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Paik, K. H. & Salgado, R. (2003). Geotechnique 53, No.

7, 643653

Estimation of active earth pressure against rigid retaining walls


considering arching effects
K . H . PA I K  a n d R . S A L G A D O y

It is known that the distribution of active earth pressure On sait que la distribution de pression de terre active sur
against a translating rigid wall is not triangular but non- un mur en translation rigide nest pas triangulaire mais
linear, owing to arching effects in the backfill. In the non lineaire en raison des effets de voute dans le remblai.
present paper, a new formulation is proposed for calcu- Dans cet article, nous proposons une nouvelle formula-
lating the active earth pressure on a rigid retaining wall tion pour calculer la pression de terre active sur un mur
undergoing horizontal translation. It takes into account de soutenement rigide subissant une translation horizon-
the arching effects that occur in the backfill (or retained tale. Cette etude tient compte des effets de voute qui se
soil mass). In order to check the accuracy of the pro- produisent dans le remblai (ou dans la masse de sol
posed formulation, the predictions from the equation are retenue). Afin de verifier lexactitude de la formulation,
compared with both existing full-scale test results and nous comparons les resultats predits par les equations
values from existing equations. The comparisons between avec les resultats dessais grandeur nature existants et
calculated and measured values show that the proposed avec les valeurs des equations existantes. Les comparai-
equations satisfactorily predict both the earth pressure sons entre les valeurs calculees et mesurees montrent que
distribution and the lateral active earth force on the les equations proposees predisent de maniere satisfaisante
translating wall. In order to facilitate calculation of la distribution de pression de terre et la force laterale
active earth pressures using the proposed equations, a des terrains active sur le mur de translation. Afin de
modified active pressure coefficient and an effective faciliter les calculs des pressions de terre actives en
height of application of the lateral active force are also utilisant les equations proposees, nous donnons egalement
provided as functions of the soil friction angle, , and un coefficient de pression active modifie et une hauteur
the wall friction angle, . dapplication effective de la force active laterale comme
fonctions de langle de frottement du sol, , et de langle
KEYWORDS: retaining walls; earth pressure; numerical de frottement du mur, .
modelling and analysis; theoretical analysis

INTRODUCTION down with it (Fig. 1). However, if the shear strength of the
Estimation of the active earth pressure acting on a rigid soil is sufficiently large, what will happen instead is that the
retaining wall is very important in the design of many weight of the column of soil immediately above the moving
geotechnical engineering structures, particularly retaining panel will be partially transferred to the surrounding soil.
walls. Civil engineers have traditionally calculated the active Naturally, the vertical stresses in the soil around the moving
earth pressure against rigid walls using either Coulombs or panel will increase, while those immediately above it will
Rankines formulation. Both assume that the distribution of decrease. Arching is also observed in silos and ditches.
active earth pressure exerted against the wall is triangular. Several researchers have attempted to estimate the active
However, many experimental results (Tsagareli, 1965; earth pressures exerted against rigid retaining walls consider-
Matsuo et al., 1978; Fang & Ishibashi, 1986) show that the ing the arching effect in the retained soil mass. Because of
distribution of active pressure on the face of a rough wall the traditional use of the term backfill, we shall use this term
depends on the mode of wall movement (rotation about the as an alternate to the term retained soil, even though not
top, rotation about the base or horizontal translation) and is every retained soil mass is a backfill. Janssen (1895) set up
non-linear, different from the assumption made by both
Coulomb and Rankine. The non-linearity of the active earth
pressure distribution results from arching effects (Handy,
1985).
Arching, as the word suggests, is a stress redistribution
Slip surface
process by which stress is transferred around a region of the
soil mass, which then becomes subject to lower stresses. A
simple example of arching (inspired by the way in which
Terzaghi (1943) illustrated the concept) is what occurs in a Stationary Moving Stationary
large box of soil with a panel at the base. When this panel soil soil soil
is lowered, the soil immediately above it will tend to move

Manuscript received 23 October 2002; accepted 28 April 2003.


