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Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356
Regional slope stability and slope-failure mechanics from the two-dimensional state of stress in an inﬁnite slope
Ulisses T. Mello a,Ł , Lincoln F. Pratson b,1
J. Watson Research Center, IBM, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA Received 12 March 1997; accepted 13 April 1998
Abstract Rapid estimates of regional submarine slope stability can be obtained using 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis or empirical 2-D analyses, such as the log-spiral or φ-circle methods. In these methods, slope stability is evaluated along a pre-deﬁned slip surface because the principal stresses in the slope and the slip-plane directions they control are undeﬁned. However, where these pre-deﬁned slip surfaces are not a good approximation of the surface along which a slope failure actually occurs, the analyses cannot explain the physics and observed geometry of the failure. Here we present an alternative, 2-D analytical solution for the state of stress in an inﬁnite slope that incorporates cohesion and constant pore pressure, and yields the principal stresses and possible slip-plane directions along which the slope can fail. As a result, the analysis provides a framework for understanding the general geometry and relative motion of mass movements not addressed by 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis or the empirical 2-D analyses. We use our 2-D inﬁnite-slope analysis to show that if the compressive stresses in the lower part of a slope are great enough, slope failure will occur along a basal plane, which in turn will permit extensional deformation along a steeper, headwall plane farther upslope. We then discuss how such failure can be facilitated on slopes of low inclination by excess pore pressure. Based on this discussion, we suggest that if pore pressure becomes high enough, slope failure can be initiated at a lower pore pressure and along a lower-angle basal plane than predicted by 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. © 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. Keywords: slope stability; slope failure; basal shear plane; excess pore pressure
1. Introduction An important goal of STRATAFORM is to devise techniques that can aid in predicting where and how slides and mass ﬂows affect submarine slopes (Pratson et al., 1996). Determination of the risk posed by these mass movements to a speciﬁc sea-ﬂoor area
author. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Present address: Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
1 Ł Corresponding
continues to require detailed geotechnical analyses involving mapping, sampling, laboratory testing, and two- or three-dimensional numerical modeling of sea-ﬂoor stability (Hampton et al., 1996). However, such extensive analyses are not always possible, and simpliﬁed analyses that encapsulate the basic physics behind mass movements are needed for rapidly assessing sea-ﬂoor stability using limited data. One-dimensional (1-D) inﬁnite-slope analysis is typically used for this purpose. Based only on the balance of forces acting on a plane parallel to the
0025-3227/99/$ – see front matter © 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 0 2 5 - 3 2 2 7 ( 9 8 ) 0 0 1 2 2 - 4
T. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 .340 U. Mello.F. L.
2-D analysis of the state of stress in an inﬁnite slope that can be used to evaluate failure along a range of failure-plane angles. 1A). 2C). the manner in which the failed sediments are transported downslope. 2B) off North Carolina (Popenoe et al.2. In this paper.U. which assume a failure surface that is concave-upward or listricshaped. and which change from a relatively steep headwall at their upslope end to a lower-angle basal shear plane that intersects the sea ﬂoor at their downslope end (e. 2). Gardner et al. these methods like 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis do not allow for the evaluation of other possible surface geometries. A D slope-parallel width. which towards its downslope end is generally at a lower angle than the sea ﬂoor and intersects it (Fig. ² b D bulk density. The inﬁnite-slope approximation A ﬁrst-order estimate of the state of stress that leads to such slope failures can be obtained using a simpliﬁed approximation of the slope geometry as an inﬁnitely large. L. and these are not deﬁned in either 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis or the empirical 2-D analyses. This type of slope is completely characterized in the horizontal . 2A) in the northern California STRATAFORM study area (Gardner et al. the total stresses acting on Fig.. 2. Note that d is given by y x tan i .T.. and consequently. Fig. ¦ v D vertical stress. For a differential sediment element to remain at rest within such a slope. 1B). Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 341 slope. 1993). A limitation of 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis is that the potential for slope failure is only evaluated along a plane that parallels the slope surface. signiﬁcantly enhancing the utility of inﬁnite-slope analysis in assessing regional slope stability. Despite their differences.. At depth. 1999). . 1. Without a detailed stress analysis. The failed sediment mass is thrust over this basal plane toward the lower slope surface. Two disparate examples are the Humboldt Slide (Fig.g. W D weight. these and many other slope failures share a common failure surface geometry (Fig. Furthermore. often exhibits compressional features (e. it is not suitable for failures that occur along surfaces that cut across bedding planes. − s D sediment shear strength. The symbols used are d D vertical depth. and the distance they travel. and the Cape Fear mudﬂow (Fig.F. which often do parallel the sea ﬂoor. We then discuss how pore pressure may allow for a range of other failure-plane angles at any given slope inclination. it is difﬁcult to ascertain whether these predeﬁned surfaces are those along which actual failure did or will in fact occur. g D gravitational acceleration. respectively. (A) The balance of stresses used in 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. we begin by illustrating how the slip planes in an inﬁnite slope are affected by slope inclination under various states of stress. The reason for this is that failuire surface geometry depends on the distribution of the principal stresses in a slope. this analysis attempts to deﬁne the maximum possible slope inclination at which the shear stress acting on the slope (due to its weight) exactly balances the resistance of the slope sediments to sliding (Fig. the slope is assumed to be composed of homogeneous sediments. This limitation is satisfactory for failures that occur along bedding planes. 1999). we present an alternative.. the headwall grades (often abruptly) into a basal failure plane. while −x y and − yx are the horizontal and vertical shear stresses. and S0 D cohesion. 2. the rigidity=ﬂuidity of the failed sediments. The normal (¦ n ) and shear (− ) stresses are related to the weight of the sediment slab overlying failure plane. R D sediment shear resistance. This failure surface geometry is better accounted for by empirical 2-D slope-stability analyses. respectively.1. In developing the analysis. 2C). Background 2.. the compressional ridges at the toe of the Humboldt Slide. Note that the failure plane (dashed line) is assumed to be parallel to the slope inclination (i ). planar slope inclined with respect to the horizontal at a uniform angle i (Fig. so that the weight of the sediments increases uniformly with depth. However.x / and vertical . y / dimensions.g. Observed geometry of slope failure Failures of submarine sedimentary slopes vary in terms of the volume of sediment involved. Mello. But in using a single. D friction angle. such as the log-spiral and φ-circle methods. (B) The balance of stresses used in the 2-D inﬁnite-slope analysis: ¦x and ¦ y are the horizontal and vertical normal stresses. arbitrarily pre-deﬁned failure surface. The upslope end of these surfaces tends to be a relatively steep headwall along which the failed sediment mass undergoes extensional failure.
