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IRC: 75-1979



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1RC: 75-1979

First published: October, 1979

Reprinted February, 2000

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These guidelines have been prepared to assist technical person-

nel in the highway engineering profession possessing a basic know-
ledge of Soil Mechanics to solve normal problems of embankment
design and to identify problems which will call for services of soil
specialists. These will be of special interest and use to engineers
who have to build road embankments in routine circumstances.
The guidelines deal with a wide spectrum of issues including
general design considerations, sub-surface and borrow, area investi-
gations, laboratory testing, stability analysis, settlement computa-
tion, quality control, construction alternatives etc. Detailed design
procedures easily available in text books are however not repeated.
Basically earth embankments are covered, and not embankments
consisting of rock fill or soil-grave mixtures.
The guidelines were drafted initially by a Subcommittee of the
Soil Engineering Committee, consisting of Shri IS. Marya (Chair-
man), Dr. R.K. Bhandari, Prof. Shashi K. Gulhati, Shri J.B.
Mathur, Shri T.K. Natarajan and Shri N. Sen. Their valuable
contribution is gratefully acknowledged. Composition of the Soil
Engineering Committee is given overleaf.
Final editing of the manuscript was done by a Working Group
of the Specifications and Standards Committee, consisting of S1Shri
E.C. Chandrasekharan, T.K. Natarajan and R.P. Sikka with asssist-
ance from Shri J.B. Mathur.
The draft guidelines were approved by the Specifications
and Standards Committee in their meeting held at New Delhi on
the 6th November, 1978 and then by the Executive Committee in
their meeting held at New Delhi on the 3rd January, 1979. Later
these were approved by the Council of the Indian Roads Congress
in their 94th meeting held at Bangalore on the 19th January 1979.


J.S. Marya Convenor

T.K. Natarajan Member~~Secretary

Rep. of D.G.B.R. (D.S.N. Ayyar) G.L. Kumar

I)r. R.K. Bhandari Mahabir Prasad
TN. Bhargava M.R. Malya
E.C. Chandrasekharan H.C. Maihotra
M.K. Chatterjee Prof. SR. Mebra
AK. Deb Dr. V.N.S. Murthy
Dr. C.R. Gangopadhyaya A.R. Satyanarayana Rao
Y,C. Gokhale N. Sen
P~of.S.K. Guihati Ashok C. Shah
H.D, Gupta Dr. Shamsher Prakash
SN. Gupta R.C. Sharma
Brig. Harish Chandra R.P. Sinha
t)r CF G. Justo R. Thillainayagam
I R .l~.Katti Dr. l.S. Uppal
Dir., Highway Res. Station, Madras
I,~,i KN~han
(C. Thandapani)

~IIie Director General (Road Development)

& i\dcIl. Sccretary to the Govt. of India(Ex-Officio)


Notations x to xii

I. General Considerations ...

1.1. Introduction ... 3

1.2. Scope of the Guidelines ... 3
1.3. Need for Vigilance at the Planning Stage ... 4
1.4. General Considerations in Design ... 5
1.5. Engineering Considerations in Design ... 5
1.6. Economic Considerations in Design ... 8
1 .7. Determination of Soil Properties for Design ... 8

2. Soil Investigations ... 9

.2.1. Purpose of Site Investigations ... 11
2.2. Field Investigation Programme ... 11
2.2.2. Reconnaissance~ ... 11
2.2.3. Preliminary explorations ... 12
2.2.4. Detailed explorations ... 14
2.2.5. In-place shear test-vane shear test ... 15
2.2.6. Standard penetration test (S.P.T.) ... 15
2.2.7. Field investigation of embankment
material ... 16
2.3. Laboratory Investigations of Sub-surface
Material ... 16
2.3.2. Unconsolidated undrained triaxial test ... 17
2.3.3. Consolidated undrained triaxial test ... 18
2.3.4. Unconfined compression test ... 19
2.3.5. Laboratory vane-shear test , ... 19
2.3.6. Consolidation test ... 19
2.4. Laboratory Investigations of Embankment
Material ... 20
2.5. Reporting and Presentation of Data ... 21

Appendix 2.1Requirements for Adequate Sqil

Description ... 25
Appendix 2.2Important Instructions for Obtaining
Undisturbed Samples 28


3. Stability Analysis ... 31

3.1. General ... 33
3.2. Types of Failure ... 34
3.2.2. Sliding of cohesionles.~material ... 34
3.2.3. Rotational failure ... 34
3.2.4. Planar and composite failures .. 35
3.2.5. Failure by sinking ... 35
3.2.6. Plastic squeezing of foundation soil ... 36
3.2.7. Li4uefaction ... 36
3.3. Some Basic Considerations of Design ... 36
3.3.2. Total and effective stress methods ... 37
3.3.3. Short-term and long-term conditions ... 39
3.3.4. Factor of safety ... 39
3.3.5. Other factors ... 41
3.4. Procedure of Stability Analysis ... 41
3.4.3. Stability of cohesionless slopes ... 42
3.5. Slip Circle Analysis for Cohesive Soil Slopes ... 43
3.5.2. Taylors method ... 44
3.5.3. Swedish slip circle method ,. 44
3.5.4. Bishops method ... 47
3.5.5. Chart solutions for analysis ... 53
3.5.6. Miscellaneous hints about slip circle
analysis ... 56 Locating the centre of critical circle ... 56 Number of slices ... 57 Tension cracks ... 57
3.6. Stability Analysis for other Modes of Failure ... 57
3.6.1. Planar and composite failure ... 57
3.6.2. Sliding block method ... 61
3.6.3. Failure by sinking ... 62
3.6.4. Plastic squeezing of the foundation stratum ... 62
3.6.5. Failure by liquefaction ... 63
3.6.6. Design against seismic forces .. 65
3.7. Analysis of Remedial Measures in Case of
Failures 65
3.7.2. External support 66
3.7.3. Removal of material likely to slip 67
3.7.4. Improvement of soil properties 67
3.7.5. Proper drainage 67

Part B

Typical Examples of Embankment Stability

Analysis ... 68
4. Settlement Analysis ...

4.1. General ... 97

4.2. Settlement Analysis ... 98
4.3. Consolidation of Sub-soil ... 99
4.3.3. Consolidation settlements ... 99
4.3.8. Rate of consolidation settlement ... 102
4.3.10. Seconr~arycompression ... 102
4.3.12. Settlements due to creep ... 105
4.4. Determination of Stresses v~ithinthe
Foundation for Settlement Analysis ... 107
4.5. Consolidation Settlements vis-a-vis the Loading... 108
4.f~. Tolerable Settlements ... 108
4.7. Measures to Limit or Expedite Settlement ... 111
4.7.2. Use of light weight materials for
embankment construction ... 112
4.7.3. Partial or total removal of undesirable
material ... 112
4.7.4. Use of stage construclionsurcharge fill ... 112
4.7.5. Use of sand drains ... 114
4.7.6. Ot~iertechniques ... 114
4.8. Special Precautions at Bridge Approaches ... 114
4.9. Worked out Examples ... 115
5. Soir ~ Soil Mechanics ~onsidera(~ons in the
Placement of Fill ... 123
1icement Vaitbles ... 125
5.1. P
5.2. Soil Prccessing ... 126
5.3. Minimum Compaction ... 127
5.4. Engineering Behaviour ... 129
5.5. To Compact Diy or Wet ... 129
5.6. Rate of Constiuction ... 131
6. Fkld Controls and Observational Method of
Embankment D~i~9 ... 133
6.1. Quality Control ... 135
6.2. Field Ob~rvalions/Ins1rument~tion ... 136
6.3. Observational Method of Embankment
Design a~dConstruction ... 145
7. Peure/Avkno~?edgtmen~s 147

~omenc1ature as recommended by the International Society of

Soil Mechanics & Foundation Engineering has been observed in this
publication as far as possible. Symbols and what they represent
is given below:

I. General
,e ,\cceleration due to gravity
r Volume
It Weight
ii Nloinent

I Factor of Safety

2. Stress and Strain

p Pore pressure
~,, Normal stress
a~ Effective normal stress
Shear stress
v Poisson ratio
e Linear strain

3. Soil Properties

(a) Unit weight

y Unit weight of soil
Unit weight of water
yj Unit weight of dry soil
or y~ Unit weight of submerged soil
G or ~ Specific gravity of solid particles
e Void ratio
a Porosity
w Water content
Sr Degree of saturation
i Angle of slope with horizontal/hydraulic gradient

(b) Consistency
WLLL Liquid limit
Wp/PL Plastic limit
I,,Pt Plasticity index

(C) Permeability
K Coefficient of permeability
q Rate of flow per unit area
v Velocity of flow
i Seepage force

(d) Consolidation
C~ Compression index
C~, Coefficient of consolidation
rn~ Coefficient (or modulus) of volume change
Consolidation time
Tu Time factor
U Degree of consolidation/Pore pressure force
C Coefficient of secondary compression
av Coefficient of compressibility

(e) Shearing Strength

UU Unconsolidated undrained test
U (Jnconflned compression test
CD Consolidated drained test
CU Consolidated undrained test
NC Normally consolidated
OC Over consolidated
C Cohesion
Friction angle
c Cohesion intercept based on effective stresses
~ Angle of shearing resistance based on effective stresses
CuS~ Undrained shear strength (total stress parameter)
4~ Unconsolidated undrained shear strength
~ Consolidated undrained triaxial shear strength
Undrained angle of shearing resistance/total stress parameter
~ Unconsolidated undrained angle ofshearing resistance
~ Consolidated undrained angle of shearing resistance
ii~ Initial value of pore water pressure
U Pore water force
u Pore water pressure at any time
fu A dimensionless factor defined as u/y h where It is the depth of the
point in the soil mass below the soil surface, and y denotes the
bulk density of soil
~u Incremental pore water pressure
L~at Incremental total major principal stress
~ Incremental total minor principal stress
N Total normal pressure
N Effective normal pressure
A and B Skemptons pore pressure parameters A depends on soil type and
stress history of the sample and B depends on the change in pore
pressure ~r unit change of all round pressuic
B Change in pore pressure per unit change of major principal stress
W Total weight of the slice of soil within a given failure surface
Wb Base width of embankment
b Width of a slice
PA Active pressue on a plane
Pp Passive pressure ona plane
Jo Correction factor in Janbus Method
~_.__. flow factor
P lsln#

General Considerations 1



1.1. Introduction
Construction of earth embankments for engineering purposes
is as old as civilisation itself. Until the advent of soil mechanics,
the design and construction of embankments was more an art than
a science. Experience, intuition and engineering judgement no
doubt continue to play important part in the design of embankments,
but developments in soil mchanics have provided a framework
through which one can approach the subject in a rational manner.
In recent years, demands on the performance of earth structures
have become more exacting. Embankrnents are required to be
constructed on poor foundation materials with a wide variety of
soils, and to considerable heights. This has been rendered possible
only on account of advancements in soil mechanics which have
provided the means for quantitative analyses and rational designs.

1.2. Scope of the Guidelines

1.2.1. Most problems of embankmen4 construction and
design can be divided into three categories:
(a) Routine cases such as embankments constructed over firm
or reasonably favourable ground, using sand, gravel and
other suitable materials.
(b) Special cases where the troublesome ground extends over
a limited length; soft foundation layers exist for a shallow
depth; or the embankment material is relatively unfavour-
able such as silts or clays.
(c) Exceptional cases in which embankments are routed over
long distances on marine clays, tidal swamps, peats,
creeks etc., where drainage conditions could be critical
in causing instability, and post-construction settlements
might assume serious proportions.
4 General Considerations
1.2.2. The guidelines deal primarily with problems in the
first two categories. As far as cases under the third category are
concerned, the coverage is limited merely to pointing out the
circumstances under which the highway designer should seek the
help of specialists, or a specialist organisation, to find the most
economical solution.

1.3. Need for Vigilance at the Planning Stage

1.3.1. It is essential that the highway designer should visualise
the possible problems in embankment construction at the stage of
preliminary location survey itself. Otherwise, the entire road
project may get bogged down for want of a stable embankment.
The designer must provide adequate lead time for the purpose of
field explorations, laboratory testing and stability analysis. Since
relatively long period is required to complete sub-soil investigations,
it will generally be desirable to include foundation investigations as
part of the preliminary survey itself. This is also necessary as a
properly designed embankment may require additional land acquisi-
tion and some waiting period for completion of the consolidation.
If these possibilities are not foreseen in advance, a serious delay in
completion could result. In rural locations, identification of
problematic areas in early stages may even enable relocation of the
alignment to a firmer ground.

1.3.2. When designing a highway embankment over difficult

foundation conditions, the designer could choose one of the several
(a) elevated viaduct
(1,) embankment fill supported on piles
(c) excavation and replacement of sub-soil
(d) sub-soil stabilisation
(e) stage construction
(f) construction of embankment with berms
(g) relocation of alignment
(h) displacement of weak sub-soil by surcharge weight or
blasting, and
(i) use of light weight material such as cinder for embank-
ment construction.
General Considerations 6
Desirably the different alternatives should be evaluated objectively
at the planning stage itself keeping in view the construction and
maintenance costs, ecological and environmental effects, time avail-
able for construction, availability of fill soil and the right-of-way
limitations. This can be possible only if the initial investigations
recognise the various possibilities and consider all the pros and
cons before an irrevocable decision has been taken about the final
route alignment.

1.4. General Considerations in Design

1.4.1. Failure of embankments generally takes place by one
of the following modes:
(I) Slip circle failure through the slope or through slope and
(ii) Block sliding over a weak soil strata in the foundation;
(iii) Plastic squeezing and/or creep of foundation soils;
(iv) Excessive and uneven settlement of embankment and
foundation soil; and
(v) Erosion of embankment.

1.4.2. No design can be considered complete unless safety

against failure by all the above modes is ensured. However,
before actually embarking on design of the embankment, a designer
must give consideration to other factors as well. Main among
these are the engineering and economic considerations involved
in design.

1.5. Engineering Considerations in Design

1.5.1. Each earth embankment is unique by itself since
engineering considerations which determine the design of embank-
ment are different for each situation. For example, embankments
resljng on hard or favourable ground need to be analysed essentially
for slope failure or compression within the fill. On the other hand,
embankments resting on soft ground have to be analysed not merely
for slope stability and compression within the body of the embank-
ment, but also for base stability and excessive settlements.
6 General Considerations
1.5.2. Some of the specific engineering considerations are:

(i) Foundation conditions

Foundation conditions are different at every site. The
nature of the foundation material has a significant influence
on the design of the embankment. For example, a soft
foundation soil demands that it should be subjected to
low stresses, or if high stresses are unavoidable these
must be imposed slowly so as not to produce instability in
the foundation. Moreover, the structure must be designed
to withstand the expected settlements.
In actual practice, a wide range of sub.soil conditions
may be encountered in the foundation which will have a
bearing on the method of construction and design. For
example, if a thick layer of weak clay is sandwiched
between stronger layers, a wedge failure across the weak
layer will be more likely and design procedure must be
tailored accordingly. An inclined hard stratum at shallow
depth may indicate slippage along the stratum slope.
It is, titerefore, essential that the soil profile below a
proposed embankment should be investigated carefully
and the physical and engineering properties of the sub-
1or laboratory tests.
soil determined properly by in-situ ar
Properties of major concern are permeability, compressi-
bility and shear strength. Chapter 2 discusses the
essential sub-soil investigations required for stability

(ii) Materials available at site

An earth embankment, like all civil engineering
structures, is founded on soil. But there is a difference,
here the structure also consists of soil. While building
embankments, one is forced for economic reasons to use
soil available near the site. But by controlling the manner
of its placement, it may be possible to some extent to
improve the soil properties suiting the design requirements.
By controlling the placement variables, one can within
limits design the construction material. The variables
that the designer can control are the water content of soil
General Considerations 7
at compaction, the amount of compaction, rate of loading
and type of compaction. Choice of placement variables
determines the density and structure of the compacted
soil, and this in turn determines the engineering properties
of the compacted soil.
Soil as a fill material may be classified into three
categories (i) cohes. .e soils (ii) cohesionless or frictional
soils, and (iii) cohesive-frictional s;oils. Each of these
materials behaves differently and t~iemode of failure of
slopes is also different. A slope formed of a cohesionless
material like dry sand will stand to any height at an angle
equal to the angle of internal friction, the stability being
independent of the weight of the material. The mode of
failure in such cases is invariably slippage in wedge or
erosion due to water or wind. In cohesive or cohesive-fric-
tional soils, failure is generally along a slip surface which
is circular or spiral in shape and stability is analysed
inter-alia by slip circle method. As such the properties to
be determined during investigation and the method of
analysis will depend greatly on the type of material to be

(iii) Climatic conditions

Climatic conditions determine the natural water content
of th soils in the borrow areas; they also often determine
the construction procedures and schedule.

(iv) Nature of loads

Nature of loads is different for each project. There are
differences in terms of magnitude or kind. Of the latter,
for example, at some site loads due to earthquake may be
important, at another site only dead load may be

(v) Acceptable performance criteria

Acceptable performance criteria vary. For exam~lc,
allowable settlements for an embankment which is t~
support a National Highway may differ as comparsd t
that which is to carry a Village Road.
8 General Consider~tions
(vi) Time available for construction
Time schedule tbr completion of the embankment could
act as a serious constraint for design. For instance, if more
time is available, the policy of stage construction could be
considered and comparatively weaker soils relied upon to
form the embankment.

1.6. Economic Considerations in Design

The significance of a project in terms of utility to the society
determines its economic importance. An important project in rela-
tion to a less important one, must satisfy more stringent per-
formance requirements.. It is also designed to withstand more severe
loading conditions and the design is preceded by more intensive field
investigations and analysis. The economic significance of the project
thus influences the design in terms of greater care exercised during
investigation and execution, which may be thought of as prohibiti-
vely costly in the case of a less important project.
1 .7. Determination of Soil Properties for Design
In order to design the embankment, one must have information
about physical and engineering properties of soils in the foundation
as well as body of the embankment. This requires soil samples being
taken from the foundation and borrow areas and testing them in the
laboratory. ~The tests to be conducted and the objectives of such
tests are described in Chapter 2.

Soil Investigations 9



2.1. Purpose of Site Investigations

The design of embankment cannot be made in an intelligent
and satisfactory manner unless the designer has reasonably accurate
conception of the geotechnical properties of the soils involved. The
field and laboratory investigations required to obtain this essential
in formation constitute the site investigation.

2.2. Field Investigation Programme

2.2.1. Field investigation of sub-surface has usually three
(i) reconnaissance;
(ii) preliminary explorations; and
(iii) detailed explorations.

2.2.2. Reconnaissance Reconnaissance includes a review of available topo-
graphic and geological information, aerial photographs and data
from previous investigations and site examination. Geophysical
methods could also be adopted for getting some idea about location
of boundaries of various types of strata.

2.2,2.2. For the purpose of site examination, knowledge of

geology is essential. The more thoroughly the geology of the site is
understood, the more efficiently can the programme for soil explora-
tion be laid out. Most natural soil deposits represent one of the
following principal types: river channel deposits, flood plain depo-
sits, delta deposits, shore deposits, glacial deposits, wind-laid depo-
sits (dune sand or bess), deposits formed by sedimentation in stand-
ing water and residual soils formed in place by weathering. The
only ones likely to have a fairly regular structure are the flood plain
12 Soil Investigations
s:~nds,wind-laid deposits and those formed in large bodies of stand-
rig water at a considerable distance from the shore. All the others
are likely to be distinguished by important and erratic variations.
~. Preliminary explorations
Preliminary exploration is carried out for determin-
trig the ~il profIle showing the boundaries between the different soil
types an~between loose and dense parts in the same type of depo-
sits--exampk at Fig. 2.1. For this purpose, as a first step, a suitable
type of suh.airfaee sounding (e.g. static or dynamic cone penetra-
tion test) may he carried out. As many soundings as necessary
should he made, until the penetration data are complete enough to
leave no doubt concerning the general shape and the trend of the
boundaries of the various soil deposits. Exploratory drill holes
should then he made at one or two locations where average condition
prevails and near those few points where the penetration diagrams
indicate maximum deviations from the average.
2.2.3,2. The depth of exploration should include all strata
likely to affect stability of the embankment and/or cause undersirable
settlement. In general, the requirement of settlement governs the
depth of exploration. This is evident from the fact that for a 9 metre
high embankment on marshy ground, even a 3 metre thick layer of
clay strata situated at a depth of 57 metre where stress increment
due to the embankment load is 20 per cent of the effective over-
burden pressure gives rise to settlement of 15.7 cm, when the initial
void ratio and compression index of the strata are both equal to 2.0,
a figure which may not be unusual. But decision to go beyond the
depth of 30 metre will have to be made after careful consideration of
the necessity and the equipment available for boring. Even if it is
decided not to bore deeper than 30 metre, the results of cone pene-
tration or geophysical tests coupled with local experience may still
help the designer to get an idea about the thickness and characteris-
tics of any soft strata below 30 metre depth for the purpose of rough
estimation of settlement in those layers. However, borings can be
terminated at shallower depths when firm strata or bed rock is
encountered. In order to ensure that a firm strata is sufficiently
thick, the boring should extend 3 metre into the firm strata. For proper identification of sub-surface material, sam-
ple should be recovered containing all the constituents of the
14 Soil Investigations

materials in their proper proportion. In clayey deposits such samples

could be collected by split spoon samplers. In the case of sandy
deposits, sampling spoons have to be fitted with suitable devices for
retaining samples. All data required for soil identification
(Appendix 2.1) should be collected from the samples so extracted
when undisturbed samples which are more desirable for some of the
data are not available. Penetration test should be carried out with
the standard split-spoon sampler or penetrometers if thesoil is coarse
grained. When it is known in advance that the soil profile is fairly
regular, preliminary and detailed investigation may be combined and
tube samplers used in place of split spoon samplers for collecting
samples in clayey strata.