Discussion on this paper closes 1 March 2004, for further details
see p.ii.
 Department of Civil Engineering, Kwandong University, Kang-
Fixed base
won-do, Korea. Yielding base
School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette,
USA. Fig. 1. Stress redistribution caused by arching

643
644 PAIK AND SALGADO
the differential equation for pressures in a silo by consider- horizontally away from the soil was proposed considering
ing force equilibrium for any differential flat element in the the arching effects in the retained soil mass. This formula-
silo under the assumption that the ratio of lateral to vertical tion accounts for the effect of  and  on the vertical stress
stresses is constant for a grain stored in a bin. Janssens at depth z in the soil. In order to check the accuracy of
equation provides the theoretical basis for the understanding predictions using the new formulation, a comparison was
of arching effects in silos. Based on Janssens arching theory, made with existing test results as well as with the values
Spangler & Handy (1984) and Wang (2000) suggested equa- calculated from equations proposed by other authors. Simpli-
tions to estimate the non-linear distribution of active pres- fied design charts were developed based on the proposed
sure on retaining walls. Handy (1985) and Harrop-Williams formulation for easy reference by design engineers.
(1989) also proposed lateral active earth pressure coefficients
Kaw and equations for calculating non-linear active earth
pressures. However, the equations proposed by Spangler & THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS
Handy (1984) and Wang (2000) for the calculation of lateral Shape of slip surface in retained soil mass
earth pressure have a serious shortcoming. They do not take A rigid retaining wall may yield by either tilting or
into account a suitable lateral earth pressure coefficient, translating away from the backfill. The shape of the slip
although the lateral earth pressure coefficient has a signifi- surface, which occurs in the retained soil after sufficient
cant effect on both the magnitude and the distribution of yielding of the wall, depends not only on wall friction angle,
lateral earth pressure. Therefore it is not possible to estimate , but also on the yielding mode. The slip surface that
the height of application of the lateral active earth pressure develops in the soil behind the wall is plane if  0, but,
using their formulations. Additionally, the Wang (2000) for a rough wall ( 6 0), the slip surface is curved
formulation gives a total active force equal to that calculated irrespective of the yielding mode (Terzaghi, 1943).
by Coulomb theory. However, in reality, Coulombs solution For a rough wall, the shape of the slip surface and the
is not exact, and there are no guarantees that its total active distribution of active earth pressure depend on the yielding
force prediction is exact. mode of the wall, as shown in Fig. 2 (Terzaghi, 1943; Fang
The equations proposed by Handy (1985) and Harrop- & Ishibashi, 1986). If the wall yields by tilting around its
Williams (1989) also have some limitations. Handy (1985) lower edge (Fig. 2(a)), the slip surface is curved near the
showed that the magnitude of the vertical and lateral stresses base of the wall and planar near the top, with a roughly
v and h at a depth z behind the retaining wall vary with triangular distribution of active earth pressure applied on the
the distance from the wall, with the soil friction angle , wall (Terzaghi, 1943). If the surface of the backfill is
and with the soilwall interface friction angle . However, horizontal and the rigid wall rotates around its upper edge
Handy (1985) did not account for the dependence of v (and (Fig. 2(b)), the slip surface with curved shape intersects the
h ) on  and  in his derivation of the equations for the horizontal surface of the backfill at right angles. According
active earth pressures on the wall. Harrop-Williams (1989), to Terzaghi (1943), a roughly parabolic distribution of active
in turn, defined an earth pressure coefficient Kaw at depth z earth pressure is applied on the yielding wall. Finally, if the
using the vertical stress at the wall at that depth, but used wall yields by horizontal translation, the slip surface will
the average vertical stress at depth z (which is larger than have a more complex shape.
the vertical stress at the wall) to calculate the active earth In order to accurately determine the active earth pressure
pressure on the wall. Additionally, Harrop-Williams (1989) on a rigid wall, it is necessary to consider an accurate shape
used the assumption that the Coulomb (1776) theory gives for the slip surface in the formulation for the active pres-
exact values for the magnitude of lateral active force, but sure. At present, Coulombs theory, in which the slip surface
not for active earth pressure distribution. This produces the is assumed to be a plane, is predominantly used in practice,
same results as the formulation proposed by Wang (2000) as it is known to provide acceptable results. In this study,
for overburden pressure of zero. the simplifying assumption made by Coulomb that the slip
In this study, a new formulation for calculating the active surface for a translating rigid wall is plane and slopes at an
earth pressure on a rigid retaining wall that translates angle of 458 + /2 to the horizontal is used to calculate the