F. extensional failure along a relatively steep headwall grading into compressional failure along a low-angle basal plane that intersects the slope surface. (A) Humboldt Slide. northern California STRATAFORM study area (from Gardner et al. (B) Cape Fear mudﬂow. The dashed and dotted lines are simply two examples of the degrees to which failed sediments can be displaced downslope. 2. (C) Schematic of the failure plane geometry and slope-failure motion common to these and many other slope failures.T. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 Fig. L.. 1999).342 U. . Two end-member examples of submarine slope failure. Mello.. 1993). North Carolina continental slope (from Popenoe et al.
the sediment framework tends to be at least two orders of magnitude more compressible than water. ÞŽi j P (2) where ¦i j is the total normal stress at a point. 2. Such materials fail when the shear stress acting along a plane through the sediments exceeds the sediment shear strength. −xy and − yx are shear stresses. the Coulomb failure criterion is used to assess the potential for failure along a plane that parallels the slope surface (Fig. 1967). the principal stresses within the slope are left undeﬁned. In this analysis. 1991).3. 1969). 1a and 1b for a slope to remain in steady state. The Mohr–Coulomb failure criteria In order to predict the potential for an inﬁnite slope to fail. only the weight of the slab and the resulting shear and effective normal stresses are used (Eqs. Thus. This water exerts pressure on the sediment matrix. in considering the balance of stresses in only the vertical direction. the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3. 3) yields the maximum inclination at which the downslope shear stress due to gravity and pore pressure acting on the slab equals the frictional resistance along its base (i. p. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 343 the element must balance (Fig. In this analysis. For the surﬁcial depths to which slope failures occur.e. which is equivalent to ignoring the terms @¦x =@ x and @−xy =@ x in Eqs. 1b. the general expression for effective stress. and g is gravity acceleration. 2. 1B). which reduces the stress acting on the grains in the framework to produce what are referred to as effective stresses (Terzaghi and Peck.4.5. 1a and 1b (Delinger and Iverson. the analysis is called one-dimensional. The principal stresses are signiﬁcant because in M–C materials. if Þ D 0. the total stresses must balance as described in Eqs. Ži is the Kronecker delta.T. the direction of the maximum principal stress (and the friction angle of the material) deﬁnes the slip-plane direction along which M–C failure will occur. 4a and 4b in Fig. 95): j− j D ¦n tan 0 C S0 0 (3) where − is the shear stress. is the friction angle of the slope sediments. This balance is described by the equations of equilibrium (Jaeger and Cook. 1979. the total stress acting on the grains is partially supported by the full value of P . . while if Þ D 1. a model needs to address the mechanical behavior of slope sediments under stress. 1). 1969)..F. and Þ is approximately 1 (Domenico and Schwartz. Limitations of one-dimensional inﬁnite-slope analysis An important limitation of 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis is that by ﬁxing the orientation of the slip plane and restricting the balance of stresses to this plane. This is normally justiﬁed by assuming the horizontal forces in an inﬁnite slope cancel (Lambe and Whitman. all the total stress is borne by the sediment framework. 1a. the sediment shear strength holding the slab in place). ¦ 0 . It is important to realize that independent of the magnitude of pore pressure. is: ¦i j D ¦i j 0 Commonly it is assumed that the sediments behave as a Mohr–Coulomb (M–C) material (Lambe and Whitman. 2. 1A).U. L. ¦n is the effective normal stress. In tensor notation. One-dimensional inﬁnite-slope analysis In 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. The latter reﬂects the fraction of the total stress that is carried by the sediment framework. The sediments overlying the plane are considered to be a slab of uniform thickness. 1979. 119). Mello. Effective stress and pore pressure In a submarine slope. and S0 is the sediment cohesion.6. P is pore pressure. ²b is bulk density. p. which ranges between 0 and 1. In the limit. which is given by the Coulomb failure criterion (Jaeger and Cook. and Þ is referred to as the Biot constant. the pores in the sediment framework are typically saturated with water. 1990). 2. 2. x direction: @¦x @− yx C D0 (1a) @x @y y direction: @−xy @¦ y C D ²b g (1b) @y @x where ¦x and ¦ y are total normal stresses.