2.2.4. Detailed explorations One purpose of detailed exploration is to ascertain
the average strength of the strata for stability analysis. The other
purpose is to ascertain the compressibility of the clayey strata. It is,
therefore, necessary that detailed and well illustrated description of
the characteristics of the stratification should be prepared. It is
difficult to lay any guideline for determination of locations of bore
holes for collection of undisturbed samples. After the general shape
and trend of the boundaries of the various soil deposits have been
determined and a rough assessment of their strength has been made
by sub-surface sounding along with or without sampling in explora-
tory boring, the designer shall decide the location of bore hole for
undisturbed sampling after taking into consideration the height of
the embankment at various locations. At least one representative
undisturbed sample should be collected from each strata. When the
homogeneous strata is very thick, one representative sample should
be collected for each 3 m thickness of the strata. In case of
erratic soil profile, continuous tube samples should be collected
from within the claycy strata; continuous sample is particularly
important if the presence of seams of fine sand or coarse silt are
anticipated. For procedure of obtaining undisturbed samples refe-

rence may be made to the publications on the subject. A very good
reference in this connection is Sub-surface exploration and sampling
of soils for civil engineering purposes by M.O. Hvorslev (1948),
Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Miss, U.S.A. However,
Soil Investigations 15
some important instructions in this regard are included in
Appendix 2.2. The field records for the preliminary and detailed

exploration should contain the date when the boring was made, the
location of theboring with reference to a permanent system of co-
ordinates and the elevation of the ground surface with respect to a
permanent bench mark. They should include elevation at which the
water table and the upper boundary of each of the successive soil
strata were encountered, the investigators classification of the layer
on the basis of general information obtained from field examination
(App. 2.1) and the value of the resistance obtained by means of stan-
dard penetration test. The type of tools used for borings should be
recorded. If the tools were changed, the depth at which the change
was made and the reason thereof should also be noted. Incomplete
and abandoned borings should be described with no less care than
successfully completed drill holes. The notes should contain every-
thing of significance observed on the job such as the elevation at
which wash water was lost from the hole.

2.2.5. In-place shear testvane shear test (I.S. 4434-1967).

Vane shear apparatus is used for measuring the undrained shearing
resistance and the sensitivity of soft deposits of clay. Such tests are
generally carried out in the bore hole after extracting an undisturbed
sample. Equipment is also available with which vane shear test may
be run on soft soils without first making boring. If the soil contains
thin layers or laminations of sand or dense silt, the results obtained
by vane test may be misleading.

2.2.6. Standard penetration test (S.P.T.) (I.S. 2131-1963). This

test provides an indirect measure of shear strength and is especially
suitable when undisturbed samples cannot be collected from cohe-
sionless strata. The N-value obtained from the test provides a ready
indication of the relative firmness of the strata and charts are avail-
able for correlating N-value with relative density and angle of
internal friction 6. Even for cohesivesoils, where it has been possible
to collect undisturbed samples, S.P. test may be performed as a
matter of routine, since this provides a check on laboratory data.
This test should follow the collection of undisturbed sample and
vane shear test in cohesive soil layers.
16 Soil Investigations
2.2.7. Field investigation of embankment material
2.2.71. Thereare three basic requirements for a compacted
embankment, name1~
(a) Adequate strength
(b) Limited settlement within the body of the embankment,
(c) Trafficabilitv by constructton plant, Most soils can be conveniently compacted to form a

stable embankment as even with moderate compaction, desirable
shear strength can be obtained. The compressibility can also be
reduced to acceptable limits by proper compaction. Condition
suitable for trafficability by construction equipment (including that
used for compaction) may, therefore, be the controlling factor for
deciding about the suitability of embankment material. The
following type of materials may be considered unsuitable for em-
(a) Material from swamps, marshes or bogs
(b) Peat, logs, stumps and perishable material
(c) Material susceptible to spontaneous combustion
(d) Material in a frozen condition
(e) Clay of liquid limit exceeding 80 and/or plasticity index
exceeding 55
(f) Materials having a moisture content greater than the
maximum permitted for such material in the contract,
unless otherwise permitted by the Engineer in charge of
the work. Field investigation for the embankment material
should be carried out for collecting general information as indicated
in Appendix 2.1. Laboratory investigations on embankment material
have been discussed in para 2.4 below.
2.3. Laboratory Investigations of Sub-surface Material
2.3.1. In addition to the relevant identification tests mention-
ed in Appendix 2.1, it would be necessary to conduct some of. the
following tests on the undisturbed samples collected from the sub-
strata. The choice of test is primarily determined by the type of
Soil Investigations 17

soil, type of stability atialysis (vide Table 2.1), availability of appara-

tus and cost of investigation.


S. Stages in the life Strength Shear Test Type of Analysis

No. of the embankment Parameters and Remarks

(a) During cons- c,~,~ Unconsolidated un- Total stress analysis,

truction or drained triaxial assumes no drain-
immediate- shear test on un- agein field
post construc- disturbed samples
tion and on as compact-
ed embankment
(b) do s~ Unconfined com- Total stress analysis
pression test in for preliminary
laboratory or vane design
shear test
(C) do- Consolidated un- Effective stress ana-
drained test with lysis. Assumes
pore pressureeffective stress in
measurement on as-partially saturated
compacted soil
soil is same as in
samples of embank- saturated soil
ment material and
on undisturbed

2. Long-term c do Effective stress ana-

stability lysis. Used primari-
ly for design of
embankment con-
structed in St ages.

2.3.2. Unconsolidated undrained triaxial test

(IS: 2720Part XI) Undrained tests are commonly performed on cohe-
sive soils because low permeability prevents drainage of the field
element during the normal loading period. It is run on both
saturated and partially saturated soils. In the case of partially
saturated soils, this test is run without pore pressure measurements
18 Soil Investigations
for the purpose of total stress analysis. However, for effective
stress analysis of partially saturated soil elements, pore pressure
measurements are necessary. The results of undrained tests without pore pressure

measurements should be furnished in the form of Mohr circles with
respect to total stresses and values of shear strength parameters,
namely ca,. and S,~should be reported. In the case of partly
saturated soils, the chart should indicate values of C44 and q!~~
respect to the range of normal stresses encou~iteredin the field. The
graphs indicating deviator stress versus axial strain should also be
furnished. In certain special cases where it is desired to carry

out effective stress analysis, undrained test is run with pore pressure
measurement on partially saturated soils. (A common application
of this test is to samples of earth fill material which are compacted
in laboratory under specified conditions of water content and density.
It is also applied to undisturbed samples of strata which are not fully
saturated). The results of this test should be furnished in the form
of Mohr circles with respect to effective stresses and effective shear
strength parameters C and ~ should be reported. The pore
pressure parameters B and A obtained from pore pressure recorded
during application of all-round pressure and subsequent deviator
stress should also be reported in addition to usual stress-strain

2.3.3. Consolidated undrained triaxial test (IS 2720Part XII) Stability analysis of an embankment, where rate of
construction permits consolidation, can be made in terms of effective
stress using values of c and 9Y obtained from consolidated undrained
tests on saturated samples with measurement of pore-pressure.
The sample should be allowed to consolidate under cell pressures
covering the range of the vertical pressure to be applied in the field
and then sheared under undrained condition by applying an axial
load. The results of consolidated undrained test with pore
pressure measurements should be furnished in the form of Mohr
eircles with respect to effective stresses and values of c and ~
should be reported along with stress strain curve and value of A.
Soil Investigations 19

2.3.4. Unconfined compression test (IS 2720Part X) The unconfined compression test is performed on
undisturbed cohesive soils. It is one of the quickest and simplest
tests for the determination of undrained shear strength of cohesive
soils. It permits comparison of soil samples taken from various
bore holes of approximately similar soil formation and thus saving
most of the expensive and time consuming shear tests. This test
gives stress-strain relationship under rapid failure conditions. It
shall be a good practice to run the test in the field immediately upon
removal of the samples from split spoon samplers used in connection
with running S.P.T. The purpose of unconfined compression test is to

determine unconfined compressive strength and stress-strain

2.3.5. Laboratory vane shear test (IS 2720Part XXX): If a

cohesive soil is very plastic or if it does not support a vertical
cylinder for triaxial or unconfined compression test, the shear
strength of such a material is then determined by a device known
as laboratory vane shear. By measuring the maximum torsional
resistance, the undrained shear strength of the soil can be determined.
Laboratory vane should also be used for determination of the
sensitivity of the soil samples.

2.3.6. Consolidation test (IS 2720Part XV) One dimensional consolidation tests with complete
lateral confinement determine total compression of fine grained soils
under applied load and the time rate of compression caused by gra-
dual volume decrease that accompanies the squeezing of pore water
from the soil. The test results should be presented in the form
of c-log p curves and time consolidation curves. The e-log p curves
obtained from consolidation tests should be reconstructed to indicate
the recompression and virgin compression ranges. The slope of the
straight line in the re-compression range of the reconstructed
c-log p curve is the recompression index c,. The slope of the
straight line in the virgin compression range of the reconstructed
c-log p curve gives the compression index Ce. The soil properties
that cwtrc~the drainage rate of the pore water pressure during
consoli~ationtire c mbined in the co-efficient of consolidation ~
20 Soil Investigations

c~for a specifi load increment should be computed from the

data obtained from the consolidation test for that load increment.
After completion of primary consolidation under specific load, the
semi-logarithmic time-consolidation curve continues approximately
as a straight line which is the range of secondary compression.
Probable preconsolidation pressure and existing effective over-burden
pressure at various depths of the compressible strata should also
be shown in a chart. The statistical relation between the liquid limit and the
compression index c~is given by the equation c~=0.0O9(LLIO).
This provides an alternative method of determining C~ where
consolidation test results are not available. For a normally
loaded clay of ordinary sensitivity, the value obtained by means
of this equation is accurate enough for most practical purposes.
However, if the clay is extra sensitive, the correct value of C~ ~S
likely to be higher than the computed one and if it is precompressed,
the correct value is considerably lower.

2.4. Laboratory Investigations of Embankment Material

2.4.1. The following tests should be conducted on representa..

tive samples of embankment material:

S. No. Test Test Method

(i) Gradation test (Sieve analysis) ~IS2720Part IV

(ii) Atterberg Limits test IS 2720Part V

(iii) Standard Proctor test IS 2720Part VII

(iv) Natural moisture content IS 2720Part II

Soil Investigations 21
2.4.2. In addition to the above, there is need for shear stren-
gth tests on compacted samples of the fill material. For this purpose,
the relative compaction should be 95% of the Standard Proctor
maximnm dry density and moisture content same as that likely to
prevail in the embankment during the period covered by the stability
analysis or to be used in the field during construction. Undrained
test should be run on cohesive soils and shear strength parameters
c,~and s6,~should be ascertained for the ranges of the normal pres-
sures which are likely to be experienced in the field. In cases
where effective stress analysis is required to be done, pore pressure
measurements should also be made during the undrained tests and
effective strength and pore-pressure parameters should be found out.
For fill material of cohesionless soils, a direct shear box test (IS 2720-
Part XIII) may be conducted to ascertain shear strength of the soil.

2.5. Reporting and Presentation of Data

The results of reconnaissance, field and laboratoty investiga-
tions should be consolidated into a well-knit report. The record of
findings and recommendations, if any, may be presented in the form
of written text, graphs, figures and tables, as appropriate for different
types of data and findings.

Information and data to be contained in the report should

include general location map, pertinent geological. information on
reconnaissance observations, sub-soil profile (Fig. 2.1) boring logs
and summary of sub-soil properties (Fig. 2.2), graphs and tables
related to laboratory investigations, results of borrow area investi-
gations (Fig. 2.3) and recommendations, if any.

So~ ~nvest~gationS
Name of Project
State ~. ~----~-- -----S- -

Name of Road - ---S.- --

-- -.
Section Iocation
Bore Hole ~
DaLe of ~ - -- -~

(m) 0 0-2 0-4 0-6 0-8 0 2 4 6 20 40 6C 2

. i i
0~ J.x 0

I I 4~)~I


~ --

E HE E3 3
:: ~
SILT ~ ~3 ~ 0

-40-0 ~ - ~ ~ ~


f~ ~
I o
-50-0 \ ~

~ ~ x) ~


-70-0 ~ ~ x~o


DOLERITE - - ~~ -

Fig. 2~2 Boring Jog and summary ofsub-~oiIproperties

24 So! lnvest~gations

Location of Borrow Area State -

With Reference to index Map Name of Road

Depth of Water Table -, Section

Unconsolidated undrain-
Mechanical Analysis ed* triaxial test at 95~
maximum densiy and
Sample Depth Field Specific ~oi~ure content of
R.L of Descrip-
No. Gravel Sand Gravity +
sample tion
above .06 to
2mm 2mm cuu
0/ 0
10 /0 kg~cni~ Degrees

Fig. 2.3. Results of borrow area investigation

*Nole: If some other type of shear test has been adopted, the same should be specified here and the appropriate c and
values may be reported.

Appendix 2. /
.~ U
on .~

-~ ~- I- U U Co
5) in
TEl U 5) en CU
Ce V
~ C On- 11)
:~ ~

0000000000 00 0
Color2 0 00 U)
C -~ C Texture and structure 0 0000000 00
5) Dilatancy~ 000 000
Grain properties~ 0 00 0
(~22~ Plasticity 000000 00
Dry strength6 000000 00

Natural water content, w 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Natural void ratio~, e 0 0 U 0
Unconfined compressive strength, qu 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
C.) Sensitivity,~s~ 0 0 0 0 0 0

Unit weight of solid constituents, ~, 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Maximum void ratio9, emax 0 0 0 0
~-. .5 Minimum void ratios, em~n 0 0 0 0
Liquid limit, L~ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Plastic limit,0 P.~ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
cc Shrinkage limit S~ 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mechanical analysis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Carbonate content5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 M
Organic Iliatter content 0 0 0 0

Appendix 2.1 (Continued)

1. If no undisturbed or tube samples were obtained, use the spoon samples.

2. If the odour is faint, heat the sample slightly. This intensifies the odour.
3. Describe appearance of fresh fracture of intact sample (granular, dull, smooth, glossy). Then rub
small quantity of soil between the fingers, and describe sensation (floury, smooth, gritty, sharp).
If large specimens break up readily into smaller fragments, describe appearance of walls of cracks
(dull, slickensided) and average spacing of cracks.
4. Perform shaking test. Describe results (conspicuous, weak, none), depending on intensity of pheno-
menon observed.
5. Describe shape (angular, subangular, subrounded, rounded, well rounded) and mineralogical charac-
teristics of macroscopic soil particles only. Mineralogical characteristics include type of rocks and
minerals represented among the grains so far as they can be discerned by inspection under the hand
lens. Describe rock fragments (fresh, slightly weathered, or thoroughly decomposed; hard or friable).
If a sand contains mica flakes, indicate mica content (slightly, moderately, or very micaceous). In
connection with peat, the term grain p~opertiesrefers to the type and state of preservation of the w
predominant visible remnants of plants such as fibres, twigs, or leaves. 2.
6. Crush dry fragment between fingers, and indicate hardness (very low, low, medium, high. very high). 5
7. If no undisturbed samples have been obtained, substitute results of standard penetration test or
8. Applies only to clay and fine silt at a water content above the plastic limit.
9. e,,,,.~ is the void ratio of the soil in its densest state, usually achieved by packing the soil into a con-
tamer by means of a combination of static pressure and vibration. cn
10. In addition to numerical value of F,,, state whether-threads were tough, firm, medium, or weak.
11. Present results either in form of semi-logarithmic graph, or else by numerical values of D,
0 and
U D60/D,o accompanied by adjectives indicating the fype of grain-size grading.
12. Calcium carbonate content can be detected by moistening the dry material with dilute HCI. Describe
results of test (strong, weak, or no effervescence).
13. To determine presence of organic matter, determine L~first in fresh state and then after drying in
oven at 108 deg. C. Describe results of test (highly or slightly organic).
14. Add to data on texture a description of general appearance, structure, and degree of cohesiveness of
chunks in fresh state and after soaking in water.
15. Add to data on texture a description of the macroscopic features of the bess, such as diameter and
spacing of root holes.

1. Table borrowed from Foundation Engineering by Peck, Hanson and Thornburn.
2. The symbol 0 indicates the particular property that is relevant to the particular type of soil.

28 Soil Investigations
AppendIx 2.2



(a) When sampling above ground water table, maintain bore

hole dry, whenever possible. When sampling below ground water
table,~maintainbore hole full of water or drilling fluid during clean-
ing out, sampling, sample withdrawal and while removing clean-out
tools. If necessary, this should be accomplished by positive inflow
al ground surface.
(b) Cleaning of bore bole
(1) Use jet auger that deflects the flow of water or drilling
fluid upward. Downward or sideward jetting is not permitted when
cleaning below casing. Cleaning with jet bits that direct the flow
.downward or sideward is permitted within the casing but should
not be done within four inches ofthe intended top ofsamples. The
last 100 mm are cleaned out with a jet auger that deflects water or
drilling fluid upward.
(ii) When casing is extended to sample depth, all soil must be
cleaned out upto th casing tip at least and preferably 100 mm
below th! tip. Where continuous samples are taken, allow for
100 mm when determining final depth ofcasing before sampling.
Coarse lashed material must be removed from bore holes before
sampling and the bole should be cleaned so that soil at thel~tended
top ofthe sample is as nearly undisturbed as possible.
(c) Sample retrieval
Take the sample as soon as possible after cleaning the bole.
Cleaning ofthe hole should not be attempted if sampling Il to be
(d) Sampling operation
(i) Preparation: Sampler and tube must be properly cleaned
with vents, valves, piston packing, etc. checked for proper place-
mont and fbnction.
(ii) Lowering tube: Lower sampler slowly and carefully to
bottom of hole without droppIng. When encountering water table

Soil Investigations 29
while lowering the sampler, precaution must be taken with samplers
~ntaining piston rod extensions to prevent an upward rise of the
(iii) Securing piston rods: Provide piston extension rods with
a positive locking device at ground surface, and securely lock piston
rods before sampling.

(iv) Penetration: Force the sample tube past the locked piston
by uninterrupted hydraulic pushing. Do not rotate sample tube
during downward movement.
(v) Length of penetration: Length of sample penetration should
never exceed length of sampler. For sampling tube of 20 mm ID
(without diameter), penetration should be exceeded 10 times ID for
cohesionless soils and 15 times ID for cohesive soils.
(vi) Withdrawal: After penetration, allow sampler to sit for
at least 10 minutes before withdrawal. Then rotate sample tub~
two to three revolutions and withdraw slowly using moderate up-
ward pull on drill rod avoiding sudden acceleration, shock, or
(vii) Tube removal: After withdrawing the sampler from the
hole, take care not to drop it on the ground. Remove the tube
from the sampler head without disturbing the sample.
(e) Sample preservation: The procedure for sample preserva-
tion is as follows:

(i) Handling: Handle sample tubes with extreme care at all

times after removal from borehole.
(ii) Sealing: Before sealing, remove any disturbed material
from the lube and clean tube walls to provide good contact for
sealer wax. After waxing the ends of the tube, place snugly fitting
metal caps at each end and tape them to the sample tube. Again,
immerse the tube ends in wax. When there is an annular clearance
between the sample and tube that cannot be completely sealed,
remove the sample from the tube and wax the sample completely
in a large container. If too great an inside tube clearance is sus-
pected, obtain new tubes having a smaller clearance before further
samples are taken.
30 Soil Investigations
(iii) Identification: Mark sample tubes with boring number,
sample number, depth, total drive, measured recovery of undisturb-
ed soil before trimming and description of soil type at the upper end
of the tube.

(iv) Protection: Protect sample from extreme heat and freezing

after withdrawal from hole and during transportation.

(v) Packing: Pack sample tubes for shipment with sawdust in

sturdy boxes.

(vi) Sample retention: Indefinite storage of samples is not

warranted. They should normally be retained only until the cons-
truction contract is awarded.

Stability Analysis 31



For convenience of presentation, this chapter is divided into

two parts, A & B. Part A gives the theoretical ~background neces-
sary for evaluation of the stability of embankments. Part B is
devoted to some typical illustrative examples.


3.1. General
3.1.1. Highway embankment instability may result from a
variety of causes~ and the modes of failure can be numerous.
Failures occur in almost every conceivable manner, slowly or
suddenly, and with or without any apparent provocation. Failures
within the body of the embankment may arise due to adoption of
incorrect design practices, poor fill materials, unsatisfactory con-
struction methods and lack of quality control. Failures involving
foundation may occur due to insufficient consideration of the foun-
dation conditions, inadequate subsoil investigations, or improper
implementation of the design solutions during construction.
Instability may also be caused by some excavation near or under.
cutting at the foot of the existing slope, gradual disintegr~ationof the
soil structure due to some reason, increase of pore water pressure
in an exceptionally permeable layer, or by a sudden shock which
liquefies the soil.

