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www.elsevier.com/locate/compgeo

failure criterion

X. Li *

Instituto Mexicano de Tecnologia del Agua, Paseo Cuauhnahuac 8532, Jiutepec, Morelos 62550, Mexico

Received 22 June 2006; received in revised form 22 November 2006; accepted 28 November 2006

Available online 22 January 2007

Abstract

Nonlinear shear strength criteria of power-law type are implemented in a ﬁnite element slope stability analysis. Numerical solutions in

which failure mechanisms can also be estimated are favorably compared to those obtained using limit analysis and limit equilibrium

approach. Emphasis is made on the deﬁnition of two diﬀerent stability numbers. One has been employed by some authors in the context

of rock slopes and the other is commonly used in soil mechanics. Depending on how the factors of safety are deﬁned, the stability num-

bers computed using the two deﬁnitions may be diﬀerent, and so the design charts prepared in each approach should be assessed with

caution. Earthquake eﬀects are also analyzed by pseudo-static considerations. Stability numbers for diﬀerent seismic coeﬃcients are com-

puted and compared with other existing solutions. If Newmark’s displacement approach is used, calculation of earthquake induced

deformations is highly sensitive to stability analyses and thus to the assumption on failure mechanisms, and so a ﬁnite element analysis

provides advantages over other methods because no failure mechanism has to be assumed a priori.

2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

which has been widely used in subsequent nonlinear slope

The mechanical behavior of soils and rocks is nonlinear. stability analyses. At the same time, Zhang and Chen [24]

It is well recognized that stress–strain relations do not presented an eﬀective numerical procedure for solving

remain linear, even for low stress levels. It is also known plane-strain stability problems of homogeneous slopes with

that strength parameters of both geomaterials depend on the power-law relation. The upper bound limit analysis

stress levels. Particularly, the linear failure criterion has technique is followed, considering perfectly plastic solids

been shown not to be a good approximation to describe with the associative ﬂow rule. Drescher and Christopoulos

the failure mechanism of rock masses. Hoek and Brown [6] proposed a simpler alternative using the previously cal-

[11] developed an empirical failure criterion relating the culated linear stability numbers and obtaining solutions by

major and minor principal stresses. This criterion is the means of a series of linear failure surfaces that are tangent

generalization of Griﬃth’s classical model to describe to and exceed the actual nonlinear failure surface. Collin

the development of cracks in brittle materials. These et al. [3] presented a similar technique to evaluate the sta-

authors proposed a revised version of the original model bility of slopes for the material model proposed by Hoek

for heavily jointed rock masses (see [22]). Ucar [19] demon- and Brown [11]. Recently, Yang and Yin [21] and Yang

strated that the Hoek–Brown relation could be cast in the et al. [22] developed a ‘‘generalized tangential’’ technique

form of a power-law relation. Zhang and Chen [24] pro- that employs the tangential line of the nonlinear failure

curve but avoids the use of previously calculated linear sta-

*

Tel.: +527773293600; fax: +527773220492. bility solutions. The power-law relation and Brown and

E-mail address: xli@tlaloc.imta.mx. Hoek criterion were considered in their analyses.

0266-352X/$ - see front matter 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.compgeo.2006.11.005

128 X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136

All these stability analyses with nonlinear failure criteria the pseudo-static method and Newmark’s displacement

have been conducted using limit equilibrium methods or approach is commonly made to determine earthquake-

limit analyses; although, the ﬁnite element (FE) method induced permanent displacements. The advantage of the

has shown to be eﬀective in other slope stability analyses. FE method is shown as it provides critical seismic coeﬃ-

In their early work, Matsui and San [15] developed a shear cients without assuming a priori failure surfaces.

strength reduction technique. The principle behind the men-

tioned technique is to reduce the cohesion and friction angle 2. Analysis procedure

until failure occurs. They used hyperbolic stress–strain non-

linear elastic relations [7] to describe the dependence of soil A routine ﬁnite element procedure is followed in the pres-

behavior on shear strength parameters. Factors of safety ent analysis. Although the analysis can be carried out in

are obtained when a well-deﬁned shear failure zone is slopes with heterogeneous mass and complex geometry,

developed, in which the shear strains exceed 15%. Ugai only a uniform two-dimensional slope is considered here.

and Leshchinsky [20] reported a numerical comparison of If the slope is deﬁned by height H, unit weight c0, horizontal

predictions using a rigorous three-dimensional limit equilib- seismic coeﬃcient kx and vertical seismic coeﬃcient kz, the

rium analysis and the FE method. Good agreement was two-dimensional governing equilibrium equation is given by

found between both solutions when slopes were vertical cuts

with constant cohesion and friction angle, and when a orxx orxz

þ ¼ k x c0 ; ð1aÞ

pseudo-static seismic force component was included. Grif- ox oz

ﬁths and his collaborators [9,13,10] reported a series of orxz orzz

þ ¼ ðk z þ 1Þc0 ; ð1bÞ

studies of FE slope analyses. The FE analysis can be applied ox oz

to slopes with irregular slope inclination, inhomogeneous

rxx ; rxz and rzz are total stresses in the x–z plane. Both seis-

soils, arbitrary water ﬂow pattern and external loadings.

