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# Section 8

## FINITE ELEMENT MODELING OF

STABILITY PROBLEMS

Section 8-1
Introduction to Stability Analysis

## The Limit Equilibrium Approach

Section 8-2
Introduction to Stability Analysis

T
diti ll stability
t bilit analysis
l i are carried
i d outt using
i limit
li it
equilibrium analysis.
 A popular
l limit
li it equilibrium
ilib i software
ft tool
t l is
i Slope/W.
Sl /W

Section 8-3
Stability Analysis: Common Features
COMMON FEATURES OF SLOPE STABILITY
ANALYSIS METHODS
• Safety Factor: F = s/sm where s = shear strength and sm =
mobilized shear resistance.
F = 1: failure, F > 1: safety

• Sh
Shape and
d llocation
ti off failure
f il is
i nott known
k a priori
i i but
b t
assumed (trial and error to find minimum F)

## • Static equilibrium (equilibrium of forces and moments on

a sliding mass)

• Two-dimensional analysis

Section 8-4
Stability Analysis: Common Features
• Conventional slope stability analyses investigate the
equilibrium of a mass of soil bounded below by an assumed
potential slip surface and above by the surface of the slope.

## • Forces and moments tending to cause instability of the mass

are compared to those tending to resist instability.

## • Most pprocedures assume a two-dimensional ((2-D)) cross

section and plane strain conditions for analysis.

## • Successive assumptions are made regarding the potential slip

surface until the most critical surface (lowest factor of safety)
is found. Section 8-5
Stability Analysis: Common Features
• If the shear resistance of the soil along the slip surface
exceeds that necessary to provide equilibrium, the mass is
stable.
• If the shear resistance is insufficient, the mass is unstable.
• The stability or instability of the mass depends on its weight,
the external forces acting on it (such as surcharges or
accelerations caused by dynamic loads), the shear strengths
and porewater pressures along the slip surface
surface, and the
strength of any internal reinforcement crossing potential slip
surfaces.
• Conventional analysis procedures characterize the stability of
a slope by calculating a factor of safety.
• The factor of safety F is defined with respect to the shear
strength of the soil as the ratio of the available shear strength
(s) to the shear stress required for equilibrium ()
().

Section 8-6
Stability Analysis: Safety Factor Definition

## Available shear strength s

F 
Equilibriu m shear stress 

## • If the shear strength is defined in terms of effective stresses,

the factor of safety is expressed as:

c '   u tan
t  ''
F
where

c’ and ’ = Mohr Coulomb cohesion and friction angle,
expressed in terms of effective stresses
 = total normal stress on the failure plane
u=p
pore water pressure
p
 - u = ’ = the effective normal stress on the failure plane.
Section 8-7
Stability Analysis: Method of Slices
• Wh
When applied
li d to
t a generall slip
li surface,
f the
th method
th d off
slices is typically used and the equation is modified to