3.1.2. Stability analysis is meant to determine whether the

proposed embankment slope will meet the safety requirements of
failure against shear or deformation exceeding the tolerable limits.
The analysis is generally made for the worst conditions which may
occur during the service life of the embankment. In this task,
besides knowledge of the analytical methods, experience and judge-
ment are essential.

34 Stability Analysis
3.2. Types of Failure
3.2.1. Most embankment failures occur in one of the follow-
ing forms, depending on the type of strata and property of soil in
the embankment and foundation:
(i) Sliding of cohesionless material
(ii) Rotational failure
(iii) Planar and composite failure
(iv) Sinking failure
(v) Plastic squeezing of foundation soil
(vi~ Liquefaction of embankment and or foundation

3.2.2. Sliding of cohesionless material: If the slope angle of

embankment built up of sand or gravel is made greater than the
angle of internal friction, embankment slope ~~ill fail and the
material will slide down to a stable angle, nearly equal to the angle
of internal friction. This type of failure occurs only in cohesionless
materials like sands and gravels.

3.2.3. Rotational failure: Rotational failures may be expected

to occur in ernbankments of fairly uniform composition. The
curved surface of failure, being concave upwards, imparts a back.
tilt to the slipping mass which thus sinks at the rear and heaves at
the toe. These failures may be either circular or non-circular
depending upon the degree of uniformity and homogeneity of soil
material in fill and foundation. Circular rotational slides can take.
place virtually without shear distortion of the failing body, with the
slipped masses characteristically unbroken except at the toe where
some sort of heave commonly occurs. Contrary to this, the move-
ment on non-circular surfaces is more often accompanied by shear
distortion of the failing body. The slipped masses are characteristi-
cally broken.
Slope failures, toe failures and base failures represent
further classifications of the rotational failures. In slope and toe
failures, the slip surface passes above or through the toe of the
slope, see Figs. 3.1(a) & (b). However, when the slip surface is
deep-seated and passes through the soil below the toe of the slopes,
the failure is termed as a base failure, see Fig. 3.1(b). Generally,
base failures do not occur if the foundation soil is firm and has an
angle of internal friction greater than 30i.e. if the soil is sandy or

Stability Analysis 35



~(4~$ff4~IP~(.4 .~, p __________ BASE ~




(c 1
Fig. 3.1 Rotational and composite failures

3.2.4. Planar and composite failure: Sometimes, the surface

of failure gets defined by a layer or boundary between a soft and
not-so-soft material in the foundation soil or a weaker zone intro-
36 Stability Analysis
duced in the fill due to poor quality control. A rotational slide is
thereby inhibited and a translational element is introduced into the
slide movement. Figure 3.1(c) shows an example of such failure.
3.2.5. Failure by sinking: Embankments resting directly on
thick beds of soft clay may fail by sinking into the subsoil. This
type of faiure occurs if the depth of clay stratum is large compared
to the base width of the embankment. As a rough rule, the depth
of stratum must be more than 0.5 to 0.7 times the width of the
embankment -

Embankment may fail by sinking symmetrically into the sub-

soil or by back-tilting on one side. Mud waves of considerable
proportion are pushed up on one or both sides.
3.2.6. Plastic squeezing of foundation soil: Plastic squeez-
ing, or non-recoverable plastic deformations, may occur in soft
foundation soils due to overloading of the ground, thereby reducing
the factor of safety to a very low value. The effect of plastic flow
in foundation stratum on the anticipated performance of the
embankment cannot be reliably determined in asmuch as movements
cannot be quantitatively predicted to any degree of refinement in
the present state of the knowledge. But there is no denying the
fact that plastic deformation has been one of the most common
place modes of embankment failure. Clay foundations possessing
low sheaf strength are more vulnerable to ibis type of failure.
When the depth of the soft clay stratum supporting the em-
bankment is shallow compared to the b.~sewidth of the embankment
and a layer of clay is sandwiched between more rigid horizontal
boundaries, plastic squeezing may take place in the soft layer if the
height of the embankment exceeds a certain value.
3.2.7. Liquefaction: Loose-packed granular fills and granu-
lar foundation materials of low relative density in their submerged
state may fail by liquefaction when subjected to shock or vibration.
The effect of vibration is to create a temporary build-up of excess
hydrostatic pressure within the pore fluid, bringing down the value of
effective stress to zero.

3.3. Some Basic Considerations of Design

3.3.1. There are some basic factors which influence the
analysis of slope stability problem. Principal amongst these are the

Stability Analysis 37

choice of method of analysis (i.e. effective stress or total stress

method), stage of construction for which the analysis is carried out
(i.e. short term or long term condition) and the proposed factor of
safety. Before going into the actual analysis, understanding of these
factors is important.
3.3.2. Total and effective stress methods Analysis of stability can be done either in terms of
total stress or effective stress depending on the site conditions, the
schedule of construction, availability of facilities and equipment for
soil testing etc.

Total Stress Method Strictly speaking, total stress analysis is applicable
only to case of embankment built on saturated clays of permeabi-
lity low enough for any overall change of water content to occur,
prior to failure. The general expression between shear strength and
applied normal stress used in such analysis is given below:
a~,tan ~ .Eqn. 3.1

Saturated clay~when tested to failure under undrained conditions

yield shear strength parameter ~==0 and C~=(~1~3)/2 and
therefore the analysis is also popularly called ~=0 analysis. Analysis by this method is for the condition imme-
diately after construction of embankment when pore water pressure
is the maximum and no dissipation of pore water has occurred.
This method of analysis is normally used to determine a short term
stability for soils of low permeability such as saturated clays since in
that case ~ equals zero. One particular advantage with this method
is that computations can be made fairly quickly. Whenever there is
possibility of pore pressure dissipating during construction, use of
total stress analysis leads to over conservative design. The shear strength for this analysis can be deter-
mined prior to construction from field vane tests or undrained
laboratory tests on samples obtained from the site. Since the shear
strength is independent of confining pressure, unconfined com-
pression test may also be used to determine the cohesion C (which
is one half of the unconfined compressive strength). When using this method, it must be kept in mind
that ~ equals zero only in the case of saturated clays. If the soil is
38 Stability Analysis
only partially saturated or is of a granular nature, ~ will no longer
he zero and shear strength will depend on the magnitude of the
effective confining pressure. When appropriately applied, this
analysis give a reasonable estimate of factor of safety. However, it
does not predict the correct failure surface.

Effective Stress Method Effective stress method of analysis takes into account
the pore water pressures for the stage at which stability is to be
analysed. The relationship between shearing strength and applied
normal stress used in such analysis is given by the expression:
C+(~,~u)tan ~ ...Eqn. 3.2 In principle, the effective stress method can be used
for assessing the stability at any time during life of an embankment,
but its most general use is to determine the long term condition of
stability. More economical designs are possible through use of this
method since it permits computation of increase in shear strength at
any point of time. The shear strength parameters required for this
method of analysis can be obtained in the laboratory from drained
shear test or from consolidated undrained shear test with measure-
ment of pore water pressure. In making this analysis, the pore pressure u at any

point in the embankment is obtained from the expression:
Eqn. 3.3
where u. represents the initial value of pore-pressure, and A~
denotes the incremental pore pressure in the soil due to change in
stress. The value initial pore pressure u0 is determined


either by actual field measurements or by drawing flownets if the

equilibrium condition occurs prior to construction. The incremental
pore pressure can also be measured and/or calculated using the
following relationship (Skempton, 1954)
Au=B[L~a3f A(A~i~ca)] ..,Eqn. 3.4
where ~ denotes the incremental total major principal stress,
~ denotes the incremental total minor principal stress.
and .4 and 13 are pore pressure parameters, which could be
determined in the laboratory (Bishop & Henkel).
Stability Analysis 39 For tlteoretica I estimation of pore pressut e, the

re ders ire advised to refer to Sherard (1963). It is a routine engi-
leering practice to exercise a check on the validity of the theoreti-
cally estimated values b~ making actual held observations using

3.3.3. Shortierrn and long-term conditions: Iwo types of slope

stability probiems occur in claycy soils, shortterm stability (end-of-
construction ease) and long-term stability (steady seepage case).
When an embankment is constructed on a clayey soil, shearing resis-
tance of the soil is drastic.tllyreduced by the development of excess
pare water pressure during construction. Pore pressure developed
depends on the existing moisture content, degree of compaction, per-
meability of soil. the state of stress resulting from the weight of
superimposed layer and the drainage conditions. With p~ssage of
time. fore pressure is dissipated and soil improves its shearing stren-
gill. The critical period of shear failure in clayey soils is, therefore,
during construction and shortly after the completion of the embank
ment, when enlhankment weight increases due to soaking. Eventu-
ally. the excess pore-pressure is dissipated and pore water acquires
a state of equi I ibri um with ground water table, generating a steady
state flow pattern. Ph is stage is referred to as the longterm stabi-
lity or steady seepage case, In between there would be a inter-
mediate stage when partial dissipation of pore pressure has occurred
and this is important for stage construction analysis.
In emban kments built of a ad resting on gravels, sands or
eohesianless soils, the time required for dissipation of excess pore
pressure is small and as such the stability is to be checked for long
term condition only which is the same as shot-term condition.

3.3.4. Factor of safety Factor of safety is usually calculated in analysis to
1re~icleindication whether or not a foundation soil or embankment
will fail under worst service conditions. The results of the stability
analysis are normally expressed in terms of a factor of safety with
respect to shear strength. The factor of safety is defined as the
*An alternative dehnit ion of factor of safety has been suggested on the
basis of the ratio of the moment of the avail able shear strength about the centre
of rotation to the moment of forces tending to produce rotation about the same
point, Odenstad (1955), Borowicka (1959).
40 Stability Analysts
factor by which the shear strength parameters (in terms of effective
stress) c and tan~, can be reduced before the slope is brought
into a state of limiting equilibrium. The shear strength, -r, mobilised

under these conditions is given by the expression:

~ (an_U)

where a,~denotes the total stress normal to the potential failure sur-
face and u denotes the pore-water pressure. The definition is the
same as that adopted by Taylor the factor of safety with respect to
shear strength, and is in accord with that enunciated earlier by
Fellenius (1927). It has the advantage of being applicable to circular
and non-circular slip surfaces alike without modifications and ope-
rates directly on the relevant strength parameters. (Bishop &
Morgenstern, 1960). It is obvious that each method of calculating the

factor of safety may yield a different value from that obtained by
other methods. Further, the calculated factor of safety differs
according to shear strength selected for use in the analysis, the way
in which the pore pressures are taken into account, and other factors
influencing the method used for computing it. All methods of analy-
sis currently in use are based on simplifying assumptions which are
generally forgotton in the discussion and the use of the results.
Frequently, tile numerical value of the safety factor which is recom-
mended for a given problem varies with the degree of designers
confidence in his knowledge ofthe shear strength of the materials,
the soundness of site data, engineering judgement and on the influ-
ence of minor geological details. For design of low embankments, it is a common

practice to adopt a factor of safety of 1.25 or even less, According
to Casagrande (l96O~,a factor of safety of about unity is justifiable
to achieve an economical design. Such a low factor of safety in
earthwork designs would be permissible because:

(i) A minor slide or a slip during construction in a compac-

ted fill will not,conceivably end up in a catastrophe.
(ii) The factor of safety improves as the initially high construc-
<< tion pore pressures dissipate.
Stability Analysis 41
(iii) Preventive measures based on observational data on field
instruments, which constitute an integral part of the stand-
ard construction practice, can be taken to avert an immi-
nent slide. Even if an embankment section locally fails,
the repair cost seldom exceeds a small fraction of the
original cost of an otherwise conservative design. ft is, however, essential to be aware of the possible
delays in the completion of the construction in the event of local
failure. What is more, well in adwince ofconstruction, the authority
for whom the design is being worked out should be cducated on the
philosophy behind deliberate adoption of low factor of safety so as
to avoid embarrassment to the designer at a subsequent date. It should be remembered that maintenance of the
design factor of safety in execution will invariably require a strict
control over rate of construction in order to allow partial dissipation
of pore pressure at stages critical from the point ofview of stability.
3.3.5. Otber factors: Besides above aspects, there are a
number of other factors influencing slope stability analysis, about
which the designer must be watchful. These include failure plane
geometry, non-homogeneity of soils, terrain cracks, earthquake
loads, seepage flow-etc.
3.4. Procedure of Stability Aaal~sls
3.4.1. The object of slope stability analysis is to ensure that
the slope does not fail by any ofthe modes discussed in pan 3.2.
The most common type of failure in all soils other than cohesion-
less soils is rotational tallure whereby the slope, or slope and base,
ofan embankment fails along a circular plane. Thus slope stability
analysis starts with checking ofslope for rotational faijure by slip
circle method (see pam 3.5). This may not however apply in certain
cases where failure Is ofplanar or composite type taking place along
a weaker zone in which case the procedure ofanalysis will be as in
pan 3.6, that is, the embankment is further checked for failure
against block sliding, plastic squeezing etc.
3.4.2. However, slip circle method is not applicable to co-
hesionless fills built on firm soil in which case stability ofslope is
dependent directly on the angle ofinternal friction. The method of
42 Stability Analysis
ana1y~ingstability in clieionless ~l is ixplained further in para
3.4.3. Such en~binkments have rn d uht to be checked also for
failure ai~ainstiquefaction and block iding. In case of sand fills
resting on soft clay bed, failure ag i n<~tpki~tic squee7ing should also
be guarded against.

3,4.3. Stabilit~ of cohesioultss ~lopes I he stability of till

slopes built of coliesionless gras els, ~ands, and silts depends on:
(a) the angle of internal friction of the till matei al, ~, (b) the slope
angle, (c) the tinit we gut of t he till, a ad (d) the pore pi essu res. The
critical failure mechanism is usually surface ravelling or shallow
sliding, which can ~e analysed using the simple infinite slope analysis.

Values of ~ for stability analyses can be determined by

drained triaxial or direct shear tests. Pore Pressure due to seepage
through the fill reduces the stability of the slopes, but static water
pressure, with the same water level inside and outside the slopes, has
no effect on stability.

The factor of safety of slopes formed by cohesionless materials

resting on firm foundation is given by the expression:

F = Tan~ .Eqn. 3.10

Where angle of internal friction~and

angle of slope with horizontal,

The maximum stable slope angle of sandy embankment is

related to the peak friction angle However, ~ is a function of the

void ratio, i.e. the density and the confining stress at which the
sand exists. For dry loose sands, as in case of dumped sand or
gravel, ~ is essentially equal to angle of repose. But slopes steeper
than angle of repose can be built in stable condition when the angle
of friction is improved by compaction in thin layers. It is important
to note that the angle of stable slope of cohesionless materials is
independent of the height which may be indefinite, Sand dunes
represent examples of natural slopes of varying height but constant
slope. Furthermore, weight of the material does not affect the
stability of slope, so that the safe angle for a submerged sand slope
is the same as that for a slope composed of dry sand, with the ex-
ception of the special case of damp sand which has a high angle of

Stability Analysis 43
repose due to capillary attraction. However limitation is imposed
on height by other considerations like base failure and erosion.

Special conditions exist w th partially submerged sand slopes

affected by tidal cond~tions(sudden draw down condition) or seepage
condition which may cause the stabihty of floe sand slope to be
considerably less than for dry or submerged sand. Factor of safety
in such conditions is given by:

F= ~ ~.. ...Eqn. 3.13

p~He tan ~
r ~y~,tan ~

Since ~ ratio is typically about half for sands, the maximum

stable slope is about half of that for dry or submerged condition.

Slopes in fine sands, silty sands, and silts are susceptible to

failure by erosion due to surface runoff. Benches, paved ditches,
and turfing on slopes can be used to reduce runoff velocities and
retard erosion.

3.5. Slip Circle Analysis for Cohesive Soil Slopes

3.5.1. The first sign of imminent failure of slope is usually
an outward or upward bulging near the toe and development of
cracks near the crest of the slope, the failure plane being approxi-
mately arc of a circle. Though in actual practice the failure plane
may be a complex surface, in most stability analysis cases a circular
cylindrical rupture surface is assumed to sis~tplifythe computations.
The analysis consists of drawing trial circles and calculating the
factor of safety separately for each circle. For any given centre,
several circles are drawn, passing through the toe, through the
weakest sub-strata, and through other soil layers depending on the
conditions obtaining, and the lowest factor of safety recorded.
Analysis may be either by considering the stability of slope en-mass
or by dividing the slip mass into many vertical slices and to consider
the equilibrium of each slice. Methods that consider the slope
en-mass include Culmanns method and Taylors friction circle
method. There are several versions of the slice method available;
the best known are Swedish Circle and Bishops method. Each
of these methods involves certain approximations. For most high-

44 Stability Analysis
way embankment problems it is sufficient to useapproximate methods
even though these may not fully satisfy the requirements of static
equilibrium. Guidance about calculations involved in applying the
different methods can be had from standard texts. The different
methods available are however reviewed broadly in this section.
Analysis in each case can be either by total stress analysis or
effective stress analysis.

3.5.2. Taylors .ethod: If the embankment and foundation

are homogeneous and the slope is simple, Taylors charts can be
used directly for design of embankment. Even in other cases
these charts can be made use of with advantage at the planning
stage, especially when a number ofalternatives are to be evaluated.
Taylor, after investigating a large number of trial circles in
homogeneous soil by friction circle method, produded tables for
locating critical circle and evolved design charts for determining
safe slopes. Taylors design curves are reproduced wide Figs. 3.2
and. 3.3. Fig. 3.2 shows, for various values of ~ upto 25, the
safe slope corresponding to stability number N whieh is equal to
C/VH. For a particular value of stability number and ji, safe angle
of slope can be determined by reading the chart. Alternatively for
a particular value ofangle ofslope and ~, stability factor can be
read from the chart and factor of safety computed as ~=CN,/yH.
Fig. 3.3 is applicable when #=O and failure is over a shallow base.

3.5.3. SwedIsh slip eireie method: In this method (also referred

to as the Fellenius method, the conventional method of slices or
the USSR method) the soil mass is divided into a number of slices
as shown in Fig. 3.4. The slices need not be ofthe same width.
It is convenient to make the boundaries between slices to coincide
with breaks in the surface or sudden transitions from one material
to another. If the slope is stable, then each slice must be stable
under its own weight and the forces on its bbundariea. For each
slice if the interslice forces are ignored the reaction from below
must be equal to and opposite in direction toits weight, as these
are the odly two forces. Resolving the reaction into normal force
and shear force and taking into consideration the forces on a slice
will be as shown in Fig. 3.4. Factor of safety is then obtained by
summing over for all the slices. The expression for the factor of
Sldbllity Ar dIySis 45


Ty~piculcross section
and failure arc in
Zone A. Critical
circle passes
030 Case2 C ~e1 ~ through toe urd
U O~5.fl~
VOt~ i~L~S stability number
CQfl iderediriZn~ represented or chart
by toll lines.
C sot 1h0,riLsld n~o~ ittls~i~l ~
th ugh th toe r IinO~ h
Wote ill ~ii no do not ~p r, lbs Cu 5 rot
appreciably different tin n Cute 2
Case 2 Criro ci le p~ ri t no, ,e~ nfeU
try Ii rrg do bed hr sir ch I ore log oinhed hrres
0,25 do not appeal Its, cri ulc.role posses through
flip toe,
Case 3 ~ face of ledge o st tratwr, at the
elesatroir o the toe ID ~ II repreneirta-it by shod
dashed roes Iii churL
liii II ill


I i~iit tt1~~~L~
E +

seeFg. ~
h~+ ~-Li~
-~ 0 t5
~:LU~Th1~U/~ I l~f

~? ~r


0 10
20 40 50 60
30 70 80 90
Skrpe angle i
Fig. 32. Chart of stability numbers
46 Stability Analysis

0.19 ____ :: TI I I .11] I Ill

For i>54 use Fig. 3n2
_~1 -





~ 0.14

~ 0.13
a --

0.12 Case A. IJse full lines of chart;

~:u~ill: x short dashed lines give n values.
I II I I I 11


0.10 Case B. Use long dashed hnes of chart.

0,09 1
1~tEH:1:t~ ~WH H H
1 2 3 4
Depth factor D
Fig. 3.3. Chart of stability numbers for the case of zero friction
angle and limited depth
Stability Analysis 47
safety with reference to Fig. 3.4 is given by:

~ ---~[c!-4-( W cos ~ ul) tan ~ . ..E~n.(3.12)

It is convenient in many cases to express the pore pressure U
as function of the total weight of the column of soil above the point
considered by using a ratio r10 which is defined by the relation:

...Eqn. (3.13)
where h is the depth of the point in the soil mass below the soil
surface, and y is the bulk density of soil. The expression then
2 a) tan .Eqn. (3.14) ~ . .
![cI -.
--f-- W COS ~ (1 ~ sec
The recommended method of reco~dingthe calculations is given
in Table 3.1. A graphical approach to these calculations is also
available (Murthy 1974).