mic coeﬃcients may be positive or negative. These equa-

The most notable advantage of the FE slope stability anal-

tions can be reformulated so that

ysis over other methods relies on the fact that no failure

mechanisms have to be deﬁned a priori, and so its use can orxx orxz

þ ¼ kc; ð2aÞ

be extended to a highly heterogeneous mass or even to ox oz

slopes with randomly distributed properties [10]. Recently, orxz orzz

þ ¼ c ð2bÞ

Yu et al. [23] analyzed three-dimensional slope stability of ox oz

rockﬁll dams using the FE technique. In this analysis, the with the seismic coeﬃcient k

elasto-perfectly plastic constitutive model was applied to

the soil accepting the Mohr–Coulomb principle as yield kx

k¼ ð3Þ

function and the Drucker–Prager equation as plastic poten- 1 þ kz

tial function. The constant strength parameters are consid- and the modiﬁed unit weight c

ered for both functions. Global failure occurs when the

c ¼ ð1 þ k z Þc0 ; ð4Þ

ﬁnite element calculation diverges under certain conver-

gence criteria. Although the solution algorithm for the elas- kx is positive when the horizontal seismic force is directed

toplastic problem has not been mentioned, these authors towards the slope face and kz is positive when the vertical

compared their numerical results with analytical solutions seismic force takes the same direction as the gravity accel-

and some benchmark answers for various stability prob- eration. The reformulation of the governing equations

lems, reporting excellent agreement. make it possible to group earthquake eﬀects occurring in

In the present paper, the ﬁnite element stability analysis two directions into only one coeﬃcient k and one modiﬁed

of materials with power-law strength relation is described. unit weight c so the design charts computed uniquely for

The viscoplastic algorithm is used in the elastoplasticity horizontal seismic inputs can also be used to include verti-

analysis. Homogenous slopes of single inclination are ana- cal earthquake eﬀects. If the critical seismic coeﬃcient kcr is

lyzed. The numerical solution is compared with that previ- determined using this reformulation procedure, the critical

ously obtained by other authors, showing that the ﬁnite seismic coeﬃcient on the horizontal direction can be back-

element procedure can be used for stability analysis with calculated as kx,cr = kcr(1 + kz).

nonlinear strength criterion. One of the main outputs of In the FE stability slope analysis, the elastic–perfectly

the present study relies on the distinction between two ways plastic constitutive equation is used to represent the

to introduce factors of safety or stability numbers into the stress–strain behavior of materials. For the linear Mohr–

linear and nonlinear strength criteria. Solutions for both Coulomb (MC) criterion, the yield function is given by

deﬁnitions are considerably divergent, and so design charts f = q qf where the shear stress q is deﬁned by q =

prepared using diﬀerent deﬁnitions should be used with (r1 r3)/2. r1 and r3 are major and minor principal

caution. Earthquake loadings are taken into account by stresses that are taken as positive when in tension. In this

considering pseudo-static assumptions. Numerical results paper, all stresses are considered eﬀective, so no pore pres-

of stability numbers for diﬀerent seismic coeﬃcients are sure eﬀect is included and the material may be dry or fully

compared with other existing solutions. A combination of drained. qf is the shear stress at failure that can be

X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136 129

expressed in terms of friction angle / and cohesion c as safety can be found when the elastoplastic solution fails to

qf = p sin / + c cos /, p = (r1 + r3)/2. By the relation converge [9]. The criterion of non-convergence is set up by

between Mohr circle and MC envelope, qf can also be given two user-speciﬁed measures: maximum number of itera-

in terms of the shear strength s on the failure plane, i.e., tions and tolerance control. This latter is deﬁned as ratio

qf = s sec / where the shear strength is in turn a function between the maximum value of absolute incremental dis-

of the normal stress on the failure plane r:s = s(r). Note placements between two subsequent iterations and the

that the stress r in compression is positive. This last func- maximum value of absolute displacements at the last itera-

tion can be either linear or nonlinear. A speciﬁc expression tion [18].

will be given in the next section with reference to a nonlin-

ear function. Based on these considerations, the yield func- 3. Stability numbers for the power-law relation

tion f is preferably given by f = q s sec /t for a general

MC criterion, where /t is the tangential value of the fric- Various strength functions have been proposed to repre-

tion angle that can be computed from tan/t = os/or. It sent nonlinear shear strength in soils and rocks. For soils,

can be also shown that a relation holds between the conﬁn- semi-logarithmic and power-law functions have been used

ing stress p and the normal stress r, p r = s tan /t, which [1,7,12]. For rocks, it is common to use the following

is useful to compute r from p. On the other hand, the plas- power-law relation:

tic potential function g is deﬁned as g = q p sin w where w n

r

is the dilation angle. s ¼ s0 þ1 ; ð5Þ

r0

The static equilibrium equation along with elastoplastic

constitutive relations is nonlinear and so its solution should where s0 is the unconﬁned shear strength and r0 is the

be obtained using iterative algorithms. The viscoplastic tensile strength. This equation can be extended for soils

