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Proceedings of National Conference: Advanced Structures, Materials and Methodology in Civil Engineering

(ASMMCE – 2018), 03 - 04th November, 2018


“Advanced Structures, Materials and Methodology in Civil Engineering”(ASMMCE 2018) (November 03-04, 2018)
Vaibhav Garga, S.N. Sachdevab
M.Tech student, Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology Kurukshetra, Haryana-136119, India,
bProfessor, Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, Haryana-136119, India,

Construction of highways often involves raising the level of existing ground to build a stable road subgrade. The
embankment for the road is needed due to topographical requirements of the area as well as to make the road safe
against any possible flooding and damage to pavement structure due to seepage from standing water by the side of the
road. The embankments are constructed with different heights and side slopes. For the purpose of road transportation,
an embankment of height 6.0 m and above is termed as high embankment. Guidelines for the design of high
embankments are covered in IRC:75-2015 which recommends Swedish Circle and Bishop’s method among various
available methods for the analysis of slope stability of road embankments. This paper presents an overview of the
stability of different slopes provided for various heights of embankments with design aspects related to slope stability
of typical highway embankments.
KEYWORDS: Embankment, Topographical, Bishop’s Method, Swedish Circle, Slope Stability.

Slope is the one which is inclined and unsupported mass. Wherever there is a difference in the elevation of the earth's
surface, either due to man's actions or natural processes, there are forces which act to restore the earth to a levelled
surface. The process in general is referred to as mass movement. Slope stability analysis is one of the most popular
classical problem in the field of civil, hydraulic and mining engineering. Slope stability analysis provides the safe
design of earth slopes under the influence of gravity force. It accesses the possibilities of earth slope failures either
natural or human made slopes. These failures can often catastrophic and sometimes it involves the extensive loss in
economic as well as a social and environment. The identification of most sliding surface also named as critical slip
surface associated with least factor of safety value is traditionally performed to estimate the circular failures of the
slope. In this regard, the forces tending to make slope failure, restored forces that stabilize the potential mass are the
essential steps to calculate. Numerous methods have been used to calculate slope stability, such as finite element
method, limit equilibrium method, limit analysis method, rigid element method, probabilistic analysis approach and
distinct element methods. Out of these methods, limit equilibrium methods have proven to be widely used and
successful method for the assessment of slope stability. Limit equilibrium methods consider the forces and moments
related to an assumed slip surface passed through a soil mass. In regards to this, some methods such as; Fellenius (or
Swedish Slip Circle), Bishop, Janbu, Morgenstem and Price, Spencer, methods and others compute factor of safety
of sliding mass on the basis of some assumption criteria. These methods consider the whole potential mass to divide
into a series of vertical slices, so that the available resisting moment along the sliding surface and deriving moment
is easily determined. The identification of failure surface with lowest factor of safety is traditionally performed using
numerous different methods.
Stability of high embankment depends on various factors like foundation profile, fill material quality, extent of
compaction, drainage arrangement both surface and sub-surface, and embankment geometry like height of
embankment, slope angle, ground profile etc., external factors like traffic or earthquake load or presence of any water
body by the side of the embankment or development of pore water pressure due to infiltration from heavy rain. All
these parameters and conditions will make significant impact on overall stability of the embankment.
The factor of safely in the category of slope stability studies is ordinarily outlined as the ratio of the final shear strength
divided by the maximum armed shear stress at initiation of failure. There are always deriving forces: weight of the
rotating soil, surface loads and earthquake loads, and resisting forces: internal friction force and the cohesion of the
soil at the failure surface and/or nailing resistance.

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A Ghosh, et al. carried out work on, Slope instability problems at Agrakhal on Rishikesh-Uttarkashi-Gangotri
National Highway of Uttarakhand State has induced distress in many houses situated on the slope. From the field
investigation it is inferred water flow in a drain and water seepage at various locations are the main contributing
factors for the instability. The slope stability analysis consists determining the soil mechanical properties, the shape
and the position of the possible failure surface. Since Fellenius and Bishop, several authors have proposed
calculation methods for slope stability based on the limit equilibrium. This procedure coupled with the advanced
optimization techniques is adequate for regular slope stability problems. The development of finite elements
methods led to an effective approach for assessing the safety factor of soil slopes within its strength reduction.

