The presence of weak layers in geotechnical systems, including soil or rock masses, both natural and man-made, is more frequent than is normally believed. Weak layers can affect both failure mechanisms, in drained and in undrained conditions, as well as in static and seismic conditions, and the safety factor. In the present study, conducted numerically using the finite-element method (FEM) Plaxis 2D code, the influence of a horizontal thin weak layer on stress and strain distribution, on failure mechanisms and on the overall stability of an embankment was evaluated. The results obtained prove that when the weak layer is located at a significant depth from the foundation plane, the failure mechanisms are normally mixtilinear in shape because the shear strains largely develop on the weak layer. As a result, the safety factor highly decreases compared to the same case without a weak layer. Then, in the presence of weak layers, even embankments that, if founded on homogeneous soils, would have very high global safety factors (higher than 2) can become unstable, i.e., the safety factor can become unitary. So particular attention must be paid during detail ground investigations to finding thin weak layers.

Ziccarelli M., & Rosone M. (2021). Stability of embankments resting on foundation soils with a weak layer. GEOSCIENCES, 11(2), 1-16 [10.3390/geosciences11020086].

Stability of embankments resting on foundation soils with a weak layer

Ziccarelli M.
;
Rosone M.
2021

Abstract

The presence of weak layers in geotechnical systems, including soil or rock masses, both natural and man-made, is more frequent than is normally believed. Weak layers can affect both failure mechanisms, in drained and in undrained conditions, as well as in static and seismic conditions, and the safety factor. In the present study, conducted numerically using the finite-element method (FEM) Plaxis 2D code, the influence of a horizontal thin weak layer on stress and strain distribution, on failure mechanisms and on the overall stability of an embankment was evaluated. The results obtained prove that when the weak layer is located at a significant depth from the foundation plane, the failure mechanisms are normally mixtilinear in shape because the shear strains largely develop on the weak layer. As a result, the safety factor highly decreases compared to the same case without a weak layer. Then, in the presence of weak layers, even embankments that, if founded on homogeneous soils, would have very high global safety factors (higher than 2) can become unstable, i.e., the safety factor can become unitary. So particular attention must be paid during detail ground investigations to finding thin weak layers.
Settore ICAR/07 - Geotecnica
Ziccarelli M., & Rosone M. (2021). Stability of embankments resting on foundation soils with a weak layer. GEOSCIENCES, 11(2), 1-16 [10.3390/geosciences11020086].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/496135
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