(VP) method is one of early approaches to deal with plas- only when the linear shear strength is considered with

ticity problems [25] and has been shown to be useful to cal- n = 1. In this case, the ratio s0/r0 can be seen as a gener-

culate collapse loading for plastic materials in geotechnical alized coeﬃcient of internal friction. The strength param-

problems such as bearing capacity, earth pressure and eters s0 and r0 have to be positive and should never be

slope stability. In spite of its limitations to model complex zero. The exponent n varies from 0.5 to 0.65 in typical

constitutive relations, the VP approach works well for sim- rock-like materials. In this paper, attention will be fo-

ple elastoplastic models such as Tresca and Mohr–Cou- cused on rock slopes, and so Eq. (5) will be considered.

lomb, as pointed out by Potts [17]. The implementation In Fig. 1, strength curves given by Eq. (5) are illustrated

of the VP algorithm has been detailed in many works with mark s for n = 1 and n = 0.5. For both cases, it is

[17,18,25]. Cormeau [4] derived the time step Dt necessary noted that s/s0 = 0 when r/r0 = 1; if r/r0 = 0, s/s0 = 1

to guarantee the numerical stability for the MC model, is always given. For smaller n values or an equivalently

Dt = 4(1 + m)(1 2m)/E/(1 2m + sin2 /) where E and m higher degree of the nonlinearity of the curves, the values

are modulus of elasticity and Poisson’s ratio, respectively. of s/s0 become larger at lower levels of r/r0 and smaller

/ is a constant value of the friction angle. For the analysis at higher r/r0 levels.

of nonlinear MC envelope, the tangential value of friction The FE stability analysis needs to introduce factors of

angles should be used, which varies during the solution safety into the strength law. The factor of safety is denoted

procedure, so the above time step is replaced Dt = by F1 with a subindex 1 and is referred to as the ﬁrst-type

2(1 + m)(1 2m)/E/(1 m), which is valid for full range of factor of safety. This is because the other factor of safety,

/ including the maximum possible / value that is equal called the second-type, will be deﬁned later. The shear

to p/2. In order to search for minimum factors of safety, strength expressed in Eq. (5) is factorized as

ﬁrst it is necessary to introduce the factors of safety into n

s0 rF 1

the nonlinear shear strength to obtain a factorized strength sF;1 ¼ þ1 ; ð6Þ

F 1 r0

sF = sF(r) from which the factorized yield function fF is

derived leading to the form fF = q sF sec /tF, where the where sF,1 is the factorized shear strength for F1. In

tangential value of the factorized friction angle is computed Fig. 1, Eq. (6) is plotted for n = 1 and n = 0.5 considering

from tan /tF = osF/or. The nonlinear equation p r = a value of 1.5 for F1. The curves are marked with sF,1.

sF tan /tF can be used to determine r. The solution for this For n = 1, the sF,1 line and the s line are parallel; sF,1

nonlinear equation is obtained using the Newton–Raphson is always smaller than s. The starting point of the ﬁrst

procedure, assuming an initial guess of r = p. Only a few one is shifted from r/r0 = 1 to r/r0 = 1/F1 = 1/1.5.

iterations are needed to lead the convergent solution. Once For the nonlinear case, the starting point of the sF,1 curve

the value of r is given, the tangential friction angle and the is also located at r/r0 = 1/F1. At low values of r/r0, the

factorized shear strength are estimated, and thus the factor- sF,1 curve and the s curve are parallel, although this par-

ized yield function is determined. If the mentioned function allelism will disappear with high values of r/r0. The

is greater than zero, a plastic strain occurs and the plastic graphical representation of these curves makes a clear dis-

potential is computed using the non-associativity condition tinction between the original strength function and the

w = /tF. Using the factorized yield function, the factors of factorized one. The advantage of this representation will

130 X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136

a minor diﬀerence in numerical algorithms. The mass

n=0.5

herein analyzed consists of a uniform slope founded on a

τ

foundation ground of the same material, as shown in

F1=F2=1.5

2

Fig. 2. Two meshes are used. For the ﬁne mesh, 20 · 10

τF,1

and 40 · 20 grids are used to represent the slope mass

τ/τ0

600 elements. The coarse mesh is composed of 325 elements

with 15 · 10 and 15 · 7 grids for the slope and foundation,

1 respectively. The slope is at an angle b to the horizontal.

The FE analysis is conducted using quadrilateral elements

for the condition of plane strain. Eight nodes and four

Gauss points are used. The slope mass is bounded by a lat-

0 eral vertical boundary. If H is the height of the slope, the

8 top of the slope is measured 5H and the bottom of the

slope equals to 5H + H cot b. The slope foundation is

7

n=1

extended to 5H far from the slope toe. The thickness of

6 F1=F2=1.5 τ the slope foundation is equal to the slope height H.

τF,1 In previous studies, s0 and r0 have been treated as two

5 independent parameters. However, the present analysis

shows that they are not independent and their combination

4 τF,2

τ/τ0

3 example of Zhang and Chen (ZC) in which s0 = 90 and

r0 = 247.3 have been considered, the ratio s0/r0 = 90/

2 247.3 = 0.36393 is used in the present analysis. In Table

1, the computed stability numbers for two meshes are pre-

1

sented together with the ZC results. Results obtained by

0 other authors are not included because of their similarity

-1 0 1 2 3 4 5

to those of Zhang and Zhen. For the cases analyzed, seven

σ/σ0

values of the parameter n are taken into account from 1 to

Fig. 1. Mohr–Coulomb envelope and its factorized curves. 0.4 and four slopes are considered with inclination angles

of 90 to 45. The tolerance limit for the iterative solution

be more noticeable later on when the other factorized is set to be equal to 106. The maximum numbers of itera-

strength function will be provided. tions for the ﬁne and coarse meshes are 5000 and 2000,