F
 c '   W cos   u cos  tan '
2

 W ssin 

Slice for total stress analysis Slice for effective stress analysis

N’ = W’ cos 
N = W cos  W’ = W – ub
N’ = (W – ub) cos 

Section 8-8
Stability Analysis: Trial Slip Circles

E
Example
l off Trial
T i l Slip
Sli Circles
Ci l

Section 8-9
Stability Analysis: Trial Slip Circles

E
Example
l off Trial
T i l Slip
Sli Circles
Ci l

## Search with Circles through a common point

Section 8-10
Stability Analysis: Trial Slip Circles

E
Example
l off Trial
T i l Slip
Sli Circles
Ci l

## Search with Circles tangent to a prescribed tangent line

Section 8-11
Stability Analysis: Trial Wedges

E
Example
l off Trial
T i l Wedges
W d

## Search for Critical Central Block

Section 8-12
Stability Analysis: Trial Wedges

E
Example
l off Trial
T i l Wedges
W d

## Search Schemes for Wedge Inclinations

Section 8-13
Stability Analysis: Trial Wedges

E
Example
l off Trial
T i l Wedges
W d

## Search Schemes for Noncircular Slip Surfaces

Section 8-14
Stability Analysis : The Finite Element Approach

## The Finite Element Approach

Section 8-15
Stability Analysis : The Finite Element Approach
 In the earlier version of Plaxis
Plaxis, this approach of performing
stability analysis using finite element analysis was termed the ‘phi-
c reduction’ method.
 In the 2012 version of Plaxis, this approach is called the ‘Safety’
calculation.
 This method is based on the reduction of the strength parameters
of soil, namely the friction angle  and the cohesion c.
will be decremented.
 The technique was first proposed by Zienkiewicz et al. (1975).
 The procedure was made more robust in Plaxis by the addition of
the arc-length technique.
 Since we are interested in collapse loads rather than precise
deformations, the elastic-plastic Mohr-Coulomb model is adopted.
 IIn the
th ‘Safety’
‘S f t ’ analysis
l i phase,
h the
th strength
t th parameters
t t ’ and
tan d c’’
of the soil are successively reduced until failure of the structure
occurs. Section 8-16
Stability Analysis : The Finite Element Approach
 Calculations flow
after embankment construction) with the system in
equilibrium.
ilib i At thi
this stage,
t M
Msff = 1
1.
2. Repeat the analysis with a slightly increased value of
Msf, say 1.05.
3. When Msf > 1, the strength parameters used in the
analysis will be reduced as follows:
tan 'input c 'input
tan 'reduced  c 'reduced 
Msf Msf

## 4 If the analysis with tan 

4. ’reduced and c
c’reduced converge,
converge
then the analysis is repeated (Step 2) with a higher
value of Msf, say 1.1.
5. Steps 2 to 4 are repeated, with progressively larger
values of Msf.
6 As Msf increases,
6. increases the strength parameters become
progressively smaller, leading to a weaker soil and
Section 8-17
larger displacements.
Stability Analysis : The Finite Element Approach
 Calculations flow (continued)
7. Hence, as Msf increases, the calculations will require
increasingly more iterations in order to converge.
8. The increase in the number of iterations required for
convergence means that the system is becoming more
unstable, which also means it is approaching failure.
9. As the system approaches failure, the rate of increase
of Msf in Step 2 will also slow down.

10. Recall that Msf represents the factor by which the soil
strength parameters is reduced to allow the soil system
to approach failure.
tan 'input c 'input
tan 'reduced  c 'reduced 
Msf M f
Msf
or
tan 'input c 'input
Msf  Msf 
tan 'reduced c 'reduced
Section 8-18
Stability Analysis : The Finite Element Approach

## 11. With the progressive reduction of the strength parameters,

there will finally come a stage when the iterations do not
converge,
g , or convergeg so slowlyy that the Msf increase at a
very slow or almost negligible rate.

12 At this point
12. point, the soil system is deemed to have ‘collapsed
collapsed,
and the value of Msf gives the value of the Factor of Safety.

## tan 'input c 'input

Msf    Factor of Safety
tan 'reduced (collapse) c 'reduced (collapse)

Section 8-19
Stability Analysis : Example 1
Homogeneous Slope without Foundation Layer

'  20 o
2:1 Slope c’ = 10 kPa
H = 10 m

20

## What is the safety factor of this slope?

Section 8-20
Stability Analysis : Example 1
Homogeneous Slope without Foundation Layer

## Taylor (1948) Fundamentals of Soil Mechanics

Section 8-21
Stability Analysis : Example 1
 Calculation of Slope Stability (Manual)
1. For  = 20,  = 26.57:
Since  > , the slope is unstable if there is no cohesion c.
c

## Refer to chart, stability number N = c/H = 0.017

 c=NH=0
0.017
017 x 20 x 10 = 3
3.4 kN/m2
4 kN/
This is the value of cohesion c (in addition to ) that is required
in order to achieve a factor of safety of 1 (unity) for this slope
(since  > ).
Hence, factor of safety with respect to cohesion = 10/3.4 = 2.94
However, this is not the factor of safety used in slope stability,
which is
shear strength c   tan 
FS  
disturbing shear 

