀective measure to increase slope stability especially

when the sliding surface for the slope without piles is shallow. In this case, in fact,

the piles have to provide a smaller force to achieve the desired value of the

improvement ratio.

6. Conclusions

A kinematic approach has been described for the stability analysis of slopes rein-

forced with piles. The ﬁrst step of the approach consists in ﬁnding the critical sliding

surface and the safety factor for the slope without piles. To this purpose, a proce-

dure has been developed in which the solution is expressed in terms of the safety

factor that is deﬁned as a reduction coeﬃcient for the shearing resistance parameters

of the soil. The results obtained using the proposed procedure are found to be in

good agreement with those derived from both Bishop’s method and more complex

upper and lower bound solutions of limit analysis.

For slopes containing piles, analytical expressions have been derived that allow

the force needed to increase the safety factor to a desired value, and the most sui-

table location of the piles within the slope to be evaluated. These expressions may be

found useful for designing piles to reinforce slopes. The calculations carried out

using the expressions obtained show that installing a row a piles is an eﬀective

remedy to improve slope stability especially when the sliding surface for the unrein-

forced slope is relatively shallow. The results also indicate that the optimal location

of the piles within the slope is near the toe of the slope where the stabilising force

needed to increase the safety factor to the desired value takes a minimum value. Piles

appear also to be very eﬀective when they are installed in the region from the middle

to the toe of the slope. However, this region reduces when the achievement of high

safety factor values is required.

Appendix

f

1

¼

3tg’

Ã

cos

h

þ sin

h

ð Þ exp 3

h

À

0

ð Þ tg’

Ã

½ À 3 tg’

Ã

cos

0

À sin

0

È É

3 1 þ 9 tg

2

’

Ã

ð Þ

f

2

¼

1

6

L

r

o

2cos

0

À

L

r

o

cos

sin

0

þ ð Þ

E. Ausilio et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 28 (2001) 591–611 609

f

3

¼

1

6

exp

h

À

0

ð Þtg’

Ã

½ sin

h

À

0

ð Þ À

L

r

0

sin

h

þ ð Þ

!

Â cos

0

À

L

r

0

cosþ cos

h

exp

h

À

0

ð Þtg’

Ã

½

& '

f

4

¼

H

2

r

2

0

sin À

0

ð Þ

2sinsin

0

cos

0

À

L

r

0

cosÀ

1

3

H

r

0

cotg

0

þ cotg ð Þ

!

In these expressions, the quantities

H

r

0

and

L

r

0

are given by Eqs. (11a) and (11b),

respectively, and tg’

Ã

¼

tg’

FS

.

References

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