3) in terms of the effective principal stresses we use the Mohr equations (Jaeger and Cook. which is only summarized here. therefore. Eq. 1a and 1b. and K f is simply the ratio 0 0 of these stresses (i. 6a.. can be found in Mello and Pratson (1998). as assumed in the 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. The solution is an extension of the one derived by Jaeger and Cook (1979) (p. K f D ¦2 =¦1 at the state of M–C failure). One is that the principal stresses in Eq.1 sin / . 4a.¦ j− j D 1 2 1 0 0 0 3. 1979. As we will show. planes of maximum shear stress whose direction at any point bisects the angle between the principal stresses at that point. To express the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. Our solution is less restrictive in that it allows for stable as well as limiting-equilibrium conditions and includes sediment cohesion and constant pore pressure. if the 1-D analysis is blindly applied to a horizontal slope. i. Slip planes are. A horizontal slope will never fail along a horizontal plane. 1B) (i. When S0 ments are cohesionless. because the shear stress along this plane due to the weight of the overlying sediments (Fig. lithostatic). where: þD ³ C (5) 4 2 Because þ is only a function of the sedimentfriction angle. cohesionless sediments under limiting-equilibrium conditions. 7 has some signiﬁcant differences. this slope in reality could fail at much lower pore pressure along planes that are not horizontal. Analytical solution for the principal stresses in an inﬁnite slope We now describe a 2-D analytical solution for the principal stresses in an inﬁnite slope that uses both the vertical and horizontal balance of stresses described by Eqs. p. however.344 U. pore pressure has not been subtracted from the principal stresses).g. it will yield the misleading result that the slope will be stable until the pore pressure is equal to the weight of the overlying sediments (i.. 3) is 0. Eq. L. Using Eqs. Another is that these total principal stresses are linearly related by a general lateral stress ratio k ..e. This implies While similar in form to Eq. 7 are not effective stresses.. And a third difference is that k depends on the mechanical behavior of the sediments before failure (e.e. the minimum effective principal stress is linearly related to the maximum effective principal Ł D 0. A full derivation of the solution. 1A. it is a material property.¦ C ¦2 / C 1 . we assume that the state of stress at any point in the slope can be described by: ¦2 D k ¦1 Ł S0 ¦2 / sin 2Â 0 0 0 (4a) ¦2 / cos 2Â 0 (7) . M–C failure occurs when Â D þ .¦ ¦n D 1 2 1 2 1 0 0 (4b) where ¦1 and ¦2 are the maximum and minimum effective principal stresses (respectively). 4b and 5 the Coulomb failure criterion Eq.: ¦2 D K f ¦1 where Kf D and 2 S0 cos (6c) . Mello.e.1 C sin / (6b) 3. However. As indicated in Eq. that at the state . Note.1 C sin / This equation indicates that at the state of M– C failure. Ł S0 D 0 0 Ł S0 (6a) . 6b. elastic).1. but total stresses at a depth d due to the weight of the overlying sediments up to the slope surface (Fig.T. the sedistress by the variable K f . 14): . and Â is 0 the angle between ¦1 and the normal to a plane.i D 0/ is considered. 422) for the directions and magnitudes of the principal stresses in an inﬁnite slope of dry.F. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 The importance of this limitation becomes apparent when a horizontal slope . K f is also a material property that depends only on the friction angle of the slope sediments and is independent of pore pressure. 3 can now be re-written in terms of the effective principal stresses. Extended solution for the principal stresses In order to describe the state of stress in an inﬁnite slope for an arbitrary ratio between the principal stresses. that the slip-plane directions in M–C failure depend only on the direction of the maximum effective principal stress and not its magnitude.e.
Eqs. b cos 2!/ @¦1 @¦1 C1 D0 b sin 2! 2 @x @y (9a) y direction: @¦1 @¦1 b sin 2! (9b) C1 D ²b g 2 @x @y This system of equations can now be solved and integrated to obtain ¦1 : 1 . Furthermore. and Eq.b2 =a 2 sin i / 2 1=2 cos i Eq. there is no pore pressure. K f Ä k Ä K max /. and like K f . 7. Because the only effect of cohesion is to offset the magnitudes of the principal stresses by an equal amount. 1a and 1b.k /. But at M–C failure. The effect of slope inclination on slip-plane orientation In order to separate the effects of slope inclination and pore pressure on the stress ﬁeld in an inﬁnite slope. stress path.k 1/.b 2 a 2 / b cos 2!/ (10) Ł (11) ð cos 2! D . it is possible to determine the normal and shear stresses along any plane through the slope. of: K max D . and pore pressure . 11 along with Eq. 11 gives its direction. Hence.1 sin i / .a ¦y D 1 2 1 b cos 2!/ b cos 2!/ 1 Ł S . as well as the orientations of the slip planes were the slope to undergo M–C failure. it is independent of pore pressure.1.. Slope stability and slip-plane orientations in an inﬁnite slope With the solution for the principal stresses.a 2 C b cos 2!/ ¦1 D where 2²b gd . / of 30º. 5 completely deﬁne the slip-plane orientations for M–C failure.k C 1/ and b D . and then substituting them into the total-stress equilibrium Eqs. a D . 11 requires that the term b2 =a 2 sin2 i be greater than or equal to zero. we will simplify matters and assume that the slope sediments are cohesionless. The minimum principal stress is simply orthogonal to ¦1 . L. 6a. .1 C sin i / (12) cos 2!/ cos 2!/ (8a) (8b) (8c) ¦ b sin 2! C 1 S Ł sin 2! −xy D 1 2 1 2 0 where ! is the angle between the maximum principal stress . which yields: x direction: 1 . In this section. satisfying the boundary conditions for an inﬁnite slope.. Eq. so the stresses in the slope are total stresses. This implies that in our solution.i /. the lateral stress ratio . 8b and 8c.a =b/ sin2 i š . the equations are identical at failure state. Mello.. In addition. k cannot exceed a maximum value. k D K f /. 12.¦1 / and the y direction.a . 7 is comparable to Eq.1 2 0 1 Ł S .e.T. In general.e. K max . For this case.. Eq. k can have a range of values depending on the mechanical behavior of the sediments. it is now possible to investigate their magnitude and orientation in an inﬁnite slope. we discuss the interplay among these parameters.e. Jaeger and Cook (1979) examined the effect of i on the principal stresses when an inﬁnite slope is on the verge of failure (i.e. Here we extend their sensitivity study and include the effect of i on the principal stresses when the slope is at rest and stable (i. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 345 of M–C failure k D K f . subaerial slope with a friction angle . If there is no pressure. and the slope inclination (Lambe and Whitman. 3). 4.a 2 Note that in Eq. 8a. the horizontal stress balance. 7 and 11 place theoretical limits on the range of k (i. which require that the stresses be invariant in the x direction (i. 4.1 2 0 1969). P /. we ﬁrst consider a dry. 10 gives the magnitude of the maximum principal stress while Eq. Eq. k must be equal to K f . These stresses in the x and y directions are deﬁned by the equations: ¦ . 7 into the Mohr equations. The total-stress equilibrium in the x and y directions is determined by solving for the partial derivatives of Eqs. Substituting Eq.F.a ¦x D 1 2 1 ¦ . 1a). and its magnitude is determined by using Eq. K max depends only on the slope inclination. K f Ä k Ä K max ) and in turn on the stability of the slope (Fig.U. Three key parameters are used to determine the principal stresses: the slope inclination .
