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MOB.NO. 9!!!"#$%"
In nature variety of soil exist with different properties. It is the cheapest and
readily available material of construction and is quite popular with civil
engineers, but it suffers from being poor in mechanical properties. There has
been considerable development in technologies to improve its mechanical
properties and one of such development is the concept of reinforced earth.
Paper gives a brief account of the principle of reinforced earth and the
work done in this field. The concept is relatively new but it s being practiced
from time immemorial in crude form. The paper will also cover the study of
basic mechanical properties of soil such as stress-strain behavior of soil in
triaxial test and soil reinforcement interface friction.
The paper includes a case study on the experimental work done for
determining the stress strain behavior of reinforced earth.

Earth, being the cheapest and readily available construction material has been popular
with the civil engineers, even though it suers rom being poor in mechanical properties!
It has been a posing challenge to civil engineers to improve its mechanical properties
depending upon re"uirements!
#mong the recent developments is the combination o earth and reinorcement termed
as reinorced earth! Reinorced earth is ormed by the association o rictional soil and
tension resistant elements in the orm o sheets, strips, nets or mats o metal, synthetic
abric or iber reinorced plastics and arranged in the soil in such a way as to reduce or
suppress the tensile strain which may develop under gravity or boundary orces! $ost o
granular soils are strong in compression and shear wea% in tension! The perormance o
such soils can be substantially improved by introducing reinorcing elements in the
directions o tensile strains in the same way o in reinorced concrete!
&oil reinorcement has been in vogue in crude rom since ancient times! No rational
studies to the use o reinorced soil had, however, been made till a 'rench engineer, (enri
)idal, published this investigations on soil reinorcement in *+,, and started the use o term
reinorced earth! 'ew new materials or techni"ues have aroused so much interest and
awareness among civil engineers in recent times as reinorced earth has done! The apparently
simple mechanism o reinorced earth and the economy in cost and time has made it instant
success with research wor%ers and ield engineers!
Reinorced earth possesses many novel characteristics which render it eminently
suitable or construction o engineering structures! In summary, it can be concluded that-
&oil reinorcement techni"ue results in!
*. # simple composite material, "uic% and easy to ma%e!
/. # le0ible material, able to with stand important damage!
1. # heavy material both rom the technical and architectural points o view and
2. #n economical materials
# simple method o e0plaining the concept o reinorced earth is by Ran%ine state o stress
theory! Is two dimensional element o cohesion less soil is sub3ected to unia0ial stress, it
will not be able to remain in e"uilibrium as the $ohr circle o stress will cut the strength
envelope o thee soil as shown ! 4'ig!*!*.
I the element is sub3ected to e"ual tria0ial stresses, it will undergo uniorm
compression! I one o the stresses 4say5*. increased while maintaining the other constant a
compression o element in the direction o 5* and an e0pansion in the direction o other stress
451. will result! 6hen the strain reaches the critical proportions, ailure o element results
similar to the ailure o a sample in tria0ial compression test and 5*, at that stage is related to
51 as
51 7 8a5* 4/!*.