## shear strength c   tan  c tan 

     
FS FS FS FS
Section 8-22
Stability Analysis : Example 1
 Calculation of Slope Stability (Manual)
2. Try FS = 1.5
tan  tan 20 0.364
   0.243  FS 1.5  13.64
FS 1.5 1.5
Refer to chart, for FS=1.5 = 13.6 and  = 26.6, the stability
number N = c/H = 0.048

##  mobilized c = cm = N  H = 0.048 x 20 x 10 = 9.6 kN/m2

Hence, FS for c = 10/9.6 = 1.04
Since FS for   FS for c, the FS is not correct.

3. Try FS = 1.3
tan  tan 20 0.364
   0.28  FS 1.3  15.6
FS 1.3 1 .3
Refer to chart, for FS=1.3 = 15.6 and  = 26.6, the stability
b N = c//H = 0
number 0.036
036
 mobilized c = cm = N  H = 0.036 x 20 x 10 = 7.2 kN/m2
Section 8-23
Stability Analysis : Example 1
 Calculation of Slope Stability (Manual)

## Since FS for   FS for c, the FS is not correct (but close).

4. Try FS = 1.35
tan  tan 20 0.364
   0.27  FS 1.35  15.1
FS 1.35 1.35

## Refer to chart, for FS=1.35 = 15.1 and  = 26.6, the stability

number N = c/H = 0.038
 mobilized c = cm = N  H = 0.038 x 20 x 10 = 7.6 kN/m2
Hence, FS for c = 10/7.6 = 1.32
Since FS for   FS for c, the factor of safety of the slope
is 1.35.

Section 8-24
Stability Analysis : Example 1

## FS=1.343 cf 1.38 by Bishop LEM Chart FS  1.35

c ' f  c ' / FS
tan  ' f  tan  ' / FS

## Use c’ and phi’ reduction until soil

mass reached limit equilibrium; with
large continuous displacements of a
point on slope crest

25
Section 8-25
Stability Analysis : Example 1

## Visualization of Failure Mechanism

Section 8-26
Stability Analysis : Example 1
Visualization of Failure Mechanism

Section 8-27
Stability Analysis : Example 2
Homogeneous Slope with Foundation Layer (D = 1.5)
1 5)

2:1 Slope
p
H = 10 m

DH = 15 m

NO GWT
'  20 o

c'  10 kN/m 2

Section 8-28
Stability Analysis : Example 2
Homogeneous Slope with Foundation Layer (D = 1.5)
1 5)

FS = 1.343

Section 8-29
Stability Analysis : Example 3
Undrained Slope with a Thin Weak Layer

## cu1 =50 kPa phi=0

2H Case 3a cu2=50 kPa
2H
Case 3b cu2 =30 kPa
Case 3c cu2=10 kPa
H
cu1 2H

H cu2

u  0 o

Section 8-30
Stability Analysis : Example 3

Section 8-31
Stability Analysis : Example 3

## Case 3b cu2 =30 kPa

Case 3c cu2=10 kPa

cu2/cu1 = 0.6
FS=1.35

cu2/cu1 = 0.2
FS 0.47
FS=0.47

Section 8-32
Stability Analysis : Example 3

## cu1 =50 kPa phi=0 cu2/cu1 = 1.0

Case 3a cu2=50
cu2 50 kPa FS=1.45

## Case 3b cu2 =30 kPa

Case 3c cu2=10 kPa

cu2/cu1 = 0.6
FS=1.35

cu2/cu1 = 0.2
FS=0.47

Section 8-33
Stability Analysis : Example 3

## cu1 =50 kPa phi=0

Case 3a cu2=50 kPa cu2/cu1 = 1.0

## Case 3c cu2=10 kPa

cu2/cu1 = 0.6
FS=1.35

cu2/cu1 = 0.2
FS=0.47

Section 8-34
Stability Analysis : Example 3
Undrained Slope with a Thin Weak Layer
(FS after Griffiths and Lane (1999))

cu2/cu1 = 1.0
FS=1 45
FS=1.45

Section 8-35
Stability Analysis : Example 4
Undrained Slope with a Weak Foundation Layer (D=2.0)
(D=2 0)

