Mitigation of reverse faulting deformation using a soil bentonite wall: Dimensional analysis, parametric study, design implications

Meysam Fadaee (Lead / Corresponding author), Pedram Ezzatyazdi, Ioannis Anastasopoulos, George Gazetas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
360 Downloads (Pure)


Recent major seismic events, such as the Chi-Chi (1999) and the Wenchuan (2008) earthquakes occurred in Taiwan and China, have offered a variety of case histories on the performance of structures subjected to reverse faulting–induced deformation. A novel faulting mitigation method has recently been proposed, introducing a soft deformable wall barrier in order to divert the fault rupture away from the structure. This can be materialized by constructing a thick diaphragm-type soil bentonite wall (SBW) between the structure and the fault rupture path. The paper investigates the key parameters in designing such a SBW, aiming to mitigate the fault rupture hazard on shallow foundations. The paper employs a thoroughly validated finite element analysis methodology to explore the efficiency of a weak SBW barrier in protecting slab foundations from large tectonic deformation due to reverse faulting. A dimensional analysis is conducted in order to generalize the validity of the derived conclusions. The dimensionless formulation is then used to conduct a detailed parametric study, exploring the effect of SBW thickness w/H, depth HSBWl/H, and shear strength τsoilSBW, as well as the bedrock fault offset h/H, foundation surcharge load q/ρgB, and fault outcrop location s/B. It is shown that the wall thickness, depth, and shear strength should be designed on the basis of the magnitude of the bedrock fault offset, the location of the fault relative to the structure, and the shear strength of the soil. The efficiency of the weak barrier is improved using lower strength and stiffness material compared to the alluvium. A simplified preliminary design methodology is proposed, and presented in the form of a flowchart.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-261
Number of pages14
JournalSoil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering
Early online date25 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Mitigation
  • Near fault ground displacement
  • Reverse fault
  • Shallow foundation
  • Soil bentonite wall

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science


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