FIGURE 1.1 asic !echanism of "einforced #arth

6here 8a is coeicient o active earth pressure! #t this instant the $ohr circle o stress is
tangential to the strength envelope! To hold the element without ailure9 the lateral stresses
must be increased! I reinorcement is provided in the direction 51 interaction between the
soil and reinorcement will generate rictional orces along the interace! Tensile stresses will
be produced in the reinorcement and a corresponding compression in the soil element, as
long as there is no slippage between the soil and reinorcement! It will be analogous to the
e0istence o a pair o plates which prevent lateral e0pansion o the soil element! The
additional lateral pressure will move the $ohr circle to the right and away rom the ailure
envelope and the soil element will remain in e"uilibrium!
The soil reinorcement riction is undamental to the concept o reinorced earth!
)idal 4*+:;. describes reinorced earth as a cohesive material! The cohesion is assumed to be
induced due to introduction o the reinorcement in an otherwise cohesion less soil! The
anisotropic cohesion is produced in the direction o reinorcement and the concept is based
on the behavior o tria0ial samples o reinorced earth! It has, however not been possible to
deine this cohesion in a way as to enable its use in the design o reinorced earth structures!
# dierent concept o the inluence o reinorcement on the behavior o reinorced
soil was has been advanced by <assett and =ast 4*+:;.! It is suggested that introduction o
reinorcement modiies the dilatancy character o soil with possible rotation o principle
strain directions! The concept is based on the act that i the soil redistricted, the shear
strength mobili>ed will be higher! The presence o reinorcement in soil imposes a condition
o redistricted dilatancy!
The act that reinorcement inluences the stress strain characteristics o soil and increases its
strength can be demonstrated by usual strength tests! $any research wor%ers have studied the
phenomenon o strength enhancement by sub3ecting reinorced soil samples to tria0ial
compression or plane strain loading! 'or this purpose, reinorced soil has been assumed to be
an e"uivalent homogeneous material and the stress strain and strength characteristics have
been investigated or samples o cohesion less soil reinorced with discs, rings or ibers o
dierent reinorcing materials!
=ong and ?ang 4*+:/. have been the pioneers in carrying out strength studies o the
reinorced earth! They have reported the results o tria0ial compression test on cylindrical
samples o sands containing thin hori>ontal sheets o tensile reinorcing material! ?ang used
woven iber glass netting and =ong used aluminum oils!
These studies concluded that!
*. &trength increases with increase in conining pressure
/. &trength o specimen increases with in crease in amount o reinorcement!
1. 'ailure o samples is due to rupture o reinorcement!
<oth investigators have concentrated there analysis on the portion o strength envelope
above critical conining pressure, where tensile ailure developed in reinorcement, ignoring
condition when ailure was governed by soil reinorcement sliding! <oth investigators
analy>ed the data in terms o single composite material and noted that within tie brea%ing
range, the strength envelope or un@reinorced sand and reinorced sand were parallel! <ut
both the investigators too% dierent paths in proposing a wor%ing hypothesis!
?ang suggested that the tensile stresses built up in hori>ontal reinorcing layers were
transerred to the soil through the sliding riction and caused an increase in conining
pressureA51! It ollows that
5* 7 451 B A

51. NC 4*!*.
5* 7 $a3or principle stress at ailure!
51 7 applied conining pressure on the specimen
NC 7 tan
42D B CE/ . when C is angle o internal riction or sand
&chlosser and =ong 4*+:/. interpreted the strength envelope or reinorced sand as that o
cohesive rictional $ohr@ Coulomb material with strength deined by

5* 7 51 NCB /c FNC 4*!/.
The additional strength A5* in e0cess o rictional strength o un@reinorced sand was
interpreted as eect o cohesion developed in the new composite material! 'or unit thic%
plane this can be e0pressed as-

c 7 RT F NC //n 4*!1.

FIGURE 1.2 $trength of "einforced $and $pecimens %&fter 'ang, ()*+,

FIGURE 1.3$trength of "einforced $and $pecimen %&fter $chlosser and -ong, ()*.,
RT 7 Tensile resistance o the reinorcing unit thic% section and
h 7 vertical spacing between ad3acent hori>ontal layer o reinorcement
Comparing 4*!*., 4*!/. and 4*!1. a direct relation between ?angGs 51 and
&chlosserGs c is
c 7 51F NC E / 4*!2.
Re arranging the coeicient in 4*!1. and 4*!2. leads to
51 7 RTEh 4*!D.
These hypotheses are both limited to condition where ailure occurs by
brea%ing rather than sliding or pull out ailure! &liding ailure is more diicult to under
stand because o uncertainties in basic soil reinorcing sliding or pull out properties! #lso
there approaches are limited to ailure conditions with no provision or deormation prior
to developing pea% strength o reinorcement!
The increase in conining pressure 51 was ound to be a unction o 51 and strength and
concentration o reinorcement! It was ound to increase linearly with 51 initially and then
become constant! The value o 51 at brea%ing point being called the e"uivalent critical
conining pressure! 'ailure due to slippage between soil and reinorcement was detected
or 51 values less than critical value o 51 and ailure due to rupture o reinorcement or
values greater than that! The value o 51 was constant or the later case! Thus the
increase in strength o reinorcement! &ample was attributed to increase in conining
pressure due to presence o reinorcement!
The stress strain characteristics or the two modes o ailure are dierent! The
rupture ailure mode is characteri>ed by a well deined pea% deviatoric stress at ailure
and reduced ailure strain as compared to the un@reinorced soil! The stress strain ailure
or the other ailure mode do e0hibit well deined pea%s and ailure strain indicate a
ductile behavior or the reinorced sample in much the same way as that o un@reinorced
samples! Obviously the strength in rupture ailure mode is governed by the tensile
strength o reinorcing elements, where as in slippage ailure mode it is a unction o
riction which develops at the soil reinorcement interace!
The mode o ailure has proound eect on the strength envelop o the reinorced
earth! Rupture ailure mode leads to strength envelope which is virtually parallel to that
o un@reinorced soil but e0hibits a cohesion intercept which is a unction o rupture
strength o sample and its distribution in the sample! &lippage ailure mode on the other
hand, leads to an increase in the riction angle C with little or no cohesion intercept!
To illustrate the eect o reinorcement on the strength parameters o soil
"uantitatively &aran and Talwar 4*+;1.
&aran and Talwar 4*+;1. conducted tria0ial compression test on sample o soil
reinorced with discs o dierent material as show in 'ig!1!1! The soil used was dry
Ranipur sand 4&H D*I 7 I!*1mm, Cu 7 *!;D.! The material or reinorcing was so chosen
that ailure could be achieved by rupture o reinorcement and by slippage between
reinorcement and soil! 'ollowing reinorcing materials were employed!
*. #luminum oil //Nm thic% 4RT71!1%NEm.
/. #luminum oil DI micron thic%4RT7:!D%Nlm.
1. 'iber glass cloth I!I; mm thic% 4RT7 *1!D%NEm.
2. #luminum sheet I!D mm thic% 4RT7:*8Nlm.
The reinorcements in the orm o discs o 1D mm diameter were used in ive beds! The
tests were perormed on sand at two densities namely *, 8Nlm
and *,!D 8Nlm
correspond to medium dense and dense states 4DR7 ,:!+ J and :+!D. the tests were
perormed at dierent conining pressures varying rom /I%NEm
to DII%NEm
! The
results obtained rom the study are listed!

