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STB2006 - Manual

Arnold Verruijt, Delft, 2006

STB is a program for the analysis of stability of a slope, using Bishop's simplified method, with some
modifications introduced at GeoDelft and the Delft University. In this manual the various parts of the
program are described, together with the basic methods and the definitions of the parameters. The
manual can also be printed, by clicking the PRINT button of the screen 'Manual'.
The program can be downloaded free of charge from the internet, from the page <>.
Updated versions of the program will be announced on this page.
The program may be used, copied and distributed without limitation, provided that it is not modified in
any way.
No responsibility is accepted by the author or the distributor of the program for any errors or for losses
or damages incurred by using the program.
Figure 1 : Slope stability
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Bishop's method
In Bishop's method the safety factor of a slope is determined by comparing the moment of the weight of a
soil wedge about the center of a slip circle, with the resisting moment provided by the shear stresses
along the slip surface, see Figure 2.
Figure 2 : Bishop's method
The two moments are calculated by subdividing the sliding wedge into a large number of vertical slices.
It is assumed that on the vertical side planes of the slices only horizontal (normal) stresses are acting,
and no shear stresses, see Figure 3.
Figure 3 : Forces on a slice
The first basic equation is Coulomb's equation for the shear stress along the lower part of a slice,
where t is the shear stress, c is the cohesion, s is the total stress normal to the sliding plane, p is the
pore water pressure, phi is the angle of internal friction, and F is the safety factor.
The second basic equation is the equation of vertical equilibrium of a slice, which gives
where W is the (average) unit weight of the slice, h is its height, and alpha is the slope of the slip
surface at the slice considered.
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Equilibrium of moments with respect to the center of the circle leads to a formula from which the safety
factor can be calculated, iteratively.
The program STB2006 contains three refinements of Bishop's method.
1 - The first refinement is that care is taken that the direction of the shear stress along the slip
surface is always opposing the sliding mechanism. This is achieved by cutting off the value of alpha
at a minimum value of phi/2-pi/4. This refinement is due to A.W. Koppejan of GeoDelft.
2 - The second refinement is that the shearing resistance is reduced if the coefficient of neutral
horizontal stress is so small that slip would occur along a plane perpendicular to the slip surface,
combined with a local rotation, in agreement with a double sliding model, as suggested by G. de Josselin
de Jong. This refinement is effective only if the coefficient of neutral horizontal stress (Ko) is
smaller than 1.
3 - The third refinement is that it is possible to introduce a horizontal body force, away from the slope.
This may be used to simulate the stability of the slope during an earthquake. The horizontal forces acting
on the slices increases the moment of the weight of the slices with respect to the center of the slip
circle, thus reducing the stability factor.
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Slope stability problem
The slope is supposed to consist of a terrain in which the height at the right side is greater than the
height at the left side. It is assumed that the slope may fail by sliding along a circular slip plane, in
clockwise direction, see Figure 4.
2 3
Figure 4 : Slope stability problem
The program will calculate the safety factors for a number of slip circles, defined by centers located
in a quadrangular region (defined by the points 1,2,3 and 4), and passing through a given point 5. The
number of centers considered is always 100, filling the quadrangle 1234. The vertical coordinate of the
point 5 is always fixed. Its horizontal coordinate can be free or also fixed, as set by one of the options
of the program. It is the users responsibility to vary the location of the fixed point 5 so that the smallest
safety factor is obtained.
The soil is subdivided into polygonal areas of constant properties, and the (ground) water table is
defined as the surface of a water polygon. All geometries are described by fixed points, 6,7,8, etc.
A problem can be defined by starting from the default dataset (also contained in the file Demo.stb), and
then editing the data, by moving nodes, adding new nodes and lines, and modifying soil properties. This
will be explained in the description of the features of the program.
The data of a problem consist of :
- General data, such as the name of the problem.
- Nodes data, describing the geometry.
- Soils data, describing the properties of soil polygons.
- Circles data, describing the potential slip circles.
General data
The general data of a problem are :
- Licensed User : Identification of the user. Printed on all output.