L.346 U.T. Mello.F. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 .
L. Dark gray areas highlight the block between the conjugate slip planes and emphasize the direction in which the slip planes are rotated as inclination is increased. The main difference between the extensional and compressional solutions is in the magnitudes of the principal stresses. the antithetic slip plane (dotted line). as well as the slip-plane orientations and motions associated with these stress states are shown in Fig.F. Normally.1 sin / k D K max ² gd . i D 0 and Eq.1 sin / ² gd . the stress ellipsoid (ellipse). the lithostatic stress . the maximum principal stress is equivalent to the overlying lithostatic stress ¦v . where i D 0º. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 Table 1 Solutions for extensional and compressional effective principal stresses in a dry. Note the rotation of ellipsoid and change in the magnitude of the principal stresses with increasing slope inclinations. i D D 30º/. 3. 3.1 sin ² gd . Case 2: i D When the slope inclination equals the sedimentfriction angle. subaerial inﬁnite slope inclined at i D 0º and i D i D 0º k D Kf E ¦1 E ¦2 E ¦1 E ¦1 347 iD k D K max / / / / ² gd ² gd ² gd ² gd k D Kf ² gd . or it can be horizontal. so ! D 0 or ! D ³=2. which corresponds to a compressional (passive earth pressure) state of stress (¦ c ).1 sin / 4. . Case 1: i D 0º When the slope is horizontal.1 C sin . shearing will occur along one of these slip-plane directions. This implies that the direction of ¦1 can be either vertical.U.e. 5. ! D þ . and the two possible slip-plane directions are parallel to the surface and vertical (Fig. the direction of the maximum principal stress governs the slip-plane angles. In both cases.T. In an extensional stress state. the principal stresses are oriented at an angle to the slope surface. In an extensional state. the critical angle for M–C failure. and k D K max D 1 (isotropic compression). In a compressional stress state. the principal stress directions are in turn inﬂuenced by the value of k .1 C sin / ² gd .1 C sin / ² gd .. C ³=2/. Shown at each inclination are the relative magnitudes of the principal stresses (dashed line).e. These endmember solutions deﬁne the limits to the possible values for k . 11 reduces to cos 2! D sin D cos. Note that when i D . and acts to push the dark gray area between the conjugate slip planes above the surrounding slope surface (i. thrust faulting). In each environment. which corresponds to an extensional (active earth pressure) state of stress (¦ E . there is just one solution for the maximum principal stress and for the minimum principal stress regardless of whether the state of stress is extensional or compressional (Table 1). it is the minimum principal stress that equals ¦v . As will be shown later. this is the direction in which the movement of the failed sediment mass is aided by gravity. and thus the range of stress ﬁelds that can exist in the slope at any given inclination.1 sin ² gd ² gd . the range is broad depending on the magnitude of the sediment-friction angle. Thus based on Eq. while in a compressional state. 4..¦v / is equal to the mean of the principal stresses.1. and the relative motion across the slip planes (arrows).1 C sin ² gd . The solutions for the principal stresses in both environments are given in Table 1. In this situation. Stress states and M–C slip-plane directions in an inﬁnite slope under limiting equilibrium conditions k D K f ) as a function of slope inclination. the maximum principal stress is horizontal. normal faulting).1. 3. The two solutions in Table 1 indicate that for a horizontal slope. Upon failure. the synthetic slip plane (solid line). Mello.1 sin / ² gd . the maximum principal stress is vertical and acts to push the dark gray area between the conjugate slip planes below the surrounding slope surface (i. The extensional and compressional solutions for the principal stresses in a horizontal slope when k D K f .2.1. Fig.1 C sin / ² gd . there are two endmember solutions: k D K f (M–C failure state). Eq. 11 reduces to cos 2! D š1.1 C sin / ² gd .
4). This convergence is depicted in Fig. 2 and 3). the stress solutions given by 1-D and 2-D inﬁnite-slope analysis are identical for the special case of when the slope inclination equals the sediment-friction angle.3. Mello. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 and is referred to as the synthetic slip direction. Although K max represents a theoretical limit to the maximum value of k . Eqs. K max is reduced from a maximum value of one at i D 0º to a minimum value of K f when i D .348 U.T. at certain inclinations this limit Note that these are the same equations for the normal and shear stresses used in 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis (Fig. Thus. K max is not.F. such as K0 . With increasing inclination. the range of stress ﬁelds possible in an inﬁnite slope is K f Ä k Ä K max which converges toward a single stress ﬁeld as the slope inclination is increased from 0º to the sediment-friction angle . These states can be further constrained for normally compacted sediments using an empirical measure for k at rest. 4. which shows that while K f is independent of slope inclination. 4. Effect of slope inclination on the possible stress states in an inﬁnite slope having a friction angle ( ) of 30º. whereupon the slope fails (Fig. . the normal and shear stresses acting on the synthetic slip plane can be determined by using the principal stresses in the Mohr equations Eqs. Theoretically possible stress states lie between Kf < k < Kmax . 4.1. Its conjugate is the antithetic slip direction. The result is: ¦ y 0 D ² gd cos2 −x 0 y 0 D ² gd sin cos (13a) (13b) the slope-parallel slip-plane direction assumed in the 1-D analysis is the direction of maximum shear stress in the 2-D analysis. Case 3:0 < i < As suggested by the results of the previous two cases. This happens because Fig. 1. in a dry. L. 4a and 4b. Considering that sin 2þ D cos . subaerial slope.