45 /2 90
Fixed

H H

Slip surface

Slip surface

Fixed
(a) (b)

Fig. 2. Slip surfaces in backfill resulting from: (a) wall tilting about its base; (b) wall tilting about its top
ACTIVE EARTH PRESSURE AGAINST RIGID RETAINING WALLS 645
active earth pressure on the wall. However, in contrast with
the theory of Coulomb, full consideration is taken of arching
effects.
z

1 1 1
Rotation of principal stresses w w
In order to investigate the state of stress in the retained ah ah
soil based on Janssens arching theory, let us assume that
1 d1
two parallel, rigid vertical walls retain granular soil, and that
dz
the settlement of the retained soil is large enough to fully
induce friction between the walls and the soil. It follows that
the weight of any differential flat element in the retained soil
is partially supported by the frictional resistances at the
Trajectory of minor
walls, and the frictional resistances cause changes in the
principal stress
direction of the principal stresses acting on the differential
element (Fig. 3(a)). As shown in the figure, the major
principal stresses on the differential flat element are applied
normal to the concave arch represented by the dotted lines, (a)
while the minor principal stresses are tangential to the
direction of the concave arch, becoming horizontal at the
centre of the element (Handy, 1985; Paikowsky, 1989).
Similarly, if a rigid retaining wall with a rough face
moves away from the soil horizontally, the directions of the
major and minor principal stresses on the differential flat
element in Fig. 3(b) are changed owing to the frictional
resistance at the wall. The minor principal stresses, 3 , on
the differential flat element behind the wall act along the R
concave arch shown in the figure, whereas the major princi-
pal stresses, 1 , are perpendicular to the concave arch. The
shape of the concave arch has been observed or inferred to
z
be elliptic, catenary, or parabolic (Livingston, 1961; Walker,
1966; Stevic et al., 1979; Handy, 1985). In this study it is 1
1
assumed that the trajectory of minor principal stresses takes 3
dz
the form of an arc of a circle. Considering that the slip
planes in the soil make angles of (458 + /2) with the
horizontal, and that the angle between the slip plane and the 3
minor principal stress must be 458 + /2, it follows that at H
the right edge of the differential flat element shown in Fig. 1 d1
3(b) the minor principal stress must be horizontal. The width
Bz of the differential flat element at a depth z can be
expressed as follows:
Bz
Bz R cos (1)

where R is the radius of the minor principal stress trajectory


and is the angle of the minor principal plane with respect
to the horizontal at the wall.
The active lateral stress on the wall, ahw , can be calcu-
(b)
lated by considering the horizontal force equilibrium in the
triangular element at the left edge of the concave arch in Fig. 3. Trajectory of minor principal stresses: (a) in granular fill
Fig. 4. The lateral stress on the wall is given by at ditch; (b) in backfill behind retaining wall

 ahw  1 cos2  3 sin2 (2)