- File Name : Name of the datafile on disk. All files are of the type *.stb.
- Problem Name : Identification of the problem. Printed on all output.
- Number of Slices : Number of slices in the subdivision of the sliding wedge, as used in the solution
procedure (minimum 100, maximum 10000).
- Relative Horizontal Force : The ratio of the horizontal component of the gravity force to the
vertical component (minimum 0, maximum 1). This enables to estimate the stability factor during an
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The geometry of the problem is described by the coordinates of a number of characteristic points, the
nodes :
- The nodes 1,2,3 and 4 define the rectangle from which the centers of the slip circles are chosen.
- Node 5 is a given point on the slip circle.
- The nodes 6,7,8, etc. are used to define the geometry of the soil polygons and the (ground) water
polygon. The maximum number of nodes is 1000.
By definition, the lower left point in the geometry always has coordinates x=0 and y=0. During the editing
of a problem the size of a problem area may be modified. In that case the coordinates will be adjusted by
the program to ensure that the left side boundary is reset to x=0, and the lower boundary to y=0.
The coordinates of nodes can be modified in two ways :
- In the screen 'Nodes', which can be activated from the main screen by clicking the button 'Nodes',
the coordinates can be edited manually.
- In the screen 'Figure', which can be activated from the main screen by clicking the button 'Figure',
a node may be dragged to a new location, if the button 'Drag Node' has been clicked.
A new node can be created, on a line between two existing nodes, by first clicking the button 'New Node',
and then clicking on the desired location of the new node. This node can be dragged to a new location
later. New nodes may also be created, and dragged, on the groundwater table.
In Figure 5 a new node has been created between the nodes 11 and 14. The number 17 is assigned by
the program.
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Lines between nodes define polygons of soil. In each polygon the soil properties are constant. The
maximum number of polygons is 100, and the maximum number of nodes on a polygon boundary is 50.
A new line can be created, in the screen 'Figure', by first clicking the button 'New Line', then
clicking on a first node, and dragging the cursor to the second node of the new line, with the left
mouse button down. This results in a polygon being separated into two. Initially the properties in
these two polygons are equal, but they may be edited later.
In Figure 6 a new line has been created by connecting nodes 12 and 17. The polygon 2 is subdivided into
two parts : now numbered 2 and 3.
12 13
14 17
2 3
Figure 6 : Creating a new line
Soil properties
The soil properties can be edited on the screen 'Soils', which can be activated by clicking the button
'Soils' on the main screen. The soil properties are :
- Wd : Dry unit weight (kN/m?.
- Ws : Saturated unit weight (kN/m?.
- Ko : Coefficient of neutral horizontal stress (-).
- c : Cohesion (kN/m?.
- phi : Angle of internal friction (degrees).
- P/F : Switch for the groundwater condition (-).
- p=0 : Zero level of the pore water pressures (m).
- cap : Thickness of capillary zone, above groundwater table (m).
The unit weight of water is 10 kN/m?
If Ko < 1 the program may reduce the shear strength on the slip surface by considering the
possibility of local sliding in a thin zone along planes perpendicular to the slip surface, combined
with a rotation.
The value of the switch P/F may be P or F. P indicates phreatic water : the pore pressures are
determined by the location of the groundwater table (p=0 on the groundwater table). F indicates
a fixed water level : the pore pressures are determined by the given level at which p=0 (constant
in a polygon).
The value of the parameter p=0 indicates the zero level of the pore pressures (m). It applies only
if P/F = F.
The value of the parameter cap is the thickness of the capillary zone above the groundwater
table (m). In the capillary zone the pore pressures are negative.
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Graphics Editor
The screen 'Figure', which can be activated by clicking the button 'Figure' on the main screen, shows the
slope, the mesh of centers and a slip circle.
10 11
12 13
15 16
2 3
2 3
Figure 7 : Problem data
The geometry can be modified by using the editing keys. Their function is :
- New Node : create a new node on an existing line by moving the cursor to the desired position,
and then clicking the left mouse button.