The effect of pore pressure Pore pressure partially supports the total principal stresses in a slope. 3 shows the general pattern with increasing slope steepness. the principal stresses rotate from being parallel and perpendicular to the slope surface to being at an angle to the surface. it is generally harder to cause M–C failure along the compressional slip plane than along the extensional slip plane. K 0 : K0 D 1 sin (14) into the 2-D analysis by modifying Eqs.g.1. through the results arrived at above. K max D 1/ and an empirical constraint should be placed on the maximum value of k . several important relationships governing the state of stress in an inﬁnite slope remain unchanged including the relationship for K f (Eq. 4. whether the slope is dry. Hence. L. if the slope is submerged. Fig. the stresses needed to cause failure along the extensional slip plane increase. and are unaffected by pore pressure. Consequently. As a result. when the antithetic slip planes are coupled (Fig. 3.U. while those needed to cause failure along the compressional slip plane decrease.. 5. however.F. which are normal stresses. Discussion 5. 5). 2C). the failure motion is in an uphill direction which is opposite that observed (compare to Fig. and the angle of the slip planes at failure given by þ (Eq. 2C). Constant pore pressure can be factored where Pd is the pore pressure at a depth d below the slope surface minus the hydrostatic pore pressure above the slope surface. 12). the directions of the principal stresses and slip planes vary with slope inclination in a similar manner to that shown in Fig. The coupling between extensional and compressional states of stress The analytical 2-D inﬁnite-slope analysis does not allow for the state of stress to change along the slope.2. Regardless of the value of k . with increasing pore pressure. while in a compressional environment it is clockwise. By contrast. subaerial or submarine. Furthermore. 3 by the change in the size of the stress ellipsoids (the ellipses bounding the principal stresses) at the different slope inclinations. pore pressure reduces the effective principal stresses acting on the grains of the sediment framework. While extensional and compressional stress states cannot exist at the same point in a slope. This is reﬂected in the Mohr diagram as a shift of the Mohr stress circle left toward the M–C failure envelope. An example of such a constraint is Jaky’s equation (Lambe and Whitman. 5B). the stresses needed to cause failure along the compressional slip plane are greater than those needed to cause failure along the extensional slip plane. the stress ﬁeld and the slip-plane directions rotate as slope inclination increases. Correspondingly. Mello. at limiting equilibrium with increasing slope inclination. when i D 0º. 3). Fig. Note. 1969). This is indicated in Fig. In other words. which is commonly used to estimate the value of k at rest in normally compacted sediments. the rotation is counterclockwise. In an extensional environment. For a given k .k ¦1 Pd Thus.b 2 a 2 / Ł S0 / b cos 2!/ Pd (15a) (15b) ¦2 D .T. However. 5A illustrates that this same combination of failure motions can be obtained when the extensional and compressional solutions for the synthetic slip plane are coupled. Despite the inclusion of pore pressure. M–C failure can be triggered at lower effective stresses. 6b). overpressured. K max (Eq. they will . the analysis can be used as a framework for understanding the basic mechanics of submarine slope failures characterized by extensional failure along a relatively steep headwall grading into compressional failure along a low-angle basal plane (Fig. 10 and 7 such that they become: ¦1 D 0 0 2²b gd . the slip planes rotate from being at an angle to the slope surface to paralleling it and being vertical. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 349 is not representative of the mechanical behavior of sediments at rest (e. that at all inclinations up to that of the friction angle. Jaky’s equation can be used to impose an additional constraint on the range of stress ﬁelds possible in an inﬁnite slope (Fig.a . the directions of the total principal stresses and slip planes are constant.
5. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 Fig.T. .350 U. The composite slip surfaces that would result when the compressional and extensional synthetic slip planes for a given slope inclination are combined. Arrows indicate the direction of motion along the slip planes. Downslope stress ellipsoid represents the stress state along the compressional slip plane. Mello. Dotted lines approximate the change in direction of the maximum principal stress needed to go from an extensional-stress state in the upper slope to a compressional stress state in the lower slope. Solid lines are the slip planes along which M–C failure would occur in an inﬁnite slope. Upslope stress ellipsoid represents the stress state along the extensional slip plane. This direction change also would cause a change in the slip-plane direction leading to a composite slip surface that is listric-shaped. L.F. approximated by the gray curves.
F. 1996). on the other hand. that as slope inclination increases. As this stress ﬁeld rotates. the compressional slip plane is oriented such that upon failure. We ﬁrst present a conceptual explanation of how this may occur. Consider the inﬁnite slope in Fig. for the material bounded between the extensional and compressional slip-plane directions to be mobilized as a mass movement. 5D. i D 20–30º). This is a distinct possibility. Generally. But these critical stresses are reduced if pore pressure is increased even further. listricshaped slip surface (Fig. the slip planes rotate as well. pore pressure reduces the effective stresses needed to cause M–C failure. the upper part of a slope tends to be in a state of extension due to the downhill pull of gravity (Fig. Note. Generally not contemplated is what happens when M–C failure does not result in signiﬁcant movement of the overlying sediments along the M–C failure plane. 5C). signiﬁcantly reducing the stress in these sediments and causing them to fail also. the effective stresses will eventually drop to the point that M–C failure could occur along the extensional slip-plane direction. As noted above.D) like those assumed in the 2-D log-spiral and -circle slope stability methods.2. then in the limit. if the failure plane dips steeply in a direction opposite to the dip of the slope surface as in Fig. 3. including planes that are oriented downslope. failure along this plane will remove the support holding the sediments farther up slope in place. Mello. L.T. . but along the extensional slip plane. 5A). However. But we suggest that between the pore pressure needed to cause M–C failure and the pore pressure needed to cause hydrofracturing. the stresses needed to cause extensional failure tend to be much less than those needed to cause compressional failure. M–C failure occurs. the directions of the extensional and compressional synthetic slip planes converge toward a single slip plane that parallels the slope surface (Fig.U.. Fig. 3. which have friction angles between 20º and 45º (Hampton et al. 5D... the listric shape of the failure surface becomes more planar. there must be additional factors inﬂuencing the Failure surface directions in these events. 3. The signiﬁcance of this is that if the sediments fail along the compressional slip plane. The potential role of pore pressure in causing slope failure at low inclinations One such additional inﬂuence on failure-plane direction may be pore pressure. This would be ¾13º for marine sediments. As discussed above.g. If pore pressure in this slope is gradually increased. If pore pressure continues to increase in these sediments. At inclinations <2=3 of the friction angle. At a given pore pressure. there are intermediate pore pressures that could allow for Coulomb failure along a range of plane directions. tends to be under compression due to the weight of the sediments above. the compressional slip-plane direction rotates such that it eventually becomes oriented downslope (e. our analysis suggests that with increasing inclination. The lower part of the slope. which is inclined at 2º. which produces a composite. the overlying sediments must be moved uphill against gravity (Fig. And because numerous examples of translational slides and mass ﬂows have been documented on submarine slopes dipping Ä2º. This implies that slope failure will occur only when the shear stress along the compressional slip plane in the lower slope is great enough to overcome the sediment shear strength in this direction. which is reﬂected in the Mohr diagram as a shift in the stress circle left toward the failure envelope.g. Another effect of slope inclination is that as it is increased. Based on Fig. M–C failure in this direction requires higher stresses. the overlying sediments will move downslope abetted by gravity. As shown in Fig. the sediments will hydrofracture. 2B) in which the basal failure surface is oriented downslope. 5A. failure also would have to occur along the compressional slip-plane direction. This type of failure motion can occur in rotational slides or slumps when the weight of the upslope portion of the failed sediments drives the lower portion of the failed sediments up the basal failure surface. there must be a rotation of the stress ﬁeld within the slope. 3. i D 0–15º). however. 5. When pore pressure is high enough that the Mohr circle touches the failure envelope. Given that the upper part of a slope tends to be in extension and the lower part under compression. If it is. it is not characteristic of translational slides and mass ﬂows (e. we suggest that this occurs when the slope inclination is ½2=3 of the friction angle. Fig. Thus. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 351 exist at different points within the slope.