If the stability number is deﬁned as Ns,1 = cHF1/s0, Eq. respectively. Results obtained from the ﬁne mesh are ana-

(6) can be rewritten as lyzed ﬁrst. For the slope b = 90 with n = 1.0, the present

n analysis provides a stability number of 5.87 in comparison

sF;1 1 r s0

¼ N s;1 þ 1 ð7Þ with 5.51 published by Zhang and Chen. An overestima-

cH N s;1 cH r0

tion of 6.5% is obtained in the present study. For the slope

and the tangential friction angle /tF,1 is given by b = 90 with n = 0.4, the present analysis and the ZC study

n1 report values of 7.80 and 7.95, respectively. The herein

ns0 r s0

tan /tF;1 ¼ N s;1 þ 1 : ð8Þ computed stability number is underestimated by 1.8%.

r0 cH r0

In Eqs. (7) and (8), the stresses sF,1 and r are normalized

with respect to cH because the governing equations will

be solved in the normalized stress space. Assuming that

the thickness of the slope foundation is large enough that

the slip surface is not restricted by the rigid base, it can a b

be seen from Eqs. (7) and (8) that the stability number is

a function of two independent material parameters s0/r0

and n as well as the slope inclination b. Therefore, the sta-

bility number can be expressed as follows, Ns,1 = Ns,1(s0/

r0, cot b, n).

To show the validity of the present approach, the exam- c d

ple used by Zhang and Chen [24] is chosen. This example

has also been studied by other authors [3,6,21]. The results Fig. 2. Failure patterns for two slopes with two n values: (a) cot b = 1, n =

obtained by these authors are similar because the analysis 0.5; (b) cot b = 0, n = 0.5; (c) cot b = 1, n = 1; (d) cot b = 0, n = 1.

X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136 131

Table 1

Comparison of ﬁrst-type stability numbers sF,1 computed by the present solution with the results of Zhang and Chen [24]

n b=90 b=75 b=60 b=45

ZC F C ZC F C ZC F C ZC F C

1.0 5.51 5.87 5.83 7.48 7.75 7.71 10.39 10.64 10.54 16.20 16.46 16.12

0.833 5.13 5.34 5.32 6.77 6.95 6.91 8.95 9.07 8.99 12.55 12.68 12.52

0.714 4.89 5.09 5.07 6.33 6.47 6.44 8.13 8.20 8.16 10.82 10.86 10.76

0.625 4.73 4.90 4.89 6.04 6.14 6.12 7.61 7.67 7.62 9.70 9.79 9.69

0.556 4.60 4.76 4.75 5.82 5.91 5.89 7.24 7.29 7.25 9.10 9.09 9.00

0.5 4.52 4.65 4.64 5.66 5.73 5.72 6.97 7.00 6.98 8.78 8.58 8.51

0.4 4.35 4.48 4.46 5.40 5.46 5.44 6.54 6.56 6.54 7.95 7.80 7.72

ZC = solution given by Zhang and Chen [24].

F = present study using ﬁne mesh.

C = present study using coarse mesh.

For the case with b = 60 and n = 0.4, both solutions are in one to distinguish diﬀerent kinematically admissible failure

closest agreement. Taking this last case as reference, the mechanisms that are shown by the vector ﬁeld of the slip-

present solution provides larger stability numbers with ping mass. For the studied slope with b = 45, the failure

increasing b and n values; in contrast, smaller values of mass moves in a rotational manner. When the vertical cut

the stability number are computed by the present analysis with b = 90 is of concern, the failure remains rotational

when b and n values decrease. However, the diﬀerence but the rotation radius is much larger. This observation is

between both solutions is within 6.5% for all the analyzed true for any value of n. When the parameter n is reduced

cases. When the coarse mesh is used, the results do not from 1 to 0.5, the failure mass spreads considerably into

change signiﬁcantly with respect to the ﬁne mesh. The sta- the inside of the slope and the failure mass is much larger

bility numbers obtained by using the coarse mesh are at than for the linear case with n = 1. In both cases, slipping

most 2% smaller than those computed by the ﬁne mesh. surfaces pass by the slope toe. For the linear strength crite-

So both meshes will be used indistinctly for the studies pre- rion, however, the slipping surfaces have no intersection

sented in the following study cases. These results show that with the foundation; in contrast, failure surfaces in slopes

the FE solution can generate results that are in good agree- with the nonlinear criterion slightly penetrate into the foun-

ment with those obtained by the limit analysis. From Table dation ground. This observation is supported by the fact

1, the nonlinearity of the strength envelope is observed to that changes in the ﬂexibility of the foundation do not aﬀect

have a notable inﬂuence on the results. The stability num- the stability number of the slope with linear criterion but

ber increases with an increasing n value. From n = 0.4 to modiﬁes that of the slope with nonlinear criterions.