FIGURE 1.4 Pattern of "einforcement in Triaxial $ample %Talwar, ()/(,
Tabl 1.1 Shear $trength Parameters of "einforced $and %Talwar, ()/(,
Type o sample
#ngle o
riction 4C.
$EDIU$ DEN&E &#ND, DR 7 ,:!+ J
* Un@reinorced *I 1;!D &hear
/ Reinorced with
# //Nm #l! oil *:I 1:!D Rupture
< DINm #l! oil *11 D1!I &lippage
as shown
2*I 1:!I Rupture
/.51 is
C 'iberglass cloth
I!I;mm thic%
*,, 2,!I Hartially
DEN&E &#ND, DR 7 :+!D J
* Un@reinorced *1!/ 2*!I &hear
/ Reinorced with
# //Nm #l! oil **; 2I!D Rupture
< DINm #l! oil ;I ,2!/ &lippage 51K*II 8NEm
C I!D mm #l sheet D; DI!I &lippage
The results got by Talwar are as shown in 'igure *!D

FIGURE 1.! $tress $train ehavior of "einforced and Plain $and %Talwar, ()/(,

FIGURE 1." $trength #nvelops of "einforced and Plain $and %Talwar, ()/(,
It is observed rom me two tables that at higher conining pressures mode o ailure changes
rom slippage to rupture! This is due to the act that dilation o sand is reduced at higher
conining pressures and so the tensile orce on the reinorcing disc is not much! This leads to
reduced rictional orce at soil reinorcement interace! (ence riction angle, C is not much
aected at higher coninement! <ut at higher coninement, strength gain is a conse"uence o
the utili>ation o tearing strength o the reinorcement since tearing strength is not a unction
o coninement! &trength o reinorced sample increases slowly with conining pressure
leading to reduced riction angle at high coninement! #lso it is observed that strength o soil
increased with increase in amount o reinorcement!

FIGURE 1.# !ohr0s #nvelope %Talwar, ()/(,
The riction between the earth and the reinorcement is an essential phenomenon in the
reinorced soil! The traction orces that develop with in the soil are transmitted to the
reinorcement by means o soil reinorcement interace riction! Due to this soil
reinorcement interaction, the composite material behaves i it posses, in the direction o the
reinorcement, a cohesion proportional to the resistance o the reinorcement to tension! The
mechanism o the development o interace riction between soil and the reinorcing element
is not very well understood!
In order to estimate the coeicient o soil reinorcement interace riction, normally one o
the two tests is perormed- i. tests using the direct shear bo0 with soil in one hal o the bo0
and the reinorcing material in the other hal, %nown as sliding shear test and ii. pull@out tests
on the reinorcement buried either within an emban%ment o soil or within a reinorced soil
wall! In sliding shear tests, sliding o soil mass over a stationary reinorcement ta%es place
and in the pull out tests, the reinorcement is pulled out o the stationary soil mass! 'rom the
mechanics point o view, the sliding test is a%in to %inetic or rolling riction condition, while
static riction condition prevails in pull out tests! (owever, the interaction mechanisms are
not so simple!

