Aftershocks and the whole-life seismic performance of granular slopes

A. H. Al-Defae, K. Caucis, J. A. Knappett

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    71 Citations (Scopus)


    Shallow embankment slopes are commonly used to support elements of transport infrastructure in seismic regions. In this paper, the seismic performance of such slopes in non-liquefiable granular soils is considered, focusing on permanent movement and dynamic motion at the crest, which would form key inputs into the aseismic design of supported infrastructure. In contrast to previous studies, the evolution of this behaviour under multiple sequential strong ground motions is studied through dynamic centrifuge, numerical (finite-element, FE) and analytical (sliding-block) modelling, the centrifuge tests being used to validate the two non-physical approaches. The FE models focus on the specification of model parameters for existing non-linear constitutive models using routine site investigation data, allowing them to be used routinely in design and analysis. Soil-specific constitutive parameters are derived from shearbox and oedometer test data, and are found to significantly outperform existing empirical correlations based on relative density, highlighting the importance of specifying a suitably detailed site investigation. An improved sliding-block (‘Newmark') approach is also developed for estimating permanent deformations during preliminary design, in which the formulation of the yield acceleration is fully strain-dependent, incorporating both material hardening/softening and geometric hardening (re-grading). The site-specific (improved) FE models and the new sliding-block approach are shown to outperform considerably existing FE parameters and sliding-block models in capturing the permanent deformations of the slope under virgin conditions, and further, only the improved FE and sliding-block models are found to capture correctly the behaviour of the ‘damaged' slope under subsequent earthquakes (e.g. strong aftershocks). The FE models can additionally accurately replicate the settlement profile at the crest and quantify the dynamic motions that would be input to supported structures, although these were generally overpredicted. The FE procedures and sliding-block models are therefore complementary, the latter being useful for preliminary design and the former for later detailed design and analysis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1230-1244
    Number of pages15
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


    • Centrifuge modelling
    • Earthquakes
    • Embankments
    • Numerical modelling
    • Sands
    • Slopes


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