n = 1 the increase on the stability number (from 4.48 to In the example above, a single value of s0/r0 is involved,

5.87) is 31% for the vertical cut with b = 90; the men- and so it is desirable to study the inﬂuence of the parameter

tioned increase (from 7.80 to 16.46) is as high as 111% s0 /r0 on the results. To compute new results, the ﬁne FE

for a ﬂat slope with b = 45. mesh is considered. In Fig. 3, the stability numbers for

One of the important outcomes that can be obtained the vertical cut are shown as a function of s0/r0 that varies

from the limit equilibrium methods or limit analysis is the from 0 to 1.2. Three n values are considered: 1, 0.5 and 0.4.

geometry of the failure surface of slopes. Due to its inherent When the tensile strength of the material is much larger

nature of continuum formulation, the FE analysis can pro- than its shear strength, s0/r0 approaches zero. Under this

vide merely a diﬀuse indication of the failure mechanism. condition, it is observed from Eqs. (7) and (8) that the fac-

Some improvements have been attempted to enhance the torized shear strength and tangential friction angle depend

capability of capture and visualization of failure mecha- only on the stability number, so the stability number is no

nisms by ﬁnite elements. Griﬃths and Kidger [8] reported longer a function of the parameter n. The computation

a regridding approach together with the use of incremental undertaken in the present analysis provides a unique Ns,1

displacements. Based on the basic ideas behind the work of value of 3.90 for all n values. For a certain n value, the sta-

these authors, the vectors of incremental displacements cor- bility numbers increase as the value of s0/r0 increases. For

responding to the unconverged solutions are plotted in the case n = 0.5, the increase is almost linear for the ana-

Fig. 2. The pictures shown are only a zoomed window of lyzed range of s0/r0that runs from 0 to 1.2. Therefore,

the complete analysis domain. The incremental displace- one can obtain a linear ﬁtting such that Ns,1 = 3.9 +

ments are the diﬀerence between the displacements gener- 1.9s0/r0. For the case n = 1, the variation of the stability

ated in the last iteration just prior to failure and those number with the s0/r0 value is not linear; for a larger

obtained in the penultimate iteration. Four of the cases s0/r0 value, the increase in the stability number is greater.

analyzed in Table 1 are shown. They correspond to b = The stability numbers also vary with n value; given larger

45 , 90 and n = 1, 0.5 with respective stability numbers s0/r0 values, the increase in the stability numbers with

included in Table 1. This visualization technique allows increasing n value is also greater. For example, for

132 X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136

Eq. (6). For the linear case with n = 1, Eq. (6) leads to

12 the form sF,1 = (s0/r0)r + s0/F1. The shear strength is com-

posed of two parts. The ﬁrst one is internal friction repre-

11 cotβ =0

sented by ratio s0/r0. For the linear case, s0/r0 is the

constant coeﬃcient of internal friction. The other part of

10 the shear strength is the cohesion represented by s0. It is

observed that the factor of safety is only applied to the

9

cohesion part if Eq. (6) is used. Nevertheless, the way in

n=1

which the factor of safety is introduced is not that conven-

tionally employed. For the linear case, one can express the

8

Ns,1

Subindex 2 refers to the second-type factor of safety. In this

7

deﬁnition, which is used in most stability analyses for soils,

n=0.5 the factor of safety is applied to both parts of the strength.

6

The nonlinear counterpart of this new deﬁned factorized

shear strength is given by

5 n

n=0.4 s0 r

sF;2 ¼ þ1 : ð9Þ

4

F 2 r0

In Fig. 1, the second-type factorized shear strength is

3 shown together with the original shear strength (Eq.

0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2

(5)) and the ﬁrst-type factorized one. The diﬀerence be-

τ0/σ0

tween the two factorized strengths sF,1 and sF,2 is clearly

Fig. 3. First-type stability numbers for diﬀerent n values in vertical cuts as revealed in the s/s0 and r/r0 plane. The origins of the

a function of ratio s0/r0. three curves are diﬀerent, and are deﬁned by r/r0 =

1, 1/F1 and 1 for s, sF,1 and sF,2 curves, respec-

s0/r0 = 0.4, Ns,1 increases by 29% if n changes from 0.5 to tively. The slopes of the three curves also diverge. For

1; for s0/r0 = 1.0, the increase is almost 80%. the linear case with n = 1, the slopes are s0/r0, s0/r0

Early studies considering nonlinear strength envelopes and s0/F2r0 for s, sF,1 and sF,2 lines, respectively. The

pay little attention to the valid range of the parameter n. normal stress r/r0 may be tensile or compressive. For

Collecting data from diﬀerent sources, Charles and Soares any n value, if the normal stress is in tension, the ﬁrst-

[2] noticed that, in all of the cases, experimentally deter- type strength is less than the second-type. When the nor-

mined n values were in the range 0.5 6 n 6 1. Jiang et al. mal stress becomes compressive, the trend is reversed.