[lie Swedish method permits a quick and direct computation

of the factor of safety and is therefore advantageous where
calculations are done by hand, A large number of slip circles is
normally required to be analysed in each case and this is facilitated
in this method due to its simplicity.

3.5.4. Bishops method: It has been shown that the

conventional method of slices (i.e. the Swedish slip circle) could

be in errol where the central angle a and the pore pressure factor r~
are large. The error increases with increasing values of o. and u.
However, it is on the conservative side. This is the reason why
engineers continue to prefer the conventional procedure. But in
large scale work and high emhankments, the conventional procedure
results in overdesign and uneconomical sections. In such situations,

* (a) The r
1~facior is 1 nearly related to factor of s~tlety F for range of r5
values from 0,0 to 0,7 usually cncrruntcred in engineering practice
(Btshop 1952, I 955, Bishop and Morgen~ic n, l9frO), The extra-
ordinary advantage of this reIark:insli~pis that it gives an immediate
picture of the influence of-pore pressure (in factor of safety,,
(h) Generelly spea1~ing, r~is not conslailt atl along the slip surface.
<< but in most stability problems an average value can readily he
calculated and used with little loss of accuracy.

F ~Lcttw1~)t~n0i I



,4~9 Cl)
WeIght ef ttkt 0
Effe~tivt normal for~ 4
U: P.r. ~4ter pr.uur.
Shear re000tane, at the olko baoe
Len 9th e otice 0)
SLId Angle slabtendid by tan.nt t. the
otice wIth hirizontal. cn

Fig. 3.4 Swedish slip circle method

TnI.Ie 3.1 C)
1 2 I 3 4 51 6 7 8 10 :~, 12 1, 13 15

Weight of
the Slice -
Pore Water
W sin (W ~
of safety
(W cos Col. 10 +Col. 14
C 2 COSa sin b ul c~l~C05 2 2Ul) atu!) U)
E Average Weight Pore Pore (I)
Water Pressure
No. fit W fit. U


50 Stability Analysis
Bishops solution is preferable. This method also follows the
method of slices but in addition recognises the existence of side
forces on each slice. There are two versions of the Bishops method,
one rigorous and the other simplified. Both are reviewed below:

(a) Bishops Rigorous Method

The rigorous method yields the following expression for factor
of safety, Fig. 3.5.

F~ I [{c~ { ~(lr)~(XXj)] tar ~}x

sec~ 1
tan tan .,Eqn, 3.15
For di~cussionof conditions to be satisfied to determine the internal
forces A and E, the reader is referred to the earlier work by Bishop
(1955). The determination of the interslice forces is necessary for a
rigorous solution of the equation given above.

Sharma (1972) has suggested a simple graphical approach for

circular arc analysis yielding values-of factor of safety very close to
those computed by most sophisticated methods requiring high speed
digital computers.

(b) Bishops Routine Method

It is usually adequate for practical purposes to neglect the
term ,E(X~X~~in1)the equation above without any significant loss
of accuracy.
The equation for the factor o1 safety, F, then becomes:

F zrL_ ~ tan ~} ... Eqn. 3.16

I tan a tan ~\
) .,Eqn. 3.17

The use of the above equation represents Bishops Routine Method

The recommended method of recording the calculations is givcn in
Table 3.2, Fig. 3.5.
Stability Analysis

...._...i{{~. Wti_~).~

(~ccNTnr oc ~OTA1iCN


4 j
:i: : :
I rr ~o

E ~ .~ ~ E
-4O~-3b ao -io~ o
: .t~~r *o~ 20 30 40 5~ w ~d

Eig. 3.5 Stability Analysis by Bishops Routine Method

Table 3.2 01

1 2 3 4 5 ~1 7 8J 9 10 II 12 13 14

S Weight
I Sec ~
of the shea
C b h at sin at Wsina cb W(1-.r~~)tan
~ S+9 sec ~ tan ~
tan d~tan a lOx 13
E Mean Weight F
No. Pr. W




Stability Analysis 53
In pi actical application of this method, as F a ppears on both
sides of the cci uation, F has to he assumed in advance and ma is to
he en teubated for this F. For this purpose, a chart is gisen in Fig.
3.5 wh cii provides ma for known values of a and fi and assumed F.
The factor of safety is worked out as (ol. (14) Col, (7) of Table 3,2.
This is compa red with the assumed value of F. If they do not agree,
a new v~ih.ieof F is assumed and the process repeated. The new
trial requires only additional subcolumns under columns 13 and 14.
Thus, after two or three trials, the correct factor of safety is evalua
led for this assumed fail ure surface. To obtain the factor of safety
for the slope, several failure surfaces has e to he tried,

The use of Bishops Routine Method can be extended to cover

he cases of partial I) submerged embankment slopes which are
common in engineering practice. Fig. 3,6 (a) shows a partially sub
merged emba nkment with circular arc failure surface and its centre
of rothtion, The various forces acting on one of the slices con stitu-
tiug the sliding mass are shown in Fig. 3.6 (b) and an equilibrium
vector diagram is drawn in Fig. 3.6 (c).

The expi ession for factor of safety can be written as

~ ;~n H tan~Q + w2_usb))d_] .. Eqn. 3.18

woere iiia::-:.::cos a / I +
tanatan~\) ...Eqn. 3.19

arid the other notations are explained in Fig. 3.6.

The recommended method of recording the calculations is given

in Table 3.3.

1 or total stress analysis, ~ is taken as zero in the above

mentioned equations and c is replaced by Cu,
Pc. 1
Thus, F ... Eqn. 3.20
~LWSin a

3.5.5. Chart solutions for analysis: A number of chart solu-

tions for embankment stability problems have been developed to
reduce the lime involved in calculations, Main among these are the
charts developed by Taylor, Bishop and Morgenstern, Morgenstern,
Spencer, Hunter, Hunter and Schuster and Huang. Of the chart
54 Stability Analysis

I $
,I I
t S


C; E~,
( b) Ic)

Where E~,Es.~denote the resultants of the total horizontal forces on the

sections a and ,v+ 1 respectively,
.111, XJI+l the vertical shear forces,
W denotes the total weight of the slice of soil.
P the total normal force acting on its base,
S the shear force acting on its base.
the height of the slice,
b the breadth of the slice,
the length BC,
at the angle between BC and the horizontal,
the- horizontal distance of the slice from the centre of
WI full weight of the soil in the slice above MN,
WI submerged weight ofsoil in the part of the slice below

,, the density of water,

z ,, the depth of slice below MN

<< Fig. 3.6. Stability Analysis of Partially submerged slope by

Bishops Routine Method
T~bIe3.3 C/)
13 14 15 16 1 lb 1~ 0~
2~ 3,4 $6 8 9 10 ~ 11 12

U a)

0 ~ ~

C 4
rf~ ~ 1-~

F 01
~Z (8)

Stability Analysis

solutions available, those of Taylor, Hunter, and Hunter and Schuster

are basedon total stress analysis and are best suited for analysing
end-of-construction stability. These are ideal for use as regards
road embankment design. Other charts are based on effective stress
analysis and can be applied in all cases. Morgensterns solution is
particularly good for small dams and consequently might be appli-
cable where highway embank ment is used as an earth dam or where
flooding might occur behind a highway fill. All these methods make
similar assumptions regarding geometry etc., hut differ in assump-
tions about variation of cohesion with depth, position of water table,
base condition, drawdown condition and slope of failure surface.
Review of the chart solutions is available in Highway Research
Record No. 345 and Transport Research Record 548 (published by
the Transportation Research Board, U.S.A.) In general, simpler
solutions using total stress analysis are adequate for highway
embankment design.

3.5.6. Miscellaneous hints about slip circle analysis: A few

useful hints about design when conducting a slip circle analysis are
brought out in the succeeding paragraphs for guidance. Locating the centre of critical circle: In slip circle

analysis, a trial and error approach for locating the circle having the
smallest factor of safety is necessary. For this purpose, the normal
procedure is to establish a grid of centres and calculate the factor of
safety for each. The factor of safety is then entered on the grid and
contours of equal safety factor drawn. The parameters which in-
fluence the position of the critical circle in a given case are: the slbpe
of the embankment, depth of hard structures, the soil properties ,

ci) Ii, and the pore-pressure. Fellenius charts or Taylors Tables

may be used for locating the approximate critical circle. However,
it should be noted that for base failures, provision of a balancing
berm shifts the critical centre towards the berm. Also there are
usually two critical centres, one slightly above the embankment
level and the other at a greater height. The latter is usually more

For slope failures, contours showing the variation in factor of

safety are roughly elliptical, with the major axis approximately at

Stability Analysis 57
right angles t the surface of the slope and several times the minor
xis, The centre of critical slip circle is usually located close to and
slightly abcs e the perpendicular bisector of the slope.

3,5.6.2. Number of slices: Usually the width of slice is taken

as approximately equal to 0.1 R, w here R is the radius of slip circle,
Spencer (1967) has shown that the value of the factor of safety
in creases-as the number of slices increases but there is little to he
gained in accuracy h~having a greater number of slices than 32.

3,5.6.3. tension cracks: One of the features of rotational

Hips in cohesive soils is the appearance of a vertical crack running
parallel to the top of the slope and at some distance from itusually
a bout 1 .5 metre from the edge. The maximum depth of tension
crack is given hy the equation

S- .
2C tank(r ~
2 ) ...Eqn. 3.21

To account for the effect of tension cracks in stability analysis,

the effective length of the slip circle for the purpose of resisting
moment is taken only upto the end of the tension crack. For calcu-
lation, the position of tension crack is so assumed that its lowest
point touches the circle under consideration. The most dangerous
condition in the case of tension cracks would occur during rainy
season when these Jill up with water and exert an hydrostatic pressure
horizontally of the magnitude of

~~j:z 1 2 yZ~ , . .Eqn. 3.22

In making the stability computations, this pressure is added to

the total driving force.

3.6. Stability Analysis for other Modes of Failure

3,6.1. Planar and composite failure: Methods of analysing

stability for non-circular slip surfaces are numerous. For example,

58 Stability Analysis
see Kenney (1956), Janbu (1956), Nonveilier (1965), Morgenstern
and Price (1965 and 1967). Of these, the method suggested by Janbu
(1956) is iccommended, since it permits easy band calculations
(refer Fig. 3.7). The expreaion for factor of safety, n ith reference
to Fig. 3.7 is given by:

F=hs[{-_wiic_-} -~.ii .. Equ. 3.23

where ncacos~ if( cose ...Eqn. 3.24

and f Correction factor (see Fig. 3.7b) depending on the

sheDr parameters and form of the slip surface. It
takes account of the influence of the vertical shear
forces between the slices on ftctor of safety.

The above expression is for analysis according to effective

stress method. In the case of total stress analysis, the equation
for thetor of safety could be written as:

cos a
F=f, EWiana .. .Eqn. 3.25

The suggested method of recording the calculations is given

t~rowe 3.4: A chart enabling quick calculation of it is gken in
Table 3.4, Fig. 3.7(c).

For more accurate treatment of stability on non-circular slip

surfaces, the method developed by Morgenstern and Price (1967)
can be used. However, it requires the use of a computer.
~tabflity Analysts 59

F f..
~ p tan*~



0.5 0 0.5 1~O 3.0

1.4 :~:~:
~i~T ~ i~:~ ~

11 1 111 = = -~~5R~E~

C 1.0 11 Ii14,

0 -40 -30 -20 0 o 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
c~O 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
1 ,
~ ~t t&n~ p ii c taa~ stan. c(pu)tan* F~? c.(p

e 4
No. .
0.1 0.2


<< Fig, 3.7 Stability analysis by Janbu method

Stability Analysis 61
3.6.2. Sliding block method: The method is frequently
applied in two circumstances:
(a) When a thin layer of soft soil (which may not necessarily
he horizontal) is encountered at shallow depths in the
(b) When the embankment rests on a hard rock stratum which
is unlikely to be involved in the failure.
The analysis is possible in terms of both total stress and
effective stress depending upon the conditions of the project and
availability of data on hand.

En this method, it is usual to divide the sliding mass into two

or three large sections or wedges. The upper and the lower wedges
are respectively called the active and the passive wedges. In a three
wedge system, the middle wedge is generally referred to as tile
sliding block, Fig. 3.8.

AC1i~E wU~E


P4SS~V! .t(



Fig. 3.8 Sliding block analysis

62 Stability Analysis

Assuming that sufficient deformations have occurred to generate

active and passive -failure wedges, and considering the stability of
the sliding block for equilibrium in terms of total stress (Fig. 3.8).
factor of safety is~,givenby the expression:

F= ...Eqn. 3.26
Similarly for equilibrium in terms of effective stress, factor of safety
is given by the expression:

F cL+(WU) tan 9Y
-- ... E qn. 327

y h.~
2JV~1N~2C1z1 N~
where PA= ~=.=~--~ ...Eqn. 3.28

P~= N~+2C ~ h

2+qN6h2 ... Eqn. 3.29

N~=tan(45.4.~~2) ..~Eqn.3.30
W=the total weight hf the sliding block
i~rr.thepore water pressure acting on the sliding block
q=surcharge, if any.

These formulae for working out active and passive pressure

assume planar failure, but other sophisticated, methods are also

3.6.3. Failure by sinking: This type of failure is a bearing

capacity failure and can be analysed by the bearing capacity theory.
The bearing capacity of a soft clay foundation can be roughly
assessed by:
qd=5.7C (Terzaghis general shear case) ...Eqn. 3.31
The factor of safety can be worked out as
F= .. .Eqn. 3.32
where P==yh=the maximum embankment pressure.
3.6.4. Plastic squeezing of the foundation stratum,: When a
relatively thin layer of soft clay is situated at a shallow depth com-
pared to the base width of the embankment and is sandwiched -

Stability Analysis 63

between more rigid layers, plastic squeezing of clay may occur.

The total shear stress along the zone of failure in such case will be
(Fig. 3.9):

...Eqn. 3.33

where Active earth pressure developed within the embankment

PA :r.:

at the central line.

Notations P. D & W~ are explained in Figure 3.9.

The factor of safety is then given by:

~~ -~ ...Eqn. 3.34
r PD i- 2P4
The true squeezing failure will occur only for a limited range
of high values of WbD ratio. As the depth of the soft stratum in-
creases, the W~/Dratio decreases and the failure is likely to be in a
different manner, such as by rotation.

It could be both conservative and unwise to restrict, as a rule,

the heights of embankments on soft ground according to the above
criterion. Certain degree of plastic squeezing of the foundation soil
during the construction stage may not, in any way, harm the ulti-
mate performance of the embankment, and may be permitted at the
discretion of the Project Engineer. In such cases, however, it pays
to adequately instrument the foundation soil for measurement of
ground deformations. The data so obtained aid engineering judge-
ment towards ensuring safety during construction, besides yielding
economy in the overall design.

Proximity of structures which may be affected by heaving and

ground deformations deserves consideration in arriving at a decision
on the degree of plastic squeezing which could be allowed in any
given case. The settlements due to plastic squeezing can be
expedited to a considerable degree by resorting to the method of

3.6.5. Failure by liquefaction: Loosely packed granular fills

and granular foundation materials of low relative density when in a
submerged state may fail by liquefaction on being subjected to shock
or vibration. The effect of vibrations is to create a temporary build-




w C!)
0 a.

Fig. 3.9 Plastic squeezing of the foundation stratum (p

Stability Analysis 65
up of excess hydrostatic pressure within the pore fluid bringing down
the value of effective stress to zero.

This type of failure cannot be analysed theoretically in the

present state of knowledge. However, it is known that if the relative
density of the emb inkment and foundation is greater than medium
failure of this type is not possible. If the relative density is less,
failure by liquefoction is possible. Moreover, a poorly graded fine
sand with rounded particles is more susceptible to this type of failure
than a well -graded coarse sand with angular particles.

3,6.6. l)esign against seismic forces: During large earth-

quakes, there are numerous slides in slopes. Failure results in part
lroiri increase in shear stresses caused by seismic loading, but it is
more on account of decrease in strength during cyclic loading.

In highway engineering, producing an earthquake resistant

embankment design still represents a difficult problem and data
available on this aspect are far from adequate. In future years,
however, as more and more recorded performance case histories of
emhanknients become available, the confldence of design engineers
is bound to grow and better methods of analysis would develop.

The scism ic dcsign co ns~derationsfor embank ments lie outside

the scope of this document. The problem should thercfore be
referred to a specialist. for an a pproximate analysis, in terms of
total stress, disturbing force due to eaithquake could be assumed to
act horizontally through the centroid of the sliding mass (see Fig.
3.10). The magnitude of the force \vould depend upon the seismi-
city of the area.

3.7. Auah sis of Remedial Measures in Case of Failures

3.7.1. It happens frequently that an engineer is called upon
to investigate slips which have already occurred and to suggest
reined al measures. As the remedial measures depend largely on the
correct diagnosis of ihe type of failure, the first step is to carry out a
survey by digging a trench or carrying out borings through the dis-
placed material. The object is to trace the depth and location of
the surface of rupture, so that the nature of failure can be deter-
mined. Once this has been done, the embankment is reanalysed in

66 Stability Analysis


Fig. 3.10 Consideration of seismic forces in stability analysis

order to plan remedial measures by balancing the actuating forces

causing the failure. Embankment safety can be achieved by:
(i) providing some external support
(ii) removing some of the weight tending to cause failure or
adding fresh material to flatten the slope
(iii) by increasing the strength of soil in the portions where
the slip failure occurred; and
(iv) by proper drainage and prevention of water percolation in
the cmbankment.
3.7.2. External support: External support can be provided
by piling through thc toe, building a retaining wall along the toe, or
heavy external Loading on the toe by way of a balancing berm. The
use of piles or retaining walls is satisfactory only when the founda-
tion extends below the slip surface to adequate depth or as to provide
sufficient resisting force.

Balancing bermi are Usually formed of heavy material like

gravel or boulders. The acttiiting moments are also reduceifat the
same time by use of such materials as fly ash and cinders In embank-
ment as shown in the Fig. 3.11.
~ab~ity Analysis 67

CINDR :.:..i.
~ i ~# ~


EARTH ~W 45m i~~4~~

Fig. 3. 1. Improvement of stability by use of light weight
material and balancing berm
3.7.3. Removal of material likely to slip: One obvious
method of reducing the weight of soil causing a slip is to flatten
the slope as shown in Fig. 3.12(a) by either adding or removing
The slipping surface of embankment is sometimes built up
oldifterent soil types, with a stronger and more frictional material
on top. In such circumstances, the weaker material can be trimmed
to a flatter slope to form a composite slope as shown in figure
312 (b).