FIGURE 1.%- $oil !ovement in !obili1ation of Interfacial 2riction "esistance
In sliding shear tests, the soil movement is minimum at the interace as the movement o soil
is restrained by the reinorcement and increases with distance away rom it 4'ig!*!;a. where
as in the case o pull@out9 the soil movement at the interace is ma0imum, since the soil
resists the movement o reinorcement and reduces away rom it 4'i!*!;b.! the above relative
movements induce a near constant volume condition or pull@out tests and constant normal
stress condition or sliding shear tests! In the pull@out case, an increased eective normal
stress on the reinorcement is induced which is not monitored! 8eeping in view the relative
movements o soil and the reinorcement, it can be suggested that coeicient o apparent soil@
reinorcement riction, M obtained rom the pull@out tests should be used in case o
reinorced earth retaining walls, since at the time o riction ailure, the reinorcement is
pulled out o the stationary soil mass 4resisting >one.! In past many investigators have used
sliding shear bo0 to obtain the coeicient o the soil@reinorcement interacial riction! The
general conclusions derived rom their wor% are-
*. The coeicient o sliding riction between the soil and the reinorcement 4N.
Increases with increase in the unit weight o soil and roughness o the reinorcing
/. The angle o riction increases with increase in the density o sand! 'urther, it is
interesting to note that there is a signiicant eect o the direction along which the
reinorcement is placed!
1. #ngle o the interacial riction between the sand and reinorcement was
always less than the angle o internal riction o soil e0cept when the bamboo
strip grains were in transverse direction!
Hull out tests are perormed to obtain the value o coeicient o apparent soil reinorcement
riction, M! These tests may be perormed in a model or prototype! In theses tests reinorcing
strips are pulled out rom the wall and or each strip, a plot is made between the pull@out load
and the corresponding displacement! 'rom this plot ma0imum pull@out load is obtained! The
coeicient o apparent riction M is given by-
M 7 T//5v=6 4*!,.
6here T 7 $a0imum pull@out load
5v 7 Normal pressure intensity at the reinorcing strip level
7 OP B "
O 7 Unit weight o soil
P 7 Depth o the reinorcing strip below soil surace
" 7 Intensity o uniormly distributed surcharge on the soil surace
= 7 length o reinorcing strip
6 7 6idth o reinorcing strip
The coeicient, M given by e"uation *!, is a comple0 unction o number o parameters e!g!,
height o soil above the reinorcement, length and width o the reinorcing element, surace
condition o the reinorcement and the density o soil! &chlosser and Elias 4*+:;.
demonstrated that the principal actors aecting the M values or cohesion less soils are-
i. The density o emban%ment
ii. &tate o surace o the reinorcement ,and
iii. Normal pressure on the reinorcement
The shear stress generated along the reinorcement results in increasing the normal stress 5v!
<acot 4*+:;. e0plained this eect e0perimentally with the help o photometric techni"ue that
pull@out load acting on the embedded reinorcing strip induces shear displacements in the
>one o surrounding soil! &urace condition o the reinorcement signiicantly controls the
volume o the dilatant >one! In a compacted granular soil around the reinorcing strip, the
sheared >one tends to dilate but this volume change is restrained by the surrounding soil! This
resisting eect results in an increase in the normal stress on the reinorcement!
i. The reinorced soil behaves li%e a brittle material in rupture ailure and as ductile
material in riction ailure! The strain at ailure increases as the strength o
reinorcement increases!
ii. (ori>ontal reinorcement in a tria0ial test sample causes an increase in the
strength o sample which evolves as an increase in angle o riction when the
sample ails due to slippage between soil and the reinorcement and as apparent
cohesion when ailure is caused by rupture o reinorcement!
iii. #ngle o sliding shear,Q, is more or strips having rough surace 4bamboo.
incomparison to smooth surace strips 4aluminum.! =inear relation e0ists between
tanQEtanC 4R. and relative density 4Dp. where C is the angle o internal riction o
iv. The coeicient o soil@strip interace riction, M decreases with an increase in the
height o overburden and with reduced length o strip!
*!&#R#N,&!4/IID.- SEngineering #spects o Reinorced &oilT, Indian 3eotechnical 4ournal
)ol!1D, No!*,pp *@*II
/!N#R#IN, U! 4*+;D.- SReinorced EarthT, Indian 3eotechnical 4ournal, )ol!*D, pp *@/D
1!T#=6#R, D!)!,&#R#N, &! and &INV(, #! 4*+;:.- SReinorced Earth@Design Hrinciples
and #pplicationsT, 5urrent Practices in 3eotechnical #ngineering, International Overviews,
I&&N I/D1@D*//, )ol!2, pp DD@*II