Centrifuge modelling of the effects of root geometry on transpiration-induced suction and stability of vegetated slopes

C. W. W. Ng, V. Kamchoom (Lead / Corresponding author), A. K. Leung

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67 Citations (Scopus)
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Shallow landslides (i.e., 1 - 2 m depth) on both man-made and natural slopes are of major concern worldwide that has led to huge amount of socio-economical losses. The use of vegetation has been considered as an environmentally friendly means of stabilising slopes. Existing studies have focused on the use of plant roots with different geometries to mechanically stabilise soil slopes, but there are little data available on the contribution of transpiration-induced suction to slope stability. This study was designed to quantify both the hydrological and mechanical effects of root geometry on the stability of shallow slopes. Centrifuge tests were conducted to measure soil suction in slope models supported by newly-developed artificial roots. These artificial roots exhibit three different representative geometries (i.e., tap, heart and plate) and could simulate the effects of transpiration. The measured suction was then back-analysed through a series of finite element seepage-stability analyses to determine the factor of safety (FOS). It is revealed that after a rainfall event with a return period of 1000 years, the slope supported by heart-shaped roots retained the highest suction of 3 kPa within the root depth and thus this type of root provided the greatest stabilisation effects. The FOS of the slope supported by the heart-shaped roots, through both mechanical reinforcement and transpiration-induced suction, is 16% and 28% higher than that supported by the tap- and plate-shaped roots, respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-938
Number of pages14
Early online date19 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Centrifuge modelling
  • Plant transpiration
  • Root geometry
  • Slope stability
  • Suction


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