Effect of Strength Anisotropy on the Stability of Natural Slopes
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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It is well known that low plasticity soft clays have large variations in undrained shear strength with the direction of loading. Laboratory experiments show typically a cross anisotropic behavior, where the undrained shear strength in compression is significantly larger than the undrained shear strength in extension. The total stress based NGI-ADP model, as available in PLAXIS, captures such shear strength anisotropy well, when applied to embankments on or excavations from a horizontal or almost horizontal terrain. However, for non-horizontal terrain the direction of the in-situ principal stresses are inclined, and the axis of anisotropy are hence expected to be somewhat inclined too. As for natural slopes, the effect on the calculated factor of safety due to this inclination is not yet well documented. Previous studies show that this effect might not be a negligible effect and can increase the factor of safety by about 10% for gentle natural slopes. In order to study this, a new ADP model has been implemented in PLAXIS. The formulation is inspired by results from DSS laboratory testing where samples were consolidated under inclined effective stresses before shearing in the same or the opposite direction of the initial shear stress. As expected, the model shows higher factors of safety when applied to a slope than a conventional analysis. The paper then discusses to what extent this represents a real safety margin that has previously been neglected.