Nima Farshidfar et al. this research uses the shear strength reduction method to study soil slopes stability. In this
method shear strength is considered to be reduced as less as failure occurs. It uses Plaxis, which is capable of
calculating deformations rates and safety factors by gaining geometry data of a problem and soil specifications and
using the finite element method (FEM). The analysis is performed at both static and pseudo-static modes. The
effects of different parameters on slopes stability are shown by performing several analyses. Finally, the analyses
performed by this method are compared with the ones obtained by finite difference method (FDM).

Ali Fawaz et al. this paper aims to analyses slope stability based on the numerical simulation using Plaxis software.
The mechanical parameters of soil layers constituting the slope are evaluated from laboratory results and numerical
simulations of in-situ pressure meter tests. The study of the slope consists to determine the failure surface and the
corresponding safety factor. This coefficient is calculated taking into consideration the influence of factors that
contribute slope instability and following the use of several methods of reinforcement to strengthen the slope.

Pallivi Gupta et al. conducted an experimental study has been carried out to observe the effect of density and
moisture on property of cohesive (expansive) soil. At a constant grading of a soil its effect on strength, swelling
pressure, permeability and CBR value has been undertaken, as soils are to be used for making road pavement,
embankments, dams etc. The slope stability analysis of cohesive soil has been done by SLOPE/W software and is
used in under different conditions to evaluate slope stability.

Generally speaking, failures occur in rotational mode in soil slopes. Failure surface forms an arc of a circle, isolating
the failed mass from the rest of the embankment. If the failure arc cuts the slope it is called as slope failure, if it meets
the toe it is called toe failure. If the failure circle goes into the subsoil it is called as base failure. Presence of weaker
layer may cause a failure surface to take a composite shape.
Generally, base failures do not occur if the foundation soil is firm and has an angle of internal friction greater than
300. i.e. if the soil is sandy or gravelly.
The failure surface is usually tangential to the weak zone.


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

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Fig.1 Rotational Failure along a Circular Curve

Fig.2 Composite Failure along a non-circular Surface

Total stress method

Total stress method is applicable where an embankment is constructed on saturated clays of low permeability and no
change in water content occurs in the subsoil prior to failure. Shear strength in this case may be given as follows:
τ = cu + tanϕu ……Eq.1
Where cu and ϕu are called undrained shear parameters.

Effective stress method

Effective stress method of analysis takes into account the pore water pressures for the stage at which stability is to be
analyzed. The relationship between shear strength and applied normal stress used in such analysis is given by the
c'+(n-u)tan' ……Eq. 2
Where c’ and ø’ are called as effective stress parameters.

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Factor of Safety
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 factor by which the shear strength parameters (in terms of effective stress) c’ and
tanø’ can be reduced before the slope is brought into the state of limiting equilibrium. The shear strength mobilized
under these conditions is given by the expression


Where σn denotes the total stress normal to the potential failure surface and u denotes the pore water pressure.
The Eq.3 has the advantage of being applicable to circular and non circular slip surface alike without modifications
and operates directly on the relevant strength parameters (Bishop & Morgenstern, 1960).
Table1. Recommended Minimum Factors of safety (FOS) For Stability Analysis

Loading FOS under static FOS under

Condition loads seismic loads

Static Case 1.4 1.1

(at the end of

(*initial factor of
Sudden 1.3 1.0

Steady 1.3 1.0


*Initial factor of safety 1.2 is applicable to situations where there is a gain in shear strength of subsoils
due to ground improvement methods leading to increase in factor of safety with time. In such cases it is
important that construction is continuously monitored for changes in pore water pressures, progress of
settlements and occurrence of lateral deformations.


