A novel framework for the analysis of low factor of safety slopes in the highly plastic clays of the Canadian Prairies.
The most common way to analyze slope stability is to employ limit equilibrium (LE) theory and obtain a factor of safety (FOS). Methods of LE analysis balance the forces, and/or moments that are driving and resisting slope movement. Generally, in geotechnical engineering practice, a slope that plays host to an important structure is designed with a minimum factor of safety (FOS) of 1.5 and slope movement is monitored throughout the structure’s serviceable life. No further analysis of slope stability is completed until failure occurs when a back analysis is undertaken for the design of remedial measures. This thesis builds on current methods to demonstrate a framework for analysis that can be followed to analyze the state of a slope throughout its serviceable life. The two bridges at North Battleford, Saskatchewan (Battlefords bridges) were used as case studies for this work. In 1967, the older of the two bridges experienced a slope failure at its south abutment immediately prior to its opening to the public. The failure was remediated reactively by means of subsurface drainage, a toe berm, and river training that included diversion/spur dikes to reduce scour at the landslide toe. Since remediation, there has been no other catastrophic failure at either bridge but slow movement continues in the south abutment slope. Laboratory data and field observations from the onsite inclinometers were provided by Clifton Associates Ltd. (CAL) and Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure (SMHI). The following methodology was followed to develop a framework of analysis for low FOS slopes: 1. Synthesis of data collected during previous investigations at the Battlefords bridges; 2. Detailed site characterization using existing research and terrain analysis; 3. Back analysis of the critical section through original failure using traditional limit equilibrium methods to calibrate the soil strength properties; 4. Application of the calibrated soil strength properties to the original failure after remediation; 5. Estimation of unknown soil properties using instrumentation at the site. 6. Create a model of the new bridge south abutment with the calibrated strength properties from steps 4 & 5 using the finite element method (FEM). 7. Confirmation of the mechanism of failure and assessment of the shear strain and mobilized shear strength; and, 8. Comparison of the results of FEM and LEM models and relationship between factor of safety and mobilized shear strength. The framework presented in this thesis presents a method of modeling the instability of a slope. In the absence of triaxial testing data, it presents a range of mobilized shear strengths along the shear plane.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentCivil and Geological Engineering
CommitteeFleming, Ian; Ferguson, Grant
Copyright DateSeptember 2014
Lea Park Shale