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Earth Retaining Structures

Geotechnical Engineering
Submitted To:
DR.J.N Jha

Submitted By:
Jaswinder Pal Singh
GE-1312 (3rd Semester)

Earth Retaining Structures: Earth Retaining Structures retain
soil and resist lateral earth pressure. they ensure stability to an area
where the ground level is quite different on both sides of the

Earth Retaining structures may be broadly grouped into

two categories.
Rigid retaining Structures
Flexible retaining Structures
Rigid Retaining Structures are Usually
Permanent Structures. But some of Flexible Retaining Structures are
used only for Temporary purposes.

Rigid Retaining Structures

Rigid Retaining Structures:

The various Rigid Retaining Structures are as follows:

Gravity Retaining wall
Semi Gravity Retaining wall
Cantilever Retaining wall
Counter Fort Retaining wall
Precast concrete Retaining wall
Precast Concrete Crib Retaining wall
Building Basement wall
Bridge Abutment wall

Flexible retaining Structures

Flexible retaining Structures:
The various Flexible Retaining Structures are as follows:
1 Cantilever Sheet pile walls
2 Anchored Sheet Piles or Anchored Bulkheads
3 Braced Excavation
4 Coffer Dams
i. Braced Coffer dams
ii. Earth type coffer dams
iii. Double wall coffer Dams
iv. Cellular Coffer Dams
v. Hybird coffer Dams

1.Gravity Retaining Wall

Sometimes gravity Retaining walls
are also called mass retaining
Generally only economic up to
Gravity retaining walls can also be
constructed of semi engineering
quality bricks embedded in a 1:3
cement mortar or mass of
Natural stone is suitable for small
walls up to 1 m high generally it is
used as a facing material for walls
over 1 m.

2.Semi Gravity Retaining wall

A specialized form of gravity
walls is a semi-gravity
retaining wall.
These have some tension
reinforcing steel included so
as to minimize the thickness
of the wall without
requiring extensive
They are a blend of the
gravity wall and the
cantilever wall designs.

3.Cantilever Retaining wall

Usually of reinforced concrete
and work on the principal of
leverage where the stem is
designed as a cantilever fixed at
the base and the base is
designed as a cantilever fixed at
the stem
Economic height range of 1.2m
to 6m using pre-stressing
Any durable facing material can
be applied to the surface to
improve appearance of the wall

Cantilever Retaining wall

T Cantilever Retaining

L-Cantilever Retaining

4.Counter Fort Retaining wall

It can be Constructed of
reinforced or prestressed
Suitable for over 4.5 m
Triangular Beams Placed at
the suitable centers behind
the stem and above the
base to enable the stem and
base to act as slab spanning
horizontally over or under
the counter forts

5. Precast concrete Retaining wall

Manufactured from high grade precast concrete on the
cantilever principle.
It can be erected on a foundation as permanent retaining wall
or be free standing to act as dividing wall between heaped
materials which it can increase three times the storage
volume for any given area.
The other advantages are reduction in time by eliminating
curing period ,cost of formwork , time to erect and dismantle
the temporary forms.
Lifting holes are provided which can be utilized for fixing if

Precast concrete Retaining wall

6.Precast Concrete Crib Retaining

Designed on the principle of mass Retaining walls
A system of precast concrete or treated timber components
comprising headers and stretchers which interlock to form a 3
dimensional frameworks or crib of precast concrete timber
units within which soil is retained
Constructed with a face batter between 1:6 and 1:8
Subsoil drainage is not required when the open face provide
adequate drainage

Precast Concrete Crib Retaining


7.Building Basement wall

A reinforced concrete basement retaining wall is structurally
quite different from a cantilever retaining wall. The main
difference is based on the simply supported beam versus a
cantilever. In a basement wall the main tension rebar is on the
inside wall face while in a cantilever wall the main tension
rebar is on the outside (or retained earth) face. In a basement
wall the base footing does not transmit a moment to the soil,
but only resists sliding..
It is essential for the Construction Supervisor to differential
between cantilever retaining walls and basement retaining
walls during construction. Basement walls must be supported
at the top prior to backfilling, which can be very difficult in
some instances. It is regretfully common to see Design
Professionals make retaining wall details that are structurally
sound upon completion but extremely difficult to build. The
Construction Supervisor must recognize these situations,
understand the various factors as well as possible, and
proceed as a team member to help resolve the problem.