[12] showed that, mathematically, the legitimate n value Due to the diﬀerence between the two factorized

should be in the range indicated by Charles and Soares strengths, it is expected that the assessment of global sta-

[2]. However, in the example presented by Zhang and Chen bility of slopes using two deﬁnitions will provide diﬀerent

[24] the rational value of stability number was computed results. If the second-type stability number is introduced

for the case with n = 0.4 assuming a single value of as Ns,2 = cHF2/s0, Eq. (9) becomes

0.36393 for ratio s0/r0. Similar results have also been n

reported by other authors [6,3,21]. This conclusion appar- sF;2 1 r cH

¼ þ1 ð10Þ

ently contradicts that drawn by Jiang et al. [12]. To clarify cH N s;2 cH r0

this point, the Ns,1 curve corresponding to n = 0.4 is com-

and the tangential friction angle is computed as

puted for all ranges of s0/r0 as illustrated in Fig. 3. Mean-

ingful results can be obtained only until s0/r0 = 0.8. For a n1

n cH r cH

larger s0/r0 value, like 1.0 or 1.2, the stable numerical solu- tan /tF;2 ¼ þ1 : ð11Þ

N s;2 r0 cH r0

tion cannot be obtained. This result shows that although

the stability numbers can be computed for a small s0/r0 It can be seen that the second-type stability number is a

value when n value is given by 0.4, the legitimate range function of three parameters: cH/r0, cot b and n, that is,

of n for the full s0/r0 range should continue to be Ns,2 = Ns,2(cH/r0, cot b,n). Note that for this study the slip

0.5 6 n 6 1 as indicated by Jiang et al. [12]. surface is not aﬀected by the rigid base of the slope foun-

dation. Three parameters aﬀect the calculation of both

4. Stability numbers using conventional deﬁnition for factor Ns,1 and Ns,2. Two of these parameters are cot b and n.

of safety The additional parameter is s0/r0 or cH/r0 for Ns,1 and

Ns,2 respectively. The ﬁrst-type stability number Ns,1 de-

To compute the stability numbers, the factors of safety pends only on the ratio between the material properties

have been introduced into the strength law converting s0/r0 and is not aﬀected by slope height. However, the

X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136 133

second-type stability number Ns,2 is a function of the Given values of cot b and n for uniform slopes, the single

material parameter and slope height. relations Ns,1 vs. s0/r0 and Ns,2 vs. cH/r0 exist. In spite of

To verify the accuracy of the FE formulation of the these two separate dependences, one can correlate both sta-

slope stability using the second-type factor of safety, a bility numbers. To do so, the number Ns,2 as a function of

slope founded on a base of the same material is analyzed, cH/r0 is reformulated as a function of two parameters

which is similar to that studied earlier in the present study. cH/r0 and s0/r0; this last ratio can be in turn linked to

The coarse mesh is used. If the linear strength envelope is the number Ns,1. Therefore, both numbers can be drawn

considered, the numerical results can be compared with in a single ﬁgure. In Fig. 5, results computed for n = 1

the classical solutions that have been given by various limit value and a vertical cut are depicted. cH/r0 value varies

equilibrium methods and limit analyses. Two slope inclina- from 0 to 14 and four values of s0/r0 are taken as 0.1,

tions are considered, cot b = 0 and 1. The variation of the 0.4, 0.8 and 1.2. For a certain s0/r0 value, Ns,2 varies for

stability number on the cH/r0 values is evaluated, as shown the whole range of cH/r0, while a unique number Ns,1 is

in Fig. 4. The present solution is compared with that given. This unique value of Ns,1 in each case is equal to

obtained by the limit analysis of Michalowski [16]. In the cH/s0 value and is independent from s0/r0 values. In fact,

same ﬁgure, the classical results are included for compari- one can observe that the condition Ns,2 = Ns,1 is obtained

son purposes for four values of cH/r0, 0, 1, 2 and 10. when Ns,1 = cH/s0 or equivalently the factor of safety is

The comparison data are extracted from the graphics equal to one, i.e. F1 = F2 = 1. In other words, both num-

included in the work of Michalowski [16]. A very good bers are equal only when the condition F1 = F2 = 1 or

agreement is observed for both solutions. For example, cH/s0 = Ns,1 = Ns,2 is satisﬁed. When cH/s0 < Ns,1, it is

for the slope cot b = 0, the classical solution provides given that Ns,2 < Ns,1; if cH/s0 > Ns,1 it results that

3.83, 4.73, 5.5 and 9.85 for cH/r0 = 0, 1, 2 and 10, respec- Ns,2 > Ns,1. The diﬀerence of magnitudes between both sta-

tively, as compared with values of 3.89, 4.89, 5.74 and bility numbers is relevant for design practices. For the sta-

10.18 obtained by the present solution. The overestimation bility assessment of slopes, the stability number and thus

of the present solution over the limit analysis is 1.5%, 3.3%, the factor of safety are computed and then compared to

4.3% and 3.3%. For the slope cot b = 1, values of 5.52, 8, the allowable factors of safety. Most of these allowable fac-

9.95 and 22.13 for the classical solution are compared with tors of safety are based on back analyses of failed slopes. If

5.41, 8.03, 9.95 and 21.9 for four cH/r0 values. The varia- these failed slopes are studied by using the concept of, for

tion of the present solution over the classical one is as small example, the second-type factor of safety, the actual design

as 1.9%, 0.3%, 0% and 1.0%. requires the use of the same concept: otherwise, slope sta-

bility may be under- or overestimated.

