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Improving Stability of

Practical considerations require that slopes
susceptible to sliding have their stability
improved to make the area usable and safe.
If loading conditions change the failed slope
can move further.
A variety of procedures have been
successfully used in the past to stabilize
The following measures have been
successfully used to prevent slope failure
and correcting failed one.
Reducing the mass or loading that
contributes towards sliding.
Improving the shear strength of the
earth in the failure zone.
Constructing or installing elements that
will provide resistance to movement.
The procedure best for a given slope is
related to the type of soil in the slope,
the thickness and depth of materials
involved in sliding, the ground water
conditions, the areal extent requiring
stabilizing, the space available,
to undertake corrective changes, the
topographical conditions in the vicinity
of the slope, and the tendency for
changes such as the advent of seismic
and vibratory loadings to occur.
Where area is available, slope flattening
as shown in Fig.(a) can be performed to
reduce the weight of the mass tending
to slide. When it is anticipated that a
base failure could occur, resistance to
movement can be increased by the
placement of a berm below the toe of
the slope Fig.(b).
If the zone below the toe is
susceptible to severe erosion, an
occurance that would undermine the
toe area and remove earth that
provides resistance sliding, a
protective rockfill blanket and riprap
can be installed Fig.(c)
Removed soil

Original slope

Revised slope

Benched slope

Modified slope
Earth berm Gravel- rock fill Critical slip

Zone susceptible to
(b) Berm provided at toe erosion
(wave action,etc)
if no protection
(c) Protection against erosion provided at toe
High ground water and pore water
pressures in the slope affect the soil
shearing resistance that can be
developed. Methods to lower the zone
of subsurface water and intercept
surface water to prevent infiltration and
erosion, and to reduce seepage forces,
are indicated in Fig.(d).
Where cohesionless soil exist, the
shearing strength of the slope material
can be improved through densification
by use of explosives or vibrofloatation.
Inceptor ditch for
diverting surface

Collector drains
(Perforated pipe in
gravel-filter envelope).
Collected water can be
Lowered discharged below the toe by
Water table utilizing manholes
connected to transverse

(d) Lowering of ground water table to reduce pore pressures

in the slope
For cohesive soils, shear strengths have been
improved by consolidation, and water content
reduction has been achieved through surcharging
(which may include wick drains), electro-osmosis,
and thermal drying.
Grouting and injection methods have been utilized to
add cementing or bonding agents into specific soil
zones where a weak condition was critical to the
stability of the slope.
Driven piles, sheetpliling, and retaining walls have
been installed to provide lateral support and increase
the resistance of slopes tending to slide (Fig.e and f).
Install driven piles
closest to
slope first, back piles
last ,to reduce effects
of driving on slopes

(e) Use of driven or cast-in-place piles

location for
Soil added/removed
if wall is utilized

(f) Retaining wall or sheetpiling or cylinder

piles provided to increase rsistance to sliding
In the interest of economy, improvement
and protective methods such as slope
flattening and drainage control
conventionally are preferred and generally
receive first consideration. Soil stabilization
methods and the use of piling or retaining
walls are expensive procedures, typically
utilized where limited areas require
Where building construction is planned for
the vicinity of a slope, the procedure
depicted by Fig(g). Should be followed
wherever possible to have the effects of
building loading act to benefit slope

Building Basement

Sub basement
foundations or
basement for
buildings below Deep
toe foundations or
basement for
buildings on
top of the slope

(g) Plan for building design to aid slope stability

This method is most effective for deep-seated
instability. The berm can either be
constructed from material which is removed
from the crest of the slope (involving
regrading of the slope), or from that which is
brought to the site from elsewhere
This can be done in three ways:-
Regrading the slope to a flatter angle,
Reducing the overall slope height,
keeping its profile unchanged,
Removing some material from the
crest and placing it at the toe.
Acheiving a flatter slope angle: can be
done by either cutting material away from
the slope, or adding (filling) material. This
method is most effective where there are
predominant shallow forms of instability.
See the case study on Walton's Wood for a
practical example.