A reinforced concrete basement retaining wall is
structurally quite different from a cantilever
retaining wall.
In a basement wall the main tension rebar is on
the inside wall face while in a cantilever wall the
main tension rebar is on the outside face. In a
basement wall the base footing does not
transmit a moment to the soil, but only resists
It is essential for the Construction Supervisor to
differential between cantilever retaining walls
and basement retaining walls during
Basement walls must be supported at the top
prior to backfilling, which can be very difficult in
some cases.

Factors which designer need to take

Nature and characteristics of the sub-soil
Height of water table-the presence of water can
create hydrostatic pressure , affect bearing capacity
of the subsoil together with its shear strength ,reduc
the frictional resistance between the underside of
the foundation
Type of wall
Material to be for construction

Stability Condition
A retaining wall must be Stable as a whole ,and must have
sufficient strength to resist the forces acting on it .
In order that the wall be stable, the following conditions
should be satisfied:
i. The wall must be strong enough to resist the bending
moment and shear force.
ii. The wall should not overturn.
iii. Maximum pressure at base should not exceed the SBC of
iv. The wall Should not slide due to lateral pressure.

Flexible retaining structures

1.Cantilever Sheet Piles

When it is Required to carry out wide

And Deep Excavation.
It is required to Support the sides
against any possible instability.
It is up to about 6m of excavation ,
cantilever sheet piles are effective.
For the larger depths, they becomes
uneconomical and it become necessary
to use an anchored Sheet piles.
Sheet piles are made of interlocking
sheet of timber or concrete, making a
continuous flexible wall. Where the
depth of excavation is h and the depth
of embedment is d.
The sheet pile act like a vertical
cantilever, fixed at the bottom and
loaded horizontally.

Cantilever Sheet Piles in Granular Soil

In granular soil assume that the
water table is below the tip of the
sheet pile . the sheet pile Rotate
about a point o, which is at depth
of do . From A to A and bottom
tip moves from B to B the lateral
pressure distribution on both
sides of sheet pile shown in
Method 1:Simplified Method
In a attempt to simplify this
further , it can be assume that the
point of rotation o is close to the
tip of the sheet pile b (in figure
14.6a)and the lateral pressure
distribution below o is replaced by
a horizontal force R acting at o.

2.Cantilever Sheet Piles in Granular


With the simplification, the lateral pressure

distribution reduces to the one in (figure 14.6 b)
which is the basis for the design of cantilever
sheet piles. Here the sheet pile is in equilibrium
under three forces : active thrust PA , passive thrust
PP and horizontal reaction R where
PA =0.5KA (h + do)2 and PA =0.5kpdo2
The maximum bending moment can be computed as
M max =1/6[ka ( h + z o )3 - k p z3 o
From the theory of bending
Q allowable = M max

The section Modulus s Required for the cross section

of sheet pile is as

M m ax

Qallowable Y

Cantilever Sheet Piles in Cohesive Soil

The situation where the water table is above

the excavation line, and the soil beneath the
excavation line is cohesive as shown in figure
14.9 .immediately after the installation of the
sheet piles , we will treat as undrained with =0
( i.e. ,kA =k P =1 ) Use sat and work in term of
total stresses in the clay .As before ,we will
neglect the water pressure , which is the same
on both sides
In the granular soil layer to the right of the sheet
pile , the active pressure can be computed as
before and p and z can be computed . For
example at the bottom of the granular soil

p1 kA. g (m. gh1 gh2)

At a depth of z within the clay and above the

point of rotation to the right of the sheet pile

Qha (m. gh1 gh2 sat .cz) 2cu

In net lateral pressure in the clay above the point of

rotation acting from left to right, is given by this

Qhn Qhp Qha 4cu (m. gh1 gh2) p 2 HB

Cantilever Sheet Piles in Cohesive Soil

Therefore, the net pressure from right to left is given by:
As before lets include the area IHBF on both sides of the pressure diagram to make the
solution simpler. Qhn Qhp Qha 4cu (m. gh1 gh2) p3
By equating the horizontal forces to zero:
[4cu (m. gh1 gh2)]d p
. ........14.31


Where h4 is obtained in terms of d . Taking moments about the bottom of the sheet
pile and equating this to zero:

P (d z ) 8cu
[4cu (m. gh1 gh 2)]

From equation14.31 and 14.32

[4cu (m. gh1 gh2)]d 2 2 Pd

p( p 12 cuz )

(m.gh1 gh2) 2cu

3.Braced Excavation
When the narrow and deep trenches are excavated for the installation of
pipelines or etc ,it is necessary to protect against any potential failure .
Here sheet piles are driven into the ground prior to the excavation.
As excavation proceeds ,Wales and struts are placed from top to bottom.
Wales are the beams placed longitudinally along the excavation.
Struts are placed between the Wales on the opposite sides of the wall to
carry the earth pressure in compression.
To design the bracing system, it is necessary to know the lateral pressure
distribution along the walls of the excavation.
The analysis of the bracing systems to determine the struts to determine
the struts loads . as shown in figure 14.12.joints B,C,D and E act like hinges
that do not carry any moments.
At any hinge where the pressure diagram is divided . The struts force is
broken into two components (e.g,F2 and F2)one acting on each block.
After these components are computed Separately they are added
together(i.e,.F2=F2+F2) to the given strut load.

Braced Excavation

4.Coffer Dams
A coffer dam is temporary structure constructed usually in a
river , lake etc. to keep the working area for construction of
other structures . after the coffer dam is constructed , the
area is dewatered by pumping though the coffer dams is
meant to be watertight, a certain amount of constant
pumping is required as some water may leak through the
coffer dam and foundation . there are various types of coffer
dams are:
1. Earth Embankments
2. Double wall coffer Dams
3. Braced coffer Dams
4. Cellular Coffer Dams
5. Hybrid coffer Dams

1.Earth Type-Coffer Dams

This is the simplest type
of coffer dam . the coffer
dam is made by placing
the fill at a suitable
location at a stable slope.
To reduce the quantity of
material as core is used .
These Coffer dams have
practically no height
limitation. The availability
of space for construction,
the cost of fill, its
placement and pumping
costs govern its design

2.Double wall coffer Dams

These coffer dams are consists
of two lines of sheeting tied
together, with the space
between the sheeting's filled
with soil .The two rows of
sheeting may be connected to
each other by a combination
of Wales and tie rods. To
provide additional stability,
beams are provided on the
outside and inside row of
sheeting. Double walled
coffer Dams are suitable for
moderate Heights.

3.Braced Coffer Dams

A braced coffer Dams formed
by driving vertical Sheeting
into the ground. the vertical
sheeting is held in position
through horizontal beams
called Wales. The Wales are
held by suitable struts.
Braced coffer Dams are more
commonly used as land
coffer dams for supporting
soil during excavation. they
are economical for small to
moderate heights

4.Cellular Coffer Dams

A cellular coffer dams is
made by driving sheet
piles (straight or web)to
form a series of cells
which are later filled
with a suitable soil. The
cells are interconnected
for water-tightness and
are self stabilizing
against the lateral
pressure of water and

5.Hybrid coffer Dams

Any wall which uses facing
units(of any type)tied to rods or
strips (of any material)which have
their ends anchored into the
ground is a hybrid coffer dam.
these are wall combine elements
of both externally and internally
stabilized walls(e g.(tailed
gabion/tieback anchored
wall)(steel sheet pile wall/tailed
concrete block)

Requirement of Cofferdam
Cofferdam Should be reasonably watertight.
Absolute water tightness is not desired in a
Designed in maximum water level
Ground water or water lying above ground level
should be excluded.
Constructed at site of work
Depend depth .soil condition, difference in water
level, availability of materials

Factors and Uses of Cofferdam

Factors affecting the choice of cofferdam

Area to be protected by a cofferdam

Depth of water to be dealt
Possibility of overtopping
Nature of velocity of flow
Availability of materials at site of work
Easy transportation


Pile driving operation

Place grillage and raft foundation
Construct new structures
Endorse space for removal
Constructing without disturbance

Design Aids in Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering By
Geotechnical Engineering (A Practical Problem Solving Approach)
By N.Sivakugan and Braja M.Das

Basics and Applied Soil Mechanics by Gopal Ranjan and A S R Rao

Soil Mechanics and Foundations by Dr.B.C Punmia, Ashok kumar Jain and
Arun kumar Jain.

Soil Mechanics and foundation Engineering by DR.K.R.ARORA