Limit equilibrium analysis of embedded retaining walls

Powrie, W. (1996) Limit equilibrium analysis of embedded retaining walls Géotechnique, 46, (4), pp. 709-723. (doi:10.1680/geot.1996.46.4.709).


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Embedded retaining walls are often designed on the basis of limit equilibrium stress distributions. Although this type of analysis has been used widely for many decades, there is considerable scope for confusion and disagreement concerning the values of soil strength and soil-wall friction which should be adopted, and the way in which a factor of safety should be applied. In this paper these issues are investigated with reference to previously-published laboratory and centrifuge model test results, and the observed behaviour of real walls at three sites. It is shown that, for embedded cantilever retaining walls which are either unpropped or propped near the crest, the onset of large deformations is reasonably well predicted by classical limit equilibrium stress distributions, using earth pressure coefficients based on critical state angles of soil friction with wall friction angle delta = phi' = phi'(crit) on both sides of the wall. The case data also tend to confirm that the procedures given in BS 8002 should lead to depths of wall embedment which are sufficient to guard against excessive movements under working conditions, provided that the most onerous geometrical, loading and ground-water conditions are correctly identified, and that the soil strength is selected with care.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1680/geot.1996.46.4.709
ISSNs: 0016-8505 (print)
Keywords: diaphragm and in situ walls, limit state design, analysis, retaining walls, failure, sheet piles and cofferdams, case history

ePrint ID: 74935
Date :
Date Event
December 1996Published
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2010
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 20:44
Further Information:Google Scholar

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