2:1 Slope
cu1=50 kPa

## cu2 = 30, 75 and 100 kPa

cu2/cu1 = 0.6, 1.5, 2.0

Section 8-36
Stability Analysis : Example 4
Shear Strains

cu2/cu1 = 0.6
FS=0.97

cu2/cu1 = 1.5
FS=2.02

cu2/cu1 = 2.0
FS 2 08
FS=2.08

Section 8-37
Stability Analysis : Example 4
Undrained Slope with a Weak Foundation Layer
(FS after Griffiths and Lane (1999))

cu2/cu1 = 2.0
FS=2.08
cu2/cu1
/ = 1.5
FS=2.02

cu2/cu1 = 0.6
FS=0.97

Section 8-38
Stability Analysis : FEM vs LEM
Advantages of FEM vs LEM for Slope Stability

## • FEM need no assumption of location and shape

of slip surface.
• FEM do not use concept of slices, no
assumptions about slice side forces. Global
equilibrium preserved until failure is reached.

## • FEM computes deformation of slope if realistic

soil model and stiffness is used.
• FEM model is able to track progressive failure as
slope is excavated or build up.
39
Section 8-39
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope

## LIMIT EQUILIBRIUM ANALYSIS OF CUT SLOPES

The figures below show the results of SLOPE/W calculations of
FS for a underwater cut slope
p in the undrained and drained
condition, by Bishop's Simplified method.

## Drained and Undrained Parameters

The drained parameters are c'=2 kPa, '=240, =16 kN/m3
The equivalent undrained parameters are obtained from:

## c u  c' cos'  ,m sin '

At top of clay; c u  2 cos 24 0  1.83kPa
K 0  1  sin '  1 - sin 24 0  0.59
,v
 
,
m 1  K 0   ' h 1  0.59
0 59   4.77
4 77 h kPa
2 2
,m sin '  4.77h sin 24 0  1.94h kPa

Section 8-40
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope

## Bishop‘s FS for Drained CUT

Cut Slope
p in Clay
y (Drained)
( )

1.403

26
24
22
Water Level
20
18
Elevation (m)

16
14 Description: Clay Water
12 Soil Model: Mohr-Coulomb
10 g 16
Unit Weight:
8 Cohesion: 2 1:2 Cut
6 Phi: 24
4
2
0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60

Distance (m)

Section 8-41
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope

## Bishop‘s FS for Undrained CUT

Cut Slope in Clay (UnDrained)

2.085

26
24
22
Water Level
20
18
Elevation (m)

16
14
Water
12
Description: Clay
10
Soil Model: S=f(datum) 1:2 Cut
8
E

Unit Weight: 16
6 C - Datum: 1.83
4 Rate of Increase: 1.94
2 Datum (elevation): 20
0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60

Distance (m)

Section 8-42
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope
PLAXIS Analysis Cases
Drained Analysis with c’=2 kPa and ’=24o
Undrained Analysis
 Method A ((analysis
y in terms of effective stresses):
)
type of material behaviour: undrained
effective strength parameters c´, ´, ´
ff ti stiffness
effective iff E50´ ´´
parameters E50´,
 Method B (analysis in terms of effective stresses):
type of material behaviour: undrained
undrained strength parameters c = cu,  = 0,  = 0
parameters E50´,, ´
effective stiffness p
 Method C (analysis in terms of total stresses):
type of material behaviour: drained
t t l strength
total t th parameters
t c = cu,  = 0,
0 =0
undrained stiffness parameters Eu, u = 0.495
Section 8-43
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope

D i d CUT,
Drained CUT Pl
Plaxis
i c/phi
/ hi FS=1.35
FS 1 35 cff LE=1.40
LE 1 40

Drained
D i dA Analysis
l i with
ith
Effective strength parameters c´=2 kPa, ´=24, ´=0
Effective stiffness parameters E50´=15000 kPa, ´=0.2