24 13

22 12

n =1 τ0 /σ0=1.2

Michalowski (2002) cot β =0.

20 Present study is used to indicate Ns,1

11

n=1

18 10

τ0 /σ0 =0.8

16

9

cotβ=1

14

8

Ns,2

Ns,2

τ0 /σ0 =0.4

12

7

10

cotβ =0 6

8

τ0 /σ0 =0.1

5

6

4

3

0 2 4 6 8 10 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14

γH/σ0 γ H/τ0

Fig. 4. Comparison of second-type stability numbers and existing limit Fig. 5. First and second-type stability numbers for vertical cuts using

equilibrium solutions for two slopes using n = 1. n = 1.

134 X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136

28

is equivalent to the gravity force factorized by the seismic

cot β =1, n =1

coeﬃcients. This simpliﬁed analysis provides good results

26

τ0 /σ0=1.0 if seismic coeﬃcients are correctly assigned, but this type

24 of analysis is more relevant when used in combination with

is used to indicate Ns,1

Newmark’s double integration method to determine the

22

extent of earthquake-induced permanent displacements of

20 slopes. For these analyses, a critical seismic coeﬃcient is

18

determined, which is associated with the case in which

the factor of safety is equal to one. Crespellani et al. [5],

16

however, show that the prediction of displacements is

Ns,2

14 cot β =1, n=0.5 highly sensitive to how accurately the critical seismic coef-

ﬁcients are determined. The assumption about failure

12

mechanisms is shown to be mostly important. The example

10

cot β =0, n=1 used by these authors is illustrated here. A slope is given by

8

a height of 5 m, slope inclination of 50, constant cohesion

of 10 kPa, constant friction angle of 15, and unit weight of

cot β =0, n=0.5

6

20 kN/m3. Assuming plane and log-spiral failure mecha-

4 nisms, the critical seismic coeﬃcients are 0.174 and 0.028,

respectively. The corresponding displacements for a certain

2

earthquake are 18.1 cm and 148.9 cm respectively. The dif-

0 ference between both solutions is 723% and is only due to

-2 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16

γ H/τ0

the diﬀerence of the geometries of slipping surfaces. Since

the FE formulation does not make assumptions about fail-

Fig. 6. First and second-type stability numbers for diﬀerent slopes and n ure mechanisms but obtains them as analysis results, its

values as a function of cH/s0 with s0/r0 = 1. estimation on the critical seismic coeﬃcients and conse-

quently on the earthquake induced deformations is

The inﬂuence of the nonlinearity of the shear strength is expected to be more realistic than those provided by the

shown in Fig. 6 for two slopes cot b = 0 and 1. Two n val- limit equilibrium approach or limit analysis (see Fig. 7).

ues are considered n = 1,0.5 along with a ﬁxed value of

s0/r0 = 1. For each case, the number Ns,2 is computed as

a variation with the parameter cH/s0 from 0 to 14. The cal-

culated Ns,1 numbers are also indicated. Ns,2 numbers 28

Present analysis

26

increase (from 5.80 to 10.31) is 77% when n value runs from Lescchinsky & San (1994)

0.5 to 1.0. For the slope with cot b = 1, however, Ns,1 num- n =1

24 τ0 /σ0=1

ber for n = 1 is so extremely high that it cannot be drawn in

Fig. 6. On the other hand, for cH/s0 = 0, no inﬂuence of n 22

value is observed. When cH/s0 increases, Ns,2 number is

more considerably aﬀected by n value. For cH/s0 = 6, the 20

cut and 58% (from 10.27 to 16.32) for the slope cot b = 1. 18 cot β =1, γ H / (σ0 Ns,2 ) =0.5

Ns,2

16

11.72) 56% for the vertical cut and 97% (from 13.86 to

27.31) for the ﬂat slope. The inﬂuence of the nonlinearity 14

of the shear strength may be more or less considerable

for one deﬁnition of the factor of safety than the other, 12

depending on the combination of various parameters. Once

again, the slope stability may be not correctly assessed by 10

cot β =0, γ H/(σ0 Ns,2 ) =1

not making distinction between both deﬁnitions.

8

5. Earthquake eﬀects 6

Earthquake loading is one of important sources to the 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25

of slopes when these are found in seismic regions. Tradi- Fig. 7. Comparison of the second-type stability numbers and existing limit

tionally, the dynamic earthquake eﬀects are included in equilibrium solutions for pseudo-static seismic loadings.