Fig. 3.12. improving stability by removing material causing instability

3.7.4. improvement of soil properties: Where the weak soil

strala hrs a shallow depth, it is often excavated and replaced with
coarse sand, so that the resistance through likely plane of failure is
increased. Chemical treatment like lime-admixture or grouting also
helps in some cases,
3.7.5. Proper drainage: Most slips occur in cohesive mate-
rials because of weakening of soil with increase in moistufe con-
tent. Reduction in moisture in such cases can result in substantial
improvement in stress-resisting properties of the soil. Efficient
surface, sub-surface and interceptor drains fulfil the function of
supporting the slope against failure by preventing the entry of sur-
face water which would have caused softening of the soil.
In this part, some typical exampies of embankment stability
analysis are given

Q. 3.1. A simple embankment in approach to a bridge is of

12 metre height and has side slopes at 45 degrees. The soil is satu-
rated and highly impervious. At present the embankment is com-
pletely submerged due to backw:tter flow from a river. Back waters
generally recede in a short time and eventually the water table
recedes to an average level somewhat below the toe of the slope.
Laboratory tests on specimen of soil used in embankment gave the
following soil characteristics:

Bulk density=2 tonne/m3

c=3 tonne/m2
= 20

Determine the Factor of Safety under different conditions

using Taylors Charts:

(a) Submerged Case
Fom Fig. 3.2 for f==45 degrees and ~=20 degrees
Stability Number= 0.062

- 006~= = -
- - buoyant
F~<-~ XH F(21)xl2

F= =403 (safe)

(b) Sudden Drawdown Case


For ~=l0 and i=45from Fig. 3.2

Stability Nnmber=0.[1
o.l1~= Ex2x12

Stability Analysis 69
=1.138 (Just Safe)
(c) Normal Case with Embankment Saturated
For &=2Oand i=45,
Stability number=0.062,


F=2.Ol (Safe)
Q3.2. (a) An instrumented test embankment, which could be
assumed to be homogeneous/with the foundation
soil saturated, was rapidly built to failure. The
geometry of the failed embankment and the loca-
tion of failure surface, as measured at the time of
failure, are shown in Fig. 3.13. What was the value
of average undrained shear strength mobilised at
(b) Suggest an approach to determine the dimensions of
the berms which would provide an end-of-construc~
tion factor of safety of 1.3, if the embankment geo-
metry, the placement specifications and the subsoil
profile, etc., remain unaltered?
According to the question:
(a) The embankment could be considered homogene-
ous with the foundation soil
(b) It was rapidly constructed and assumption Of satu-
rated condition of the fill and the foundation is
(c) The construction resulted in failure
Each of the three statements noted above has a vital message
to convey. An embankment, if it could be assumed to be homoge-
neous with the foundation soil, implies that
(1) The stress-deformation behaviour of the fill and the

70 Stability Analysis
~- -- -... - - - I - - - -~ -...-
----~- -.............. rn ,~
~ I ~,,
/ ~
;~,- ;
---4.-.orn . . -. .
,/~ N

/ --


~ I


~ I ~
rn. - -..-- ~.- --~ ~ ~ - ~
I ~
-- ~...- -.-.. --.- - 4__

._~. .__i

.~ .~. ~.
, ~ -
- .---.. -rn --- ...
~ .. -~ -....
a. ,
~ ~
L ~...
I ~
.. ~ ~
- - - \ ~:\

-~ ~ ~
-~--- -- - - - - -...
. . .~,
II I I I ~ ~ I L I I I I .1 I I
i~ x x
- - - .-~ rn - rn
. -i ~t
- . . .---- ,


.. ~



H I I I ~I~I I I I I I I ~~

TABLE 3.5 C;)
Slice h b r3 (W) W,~ 1
(m) Factor of Safety
No. (m) (in) T/m
1 1.0 0.8 1.8 2.736 8.9 24.35 3.1 F~

2 4.3 1.5 1.8 11.61 7.75 90.00 2.8 (a

3 5.6 0.8 1.8 8.064 6.6 53.20 1.1
4 5.0 2.2 1.8 23.32 5.1 119.00 2.7
~W.~xl 311.90
0.8 2.0 - 9.4x20.6

5 3.7 311.90
2.0 1.8 20.52 3.00 61.56 2.1 193.6 =.1.61 T/m
0.8 2.0
6 2.4 2.0 1.8 17.84 1.0 17.84 2.0
2.3 2.0 36595
2.8 1.8 16.856 1.4 23.8 2.9
7 0.9
2.2 2.0

8 1.6 1.4 2.0 4.48 3.5 15.7 1.5

9 0.7 2.0 2.0 2.8 5.2 14.55 2.4

311.90 20.6

72 Stability Analysis
foundation material would be quite similar, meaning that
there would exist a reasonable strain-compatibility between
the embankment and its foundation

(ii) It is reasonable to assign an average value to the mobili-

sed shear strength parameters
The rapidity ofconstruction in clays under saturated condi-
tion implies the validity of the application of #a = 0 or total stress
From the fact that the embankment had failed, it could be
inferred that corresponding to the mobilised shear strength para-
meters, the factor of safety was unity.
The actual failure surface as measured, perhaps b~means of
slope indicator wells, is marked as ed and Indicated by full line in
Fig. 3.13. One would observe in practice that usually the radius of
curvature ofthe surface ofsliding is least at the upper end, greatest
in the middle and Intermediate at lower end. The curvature of faile
ure surface thus resembles an ellipse.

For the convenience ofanalysis, the actual surface of sliding

can generally be replaced by the arc ofa circle having radius R and
centre at 0, provided idealisation don not involve too much of an
approximation. If the shapc ofthesurface of sliding is such that it
cannot be represented even approximately by an arc of a circle, a
compositc failure surface could be considered for analysis in accor-
dance with the procedures outlined in part A of this chapter.
For finding the average undrained shear strength mobilised at
failure (F = I), moment equilibrium ofthe sliding body should be
considered. One would notice that weight ofarea akfe would tend
to produce failure moment and the weight of area kbd1f would
tend to resist failure. In othcr words, the difference between the
two moments would give the nett disturbing moment which would
be resisted by the stabilising moment due to the shear strength ofthe
The calculations based on the above noted approach are presen-
ted in Table ~.5.
Stability Analysis 73
The mobilised average undrained shear strength so calculated
provides the most reliable design strength parameter under unaltered
set of conditions as stated in the question. It could, therefore, be
used with confidence in the design of berms, which serve as counter
weights by reducing the nett disturbing moment. Again by consider-
ing moment equilibrium, one could arrive at the dimensions of berm
required for achieving factor of safety of 1.3.

Q.3.3, (a) An embankment of non-homogeneous composition

is to be constructed in a single stage to the details
shown in Fig. 3.14. What would be the minimum
factor of safety of the embankment slope in terms
of total stress, if the failure is to take place along
the arc of a circle? Assume complete saturation
of the fill and the foundation.
(b) The embankment, built to the details indicated in
Q.3.3(a), failed at the end-of-construction along the
circular slip surface AR and not along the predic-
ted critical slip surface, explain. Calculate the
factor of safety along the actual slip surface and
compare the value with that obtained by analysing
the critical slip surface.

Solution: Unlike the problem of embankment in Question 3.2.,

the embankment now to be considered is of non-homogeneous
composition and therefore it would be our assumption that the un-
drained shear strength in various embankment layers is to be mobi-
~isedat the same strain, in the absence of any further data on this
Applicability of total stress analysis, being valid, the factor of
safety of any given circular slip surface could be determined by con-
sidering moment equilibrium. The minimum factor of safety will
have to be found by trial and error procedure considering several
circular slip surfaces, one by one.

Consider slip surface, ab, having centre of rotation P, Fig. 3.15.

This slip surface passes through layers of different unit weights and
different undrained shear strengths. For the convenience of calculat-
ing weights and nett disturbing moments, the sliding mass enclosed
within the slip surface can be divided ii~to several triangles,
Fig. 3 14

Stability Analysis 75

rectangles and trapeziunis as shown. For the calculations of resi~ing

moment, the actual lengths passing through layers of different
undrained shear stiength could be considered separately and
cumulative effect determined by simple summations. The calcula-
tions far factor of safety, which happen to be the minimum in this
case, are presented in Table 3.6. In fact, this minimum was

obtained by analysing several circular slip surfaces, the results of

which are recorded in Fig. 3.15.
It is stated in the question that at the endof-construction the
embankment actually failed along the slip circle AB, Fig. 3.15 which
wa~svery different from the Critical Circle established in the
preceding part of the solution to this question. This happening is
in agreement with- the fact (para that total stress analysis
gives a fairly reliable estimate of the end-of-construction factor of
safety but fails to predict correct failure surface. Further explana-
tion to this difference between the predicted and actual failure
surface in total stress analysis lies outside the scope of this document.
It would, however, be pertinent to note, had the effective stress
analysis been made using reliable drained shear strength parameters
and reliable pore pressure variation along the slip surface at failure,
this discrepancy would not,.have resulted.
It would well be asked why the factor of safety obtained on the
critical circle was Ill and not 1.0? This difference could perhaps
be attributed to strain incompatibility between various embankment
layers and lack of complete saturation condition invalidating, in
strict terms, the application of total stress analysis.

On the actual failure circle, one would find a factor of safety

of 1.51 based on ~ analysis as against LII obtained on the
Critical slip circle.

115 IIG -56
.0 0 0 0

1g. ,.5l

0 O~~



Fig. 3.15


Table 3.6

- ~ti.~) _____ U)
I -,. 2103 1-lb

3%- 69 $607 1-76 694294

H, (iS NusMi 6-26 12-39
$ 7. 57 96$ 1-76
5.40 19.30 2 II 2 t9104
12954 (~,,,,, 2116 - 4~2O
I 18- IS - 12-50 2-lI
9-06 5.55 2-lI 106-097
4.07 3-06 2-lI 26-1 WX ~-1I 6-93 2-60 897-96
$12 2-li 7-i
N 3 35
7.48 145$ 2-05 226-604
xy 9-27 4.04 260 893-88
$3.24 12.70 2-06 396-773
9.59 2.05 403804
6-67 2-05 331-719
~4-26 Y! 22-41 5 12 22-81 261605
454 2-06 197
26 49
27-5% 0.51 2.0 4355 70

I 23-SO 2-34 21
1501 5~45 2-
8-02 2-05 85-493 FACTOR OF SAFETYI 5i:~1.11

78 Stability Analysis
Q. 34. (a) A railway embanl~mentis to be routed over tidal swamps
of the Little Rann of Kutch. The longitudinal subsoil
profile, based on preliminary borings, is shown in
Fig. 3.16 together with the proposed bank levels. For
design of embankment section, it is proposed to divide
th~entire embankment length into suitable zones within
which the depth of soft clay foundation could be assum-
ed to be constant. A tentative proposal for one of the
zones is shown in Fig. 3.17. Examine the propQsal
from the stal~ility point of view assuming that the
entire embankment is to be placed in a single stage in
the shortest possible time.

(b) If the berms are not feasible due to difficulties of land

acquisition, name some alternative measures which
could prove promising.

Solution: The problem, once again, involves total stress analy-

sis of circular arc failure surfaces and could be solved on the lines
similar to those illustrated in Q.3.2 and Q.3.3.

Many composite slip surfaces and circular arc surfaces are

possible but the proposal being only tentative, the analysis could be
restricted to only a few slip circles, as shown in Fig. 3.17. The
results of analysis are tabulated for all these slip circles in Fig. 3.17
from which it could be readily seen that slip circle 3 gives the mini-
mum factor of safety of 1.45. This factor of safety being on the
higher side, the tentative proposal (based on this analysis) justifies a
revision by way of reduction in the size of the berms. Attainment
of a factor of safety of 1.2 or 1.3 could be our objective.

If berms are not feasible due to difficulties of land acquisition,

techniques of preloading, stage construction or artificial consolida-
tion by drain wells could be thought of as alternative measures,
which could prove promising.

~ 1200 ~ 0~
L~1_0 4 ~ *44,0
6160, lob I
6*45 1 a)
~O3O 16 120 1 0 V 0 1 ~


1000 0
0 0
0 4,
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
00000 0
0 0

00 041
0 0 0

ewe*e.w~ 10W10 0.100 ewe 040w10,wW 10.OC N 0 eW

060IJNOLEV(L$ ~0_~ ~
~ ~ co.n,. n-10 01.? .0 a 014,4 4*4 .0-4.0 ae.,Sw 5-.
010 0401 0104,4,4,4,4, 4,4,4, 4,p4 4,0 InN to 4,014,4, 5.1 4,4,0 5)?

00000 0 0 0 1) 0 4 0 0 0 1; 00 000 00
CKAINAGt S 1- 0 4, 10 5) to 04 01 .01.04,105) 5) 10 0) 4, 04 55
I Ft.. 60*11* 1 ~ In (0 0 10 - N 4, 5401

0 0 0
0 0
0 #1. 1 Fr~. JOUNO

Fig. 3.16


1~~LEH0.I V

I -91
2 6 2CM
2 845

3 .45

4 1.06

5 -76


F - ~

o.amH 23 In


.7/___ fit ~ ~i/ ~ iii ~ i-V ~ /i/~~. ~ ~ i/I ~_. --- S... ~ (~ - ~f __~. #uI I,, ~ 1,1 ---- -~- -- -- - -


Fig. 3,17


Stability Analysis 81
Q.3.5 An embankment having uniform side slopes of 1.5 horizon-
tal to I vertical was built at a very slow rate to a height of
6 m on rocky foundation with the provision ofa toe filter as
shown in Fig. 3.18. The average effective stress parameters
ot the embankment material (ra=2Tfm), were found to be
cs440 kg/rn and #32. Determine the stability of the
sliding mass in terms of effective stress using (a) Swedish Slip
Circle Method (b) Bishop Routine Method. Assume that the
pore water pressures along the potential slip surface are
governed by the steady state seepage flow net.
santion: The sliding mass could be divided into any finite
number of vertical slices. In the present case, the embankment
slope being uniform and its composition being homogeneous, seven
slices In all, Fig. 3.18, are considered adequate.

Stability analysis in terms of effective stress, in general,

requires two basic calculations viz., the calculation of the weights of
the slices and pore water pressure acting on them. The weight
vectors could be calculated by multiplying the average height of any
slice with its average width and unit weight. The pore water pres.
sure values are either available from plezometric observations or
from steady state seepage flow net. In this case
1 seepage flow net
takes the shape shown in Fig. 3.18.
Based on equations presented in pam 3.5.3 and 3.5.4 of part A
of this Chapter, the calculations using Swedish Slip Circle Method
and Bishop Routine Method are presented in Table 3.7 and Table
3.8 respectively. The presentation is self-explanatory.

82 Stability Analysis

Swedish Shp Ctrcle Method

lable 3.7 ~ W~n~
1 ci)

0 ~Il( 12~ J_____
j ~*cTOP


C C.s.. liii ~ b ----~ ~I ~t
PORE ~lO 3 ,~lO3 ~COItOZ
~l0 .~.lO ~ cat. C~t
t~ 5
I~O. P41 Ht u ~

3 2-2-1~3-~S 36 0 0 0
95T66 ~
2 12 ~TQ ~-A l13L -8 I ~2 ~ 80 ~ Si~ -54 810 6-6~ 1-42
3 ;2 -92; -~0~12 1-2 2321603 -2 -2 -4I~565 ~-6i 2.27 ~7O
A 31 054 -01311-4 ~2 ~-76 6-60 i.~2 32 IS~ 615 5-65 1-4 311!
L.~. ~ -

3 AO 746 ~ 415 1-2 270 6-47 1-02 11.02 1-59 685 2-97 415 338

-- ~----~-----~:---~--- ~- ~ ~.---
6 51 629 771 1-01 l~2 2 AO 5-75 28 48 -~Z 81.0 3-62 441. 270

~ ~ ~J~i9L~ ~5345
~iTh___ ~17-4I ~23-7I
~ ~


____ sec~

BISHOP SIMPLIFIED METHOD f ~[f~ . (W - 1)) ta~] -i ~tan ~ tan~j I

1 ~:ws~~ F

Table 3.8
; A 9rs-
Wsdth ..~
I ~ EiI~=~ 1~ c~ ~
w < j~~f3Cb ~ (w~)3aW

0-85 3-23 I 0 I 3-23 3-23

~ 2-16 3-66 O~ 0 - 0 950

0 0 3-66x 6248~2-2B
-~~_____ ~4
2 a (-92 6-9 I2~ -208 -92 790 84 I-SI s-2O1-624e~ 3-3 4-09 (-02 -212 91 925 3725 3-5
-~~- ~ ~------ ~-~ ~~---~--- ~--- ____---- ~_~ i- -~-
3 1-2 2-52
6-OS 220 -375 2-27 530 (-2 -44 4-6!%-5248~z2-B7 34 -078 -404 -875 0-9 2-97 3-05

- 2L76 6-6
3~-~5_3-4 530 32 58 62483143,a~t
~ ~ ~4 ~ ~
5 -

1-2 2-7 647 40 643 4(6 530 (-02 -22 52SX-624B~3.2~3-61 305 -839 .555 .93 336 3-54

6 (2 24 575 771 444 530 046 575 ~624B~24377 589 (235 935 (0 351 377

7 09 (-08 63-5 895 -72 395 0 0 I-~2X-6248~i-2 ~ 2-241 2-00 (-05 1-14 (-68 -62

17-41 tO 3
~ 2~s75~22.S2
21-675 i2~ 2252
* IWub) tan ~ W(ru) tan ~V $I (7.4$ F~, X10
3= ~

Stability Analysis 85

Q36 An asymetric fill (r=l8 tm8) was placed under undrained

conditions on a sloping ground (r=r2 t/m3), The undrained
shear strength of which is found to increase with depth,
Fig. 3. 19. Calculate the minimum factor of safety against
slope instability assuming that the fill is likely to receive
additional vertical and lateral loading as stipulated in Fig.
319 and there does not exist any possibility of interfacial

Solution: The problem is essentially of analysing sliding on a

circular slip surface passing through strata of varying unit weights
and undrained shear strengths. The only new feature is the inclusion
of additional vertical and horizontal loadings. The effect of vertical
loading could be included in the weight of the slices directly loaded
and the effect of lateral forces could be accounted for by calculating
additional driving moment due to it, to be added to the driving
moment otherwise calculated The calculations tabulated in
Fig. 3.19 are self explanatory.

It is important to note that subsoil showing an increase in un-

drained shear strength with depth generally discourages development
of deep seated failures.

86 Stability Analysis


0 5 10 ~~~ --S

5U~! DRIVING MOMENT (tm/rn) STASfl,1S1NG MOI9ENT (tm/rn)

W X WX C~j I C~l R~C~~t
I 5-4 Il-C 314 30 t-25 3.75
2 27-0 89 2402 3-2 1.2 1344
3 27 7 5.1 157.8 315 36 1550 773-0
4 20-5 23 4~.9 3~ 3.3 1120
S 86 -02 ..V7 3-0 3~5 10.50

X482.5 X 52.39
O.Q =O~8X8~9 F-I

Z ~896


= (5$

Fig. 3.19

Stability Analysis 87

Q.3,7 An embankment was rapidly constructed, on a sloping bed

of stiff clay of considerable thickness, using locally available
silty clay soil compacted at water contents higher than the
optimum. The average undrained shear strengths of the
upper and lower parts of the embankments (Fig. 3.20), were
foun;~to be 37 tm2 and 2.2 tni2 respectively, mobilised
almost at the same strain. Calculate the factor of safety along
the non-circular slip surface AB, in terms of total stress
using janbus Method and allo~~-ing for an aLidltiondl iatc~al
thrust of 0,7 tmS due to cleft water. Assume that the
average unit weight of embankment material equals 195
t --

IdE 4119


I 1-00 07! 211 6.75 51 21-10
~0qP(8P0I4Dl~~G TO -~-= 042
3 041 0-85 228 ~ 2 2 1589 9.06
AND P08 ((~~ 0>)
5 049 0-95 2-5 3-25 22 892 7-70
4 07.1 0 95 26.9 4 23 2-2 9.42 9-72
5 0.25 0-9 154 313 2-2 4-10 7-55
~ ~ ~ 9 10-2 ~-511 29 - I-OR 9-50
F 21.07 s5.eA -ROT 136



Solution: The problem refers to total stress analysis of a non-

circular slip surface using the method suggested by Janbu.

The tact that the embankment was rapidly constructed by

compacting silty clay at water contents higher than optimum, justi
lies the application of total stress analysis. Further, the mobilisa

88 Stability Analysis
tion of undrained shear strength almost at the same strain justifies
the use of average undrained shear strength values in the analysis.
Deeper failure surfaces need not be considered in view of the fact
that stiff clay extends to considerable thickness.

The calculations arc tabulated in Fig. 3.20 and are self

expla natory.

~.3,8. A compacted clay fill (c~= 0; ~ = 2& and y = 1700

3) is required to he placed above an old embankment,
at a uniform slope of 30 with the horizontal in order to meet
the renewed requirements of grade and top width. Examine
the stability of the newly placed fill, in terms of effective
stress, along the interface (a 0; ~6 = l9~) wang I mbaS
Method. Compare the results with those obtained it, inter-
facial sliding is inhibited an!, failu~eis considered possible
only by sliding within the compacted clay fill, Assume the
pie~ornetriehead on the surface of sliding as shown in Fig.
3.21. What would he the corresponding results if the piezo-
metric head is to drop down to zero all along the slip sur-

Solution: The problem involves effective stress analysis on a

noncircular slip surface using the method suggested by lanbu, Pore
pressure conditions have been detinded in Fig. 3.21.

The calculations corresponding to two cases, viz~., (a) pore

pressures as defined by the piezometric head (b) zero pore pressure,
are furnished its two separate Tables in Fig. 3,21. These calcula-
tions are self explanatory.

It must be noted that, if interfacial sliding is prevented, the

factor of safety improves. Towards this effect, it helps t~ provide
suitably cut benches (discontinuous boundary between the old and
the new fill) which improves the shearing resistance of the sliding
mass along the interface.

Stability Analysis




( p U) ptu4.b Cp-U)btki~I~
ta~-~ DUE TO II
SLICE h U21~h ~ 8~
SELF Wt ~ptanA_b
De~r~ pK4/M
2 (METRES) -K~/M2 Pi~/M2 Mts. F21 F2Q-5 Psi P20-

1 0 0 1190 0~45 450 740 2 1-00 1-00 1480 1480 0

2 21 0-3535 3060 1-00 1000 2060 5 0-985 1-01 10450 10080 5560 1 32,590
130 1300 s1O~O 2 0-76
3 21 0-3838 4500 3200 5 0-985 1-01 15200 15900 8650
4 21 0-3838 5780 0-80 500 4980 3-B 0-985 1-01 19200 j 8600 5050 ,
5 21 03835 5780 0 0 5780 1-7 0-985 1-01 10000 - 9650 3780
5 58 116003 3910 0 o 3910 1-0 1 0-519 - 0-57 7540 6820 6250 - l-O3~2320O 074
- 32,590 -

422-2 p4 L: 20-5 *~55,850 ~32~590

d/L20-107 f.1-03
~ 9020 *~54230
146 2
* 8300
.~. ~-(p) 1~pu),b.taiI
SLICE p 2) Psi P21 f
F ~ptan~b
I K91M
1 1190 1-0 2380
2 30O 0-985 1~5O0 1:1-03 7050011! 9920i&nZB
<< 3 4500 0-985
22200 1O3~29500
4 5780 -

5 5780 0-985 70000 -094

6 3910 0519 7540

~ 9920

Fig. 3.21, Stabilily analysis by Janbus method

Stability Analysis 91
Q. 3.9. An important length of approach embankment, 20 m wide
at its b~i~e, wh cli is likely to impose a foundation stress
intensity ot SOOt) kg in2, is proposed to be constructed by
method of preloading, Fig.3.22. Calculate by appi-oximate
~~nlcul~itioii,the gain in shear strength req uii ed Prior :o full
loading if the possibilitIes of ground deformation due to
plastic thiw ai e to he preLluded even at the preloading stage
in order ft protect rather ensitive adjoining structures
against deteriinental effects of resulting heave ups. The
initial average undrained shear strength cf the soft clay
formation can be taken as 1500 kg rn2.