Slip circle analysis is a method of checking the stability of any slope against its probability to fail in rotational mode;
sometimes failure surface may not be circular. The factor of safety for a particular circle passing through the slope is
calculated by taking into account force equilibrium and/or moment equilibrium. While some methods of analysis
consider force equilibrium and moment equilibrium, some methods consider only force equilibrium (Abramson Lee.
W. et. al.) “Slope stability and stabilization methods” (John Wiley”) the location (center and radius) of the most critical
circle. The critical circle is the one with lowest FOS which has the highest probability to fail in case the disturbing
force is greater than or equal to the resisting force. Hence, the objective of the analysis is to find the most critical circle
by an iterative method.
There are many types of software available for use. The modes in which the input parameters are provided in these
softwares differ from each other. Similarly, the output format also differs from one program to another. The user should
be familiar with both these aspects.
In software, by defining the phreatic line, the unit weight above and below the phreatic lines are automatically
considered by the software. The same condition can be modeled by defining two separate densities for soils above and
below the phreatic line.
There are various ways and means by which the critical circle can be found and different software has different options
and tools to find the circle which has the lowest FOS. The most common iterative method is to define a grid of centers

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and a defined point for the circle to pass. The user must check all possible circles by changing the location of grid and
point of passing to find the critical circle.
The software automatically calculates the FOS for all possible circles passing through this point and varying the
location of the centers within the defined boundary of the grid. There are few advanced softwares available which also
automatically search the critical circle by increasing and decreasing the radius of the circle However, these features
are provided just to help for a quick search. It is up to the user to ensure that all possibilities are checked by an iterative
method before concluding for the most critical circle.
The critical circle may or may not pass through the toe of embankment; it depends on the properties of the foundation
soil parameters. The weaker the foundation soil, higher is the probability of deep seated failure
The basic method to ensure that the critical circle has been derived is by drawing a contour map of all FOS The center
of the critical circle shall lie within the defined grid of centers and not on the edge of the grid.


Limit Equilibrium Methods

Limit equilibrium methods are still currently most used for slopes stability studies. These methods consist in
cutting the slope into fine slices so that their base can be comparable with a straight line then to write the
equilibrium equations (equilibrium of the forces and/or moments) [8]. According to the assumptions made on
the efforts between the slices and the equilibrium equations considered, many alternatives were proposed. They
give in most cases rather close results.

1. Swedish Circle / ø = 0 Method.

2. Log-Spiral procedure
3. The friction Circle Procedure
4. Methods of Slices
o Ordinary method of slices
o Simplified Bishop Method

o Janbu’s Simplified Method

o Janbu’s Generalized Procedure of Slices (GPS)
o Spencer’s Method
o Morgenstern and Price’s

GEO5 software suite is designed to solve various geotechnical problems. The easy to use suite
consists of individual programs with a unified and user-friendly interface. Each program is used to analyze a
different geotechnical task but all modules communicate with each other to form an integrated suite.
Geotechnical software with analytical and finite element analysis solutions consist of programs designed to
solve large number of problems commonly encountered. It includes integrated modules such as stability of
slopes, reinforced slopes, nailed slopes, rock stability, spread footing, plates, beams, piles, cantilever wall,
abutment, gravity wall, gabions, earth pressure, sheeting design, sheeting check, settlement, etc. A wide range
of geotechnical problems such as beams on elastic foundations, excavation, etc. can be modelled which can
be used to study the real behavior of the material in the structure. There are many software packages available
in the market. Some that uses the Swedish method of slices and others that use more sophisticated methods.

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The program analyses the stability of generally layered soil slopes. It is used mainly for stability checks of
embankments, earth cuts and anchored sheeting structures. The slip surface is considered as circular (the

Bishop, Fellenius/Petterson, Janbu, Morgenstern-Price or the Spencer method) or polygonal (the Sarma,
Janbu, Morgenstern-Price or Spencer method).


1. A. Ghosh, S. Sarkar, D.P.Kanungo, S.K.Jain (2009), “Slope Instability and Risk Assessment
of an Unstable Slope at Agrakhal,Uttarakhand”, Indian Geotechnical ConferenceA. Totsev,
J. Jellev (2009), “Slope stability analysis using conventional methods and FEM”,
Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical
Engineering, IOS Press.

2. Ali Fawaz Elias Farah2, Fadi Hagechehade (2014), “Slope stability analysis using numerical
modelling”, American Journal of Civil Engineering, 2014; 2(3): 60-67

3. Geotechnical software suite and Fine Ltd

(2010), “Geo5 User’s Guide”.

4. Nima Farshidfar, Arash Nayeri (2015), “Slope Stability Analysis by Shear Strength
Reduction Method”, Journal of Civil Engineering and Urbanism.
5. Gupta, P., Raghuwanshi, A. K., and Bhargava, S. (2016). “EFFECT OF DENSITY AND MOISTURE ON

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