Furthermore. cohesionless sediments having a friction angle of D 30º. assume that pore pressure is increased even further. 6. For this to be the case. as pore pressure is increased from zero (½ D 0) to lithostatic (½ D 1). 5D). This effect of pore pressure on potential failure-plane direction is analogous to the effect that pre-existing fractures have on failure planes (see Suppe. the Mohr circle for the compressional environment is forced farther left in the Mohr diagram such that it partially crosses the M–C failure envelope. all curves intersect at a failure-plane angle of 16º (the slope inclination) and a ½ of ¾0. And if pore pressure is high enough. 3) is met. 6A). In this instance. However. the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. . 3) is satisﬁed. Extensional stress state: Change in the plane direction for a horizontal inﬁnite slope along which the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 Now assume that pore pressure is high enough and the effective stresses are low enough that M– C failure can occur along the compressional slipplane direction. Consider once again the end-member of a horizontal inﬁnite slope (Fig. Also note in (C) that regardless of the value of k. the range may include plane directions that are at the same angle as the slope surface. these additional potential failureplane directions are less steep than the slip-plane angle along which M–C failure would occur.46.T. The compressional slip plane dips at a relatively steep angle (27º with respect to the horizontal) that is opposite to the dip of the slope surface (Fig. Mello.352 U. because this example is simply Fig. 5. which are the inclination and ½ predicted by 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. p. For all the sediments between the extensional and compressional slip planes to be displaced downslope as a slide or mass ﬂow. some additional force would be required to push the failed sediments up the compressional slip plane against gravity. Without this additional force. Assume that this slope is composed of dry. (A) Example plane inclinations are measured clockwise in degrees with respect to the horizontal. forces other than just gravity would need to be acting on the slope. and that the slope is on the verge of failure. L. the nature of these forces is not important here. 1985.F. but along a range of other potential failure planes. Finally. (C) Similar curves for a slope inclined 16º. In other words. as is assumed in 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. the sediments would largely remain in place even though the slope has failed.3. This same result also occurs in (A). (B) Curves of pore pressure (½) required to induce failure as a function of lateral stress ratio (k) and slip-plane inclinations in horizontal slope. 162). A demonstration of the relation between pore pressure and slip-plane angle We now illustrate the effect of pore pressure on arbitrary plane angles along which the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. in a low-angle slope. beginning with a simple example for which the result is easily veriﬁed. Note in (C) that a minimum ½ is required is at the M–C slip planes. 3) is satisﬁed or exceeded not along the M–C slip plane.
However. Thus ½ D 1. meaning pore pressure must be lithostatic in order to induce failure along the horizontal plane (#3 in Fig. This minimum implies that a horizontal slope could fail along an inclined-plane angle long before pore pressure reaches lithostatic pressure in a horizontal slope. 6B are the relationships between pore pressure and the slip-plane directions that satisfy Eq.1 ½/¦ . and hence. This relationship was obtained using our 2-D inﬁnite-slope analysis as outlined in Table 2. 6A.j− j S0 / ¦v tan (16) The exact relationship between pore pressure and an arbitrary plane along which the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. If the slope is at the state of M–C failure. Note that these values of k . the ½ required to induce failure can be obtained directly from the Coulomb failure criterion Eq.¦v ½¦v / tan . Representing Pd in terms of the dimensionless pore pressure ratio ½.33 . which as indicated in Eq.5 and 1 (planes 1. 0.5. As in Fig.F. L. 3) for an inﬁnite slope inclined at 16º. in a horizontal slope for which k D K 0 D 1=2. The latter ﬁgure shows the relationship between pore pressure and the plane direction that satisﬁes (Eq. 6A). so ¦2 D 1=3¦v . For example. which is not only the slope inclination. failure is possible along a plane inclined 60º from the horizontal when ½ D 1=4. Again. For a general case. 6A shows examples of the slip-plane directions given by this relationship.½ D 1/. 7 are assumed to be independent of pore pressure. K f /. and the M–C failure criterion reduces to: Ð 1 ¦ cos D 1 ¦ ½¦v tan 3 2 v Solving this equation for ½ leads to the expected result of ½ D 0. the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. are greater than K f (the latter corresponding to K 0 /. the extensional solution for these principal stresses in a horizontal slope is ¦1 D ¦v . Each of these curves can be used to estimate the pore pressure needed to cause Coulomb failure along an arbitrary plane through the slope.5. when ½ D 0. Furthermore. Placing these stresses in the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) is satisﬁed in a horizontal inﬁnite slope (with k D K f D 1=3/ is given by the curve in Fig.e. 3) becomes 0 D . 6C. but also the failure-plane direction assumed in 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. 6B with Fig. the potential failure-plane angle is also inﬂuenced by slope inclination. with a friction angle D 30º. where ½ D Pd =¦v . and therefore. Also shown in Fig. Note that ½. K 0 /.½ D 0/ and lithostatic . 3) then gives the pore pressure needed to actually cause failure along this plane. also note that all three relationships cross to yield the same ½ at a plane angle of 16º. Because the slope is already at a state of M– C failure.. 5). 2 and 3. 6B. Thus the 1-D inﬁnite-slope solution is a subset of the 2-D slope . Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 353 being used to demonstrate the potential inﬂuence of pore pressure on failure plane direction. the relationship is presented for three values of k : 0. then the principal stresses in the slope are related by k D K f D 1=3 and ¦2 D 1=3¦1 . the initial stress conditions are not limiting equilibrium conditions. This same approach can be used to determine the pore pressure required to induce failure along a horizontal plane. However. 5 (i. which in this case is š30º from the direction of the ¦1 . These yield the normal and shear stresses along the #1 slip plane shown in Fig. and its effect when combined with pore pressure can be seen by comparing Fig. using Table 1. no pore pressure is needed to bring this about. Furthermore. where i D 0º.4 and 0. 3: ½D ¦n ¦v . 3 in a horizontal inﬁnite slope when k D 0:4 and 0. 0. Fig.T. the result can be veriﬁed by using the principal stresses along with þ D ³=4 C =2 D 60º in the Mohr equations (Eq. Based on the pore pressures needed to cause failure along the two plane directions considered for the case above. the pore pressure represented by this value of ½ is the same that is obtained when applying 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis to this case. pore pressure is always a minimum at the slip-plane inclination along which M–C failure would ﬁrst occur. as assumed in 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. As shown in Fig.5 . In this case. 6B. (Eq. 3) becomes ¦ 0 D . it can be anticipated that the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) will be satisﬁed along plane angles between 60º and 0º with respect to the horizontal when pore pressure is between zero . Mello.U. Note that this is the same result provided by 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis mentioned in Section 2. the plane direction along which M–C failure would occur). 3. pore pressure is always a minimum at the plane inclination given by the direction of the maximum principal stress and þ in Eq. respectively).
K f to K 0 /. lines 2 and 3. 6 and 7). ¦ 2. 11 Eqs. −. we now consider the compressional solution for the principal stresses. If pore pressure becomes high enough. This is seen also in Fig. 16 D compression) To determine: Direction of ¦ 1 Magnitude of ¦ 1 Magnitude of ¦ 2 − and ¦ n along slip-plane direction Â ½ ³ =2 solution obtained by applying the approach outlined in Table 2. However.82–0. Model for slope-failure mechanics With the additional effect of pore pressure on slipplane direction.5. signiﬁcant mass movement may not be triggered because M–C failure will occur along a slip plane that is at a relatively high angle in the reverse direction to the slope surface (Fig. because the potential for M–C failure appears to hinge on the magnitude of the stresses acting along the compressional slip-plane direction.. when ½ exceeds lesser values of 0. 6a. For k ranging from 1=3 to 1=2 . 8a. 7B). However. the sediment mass will essentially remain in place. Given that the basal slip surfaces for both the Humboldt Slide (Fig. 6b and 6c Eq. Application to Humboldt Slide and Cape Fear mudﬂow The preceding examples demonstrating the relationship between pore pressure and the plane direction along which the Coulomb failure criterion is satisﬁed correspond to the 2-D extensional solution for the principal stresses (Table 2). we can now develop a hypothesis for the relationship between M–C failure and frictional sliding due to gravity in mass movements.49 at this slip-plane angle. ½ varies from 0 to 0. signiﬁcantly enhancing the chances for mass movement. which is horizontal. In order to fail along the 2º plane (line 3 in Fig. and dimensionless pore pressure ratio involved in failing an inﬁnite slope Step: 1 2 3 4 5 Use: i. L. Â ½ þ . Eq. along which M–C failure will occur) is ¾27º counterclockwise with respect to the horizontal. However. This is because pore pressure not only reduces the shear resistance of the sediments to failure.9. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 Table 2 Method for estimating principal stresses. 2A) and Cape Fear mudﬂow (Fig. if pore pressure is increased. 7) is of particular interest. 5. this range (between plane angles of 0º and 2º. 2B). but it may open the possibility for Coulomb failure along a range of plane directions (Figs. movement of the failed sediments along the planes would be aided by gravity rather than working against it. Even if these compressive stresses are reached. a range of plane angles (along which Coulomb failure could occur) becomes possible in the compressional environment and they are oriented downslope. 7). Without a continuing force acting to move the failed sediments uphill along this slip plane.F.e.82–0. at sufﬁciently higher values of ½ (0. In a low-angle slope. 5. 7). 3 and Eq. slip-plane orientations. More interesting is the 0º plane (line 2 in Fig. we consider the case of an inﬁnite slope with a low inclination of 2º.96. the slip-plane inclination along which Coulomb failure criterion is ﬁrst satisﬁed (i. Mello. Applying the same analysis as before but for compression (Table 2). Furthermore.T. k ¦ 1. 12 (C D extension. 2A) and the Cape Fear mudﬂow (Fig. in Fig.9). which is the same value obtained using 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. Failure could occur along plane angles slightly steeper than this. respectively.4. 6B. then the chances the failed sediments will move as a slide or mass ﬂow down the slope begin to increase as well. 2B) are both oriented downslope but at a lower angle than the sea ﬂoor. which approximates the regional sea-ﬂoor slope in the vicinity of the Humboldt Slide (Fig.354 U. ½ must reach a near-lithostatic value of 0. If failure does occur . where the relationships converge on a lithostatic pore pressure when the slope inclination is 0º.94–0. ! ¦ 1. And once failure occurs. 8b and 8c Eqs. this range will include potential failure plane directions that are oriented downslope. ¦n In equation(s): Eq. relatively high compressive stresses are needed to cause M–C failure.