X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136 135

As the determination of the critical seismic coeﬃcients with k = 0.1 and 0.2 are taken into account. For the range

with the factor of safety equal one is equivalent to the esti- of data analyzed, the variation of Ns,2 with n values is

mation of factors of safety or the stability number for a cer- found almost in a linear fashion for the three loading cases.

tain seismic coeﬃcient, calculation results of stability The expression Ns,2 = 5.3–8.1k + (5.5 5.1k)n may be a

numbers will be described. First, the second-type stability good approximation for this linear variation. Leshchinsky

numbers Ns,2 are computed and compared to those and San [14] noticed that the earthquake loading extends

obtained by Leshchinsky and San [14] who developed the sliding surfaces and a much larger slipping mass should

design charts for uniform slopes using a variational limit- be mobilized under the pseudo-static loadings. To visualize

ing equilibrium approach and assuming circular failure this eﬀect, failure patterns are plotted in Fig. 9 for the cases

mechanism. The coarse mesh is used for this analysis. This n = 0.6 and k = 0,0.2. For the static case with k = 0 the

mesh is consistent with the assumption used by these slipping surface passes by the slope toe with minor interac-

authors in that the foundation is extended to a depth equal tion with the slope foundation. A circular slipping surface

to the slope height. Two slopes with cot b = 0 and 1 are is well deﬁned and rotational failure can be observed.

analyzed along with parameter cH/(r0Ns,2) equal to 1 When the pseudo-static loading is considered with

and 0.5. The s0/r0 value is ﬁxed for 1. The Ns,2 numbers k = 0.2, the slipping mass is extended at horizontal and

are shown as a function of the seismic coeﬃcient k, which vertical directions as indicated by Leshchinsky and San

runs from 0 to 0.25. The present analysis oﬀers good agree- [14]. Compared to the static case, the displacements vectors

ments between both solutions but the present solution pro- rotate upward under the pseudo static loading. This com-

vides a slight overestimation for stability numbers in plex failure pattern can be captured in a FE formulation

almost all of the cases. The overestimation is larger for ver- without a priori assumptions regarding slipping surfaces.

tical cuts than for ﬂat slopes. This result is consistent with In spite of that the present FE analysis and the limit equi-

that illustrated by Fig. 4 in which slightly overestimated librium approach provide good agreement for uniform

stability numbers are computed for high cH/r0 values in slopes, a major discrepancy will be expected for cases in

vertical cuts. The overestimations are approximately 7% which the slope mass is non-uniform and the problem

for the vertical cuts and 3% for the slope cot b = 1. The boundary is complex. This is when the FE formulation

nonlinearity of the shear strength law also inﬂuences the oﬀers advantages over traditional slope analyses.

computed stability numbers, which are shown in Fig. 8 as

a function of the parameter n. A slope with cot b = 1 is con- 6. Concluding remarks

sidered along with 0.5 for s0/r0 value and 0.2 for s0/cH

value. The static case with k = 0 and two seismic loadings A power-law relation for shear strength is used to

compute stability numbers for which tensile strength and

non-conﬁned shear strength are taken into account. Two-

11.5

dimensional governing equations are reformulated such

11.0

10.5

cot β =1

τ0 / σ0 =0.5

10.0 τ0 /γ H =0.2

k=0

9.5

9.0

8.5

Ns,2

k=0.1

8.0

7.5

k=0.2

7.0

6.5

6.0

5.5

0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0

n

Fig. 8. Second-type stability numbers as a function of n values for Fig. 9. Failure patterns for static and pseudo-static loadings: (a) k = 0;

diﬀerent seismic coeﬃcients. (b) k = 0.2.

136 X. Li / Computers and Geotechnics 34 (2007) 127–136

that horizontal and vertical earthquake loadings can be [7] Duncan JM, Chang CY. Nonlinear analysis of stress and strain in

included in a pseudo-static analysis by using a sole seismic soils. J Soil Mech Found Eng Div ASCE 1970;956(SM5):1629–53.

[8] Griﬃths DV, Kidger DJ. Enhanced visualization of failure mecha-

horizontal coeﬃcient. Compared with results obtained by nisms by ﬁnite elements. Comput Struct 1995;55(2):265–8.

the limit analyses, the ﬁnite element formulation is shown [9] Griﬃths DV, Lane PA. Slope stability analysis by ﬁnite elements.

to be accurate and eﬃcient to compute stability numbers. Geotechnique 1999;49(3):387–403.

Failure mechanisms can also be deﬁned without a priori [10] Griﬃths DV, Fenton GA. Probabilistic slope stability analysis by

assumptions. Depending on how factors of safety are intro- ﬁnite elements. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng ASCE 2004;130(5):

507–518.

duced into the ﬁnite element analysis, two stability num- [11] Hoek E, Brown ET. Empirical strength criterion for rock masses. J

bers can be computed and only one of them is that Geotech Eng ASCE 1980;106(9):1013–36.

commonly used in slope stability analyses for soils. Both [12] Jiang J-C, Baker R, Yamagami T. The eﬀect of strength envelope

stability numbers are equal only when the factor of safety nonlinearity on slope stability computations. Canad Geotech J

is one. Design charts have been reported in literature using 2003;40:308–25.

[13] Lane PA, Griﬃths DV. Assessment of stability of slopes under

both approaches to compute stability numbers, and should drawdown conditions. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng ASCE

be applied with caution. The nonlinearity of the strength 2000;126(5):443–50.

envelopes has considerable inﬂuence on the results of the [14] Leshchinsky D, San K-C. Pseudostatic seismic stability of slopes:

stability analysis. The legitimate range of the exponent of design charts. J Geotech Eng ASCE 1994;120(9):1514–32.

the power-law relation should be considered to guarantee [15] Matsui T, San K-C. Finite element slope stability analysis by shear

strength reduction technique. Soils Foundations 1992;32(1):59–70.

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Geotechnique 2003;53(6):535–73.

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