Reducing the height of the Slope: In a

man-made (earthworks) slope, this method
is not very practical as the height of the
slope usually is not able to be changed due
to design. For a natural slope though, this
may well be considered.
However, the reduction in instability
achieved using this method is much lower
than that achieved by say loading the toe,
unless the failure is deep-seated. It does not
help much in the case of shallow failures.

It is difficult to quantify the
effectiveness of most drainage
Drainage is best used as a short-term
stabilizing method, due to the fact
that, in the long-term, the drains
need much maintenance and repair,
which is often difficult to perform,
and expensive.
Drainage methods are split into
various categories:-
Shallow/Surface Drains:
Surface Drainage on a slope on the road into
Runswick Bay, a coastal village in Yorkshire,
Deep Drains:
These perform the
function of modifying
the shape of the
seepage flow in the
slope material.

They can be:-

Deep trenches
(although they are
more commonly

Vertical bored drains -

filled with sand or

Horizontal bored drains

- lined with perforated
Drains to Eliminate Construction
Porewater Pressures:
These fall into two types:-

Drainage Blankets- These are installed

either between layers of the fill material
(which allows low permeability material
to be used), or between the fill and
foundation material.

Vertical Drain Wells- Sand filled vertical

drains have been discussed above.
These drains may be constructed using
geofabric materials, cardboard, or
merely sand alone. Their aim is to
"catch" horizontal water flow.
Often these soil anchors are stressed,
and the force they exert on the slope
needs to be considered along with
the other forces.

The axial load on the anchor

increases the effective stresses at
depth, therefore increasing the
strength of the slope.

A vector component of the force may

also act to help stabilize the slope
against destabilizing forces.
This is an expensive remedial
procedure, and is not commonly
used unless the recovery scheme
is very large. One example
where it was used is the Team
Valley in the North East of
As a whole, retaining structures are not
particularly effective methods of remedy.

They are very difficult to construct on an

already moving slide.

One use of them, though, is to ensure

complete stability of an existing (old)
landslide, which may in the future be

We estimate the force acting on a retaining

wall by using the interslice forces from
stability analysis. These derived forces (See
"Methods of Analysis") are based on the
equilbrium situation.
The force then acts along the line of action (see diagram below) into the soil or rock beneath the slope.

The wall provides additional resistance

which is only mobilized by further
deformation of the slope.
The force then acts along the line of action
(see diagram below) into the soil or rock
beneath the slope.
Geotextiles are man-made (usually plastic
based) soil reinforcement materials.

In the area of slope stabilization,

geogrids are used e.g. In an embankment
fill to reduce the amount of movement
possible, keeping the fill in place.

Very often the geogrid is used as an

anchor, providing a reaction against the
disturbing moment.
They are often also used to repair
small slides in engineering
earthworks. They perform this
function well.
By covering over a slope with either
sand or grass, we immediately reduce
the amount of water which can infiltrate

This method is often used in

conjunction with more effective and
long-term methods. It's benefits in
being inexpensive and simple, whilst
still performing a stabilizing function,
make it worth serious consideration.

Generally, in looking at a failing

slope, we need to choose a
primary stabilization method i.e.
one which will immediately take
effect in stopping the slide.

In deciding which primary method

to use, the order of preference
generally is:-
Has an immediate
Regrading the Slope (includes
1 Unlikely to become
Loading the Toe) uneffective with
Should be used if
regrading is
has immediate
effect in
2 Drainage Takes more time to
effect in fine-
Surface drinage is
These structures
Secondary Methods:
Secondary methods of remedy need to
also be considered. These are to ensure
more long-term stability of the slope,
and may act to preserve the
effectiveness of the primary treatments.

These may include secondary drainage

methods (both shallow and deep),
geotextiles and a variety of those
methods previously discussed