D20m -i
p=eooo K~/m2
4 ~ ~ & ~ &L.
-2-5 ~ 4I~~\ rl~M CLAY
t Ill 4.~~kiL~i~
Hz 4rii ~ 11 Cti~15OOK~/ m2

//~// / / // / / / / / / / ///I~

ROCK Ps Appr~x~t! R,rt~s~t

4u t~ ,,O.s!~,,,,tL~idni~
Fig. ~22

Solutioii: A i-cry approximate or even crude approach to eval-

uate the pci-mis ib e applied stress precluding possihi!i~ics of plastic
ft tw is to resort to Jurgensons anal) sis or restrict its value to thrice
the undrained shear strength of the substratum,

Based on the above criterion, thi~ anpi ied stress Slit uld not
exceed $500 kg m2. Using a 45 stress il stribution, one would huLl
that the applied stress intensity act ual works out a be (~00 i~a~ w~2
indicating possibilities of pernia nent ground deformation 10 -~

plastic squeezing of the substratum, Naturally, tIme und~ainedsiea r

strength should be i inproved to about 21 51) kg ni~to ai old ha rmlul
ellects of ground deformation to the rather sensitive strueture-~cli se
to the embankment preload.

92 Stability Analysis
Q.3.l0 A compacted fill 6.0 m height is placed on soft clay sub-
strata with a sloping hard stratum underneath as shown in
Fig.- 3.23. The properties of material are also shown
in the Fig.. Find the factor of safety by block sliding

yh2 2Ch
1 ,~ ghi
~ ~2N~ ~rj~ z~
2C~/N~xh~-fq.Nqk h7
2(45 ...f~/2)=tan2 12.5)

=-tan2 (57.5)
=(l .56969)2
A~!e(sub-soil)=tan2 (45 + 0)= 1
l.92-~3.O~ ~x(l.921.0)x3.O2
~ 2~2.46 ~46
L92x3.02 + ~(47_1.0)~<3.52
2x2.93x3.5 8.52x3.5
- 1.0 1.0
3,512+ l.682+7.024-4-2.87820.5~+29.82=24.406 t/rn2
p~~ 3,02 x 1 +3.Ox LOx 3.5=4.54-10.4=15.0 t/m2

Pp~ (l.471.0)x4.762-l-2 X 2.93 ~<4.705.324+27.89

=33127 irn~
P-i -Pp~24,406 ----I- 15.0-33.127
=6.279 ;pjm
=6.2 (safe)

r0m 15
W~,H 0)

2-6 m
Fig. 3...!3 CO

Settlement Analysis 95



4.1. General
This chapter concerns itself with one particular mode of un-
satisfactory behaviour that an embankment can be subjected to. The
reference is to detrimental settlement which is distinctly different
from other types of unsatisfactory behaviour such as those caused by
shear failure at the base of the embankment, sliding, lateral flow etc.
In the case of road embankments, especially on approaches to struc-
tures such as bridges, settlements can cause problems of unacceptable
riding quality and heavier than usual maintenance due to the need
to make up levels with expensive bituminous coated material, It is,
therefore, essential to pay attention to this aspect on high embank-
ments so that the post-construction settlement is contained within
reasonable limits.

Settlement refers to the decrease in void ratio of the fill mate-

rial constituting the body of the embankment and/or the subsoil con-
stituting the foundation for the embankment. The process of reduc-
tion in the voids, accompanied by the expulsion of water under
load, is familiarly known as the process of consolidation. A
working knowledge of the expression for computing settlement,
drawing of the e-log p curves on the basis of oedometer tests, etc. is
-pre-supposed on the part of the reader. However, certain aspects of
the subject relating to stress distribution, magnitude and rate of
settlement, implications of the actual pattern of loading defined by
the construction sequence etc., are touched upon further in the
succeeding paragraphs with a view to providing some additional in-
formation to tackle problems rel.ating to settlement analysis at a
higher level of professional competence. The intention at the same
time is to provide information to th~designer to be able to identify
and recognise problems of a special nature, so that these could be
referred to the specialist or a specialist organIsation, it necessary.

98 Settlement Analysis
Because of the complexity of the mechanical properties of soils
and the dktui-bin~i tifli~nceof stratification, settlements cannot be
accurately predicted except under exceptional conditions. Never-
theless, a theoretical analysis of the stress-deformation phenomenon
is indispen~ab~e since the results permit the engineer to at least recog-
nise the factors that determine the magnitude and distribution of
stresses and the resulting settlements. A knowledge of these factors
is a pre-requisite for converting construction experience into semi-
empirical rules for the design of ernbankments.

As the analysis of stresses and deformations in earth embank-

ments is a complex matter, it is necessary to make a number of
assumptions in order to render the problem tractable. One such
assumption is that the actual three-dimensional system can be repre-
sented as a two-dimensional strain problem. Thus, the cross-section
of the embankment and flexible foundation, is considered to be a
typical section taken from the long roadway and fill. Complete
continuity is assumed to exist between the fill and the foundation.
Both embankment and foundation materials are assumed to be
linearly elastic though they may possess different mechanical pro-

4.2. Settlement Anabsis

4.2.1. The accuracy of estimates relating to time rate of
settlement is affected by inaccuracies in calculation of the stress
distribution, secondary compressions, the assumptions made in defin-
ing the initial excess pore pressures that develop in-situ, volume
changes due to lateral strains, difficulties in measuring the in-situ
elastic properties for purposes of estimating the immediate settlement
and creep at constant volume. Hence the settlement analysis usua-
lly give results which, at best, are rough estimates. However, as long
as the accuracy is not misrepresented, there can be little question
that the rough estimate is much more valuable than the pure guess
which often is the only possible alternative.

4.2.2. Settlements in highway embankments occur mainly on

account of:
(i) Compression/consolidation of the embankment fill;
<< (ii) Consolidation of the sub-soil; and
(iii) Creep deformation of the clay sub-strata.
Settlement Analysis 99
4.2.3. Compressibility of embankment fill subsequent to
placement is negligible if due care is exercised while compacting the
layers to meet the spcdicd density requirenients. For properly
constructed highway embankments. this settlement is, therefore, of
little significance and is generally nee~ecled. i\n insight into the
methodology for assessing such settlements can, however, be had by
referring to works of Zienkiewicz (1947), Trollope (1957), Davis and
Taylor (1962), Perloffet al (l9~7). dough and Woodward (1967),
and Doug et al (l9OS).

4.2.4. In the c se of highway embankments, consolidation of

sub-sofl k usually the most important cause of settlement. There-
fore, this aspect is dwelt upon in derail in the succeeding paragraphs.

4.3. Consolidation of Sub-Soil

4.3,1, Most of the setflem~ntof hi~hwayembankments is due
to deformation of sub-soil under the .~mbankmcntloads. This con-
sohidat~oais traditionally considered to have three components:
initial settlement; consolidation settlement; and secondary settlement.
Immediately upon loading, a saturated cohesive soil deforms without
movement of pore water; this is called initial settlement or settlement
due to shear at constant volume since the volumetric compressibility
of saturated ~lay is essentially zero. Subsequently, time-dependent
sett~emenfo~eursas pore water flows out of the soil and load is trans-
ferred to the soil skeleton. The part of the time dependant settle-
nient, where rate is controlled by the rate of dissipation of excess pore
pressure, is called consolidation settlement and it continues until the
pore pressure generated b~ the loading is in equilibrium with the
hydraulic boundary condi~ions. Finally, a time-dependent settle-
ment occurs that is not controlled by the rate of dissipation of excess
pore pressure. This component is referred to as secondary settle-
ment or compression. The principal settlement relevant for highway
embankments is consolidation settlement.

4.3.2. Initial settlement does not have much of a practical

significance in the case of highway embankments. However, if a
designer is interested, this settlement can be calculated by use of
charts prepared among others by Giroud (1968).

<< 4.3.3. Consolidation settlements: Where undisturbed samples

are obtainable, settlements can be predicted by conducting labora-
100 Settlement Analysis
tory consolidation tests applying the appropriate loads. In the
interpretation of laboratory consolidation tests, it is common
practice to include the immediate and secondary compressions of all
previous increments in the calculation of the consolidated void ratio
under the subsequent increment. This practice compensates (in a
general way) for the immediate settlements that occur in the field,
although the time-rate relationships are different.

4.3.4. For the many cases that arise in practice, in which

secondary compressions and creep at constant volume are not of
great importance and in which the compressible stratum is either
deeply buried between layers of stiffer soil, or in thin layers com-
pared to the size of the loaded area, the ultimate settlements can be
calculated by one-dimensional theory. The error on this account
in tl~eprediction of consolidation settlements will seldom exceed
25per cent in the case of normally consolidated deposits. For
over-consolidated deposits, the percentage error may be much higher
but the total settlements will always be much less.

4.3.5. In asmuch as volume changes are considered to be one

dimensional, the apparent consolidation settlement SL of each seg-
ment of clay stratum can be computed using the equation:
C~ P~-~
S= ~-~- D log~0~----,~- --- .. Eqn. 4.1
i i~C0 r0
The apparent total consolidation S is

S=~ ~~ S~ ...Eqn. 4.2

where ~ P=Load increments

P~=initial effective stress at mid depth of compressible
D=full depth of clay stratum;
C~=compressionindex evaluated over the range P0
and P0/~P
e,=initial void ratio

The magnitude of total settlement of the foundation strata is deter-

mined by summation of consolidation in the various strata forming
the foundation. To allow for the variation of pressure with different
depths (see para 4.4 for method of calculation in this regard), the
Settlement Analysis 101

sub-strata is generally divided into thin layers and settlements

calculated for each layer separately before totalling. The first task
therefore is to identify the number and thickness of layers to be
considered. This can be done with tl~ehelp of borehole log

4.3.6. Coefficient of compressibility a~,coefficient of volume

compressibility n~ coefficient of consolidation C~,and coefficient of
permeability k, are related to one another by the relationship:

a0=,.~2 ; ... Eqn. 4.3

~ ... Eqn. 4.4

c~ ~ and ...Eqn. 4.5

~S=m~. D. ...Eqn. 4.6

where yw is the unit weight of water and e is the final void

4.3.7. For clays which are normafly loaded and which are of
ordinary sensitivity, experience has shown that the Compression
index C~ is related to the liquid limit of the soil by the statistical
relationship C=-O.009 (LLlO). It may, therefore, be prudent
to take advantage of this relationship to evalpate C~in case of
normally loaded clays without resorting to extensive consolidation
tests. However, consolidation tests would be necessary where the
embankment is built on deep deposits of soft clay and where both
marnitude and rate of settlement have to he determined to formulate
the method of foundation treatment and or the method of construc-
tion. Consolidation tests would also be necessary in the case of
clays which are known to be over-consolidated or pre-loaded and
sometimes even to determine whether a clay is normally loaded or
preloaded. For over.consohidated clays, the C~value obtained from
laboratory consolidation tests is apt to be lower whereas for under-
consolidated clays, the C~value obtained from laboratory consoli-
dation tests is apt to be higher than for a normally consolidated
clay. The prediction of settlements using the C~value ignoring the
tact that the clay had been pre-consolidated and treating it as
though it had been normally consolidated would result in an error

102 Settlement Analysis
on the conservative side and the error may happen to be apprecia-
ble if the degree of over-consolidation is particularly high.

4.3.8. Rate of consolidation settlement: The time z required

to reach a certain perc~itageof consolidation in a stratum is given
by the equation.

Where T=Time factor corresponding to the degree of consolidation

of consolidation for range of stress appli-
H=the length of the effective drainage path. For one-way
drainage H=D and for two-way drainage H==D2
D~=Depthof compressible strata
4.3.9. The value of time factor T for various degrees of con-
solidation and different drainage conditions is taken either from
Tables 4.1 and 4.2 or Fig. 4.1 which gives the relationship between
the aimensionless time factor T and the average percentage of con-
solidation U for various typical boundary conditions. The choice
of curve in Fig. 4.1 or column in Tables 4.1 and 4.2 depends on the
type of drainage conditions and pore pressure distribution diagram.
For a typical embankment where a clay layer in the sub-soil is situa-
ted below a sand blanket on the top and a gravelly strata below,
the drainage is two-way and curve 1 in Fig. 4.1 or column 4 of
Table 4.1 should be used to evaluate T. In case there is no gravelly
layer underlying the clay stratum, drainage will occur in only one
direction towards the sand blanket and curve 2 in Fig. 4.1 or
column 3 of Table 4.2 would be appropriate.
4.3.10, Secondary compression: Secondary compression occurs
at a speed which is dependent on the plastic characteristics of clay,
resulting in a reduction of the void ratio. The compression results
essentially due to plastic re-adjustment of the soil particles and of
the absorbed water due to the continued stress and the result of
progressive fracture of some of the particles. The extent of com-
pression depends mainly on the natural water content of the soil. In
highly organic soils, highly micaceous soils, and some soft clays, the
amount of secondary compression can be comparable to that due
to primary or hydrodynamic consolidation. In ordinary highway

z 0
SI .4

SI >
20 CD

4 (I)
4 C,

I. ~~0iATI0NS
0 _______ U,


0 3:

Fig. 4.1 Time factors for consolidation analysi


104 Settlement Analysis

Table 4.1 Time Factor-Degree of Consolidation Values for

Two-nay Drainage

Degree of Consolidation, ~i

1 l1~V~\~7k _____ 2H ~nuso~d

1 2 3 4

0.000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000

0.004 0.0795 0.0649 0.0098
0.008 0.1038 0.0862 0.0195
0.012 0.1248 0.1049 0.0292
0.020 0.1598 0.1367 0.0481
0.028 0.1889 0.1638 0.0667
0.036 0.2141 0.1876 0.0850
0.048 0.2464 0.21% 0.1117
0.060 0.2764 0.2481 0.1376
0.072 0.3028 0.2743 0.1628
0.083 0.3233 0.2967 0.1852
0.100 0.3562 0.3288 0.2187
0.125 0.3989 0.3719 0.2654
0.150 0.4370 0.4112 0.3093
0.167 0.4610 0.4361 0.3377
0.175 0.4718 0.4473 0.3507
0.200 0.504! 0.4809 0.3895
0.250 0.5622 0.5417 0.4603
0.300 0.6132 0.5950 0.5230
0.350 0.6582 0.6421 0.5783
0.40 0.6973 0.6836 0.6273
0.50 0.7640 0.7528 0.7088
0.60 0.8156 0.8069 0.7725
0.70 0.8559 0.8491 0.8222
0.80 0.8874 0.8821 0.8611
0.90 0.9119 0.9079 0.8915
1.00 0.9313 0.9280 0.9152
2.00 0.9942

1.0000 1.0000 1.0000

Settlement Analysis 105

Table 4.2 Time Factor-Degree of Consolidation Values for

One-way Drainage

Degree of Consolidation, ,~
Factor, 4~H

0.000 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000

0.004 0.0795 0.0085 0.1505
0.008 0.1038 0.0162 0.1914
0.012 0.1248 0.0241 0.2255
0.020 0.1598 0,0400 0.2796
0.028 0.1889 0.0560 0.3218
0.036 0,2141 0.0720 0.3562
0.048 0.2464 0.0950 0.3978 4

0.060 0.2764 0.1198 0.4330

0.072 0.3028 0.1436 0.4620
0.083 0.3233 0.1646 0.4820
0.100 0.3562 0.1976 0.5 148
0.125 0.3989 0.2442 0.5536
0.150 0,4370 0.2886 0.5854
0.167 0.4610 0.3174 0.6046
0.250 0.5622 0.4432 0.6812 +
0.300 0.6132 0.5078 0.7186
0.350 0.6582 0.5649 0.7515
0.40 0,6973 0.6154 0.7792
0.50 0.7640 0.6994 0.8286 a.
0.60 0.8 156 0.7652 0.8660
0.70 0.8559 0,8165 0.8953
0.80 0.8874 0.8566 0.9182
0.90 0.9119 0.8880 0.9358
1.00 0.9313 0.9125 0.9501
2.00 0.9942 0.9930 0.9960
1.0000 1.0000 1.0000

106 Settlement Analysis

embankments resting on good soil, primary settlements comprise

the major portion of the soil volume reduction and the magnitude
of the secondary compression is quite small, which can thus be
neglected. Nevertheless in a number of cases, embankments resting
on soft foundation soils may have to be designed to reduce post.
~onstructionsecondary compression settlements to an insignificant

4.3.11. The amount of secondary compression is not deter-

mined from the settlement computations based on the usual stress-
void ratio curve from laboratory tests because this curve represents
hydro-dynamic plus initial compression. It must be estimated sepa-
rately from the time-settlement curves and added to the primary and
the immediate settlements using the equation:

i~e=a Logio(~!_) ...Eqn. 4.8

in which
t2==total elapsed time since load was applied to soil

~=a coefficient which represents rate of secondary com-

pression, obtained from the laboratory time-settlement
t~=the period required for the hydrodynamic (primary. con-
solidation) to be nearly complete. The time corresponding
for 90 per cent consolidation is sometimes used.

4.3.12. Settlements due to creep: Creep is a property of the

material which allows it to he deformed very slowly under sustained
stress without rupture, without elastic rebound and without volume
change i.e. consolidation. Laboratory shear tests are normally per-
formed too rapidly to include creep effects and vertical movements
resulting from creep deformation are normally not considered in
making either stability or settlement analysis. Creep strength of
clays may vary from 25 to 90 per cent of the strength4etermined from
normal laboratory shear tests. Special long time testing techniques
are required to determine creep strength. In embankments on thick,
soft foundation sub-soil with slow consolidation and low factor of
safety, lateral creep deformations and consequently vertical settle.
ments can be substantial. When consolidation is expected to be
slow, excessive lateral creep deformation can be reduced to tolerable
settlement Analysis 107
amounts by using higher stability safety factors such as 1.4 to 1.5,
but there is no sure way of determining the creep settlements. Move-
ments due to creep can also be reduced by provision of berms. As
a measure to prevent creep, it may be desirable to design an em-
bankment using residual rather than the peak strength and adopt
higher factors of safety.

4.4. Determination of Stresses within the Foundation for

Settlement Analysis
4.4,1. In equation 411, the value of~Pdepends on the con-
tact pressure and the least dimension of the loaded area. Because of
the considerable base width of most embankments, the stress beneath
the centre of embankment usually decreases very slowly with depth.
The general approach for determining the stresses below the em-
bankment is to integrate the Boussinesq solution for stresses due to
a single vertical load on a semi-infinite homogenous isotropic mass.
For common embankment problems, influence charts developed by
Osterberg (1957) are useful and provide ready solution. These are
reproduced here as Fig. 4.2 for ease of reference, The stress given
by the chart is the vertical stress directly under the vertical face of
an embankment of infinite extent. \Vertical stresses for any point
in the foundation can be found by super-imposition. For stresses
under a corner, such as the vertical face of an embankment ending
abruptly against a wall, the stresses are one half of those given in
the chart.
4.4.2. Several other solutions for determining the vertical
stresses under an embankment are also available. For instance,
Middlebrooks (1936) Newmark (1941, 1942), Perloffet al (1967),
W. Steinbrenner (1934) and R.E. Fadum (1948) have developed
solutions for such cases.
4,4.3. The design load used to evaluate the settlement and
stability is the weight of overlying embankment and, pavement mate-
rials. Except for the upper on~emetre or so, embankments are not
seriously effected by traffic loads and as such traffic loads are gene-
rally neglected. When designing approaches, if the abutment for
floating span rests on the embankment, load due to this however
has to be considered. Another requirement in the case of floating
abutment is to determine the bearing capacity near the slope accord-
ing to procedure recommended by Meyerhof (1957).

108 Settlement Analysis
4.5. Consolidation Settlenients vis-a-vis the Loading
4.5.1. The loading period is generally preceded by excav~don
and then the load is applied at a varying rate. Frequently, the
loading is approximated by a uniforni rate (Leonards. 1962) and
the settlement at the end of the loading period is assumed to he the
same as thai which would have resulted in half the loading period,
had all the load been applied at once. In priflc1ple, the rate of
primary consolidation can be calculated for any variation of load-
ing to any degree of precision desired by splitting up the increasing
load into small increments, calculating the rate of settlement for
each increment independently, and adding the resulting values.
This approach is too cumbersome for practical purposes.

4.5.2. The settlement analysis can give reasonably close

forecast of the amount and rate of settlement provided care and
judgement are exercised in the selection of samples and interpreta-
tion of test results. Bore-hole records covering the whole site
should be carefully studied. If the soil strata over the site are
similar, a representative soil profile can be drawn for the site and
the average values of C~and C~ marked thereon lor each strata.
The choice of a representative soil profile involves careful judgement.
In the case of thick clay strata, compressibility must not be assumed
as constant throughout. Normally loaded clays usually show
progressively decreasing conipressibility with increasing depth.