- New Line : create a new line between two existing nodes, by clicking on the first node, and then
dragging the cursor to the second node with the left mouse button down.
- Drag node : drag a node to a new position with the left mouse button down.
- Zoom out : zoom out of the figure, by 10 %.
- Zoom in : zoom in to the figure, by 10 %.
- Increase width : move end nodes outward in horizontal direction by 10 %.
- Reduce width : move end nodes inward in horizontal direction by 10 %, if possible.
- Polygon numbers : show numbers of soil polygons.
- Node numbers : show numbers of all nodes.
- Stress distribution : show distribution of total vertical stress and (pore) water pressure
along a vertical line.
- Move left : move vertical line with stress distribution to the left.
- Move right : move vertical line with stress distribution to the right.
- Calculate : perform calculations to determine safety factors.
When a window with x- and y-values of a node is shown, the coordinates of that node may also
be entered numerically.
It is suggested that the input data of any problem are verified frequently by showing the stresses
along vertical lines throughout the figure. Input errors can easily be spotted by this feature.
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The following options can be activated when the 'Options' menu is activated, by clicking the button
'Options' on the main screen :
- Fixed point : Switch to fix both the horizontal and vertical coordinates of node 5, a point on the
slip circle. If this option is off, only the vertical position of node 5 is fixed, as the deepest point
of the slip circles, indicating that all slip circles reach to the same depth.
- Print General data : Print all general data on output.
- Print Input data : Print all input data of nodes and polygons on output.
- Print Figure : Print a figure on output, showing the nodes and polygons.
- Print Output data : Print all safety factors calculated, and the smallest value.
- Print Colors : Use colors in graphics output, when available on the printer.
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As a validation of the program, the results for some test problems may be compared with solutions
known from literature.
Test 1
Figure 8 : Test 1
The datafile Test1.stb contains data for the problem of a vertical cut-off in a purely cohesive material,
see Figure 8. It was shown by Fellenius [1927] that the safety factor for circular slip surfaces for this
case is 1.00, if the height of the cut-off is 3.83*c/w, where c is the cohesion of the material, and w is
its unit weight. The data in the file Test1.stb have been chosen such that this result can be verified.
When the program is run using this dataset, the result will indeed be close to 1.00.
In this example the material 2 has a cohesion c = 10 kN/m? and a unit weight w = 10 kN/m? and the
height of the vertical slope in this material is 3.83 m. The properties of the material 1 are irrelevant
in this case.
Test 2
Figure 9 : Test 2
The second test problem is a slope of inclination 45? in a cohesion-less material, having an angle of
internal friction phi = 45? see Figure 9. For such a slope a shallow slip circle, which will follow the
slope closely, should give a safety factor equal to 1.00 (see e.g. Lambe and Whitman [1969]). Using
the datafile Test2.stb the results obtained with the program appear to be indeed very close to 1.00.
It can be verified that if the water table is so high that the slip surface is completely under water, the
safety factor is also very close to 1.00, as it should be.
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Test 3
Figure 10 : Test 3
The third test concerns Prandtl's problem of the bearing capacity of a weightless cohesive soil, with a
horizontal surface, carrying a strip load, see Figure 10. The theoretical solution of this problem is that
the bearing capacity is (pi+2)*c = 5.14*c, where c is the cohesion of the material.
The datafile Test3 contains data for this problem. The surcharge is modeled by a thin and very heavy
layer of zero strength. The safety factor should be 1.000, but is found to be 1.074 (using 10000 slices).
Actually, this is in perfect agreement with the theoretical analysis, if circular slip surfaces are
considered only, which leads to a bearing capacity of 5.52*c. This is a factor 1.074 greater than
Prandtl's solution, which involves a more complex failure mechanism.
A.W. Bishop, The use of the slip circle in the stability analysis of earth slopes, Gtechnique 5, 1955.
W. Fellenius, Erdstatische Berechnungen, Ernst, Berlin, 1927.
T.W. Lambe and R.V. Whitman, Soil Mechanics, Wiley, New York, 1969.
A. Verruijt, Computational Geomechanics, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1995.