Section 8-44
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope
Method A - UnDrained CUT plus Full Consolidation
Plaxis c/phi FS=1.37 cf LEM=1.40

Method A (undrained)
Effective strength
g p parameters c´=2 kPa,, ´=24o, ´=0o
Effective stiffness parameters E50´=15000 kPa, ´=0.2

## Slip circle same as Drained Case

Section 8-45
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope
Method A - UnDrained CUT,
CUT
Plaxis c/phi (Ignore UnDrained) FS=2.75 cf LE=2.09

## Method A (in terms of effective stresses, undrained)

Effective strength parameters c´=2 kPa, ´=24o, ´=0o
Effective stiffness parameters E50´=15000 kPa, ´=0.2

Section 8-46
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope
Method A - UnDrained CUT,
CUT
Plaxis c/phi (UnDrained) FS=2.27 cf LE=2.09

## Method A (in terms of effective stresses, undrained)

Effective strength parameters c´=2 kPa, ´=24o, ´=0o
Effective stiffness parameters E50´=15000 kPa, ´=0.2

Section 8-47
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope
Method B - UnDrained CUT,
CUT
Plaxis c/phi (Ignore UnDrained) FS=2.13 cf LE=2.09

## Method B (in terms of effective stresses, undrained)

Undrained strength parameters c = 1.83 kPa, ∆c=1.94 kPa,
=0,
=0 =0
Effective stiffness parameters E50´=15000 kPa, ´=0.2

Section 8-48
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope
Method B - UnDrained CUT,
CUT
Plaxis c/phi (UnDrained) FS=2.14 cf LE=2.09

## Method B (in terms of effective stresses, undrained)

Undrained strength parameters c=1.83 kPa, ∆c=1.94 kPa,
=0,
=0 =0
Effective stiffness parameters E50´=15000 kPa, ´=0.2

Section 8-49
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope

## c-phi Analysis of Method A and B

MC-UNDRAINED
Sum-Msf
Sum Msf
3
METHOD A (IGNORE UNDR)

METHOD A (UNDR)

## 2.5 METHOD B (UNDR)

1.5

1
0 3e3 6e3 9e3 1.2e4
|U| [m]

Section 8-50
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope

## SUMMARY OF FS FOR CUT SLOPES

Analysis Condition PLAXIS SLOPE/W
Drained 1.35 1.40
A+Consolidation 1.37 1.40
A (Ignore
(I UNDR) 2 75
2.75 2 09
2.09
A (UnDrained) 2.27 2.09
B (Ignore UNDR) 2.13 2.09
B (UnDrained) 2 14
2.14 2 09
2.09

Section 8-51
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope

## Method A Method A, Method A,

c/phi - Ignore c/phi -
Undrained, Undrained,
FOS = 2.75 FOS = 2 2.27
27

Exc PP Exc PP
unchanged, changed, but
but FS not FS nearly OK
OK

Section 8-52
Stability Analysis : Underwater Cut Slope

## Method B Method B, Method B,

c/phi
/ hi - Ignore
I c/phi -
Undrained, Undrained,
FOS = 2.13 FOS = 2.14

Exc PP Exc PP
unchanged, changed, but
but FS is OK FS is OK

Section 8-53
Stability Analysis : Concluding Remarks

Conclusions
• FEM analysis for Slope Stability is better
than LEM as the failure mechanism is
determined automatically as part of the
stress equilibrium process.

## • FEM can handle undrained, drained and

consolidation effects on slope stability.

Section 8-54
Stability Analysis : Concluding Remarks

## • c-phi analysis with elastic

wall is incorrect and unsafe
• It does not allow for wall
failure by plastic hinge, so
the soil yielded behind the
wall will be much larger
than actual case
• With plastic wall, plastic
hinge will
ill form and soil
yielded zone is smaller
than elastic case
• c-phi
hi FOS will
ill then
h depend
d d
on the plastic moment Mp
assigned to the wall. The
weaker
k wallll will