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Effect of hydraulic hysteresis on the stability of infinite slopes under steady infiltration

April 25, 2017

Hydraulic hysteresis, including capillary soil water retention (SWR), air entrapment SWR, and hydraulic conductivity, is a common phenomenon in unsaturated soils. However, the influence of hydraulic hysteresis on suction stress, and subsequently slope stability, is generally ignored. This paper examines the influence of each of these three types of hysteresis on slope stability using an infinite slope stability analysis under steady infiltration conditions. First, hypothetical slopes for representative silty and sandy soils are examined. Then a monitored hillslope in the San Francisco Bay Area, California is assessed, using observed rainfall conditions and measured hydraulic and geotechnical properties of the colluvial soil. Results show that profiles of suction stress and the corresponding factor of safety are generally strongly affected by hydraulic hysteresis. Results suggest that each of the three types of hydraulic hysteresis may play a major role in the occurrence of slope failure, indicating that ignoring hydraulic hysteresis will likely lead to underestimates of failure potential and hence to inaccurate slope stability analysis.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Effect of hydraulic hysteresis on the stability of infinite slopes under steady infiltration
DOI 10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0001724
Authors Pan Chen, Benjamin B. Mirus, Ning Lu, Jonathan W. Godt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Index ID 70187153
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center

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