note that all the curves intersect at the slope inclination and ½ predicted by 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis.0 0.F.5 0. Compressional stress state: Effect of pore pressure on the orientation of the plane direction satisfying the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. L.T. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 355 A.6 0. At the point that mass movement is initiated. (C) Schematic of how slope failure could initiate along the horizontal plane (2). then the failed sediment mass can continue sliding downslope after the initial failure simply due to its weight. 7C). Compare with Fig.7 0.3 0.8 0.4 0.33 -25 -20 -15 -10 slip plane inclination (°) clockwise from horizontal -5 0 B. 1. Mello. Plane inclination is measured counterclockwise in degrees with respect to the horizontal.1 0. 7. . 3) in an inﬁnite slope inclined at 2º. 2C. Again.5 λ k = 0. 2 Compression at Failure Front Frictional Sliding along Basal Failure Plane Vertical Exaggeration 5:1 Fig. (A) Pore pressure (½) as a function of lateral stress ratio (k) and plane inclinations.0 1 1-D Infinite Slope Analysis Solution 2 3 φ = 30° i = 2° compressional environment k = 0. 3 2 1 Vertical Exaggeration 1:1 Extension along Headwall Failure Plane C. (B) Orientations of the compressional slip planes corresponding to values at points (1).U. the front of the failed sediment mass will be thrust from behind toward and onto the sea ﬂoor (Fig.9 0. (2) and (3) in A. along one of these planes.4 k = 0.2 0.
the mass movement as a whole will be characterized by compressional failure along a low-angle basal shear plane that intersects the sea ﬂoor.F. 1991. 537 pp. M.. 9. these will include planes that are oriented downslope...A.A. Whitman. Mello. P. N. Dillon. D. Coulomb failure along any of these planes will be abetted by gravity. 1985. 553 pp. As in the compressional environment.. Twichell. Mar. Schmuck. including the M–C failure slip plane (Fig.). (Eds.J. all the extensionalplane directions are oriented downslope at a steeper angle than the sea ﬂoor. Regardless of the plane angle along which extensional failure occurs.. Submarine slides. New York. The Cape Fear landslide: slope failure associated with salt diapirism and gas hydrate decomposition.. Rev. 14. the movement will reduce the stresses towards the rear of the sediment mass creating conditions for extensional failure to occur farther upslope (Fig. Soil Mechanics.. Orange and Breen. 7C). L. M. Lee. W. K. but at a lower angle than the slope surface. Prior. Pratson (ONR Grant No. Coakley. 1979. This pore pressure can be less than that needed to cause failure along a plane that parallels the slope surface. References Delinger. Geotechnol. Eng.J. Iverson. Terzaghi.. headless submarine canyons. Submarine Landslides: Selected Studies in the U.. Geol. Orange. 33–59..P..W. Parsons.).J. 1967. London. This implies that previous investigations of regional submarine slope stability that have used 1-D inﬁniteslope analysis (Prior and Suhayda. Gardner. 323–338. 2002.. U. J. Lambe.N.W. Seepage force..V. If the pore pressure is high enough. 168–172. Pratson.-U. The effects of ﬂuid escape on accretionary wedges. J. Domenico. G. R. H. 2C. 1992) may have overestimated the pore pressures that could cause slope failure. Cook.. Field. D. D. U.. Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology.. Nittrouer for his encouragement and detailed review of the manuscript. D. 425 pp. This is the same basic failure geometry observed for slides and mass ﬂows in Fig. Methuen. 3). Mohrig.F. 1998. New York.. S.. Surv. Principals of Structural Geology. D. 1999. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339–356 At the same time. a range of plane angles along which Coulomb failure could occur become possible. New York. Hutton. Jaeger. Parker. Special thanks are extended to J.L. Geol.W. Application of inﬁnite slope analysis to subaqueous sediment instability. Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice. Schwartz. E. R.. Breen. T. Studies of mass movements on continental slopes. 1–10.M. Wiley. Geophys.T.356 U. Limiting equilibrium and liquefaction potential in inﬁnite submarine slopes. J. the compressional state of stress in the lower part of a slope appears to dictate whether or not signiﬁcant mass movement will occur.. K. Exclusive Economic Zone. 1990. . Mello. IBM Research Report RC. 824 pp.S. B.E.. Suhayda. Geophys... Thus. Pratson. Acknowledgements This study was made possible by funding from the Ofﬁce of Naval Research for L. Res. 1996. M. Suppe. If the compressive stresses in this part of the slope are great enough to initiate failure. Wiley. H. 1979.B.B. R. W. N00014-97-1-0016). Locat. J. In: Schwab.P. L. Oceanography 9. a range of extensional failure-plane directions becomes possible when pore pressure is greater than that necessary to cause M–C failure. 7C). Garcia. 299–312.. NJ. as assumed in 1-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. slope failure. J. Popenoe. 6. S.. E. and to C. Choi.. 34. 1969. 154.T. Our analysis also suggests that if pore pressure becomes sufﬁciently high in a slope. H. Mar.. 1991. 1979. Parker. But unlike the compressional-plane directions. H. 593 pp. Peck. Mello... Hampton. Conclusions Based on our 2-D inﬁnite-slope analysis. Humboldt Slide — a large shear-dominated retrogressive slope failure.S. Prior. U. Israel.G. 97..C. Delinger and Iverson.V. Prentice-Hall..A... F.C. Geol.C. Bull. J. Englewood Cliffs... The manuscript also beneﬁted from the comments of G.. R. L. 2. 1993. Lee. Regional slope stability and slope-failure mechanics from the two-dimensional state of stress in an inﬁnite slope: mathematical formulation. 1992. Kravitz for supporting this work as part of STRATAFORM. Locat. and extensional failure farther upslope along a relatively high-angle headwall (Fig.A. J. Wiley. J.. and vents. 40–53. Mississippi Delta.B.F. 9277– 9295. then extensional failure can also ensue farther up the slope. 1996. Lee.. Martel. N. P. Lee and two anonymous reviewers.. Fundamentals of Rock Mechanics (3rd ed.