Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Experimental test of theory for the stability of partially saturated vertical cut slopes

September 1, 2014

This paper extends Culmann's vertical-cut analysis to unsaturated soils. To test the extended theory, unsaturated sand was compacted to a uniform porosity and moisture content in a laboratory apparatus. A sliding door that extended the height of the free face of the slope was lowered until the vertical cut failed. Digital images of the slope cross section and upper surface were acquired concurrently. A recently developed particle image velocimetry (PIV) tool was used to quantify soil displacement. The PIV analysis showed strain localization at varying distances from the sliding door prior to failure. The areas of localized strain were coincident with the location of the slope crest after failure. Shear-strength and soil-water-characteristic parameters of the sand were independently tested for use in extended analyses of the vertical-cut stability and of the failure plane angle. Experimental failure heights were within 22.3% of the heights predicted using the extended theory.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Experimental test of theory for the stability of partially saturated vertical cut slopes
DOI 10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0001119
Authors Michael M. Morse, N. Lu, Alexandra Wayllace, Jonathan W. Godt, W.A. Take
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Series Number
Index ID 70143059
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center

Related Content