4.5.3. Rate of settlement will be maximum when the embank-

ment is saturated and the sub-soil is buoyant. These parameters
are liable to change with season. The embankment load will
increase during rainy season when density may be close to saturated
density and will reduce during dry seasons. Thus settlement will
be occurring at different rates during different seasons and the
calculations of total time required for settlement will have to be
modified to account for these variations.

4.6. Tolerable Settlements

4.6.1. For highway embankments, the allowable settlement
after paving depends on the height of the fill and the rate at which
the settlement develops. Post-construction settlements of as such
as 0.3 to 0.6 m are generally considered tolerable during the design

Settlement Analysis 109

r*~-6 r,,-+3,~ ~. 9m 4 6


Example 1 : Find the vertical stress beneath an embankment at

the location shown in figure a
a b
For the Left Side, -~=1, -=0.5,
z z
and from Chart 1=0.397, FIG. (a)
Similarly for Right Side, 1=0.478
i, 6m~6m 1 2n, j 6rnH
and the total 1=0.397+0.478=0.875
The vertical stress is then az=O875q.

Example 2: Find the vertical stress beneath an embankment at

the location shown in figure b
For dashed and solid portion,
~-=1, P~.,=4,and 1=0.499. FIG. (b)

Subtract the influence value for dashed portion,

~ P1, 1=0.455,
The stress then is az=0.044q. }.3m4.3n~ I2rn-~6m~

Example 3: Find the vertical stress beneath the embankment at

the location shown in figure c ______________________________

Stress due to abc, is the same as due to cde, since one

is plus and the other is minus, the stress is same as
the embankment was vertical at b rn

.~- =1, ~- =2.5 and from Chart 1=0.492

The stress then is az...0.4q.

FIG. (C)

SOURCE : Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Soil Notes:

Mechanics and Foundation Engineering Vol. I. I. The stress given by the chart is the vertical stress directly under the vertical face of an embank-
Extracts : Influence values for vertical stresses in a semi-infinite mass due ment of infinite extent.
from to an Embankment Loading. (Page, 393) By Br. J.O. Osterberg 7. For stress under a corner such as under the vertical face of embankment ending abruptly
(Illinois, U.S.A.) against a wall, the stresses,are ~ of those given in the chart.

Fig. 4.2. Influence chart for vertical stress embankment loading infinite extent boussinesq case

Settlement Analysis 111

life of a pavement provided they

(a) are reasonably uniform (As a measure of uniformity,
differential settlements of the order of 5 cm in 30 cm
length could be considered acceptable),
(b) do not occur adjacent to pile supported structure or
abutments; and
(c) occur slowly over a long period of time.

4.6.2. In general, settlements occurring during the construc-

tion period before the road is paved are not objectionable. Therefore,
from that angle, the overall settlements could be much higher
than 0,3 -0.6 m as mentioned above. Settlements are also not
detrimental if they occur slowly over a long period of time as in
that case defects occurring due to settlement can be rectified during
periodical resurfacing.
4.6.3. On approaches to bridges however, the differential
settlement between the abutment and the embankment has to be
restricted to a low figure. Tolerable settlements commonly specified
are 0.01 to 0.03 metre.
4.6.4. In the case of embankments where excessive settle-
ments are expected to occur, it may become necessary to institute
measures to expedite the rate of settlement so as to limit the
deformationafter paving. Some of the possible measures in this
regard are discussed in para 4.7.
4.6.5. Where settlements are expected to continue for some
time, it is prudent to have a greater width for the embankment at
the top than the final desired width, so that it may be easy to
maintain the correct profile after the anticipated consolidation has
occurred. If this extra width is not allowed, it will be necessary to
widen the embankment subsequent to consolidation involving
tipping of the extra material needed, a process which is liable to
produce slips.

4.7. Measures to Limit or Expedite Settlement

4.7.1. Highly compressible soft foundations pose many
difficulties in the construction of embankments. To minimise exces-
sive post-construction settlements, different solutions might have
to be considered in difficult situations, either singularly or in combi-

112 Settlement Analysis
nation. Some of the more important methods and variations of
each are discussed furtheron.

4.7.2. Use of light weight materials for embankment construc-

tion: Settlement and stability problems can be decreased if the
weight of the embankment is reduced. Light weight materials such
as flyash, expanded shale, cinder, slag, saw dust etc. have been
used with good degree of success in several cases for embankment
construction to lessen the load on the foundation materials. How-
ever, availability of these rnatefials and the relative costs are factors
that may affect their use.

4.7.3. Partial or total removal of undesirable material: When

unsatisfa.~tory material is encountered at or near the surface, it
may be economical and prudent to remove part or all of it and
replace it with acceptable materials than to deal with the problem
of continuing subsidence over years. This treatment is often used
in swampy areas of peat and muck deposits.

Generally on high embankment projects, removal of 1.53m

of material may easily be possible over the full width of the fill.
However, on the whole, this will be governed by the costs involved
relative to other methods.

Excavation of soft foundation soils and their replacement are

often considered relatively simple operations. Practically, however,
this is not the case and stringent inspection and control may usually
be necessary to assure satisfactory and economical results. At
times, more sophisticated techniques like blasting may have to be
adopted to achieve displacement of the soft material, followed by
controlled placement of the foundation and embankment fill. In
certain cases, displacement may also be possible by surcharge of
embankment weight (see 4.7.4) assisted by controlled excavation.

4.7.4. Use of stage construction/surcharge fill: If the embank-

ment is placed well before the roitd is paved, post-construction
settlements would be considerably reduced. This can be possible
if a deliberate policy of stage construction is followed and the
embankment is built in stages over a period of time. Of course,
this requires that the work should be planned sufficiently in advance.
Settlement Analysis 113

An :ilternttive to steu~e constrLletion is that the elevation of

IdI placed during the prcioading period is kept higher than required
for the final emhink~nent levels. si th~itmore settlement occurs
during :i given time period than would be achieved by placing only
the required thickne~sof embankment fill. This is the basic concept
of using :~urcharge luadin~itills. The height and stage of the
surcharge is n.ually based ~ information obtained from site investi-
gations, iabo~ator tests, and the time :tvaiiable before pavement
construction. The surcharge for embankment should be specially
designed foe each ease. Typical surcharge configurations are shown
in Fig. 4.3. Since the lower part of surcharge will alternatively
become sub-grade, it is desirable that the surcharge should be com-
pacted to embankment standards to a sufficient depth keeping in
view the estimated settlement.

/27 7777~7)~7

___ ~--~ - --. ~----* -


I ~

tb~ r~~ii:~



Fig. 4.3 Typical surcharge sections

114 Settlement Analysis
4.7.5. Use of sand drains: For thick deposits of soft soils, it
may be often economically advantageous to instal vertical sand
drains in the soft foundation soil to expedite its consolidation.
Guidance about design of sand drains can be had from standard
literature on the subject. However, it needs to be noted that sand
drains may not be successful in all types of situations, for instance
they may serve no purpose in fibrous organic materials. Also,
vertical drains are not useful to reduce secondary compressive

In some cases, it might be expeditious to provide sand drains

in combination with surcharge loading (see 4.7.4) to accelerate the
rate of consolidation.

4.7.6. Other techniques: In situations where either very

heavy settlements are~expected or the settlement is expected to occur
over a prolonged period causing problems of maintenance, stability,
and/or design of other connected structures, it may be expedient to
use viaducts or trestles to byepass the troublesome section.

Another method (tried in Sweden) could be to employ a

large number of timber piles with pile caps covering 30 to 50 per
cent of base area above which the embankment fill is placed. The
fill arches between the individual pile caps so that piles carry the

4.8. Special Precautions at Bridge Approaches

4.8.1. Differential settlements between an approach fill and
the bridge deck not only present a hazardous condition to rapidly
flowing traffic, but also create a rough and uncomfortable ride for
vehicles at the transition between the fill and the bridge deck. In
addition, these surface faults require costly maintenance.

4.8.2. Often the principal cause of settlement in a bridge

abutment is not the weight of the abutment alone, but the weight of
the embankment material in the general area as well. Therefore, if
most of the grading is done within the abutment area followed by a
calculated waiting period to eliminate settlement, then the future
loads from the abutment, bridge structure, and live loads will
usually be of minor significance,
Settlement Analysis 116
4.8.3. In swampy areas consisting of peat and muck deposits,
the soil is usually excavated and backfilled with a s~itablegranular
material which will compress rapidly as the embankment is cons-
tructed. In areas of expansive soils, the backfill should be of an
open-graded granular material, placed with proper compaction under
specially designed approach slabs, to protect the approach pave-
ment and the bridge abutment from the forces created by soil
expansion. Where granular backfill material is not available,
special treatment with small percentages of lime may be used to
minimize volume changes.
4.8.4. Practices employed to correct settlement of approach
slabs include bituminous epoxy resin overlays, slab-jacking etc., and
in extreme cases, removal and replacement. Whenever such prob-
lems are envisaged, a specialist should be consulted.

4.9. Weeked em Examples

A few typical exaitplcs of settlement analysis are given as
illustration hereinafter.
Q.4.9.1. An embankment 8 m height is built over a clay
layer of 4.27 m thickness which is undlaid by impervious rock.
The soils involved have the following characteriltics:

C,sO.2634 (from consolidation test result)
C.O.947x 10- cm/sec (_4o_)
Sp. gr. G2.67
dl.45 gm/cc
Embaakmat Sell
y...a2.30 gmjcc
ya 2.08gm/cc
Determine (1) the total settlemeni
(ii) Time for total settlement
<< (iii) Settlement at the end oflyr.,2yrs.,3yrs.,4yrs,,
and S yrs.
116 Settement Analysis

Assuming the worst case i.e. embankment to be saturated
and sub-strata as submerged.
y,~,for sub-soil=(ln) Gy,~-~-ny~
=1.006 gmcc

Initial void ratio e~=

0= Yb x depth
=0.906x -~-=h94 gm/cm2
xh=2.30x400=1840 gm/cm
Total Sett1ement=H~log
1+e0 P0
=427x 1+0.841 . log10 194+1840

=0.247 x 10
x 365 x 24 x 60 x 60 cm~/yr
=2985 cm2/yr.

Time Factor T= H2

For t=1 yr, T

1= 2985xl =0.01636

From UT Table for one way drainage and pressure distribution in

columns 2 of Table 4.2
For T=0.01636, U=0.1432
Settlements in I yr; S1=62.4x0.143=8.95 cms
t=2 yrs, T2=0.03272, U~=0.204O, S,=12.72 cms
1=3 yrs, T3=O.04908, U3=O.2489, ~= 15.52 cms
Settlement Analysis 117
t=4 yrs, T4=0.06544, U~=0.2785, 54=17.40 cms
t=5 yrs, T5=0.08180, U2=0.3204, S1=20 cms
Settlement per year is only 3 t~4 cms.
For U=0.9942 T=2
=122 yrs.
Period for total settlement=z=-
4.9.2. A soil of specific gravity 2.65 has a moisture content of
18 per cent when fully saturated. A 1.9cm thick sample of the soil
tested in a standard consolidometer shows a compression of
0.05 cm when the load is increased from 0.4 kgcm2 to
0.8 kg/cm2. What is tl~compressionindex of the soil?

Change in thickness of sample is brought about by the reduc-

tion in voids.

Initial void ratio, e
Initial load,
Initial thickness, P, =0.4
H=l.9 cmkg/cm
Change in thickness,~H=0.05cm
Final load, P=0.8 kg/cm2
Change in void ratio, e= -~j-~(l
= ~ (1.477)=0.034
Compression index, C~= ~

log Plog P
log 0.8log 0.4
<< 0.034

4.9.3. A stratum of clay with an average liquid limit of

45 per cent is 7.6 m thick. Its surface is located at a depth
of 10,67 m below the present ground surface. The natural
118 Settlement Analysis
water content of the clay is 40 per cent, and the unit weight of the
solid clay particles is 2.78 gm per cu. cm. Between the ground
surface and the clay, the subsoil consists of fine sand. The water
table is located at a depth of 4.67 m below the ground surface.
The average submerged unit weight of the sand is 1040 kg/rn3,
and the unit weight of the moist sand located above the water
table is 1760 kgm3. From geological evidence, it is known that
the clay is normally loaded. The weight of the embankment that
will be constructed on the sand above the clay increases the
present overburden pressure on the clay by 1.2 kg/cm8. Esti-
mate the average settlement of the embankment.


C~0.009(L L 10)
=0.009 (45 l0)~ 0.315
D1ogio~ .-
L --r(o L ~

For calculating the submerged weight of clay,


The void ratio of clay, ~r.:G>~

moisture content

=2.78x ~~=l.ll2

= xI 1=0.840 gm/cm3

=840 kgm3

Initial pressure P~,=4.67xl760+6~l040+1~6..x840

=17.655 kgm2
Increase in pressure, AP= 12,000 kg/rn2
Average settlement,
0.315 rl7,6s5-~-12,000
- I 112 7.6 log
1 L_~-~T~35
<< =0.24970 m
=24.97 cm
Settlement Analysis 119

4.94. A clay layer, 9 rn thick, is underlain by impervious

rock and is covered with free drainage sand. Laboratory consolida-
tion test on a 2.5 cm thick sample, obtained ftom the clay layer,
requires 500 seconds for 50 per cent consolidation, The laboratory
sample was drained both at top and at bottom. Calculate the time
required for 50 per cent consolidation in the field.

Solution: The value of dimensionless time factor, T, for

50 percent consolidation both in the field and the laboratory is the
yff2 (~ j/~

Assuming that the coefficient of consolidation C remains constant

for all ranges of pressure, with subscripts I and I referi ing to field
and laboratory samples, respectively,
H12 11,2
T z~ 1~

Since the laboratory sample has two-way drainage.

1=-~=l.25 cm.

(1.25)2 (9x 111CO)2


~e. t,=(900). ~1.2 ~ seconds
=2960 days.

4.9.5. The accompanying time-dial reading curve, Fig. 4.4

was obtained during a consolidation test on a soft glacial clay tested
in the laboratory when the pressure was increased from 1.66 kg sq.
cm to 3.33 kgsq. cm. The~voidratio after 100 per cent consolida-
tion under 1.66 kg,,sq. cm. was 0.945 and that under 3.33 kg sq. cm
was 0.8 12. The dial was set at zero at the beginning of the test.
and the initial height of the sample was 1.9 cm. Drainage
was permitted at both faces of the simple. Compute the coefficient
of consolidation, coefficient of compressibility and coefficient of
volume permeability corresponding to the stated increment of
125 137. 0 0
149. 2
I 57. 0
163 0
73. 0
182 I
204. 5
0 219. 5
* 175 231. 8
243 8
0, 251.0
z 254. 0
0 200
4 261.0

0 225 C)

250 CD


Fig. 4.4 U)

Settlement Analysis 121

To determine dial reading Rd at 0 per cent ~onsolidation,

choose t1= 1.0 mm
For t1==1.0, R4== 163
For t1=0.25, Raoo~I53
For U= .0 a=l0; 2a=20 (see Fig. 4.4)
too Rd= 1632Q=~143
For U=lOO%, R~=236
For U= 50
/0 Rd== 143+(236.- 143)/2= 189.5
For U== ~ /0~
.~, R =5 min= 300 sec (from Fig. 4.4)
For U= 50%, T0=0.197
For U= ~o 211=1.90.1895=1.71 cms.
.., /0 H==.855 cms.
Hence, Till 0197
ct,= ~ = ~ x(0.855)
=4.8 x 1O-~sq. csnjsc
e0e1 0.945~0.812 0.133
a~~~= 333016&1 1~7W
=7.96x 10i sq. cm/g
5 sq. cm/g

Some Soil MechanicS 123
Considerations in the
Placement of Fill

Some Soil
in the Placement
of Fill


5.1. Placement Variables

5.1.1. In the field, the engineer can control three variables:

the water content of the soil, theamount of compaction, and the type
of compaction. Different combinations of these variables produce
different characteristics in the compacted soil. The placement con-
ditions determine the density and structure of compacted soils.
Density and structure in turn control the engineering behaviour of
the soil.

5.1.2. Design of earth structures assumes certain properties of

soil. These assumptions are based on results of laboratory tests.
It is imperative that the assumed properties are actually realize~iin
the field. If this is not to happen, it is important to ascertain the
extent of the difference between what was assumed and what is rea-
lized so that the design may be appropriately modified. To ensure
that soil upon compaction in the, field attains properties to the desired
level, the field engineer needs to concentrate on controlling three
compaction variables which are considered in turn below:

(i) Water content of soil at compaction

It is well nigh impossible to compact all the stipulated quantity
of soil at one water content. Variation in the water content of soil,
as it reaches the construction site, will be more for free-draining soil
than for low-permeability soil. Of course the change in moisture
content will be more when there are greater chauges in the environ-
mental conditions. The designer should stipulate the acceptable range
of waler content at compaclion. This range must also be such that
it does not approach the water content at which infinite effort is
required to achieve specified density (see para 5.3).

~26 Some Soil Mechanics Considerations

(ii) Amount of compaction: The energy imparted to a given

VO~L4fl1Cof soil during compaction cai~notbe precisely measured in
the held. Qualitatively, a unit volume of soil can be subjected to
greater energy by increasing the weight of the roller, by increasing
the number of passes of the roller on a layer of soil and by decreas-
ing the thickness of the layer. Typically one uses a layer which after
compaction reduces to 15 cm and number of passes are of the

order of 8 to 16. Whether the soil has been subjected to adequate

compaction energy or not is assessed by determining the dry density
of the compacted fill. Thede.cigner should specify the dry density
and leare it to the field engi1eer to obtain that dry density by the comrn
paction equipment available to him.

(iii) Type of compaction: Currently rollers are built with var-

ious combinations of the four basic types: steel drum, sheepsfoot,
pneumatic tyre and vibratory. Rollers that have a vibratory ele-
ment in them are usually more effective for compacting free-draining
soils. For low permeability soils, pneumatic tyre and sheepsfoot
rollers have been found to be effective. Since the type of roller is
an important determinant, the designer should specify the type of roller
to be used.

5.2. Soil Processing

5.2.1. Earth embankments normally involve placement of
very large quantities of soil. it is, therefore, usually necessary
from an economic point of view to use soil as it exists in nearby
borrow areas. Processing the soil in terms of altering its grain size
distribution is rarely feasible. Such processing is normally limited
to the removal of large size cobbles and in ensuring that the filler
material has the proper grain size distribution characteristics.

5.2.2. Certain amount of processing is possible by judicious

use of excavating equipment in relation to the soil profile in the
borrow areas and job requirements. For example take a situation
when the soil profile in the borrow ateas consists of alternating
layers of high and low permeability material. If job tequirements
demand that the two materials be separated during excavation and
placed in different parts of the embankment, it is advisible to use
a scrapper for excavation purposesscrapping off each layer in turn.
On the other hand if the job requirement is that the two materials
in the Placement of Fill 127
be mixed and the resulting medium permeability material is required
for the embankment, this can be achieved by using a shovel such
that each scoop cuts into two or more layers of the soil profile.

5.2.3. Altering the water content of the soil from the borrow
area before placement of soil is the only usual soil processing in
embankment construction. Water content is increased by spraying
water on the soil usually after it has been spread at the embank-
ment site, and water content is reduced by scarifying the soil surface
at the borrow area and letting the water evaporate before soil is
transported to the embankment site.

5.3. Minimum Compaction

5.3.1. Soil is compacted so that after compaction, it possesses
a set of engineering properties with each property having a magni-
tude which was assumed by the designer. The desired order of
magnitude is achieved by controlling the dry density and structure
of the soil through proper manipulation of the placement variables.
Soil is compacted, therefore, to control its engineering properties
and not just to increase its density. Attempt to indiscriminately
increase soil density is in fact bad engineering. It is bad for two
reasons, one, because increasing density does not always improve
soil properties, and, secondly, because increasing density requires
energy and application of energy is possible only by incurring cost.
Good engineering demands that ones objective should be achieved
~t minimum cost. Cost is usually minimized by minimizing energy
input. In other words, one should attempt to achieve the specified
dry density with the specified range of water content by applying
as little compactive effort as is possible. Fig. 5.1(a) shows a typical
dry densitywater content relation for a soil compacted by different
energies and Fig. 5.1(b) shows the energy required to obtain a
specified dry density for various water contents. It will be noted
from Fig. 5.1(b) that the water content at which one can obtain the
specified dry density with minimum energy is that at which the line
of optimum meets the specified dry density. However, it should also
be noted that if in the field, one happens to get soil at a water
content somewhat higher than that associated with minimum energy,
it would require much greater energy, to achieve the specified dry
density. Since the field engineer can only work within a range of
water contents, it is desirable for overall economy that this range

128 Some Soil Mechnics Considerations


z Energy reqd. to
epec. Td (b)



mm. Woc
~ range

(n)min t~ ot which ~pcc, ~(d achieved with min,energy.

~ (L) ct .which spcc. ~dachieved with infinite cner~y
Fig. 5.1
in the Placement of Fill 129
of water contents should be somewhat drier than the water content
associated with minimum energy. (see para 5.1)

5.4. Engineering Beha~iour

5.4.1. Since the purpose of compaction is to produce soil
with a particular set of engineering properties, the designer needs
to know how varying placement conditions affect soil properties.
The influence of placement conditions on properties is through its
effect on the dry density and structure produced upon compaction.

5.4.2. The influence of water content at compaction and

amount of compaction on dry density is shown in Fig. 5.1(a). The
type of compaction may shift the location of these typical inverted
V shape curves but the characteristic shape of the curves is not
altered. The influence of dry density on engineering behaviour is
intuitively understood by all engineersthat is, higher density, greater
shear strength, lesser the permeability, the lower compressibility.

5.4.3. The influence of placement conditions on soil structure

is somewhat more complicated. The two limiting types of structures
are known as flocculated and dispersed. flocculated structure
implies a random arrangement of particles with strong particle
contacts whereas dispersed structure consists of an oriented arrange-
ment of particles with relatively weak particle contacts. Soil
becomes more dispersed as the placement water content is increased,
as the amount of compaction is increased, and as one uses a type
of compaction which produces more shearing strain during the
compaction process. Shearing strains produced are minimum when
one uses a drum roller, are more when one uses a rubber tyred
roller, and are maximum when one uses a sheepsfoot roller. Influence
of structure on engineering behaviour is summarized in Table 5.1
by comparing properties of two samples with different structures
but having same dry density.

5.5. To Compact Dry or Wet

5.5.1. After the discovery that compaction at optimum water
content produced maximum dry density and before the influence
of compaction conditions on structure was known, construction
engineers were working with the intuitive notion that greater the
density, better is the soil. They always chose to compact the
130 Some Soil Mechanics Considerations

Parameter Property, Behaviour Dry of Optimum Wet of Optimum

i)ry densit sa me same
\Vater content low high
Structure on compaction dispersed
1~random) (oriented)
Shrinkage on drying low high
Swelling on access to water high low
Isotropic t
Permeability Anisotropic~
1. k, kp)
at low stress low high
at medium stress high low
at high stress same same
Construction pore
pressures tow high
Shear behaviour
(immediate post-compaction)
stress-strain brittle plastic
peak strength high low
ultimate strength same same
Shear behaviour (after
saturation at constant
effective stress)
Stress-strain similar similar
peak strength similar similar
ultimate strength same same
Cl, ~. similar similar
A-factor at failure negative not as negative

*Differences indicated are maximum when sheepsfoot roller is used. These

differences diminish when rubber tyred rollers are used and the differences
praciically disappear when drum roller is used. i.e. the behaviour of soil com-
pacted wet of optimum becomes similar to that shown for the soil compacted
dry of optimum in the table.
~k1is permeability in a direction parallel to particle orientation.
kp is permeability in a direction perpendicular to particle orientation.
in the Placement of Fill 131

soil at optimum moisture content. Soon, however, engineers began

to notice that if one resorted to compact at water contents dry
of tile optimum, then one experienced fewer failures during cons-
truction (on account of low construction pore water pressures)
whereas others were satisfied with the observation that when soil
was compacted wet of the optimum, the embankment experienced
less deformation (subsidence or swell) on coming in contact with
water, such ~ts upon filling the reservoir behind an earth dam. This
led to two schools of thought~one favouring compaction at water
contents dry of optimum and the other preferring to compact wet
of optimum.

5.5.2. Today (see Table 5.1) this fact is well recognised that
it is not possible to produce the ideal soil, having all the required
properties to the desired degree. When one gains on a particular
point, one loses on another. The process of choosing compaction
conditions is very much a problem in optimization. For a large
project, it should indeed be treated as an optimization prob-
hem; for smaller projects, one still needs to define the desirable
set of soil properties and in a qualitative fashion, choose compaction
conditions to achieve these properties. From construction angle,
it is not practical to specify single moisture content or density
and a tolerance is generally necessary. Since the moisture-density
curve has greater steepness on the wet side, greater tolerance is
allowed on drier side than on wetter side. That is why the pre-
valent specifications (e.g. IRC 36-Recommended Practice for the
Construction of Earth Embankment for Road Works) stipulate
moisture content2 to + I per cent of OMC. For highly expansive
clays, the situation is somewhat different and compaction is usually
done wet of optimum to avoid large swelling in service.

5.6. Rate of Construction

5.6.1. Rate at which constrtrction proceeds is usually deter-
mined by economic and space considerations~ how urgently is the
project required to be completed in the soci-economic system, how
many men are available, how mu~h equipment is available, how
large-are the borrow areas, how far are the borrow areas from em-
bankment site etc? Climate also often plays a role in determining
rates of construction e.g. a certain target must be achieved before
monsoons set in, etc. There is also one significant soil mechanics
132 Some Soil Mecha nics Considerations
consideration influencing rate of construction which is discussed

5.6.2. Construction of compacted embankments proceeds

layer by layer. As each layer is placed, it subjects soil already
placed as well as soil in the foundation tonormal and shear stresses.
These stresses induce pore water pressures. Development of posi-
tive pore water pressure reduces stability since it reduces effective
stresses. To ensure stability during construction, it sometimes
becomes necessary to control the rate of constructin. The induced
pore pressures are then provided enough time t~dissipate so that
they do not reduce effective stress to levels which may produce
failure, This is often achieved by stage constructionwhen each
period of construction activity is followed by an inactive period.
During the latter period, not only are construction pore pressures
dissipated but the soil also becomes stronger and less compressible.
During the next period of construction, the pore pressures induced
are of smaller magnitude because in the proceeding inactive period,
the soil in place has become stronger and less compressible. A
classic example of this approach is described by Bishop et al. (1960).
This approach is also described in some details in the next chapter.

Field Controls and 133
Observational Method
of Embankment Design

Field Controls
and Observatio-
nal Method of


6.1. Quality Control

6.1.1. Quality control involves systematically organised and
periodically timed checks to ensure that the soil is being compacted
as per specifications. Six checks normally made are:
(i) check to ensure that soil being excavated in the borrow
area is of the desired gradation and plasticity;
(ii) check to ensure that soil from each borrow area is being
placed in the prescribed zone at site:
(iii) check to ensure that the water content of the soil is within
the specified range and that it is uniformly distributed
throughout the soil prior to rolling;
(iv) check to ensure that each layer is spread to th~prescribed
(v) check to ensure that soil is being compacted with the
specified type of roller and sufficient number of passes;
(vi) check to ensure that the compacted dry density is not less
than the prescribed minimum.

6.1.2. Some of these checks need to be made only visually,

others need to be supplemented by periodic laboratory and/or field
tests, yet others can be made only through laboratory and/or field
tests. How many tests are required for a certain volume of soil
compacted, is a function of the extent of control required and of the
location in the embankment. Typical control procedures are out-
lined in IRC Special Publication II, ~Handbookof Qua4ity Control
for Construction of Roads and Runways, (Also see Section 65c of
the Earth Manual of USBR, 1st Edition, revised reprint 1963).
136 Field Controls and Observational Method
6.1.3. The quality control tests for highway embankment
construction suggested in IRC Special Publication 1.1 are reproduced
in Tables 6.1 and 6.2.

S. No. Test J Test Method Desirable frequency*

1. Gradation/sand content IS: 2720 Pt. lv - of test per 8000 m
2. Plasticity index IS: 2720 Pt. V do
3. Standard Proctor Test IS: 2720 Pt. VII do
4. Deleterious constituents IS: 2720 Pt. XXVII As required
5. Natural molatrc ~pntent IS: 2720 Pt. II One test per 250 m
of soil
6. Natural dry density IS: 2720 Pt. XXVIII do

The rate of testingcanhe reduced if the soil strata is uniform.

T*ai.s 6.2. Tas~roa COMPACTION CONTROL

S. No, Test Test Method Minimum desirable


I. Moisture content just 15: 2720 Pt. II of

2-3 tests per 250 m
before compaction loose soil
2. Dry density of corn- IS: 2720 Pt. XXVIII Generally one test per
pacted layer 1000 m~ of compacted
area to be increased to
one test per 500.1000 m
of compacted area for
top 500 mm of embank-

6.2. Field Observations Instrumentation

6.2.1. Experience has revealed that safety during construction
cannot be ensured merely by prior investigations and design, as many
unforseen factors may arise while the work is in ~progress which
could have profound influence on the stability of the embankment.
As such, during construction, the Engineer-in-Charge has to exercise
utmost vigilance to detect any impending failure. To help him in
this task, a number of routine observations are generally required at
site of onstruction. These include visual inspection of the surface
Field Controls and ObsrvationalMethod 137
for tension tracks, measurement of vertical and horizontal surface
movements with heave stakes and observation of vertical and lateral
deformations within the sub-soil using settlement guages, piezometers
and inclinometers. These measurements cannot generally. be used
as a quantitative means of controlling stability but are a good index
of qualitative assessment of performance and can provide useful
guidance about the rate of construction to be followed. For instance,
acceleration in the rate of settlement on the surface of embankment
or an increase in the rate of lateral deformation beneath the side
slope would normally indicate an impending failure, though it is
not possible at present to specify the limits on either the magnitude
or the rate of change of movement so as to constitute a generalised
method of control.
6.2.2. The extent of instrumentation for field observations
will depend on circumstances surrounding a local project and may
be extensive or !imited. If a project is large and the construction
time required is expected to be long, it may be worthwhile going in
for as much instrumentation as possible in the early phase of con-
struction because that may permit a reduction in the size of berms
or other features which will materially reduce the construction costs.
Instruments that are commonly relied upon for field observations
include: (a) Heave stakes/pegs (b) Settlement fiatform/gauges,
(c) Pore Pressure measuring devices like Piezometer and (d) Inclino-
meters. Fig. 6.1. illustrates typical installation of instruments in an
Heave Stake/Pegs
6.2.3. One of the common methods of detecting lateral move-
ment of slopes is provision of heave stakes/toe. pegs. These are
generally installed in a straight line within the embankment and/or
outside it in order to detect any heave or lateral movement of the
natural ground surface which usually precedes an embankment shear
failure. The most suitable position for these with reference to the
slope would depend upon the type of failure which is anticipated. If
slope failure is likely to occur, pegs may be located as shown in Fig.
6.2(a). For expected base failure, arrangements hown in Fig. 6.2(b)
will be appropriate.
6.2.4. Heave stakes may consist of a vertical wooden piece
50 mm x 100 mm in cross section or a pipe section of appropriate

SOFT lOst. C)
Pi9zom*tarl 0)

4 a

Fig. 6.1 Installation of devices used i~m~a;uringembankment and foundation soil movement CD



Fig. 6.2(a) Location of heave stnke for slope failurc a.


I 0

~i:~61 . __~__~~_~__- CL T .&J mATA 1/

Pig ?~t)Lo~a!ionoc hc~vc
(~ ~ for ~ f~uiu~~

140 Field Controls and Observational Method
length driven into ground with a horizontal cross piece on the top.
Reference marks are put on the vertical and horizontal surface of
the stake to aid observations about the vertical and horizontal
movements. Fig. 6.3. illustiates a simple heave stake. It can have
many differt.~ntdesigns, Alternatively, 50x 50x75 mm timber pegs
driven into ground and surrounded by concrete may also serve the






ELEVATION_a.IK( ____________________________ __________

SKOS. 25115 175 51.0011 v Ill LI


~ ~ ._~ ~ ~
_________________ ___________

.Iioo ~ -.1101.-

Fig 6.3 Details of heave stakes

(All dimensions are in millimetres)

6.2.5. The stakes are normally installed with a spacing 01

2030 meters on straight reaches. On curved sections, the spacing
may be reduced to 15 meters or less. In straight portions, it is useful
to align the stakes in a straight line so that if there is a movement, it
can be detected even without a surveying instrument by sighting
along the line of stakes. Normally the movement of stakes is moni-
tored from a survey line located outside the zone of disturbance. In

Field Controls and Observational Method 141

most cases, the zone of disturbance will not extend beyond 30 m

from the embankment. Observations are. to be made regularly as
the construction of the embankment progresses.
Settlement Platforms
6.24. In their simplest form, the settlement platform may
consist of a square steel plate or concrete pad supporting a flange to
which a section of pipe, usually about 1.5 metre long, is attached. As
the fill is built up, additional sections are coupled to the pipe.
The size of the plate will depend on the material underlying the fill
and may be from 0.6 to 1.2 m square. The rods are protected from
surrounding soil by PVC or metal pipe casing of appropriate

6.2.7. Fig. 6.4(a) and (b) shows typical sketches of settlement

gauges. These are generally installed on the original ground in
accordance with the designers stipulations. A typical installation is
shown in Fig. 6.5. Settlement platforms may he repeated at other
location along the longitudinal section as recuiired. To protect the
gauge during compactioj~, temporary wall may b.c built around it
and soil near the platform compacted manually to preyent rollers
from disturbing the installation. In their more sophisticated forms,
the vertical pipe rod may be replaced by multi-rod gauges and con-
centric telescopic gauges. Where more sophisticated electronic
equipment is easily available, fluid settlement gauges may also be used.

6.2.8, Piezometers are used to measure the hydrostatic or excess
air Or fluid pressure in the pores of saturated or unsaturated soils. A
knowledge of these neutral~stressesis very helpful in controlling the
rate of construction and in analysing the stability of embankment and
its settlement, There are four basic types of piezometers (a) open
stand pipe (b) hydraulic (c) pneumatic and (d) electric. Of these
type (a) is the simplest and most common in use. Fig. 6.6. (a) and
(b) show typical installation of piezometers.

6.2.9. These consist essentially of a flexible pipe embedded
vertically in the embankment with an inclinometer probe which is
lowered into the flexible casing. The inclination developed in the
i 42 F~!d Contr~g and ObservatjonaJ Method

~ Ji~

~I 9fr~ ?:t.~ J O~~OT~ !~4D$

~ ~tTTL~I~rItT PL~,1F~I~
I _-~IZ~ ~I&,I~oLtS AT OUA~TtN


H- l5O~d
_~j ~ ~T~Et. WEJ.0141 FLANaI VON $o$W PIPE
_J;-io ~ lOX ~TUL PLATE
~ 0511 1

ha~cs~tt(ement platform
64 i~a)S~~el

-- ~OFfl_L

-SM ~S jJ
401dM 011
FLU5H401p41 PIPE



~ LAT5~ ~-G XO-$M

0~ ~

Fig ~4(b) Settkment p~aicfr~rdetermining setttement of base of lilt

Source: Sail Mechanics in Engineering Practice by Terzaghi
and Peck (2nd Edition)


m ___. ~t1m,, 0
Fig. 6,5 Typical cross section ofearth embankment with instrumentation a)

Notes:l. Piezometers and vertical settlement gauge should be staggered longrtudinally to avoid interference with CD
each other, 3.
2. All instruments to be protected by chamber of approximate size 30 cmx3O cmx45 cm depth where 0

144 Field Controls and Observational Method
L~000~ PLUG






0 Gm





O3m -- -

Fig. 6.6 (a) DetaIls of an open stand pipe s ater level recorder




Fig. 6.6 (b) Casagrande type borehole piezomeler

Pield Controls and Observational Method 145

casing is measured on the indication unit which works onelectricity.

Inclinometers are ideal for monitoring lateral movement of the sub-
soil adjacent to or under the embankment.

6.3. ObservatiOnal Method of Embankment Design and

6.3.1. Under special circumstances when it is either not
possible to design an economical section of embankment by total
stress analysis owing to soft sUb-soil or when site conditions are
highly erratic and the proposed project is of considerable size and
importance, it becomes desirable to let design and construction
proceed simultaneously. In this method, full advantage is taken of
the gain in strength of sub-soil with time and the design is modified
from time to time on the basis of observed strength. Such a
technique usually requires continuous association Qf expert soil

6.3.2. In observational method of cOnstruction, the design can

be controlled basically by three methods: effective stress analysis
method; total stress analysis method; and a combination of the tolal
stress and effective stress method.

Effective Stress Analysis Method

6.3.3. The design procedure in such cases Consists of carrying
out stability analysis in terms of effective stress using predictions of
pore water pressure for different heights of embankments. The
calculations are repeated for a range. of embankment heights to pre-
pare a chart in which the factor of safety is related to percentage
dissipation of pore pressure. Because of difficulties in assessing
boundary conditions and predicting pore pressures, a number of sets
of such charts have to be prepared corresponding to different
assumptions and calculated pore pressures. As large number of
calculations are involved, such problems necessarily require access to
a computer. During construction, the pore pressures actually
recorded by piezometers are used to select the appropriate control
chart and the rate of construction is accordingly adjusted to keep
the pore pressure and the corresponding factor of safety at the
desired level.
146 Pield Controls and Observational Method

Total Stress Analysis

6.3,4. As an alternative to the above, total stress method of
control can be used where construction is controlled by measurement
of undrained strength at intervals during construction to assess in-
crease in strength due to consolidation. The strength data from
each determination can be used to provide new value of safe height
of embankment. The main diffi ulty in this method is in determi-
nation of in-situ strength of soil at frequent intervals by drilling
through the embankment. To reduce the amount of drilling, large
diameter vertical pipes can be placed in the embankment during

Combination of the Total Stress and Effective Stress Method

6.3.5. In case where sufficient time is available to construct
an embankment in stages, it is often convenient to use a combination
of total stress and effective stress methods. This is particularly use-
ful where the sub-soil is weak arid will not support an embankment
beyond a particular height in its in-situ condition.
6.3.6. In this method the safe height for the first stage is
calculated by total stress method using undrained strength from
laboratory or field tests. During construction of the first stage, and
after the subsequent pause in work, the pore water pressure in the
sub-soil is monitored frequently. Using the values of pore water
pressures thus recorded, charts are prepared relating the increment
in excess pore water pressure to the factor of safety for the second
stage, as in effective Stress method. Second stage work is then
started and the rate of construction controlled on the basis of pore
pressure which develop. The advantage of this method is that it
enables the pore water pressure developed to be more accurately
determined and therefore reduces the volume of calculations
required. It also provides less restrictions on the contract since by
splitting the work into stages the requirements for control over the
rate of filling can be more easily defined and specified.
6.3.7. A good treatment of the observational method of
design is given in TRRL Laboratory Report No. 711 Assessment
and control of stability for road embankments constructed on soft
sub-soil by I.F. Symons. Other useful references in this regard are
Dong et al (1968), Deiry et al (1965), Elias and Starch (1970) and
Terzaghi and Leps (1958).

1. Alam Singh and Punmia B.C. (1970)Soil Mechanics and Foundations

Standard Book House, Delhi.
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3. Bishop, A,W. (1954)The Use of the Slip Circle in the Design of a Large
Earth Dam in Thames Valley. Proc. 2nd lot. Conf, Soil Mech. (Rotter-
dam) 2 (P. 13-18).
4. Bishop, A.W. & Morgenstern, N. R. (I 960)Stability Coefficients for Earth
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5. Bishop A.W. and Henkel D.J. (1957)The Measurement of Soil Properties
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Analysis and Field Correlation, Highway Research Record No. 223, High-
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Used for the Control of Two Stage Construction of an Embankment
Canadian Geotechnical Journal 2(3) 216.226.
14. Elias V. & H. Starch (1970)Control and Performance during Construction
of a Highway Embankment on Weak SoilsHighway Research Record
323, Highway Research Board.
15. Fadum, R.E. (1948)Influence Values for Estimating Stresses in Elastic
FoundationsProc. 2nd International Congress SMFGV Vol. 3.
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14a Field Controls and Observational Method
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Cooperative Highway Research Programme Synthesis of Highway Practice,
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Construction of Roads & Runways.
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Fundan~eteringsoppgaver---Publ.Norwegian Geotech. Inst. No. 16.
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Company, New York.
29. jumikis, AR. (1965)Soil MechanicsAffilated East West Press, New
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31. Kenney, T.C. (1956)An Examination of the Methods of Calculating the
Stability of Slopes. M.Sc. Thesis, University of London.
32. Kjaernesli, B. & Simons, N. (1962)Stability Investigations of the North
Bank of the Drammen RiverGeotechnique 12, (p. 147.67).
33. Little & Price (1958)The Use of an Electronic Computer for Slope Stabi-
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34. Leonards, G. (1962)Foundation EngineeringMcGraw Hill Book
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35. Labdell H.L,, (1959)Rate of Constructing Embankments on Soft Founda-
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37. Morgenstern, N.R. & Price, yE. (1967)A Numerical Method for Solving
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(p. 388.93).
38. Murthy, V.N.S. (1974)Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering,
Dhanpat Rai & Sons, Delhi, Jullundur, (p. 527-30).
Field Controls and Observational Method 149
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for Measuring Lateral Movement of the SoilHRL report LR-332.
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DrawdownGeotechnique Vol. XI1E No. 2 (p. 121).
41. Middlebrooks, TA. (1936)Foundation Investigation of Fort Peck Dam
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Vol. 1.
42. MeyerhofG.G (1957)Ultimate Bearing Capacity of Foundation on Slopes
Proc. 4th Int. Conf. on Soil Mechanicsand Foundation Engineering.
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Stresses in FoundationsUniversity 01 Illinois Eng. Exp. Sta. Bull. No.
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45. New York State Department of Transportation (1968)An Appraisal of
Sand Drain Project. PhysicalResearch Report 68i.
46. Osterberg, JO. (1957)Influence Value for Vertical Stresses in a Semi-
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