Similarly, the lateral stress at point D of the concave arch,


which was originally located at point B, is
v 1
sin2 cos2 (5)
 ah  1 cos2  3 sin2 (3) 1 N

where is the angle between the tangent to the arch at


point D and the vertical. Dividing equation (3) by 1 , and Therefore the vertical and lateral stresses acting at arbitrary
substituting 3 /1 1/N for the soil in the active condition: points along a differential flat element in the backfill can be
calculated from equations (4) and (5). For example, the
 ah 1 vertical and lateral stresses at the wall are obtained in terms
cos2 sin2 (4) of 1 by substitution of in equations (4) and (5); the
1 N
vertical and lateral stresses at the slip surface also can be
where N is the ratio of major to minor principal calculated by substitution of 908 in equations (4) and
stresses tan2 (458 + /2). (5). The value of is a function of  and , as we discuss
As 1 + 3 v + ah , substitution for ah gives next.
646 PAIK AND SALGADO
O Thus,

 ahw = 3
tan tan  (7)
 ahw = 3  1
Dividing equation (2) by 3 :
 ahw
N cos2 sin2 (8)
d 3
R Substitution of equation (8) into equation (7) yields the
second-order equation
N tan2
tan tan  (9)
Bz N 1
x z Solving this equation for gives
 p
1 (N  1)  (N  1)2  4N tan2 
1 dV tan (10)
A
1 2 tan 
B C
ahw dA dz
Of the two values of given by equation (10), the largest of
3
the two values corresponds to the active condition of the
w 3
retaining wall. Note that 908 for  08.
1
ah 1
D 3 Vertical and lateral stresses in backfill soil
1 d1 E Figure 6 shows the vertical and lateral stresses, normalised
with respect to the major principal stress, as a function of
internal friction angle , wall friction angle , and the
Trajectory of minor horizontal distance x from the wall. This figure was obtained
principal stress by substitution of values ranging from to 908 for in
equations (4) and (5) after determining N and using  and
Fig. 4. Stresses on differential flat element in backfill
or 0
1.00

Determination of
The rotation angle, , of the principal stresses for the wall 0.95
with wall friction angle of  <  can be obtained using the
Mohr circle, as shown in Fig. 5. From the two triangles 10
20
v /1

OAB and ABC, we can write 0.90


30
w  ahw tan  ( ahw   3 ) tan (6)
40
50
0.85

0.8

0.80

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
Pole x/Bz
(a)
1.0

w
0
0.8
C B 0.8 0
O 3 ahw vw 1
10
w 0.6
A
ah /1

20
0.4

30
Direction of major 0.2 40
vw 1 principal stress
50

0
ahw 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
3 x/Bz
w (b)
Wall
Fig. 6. Theoretical vertical and lateral stresses across differen-
Fig. 5. Mohr circle for stresses at wall tial flat element: (a) vertical stress; (b) lateral stress
ACTIVE EARTH PRESSURE AGAINST RIGID RETAINING WALLS 647
. In this figure, x/Bz is the normalised distance from the Unlike Handys active stress ratio, the new active stress ratio
wall, ranging from 0 at the wall to 1 at the slip surface. does equal 10 for  08 and matches the values of
Therefore, as in equations (4) and (5) changes from at Rankines active stress ratio for  08.
the wall to 908 at the slip surface, x/Bz increases from 0 to
1.
It is seen in Fig. 6(a) that the normalised vertical stress
Equation for the earth pressure behind a wall
v /1 increases gradually with decreasing  and with in-
Figure 7 shows the stresses acting on the differential flat
creasing x/Bz . It also increases with decreasing  for
element behind a rigid wall. As mentioned previously, as we
 , 208, but decreases with decreasing  for  . 208. The
assume that the slip surface in the backfill forms an angle of
normalised vertical stress at the slip surface is 10 irrespec-
458 + /2 with the horizontal, the major and minor principal
tive of the values of  and . For  08, the vertical stress
stresses at the right edge of the differential element must be
on the differential flat element is equal to the major princi-
applied in the vertical and horizontal directions respectively.
pal stress regardless of the distance from the wall. It is seen
Accordingly, the shear stresses in the vertical and horizontal
in Fig. 6(b) that the normalised lateral stress ah /1 de-
planes at the right edge of the differential flat elements are
creases gradually with increasing  and with decreasing .
equal to zero. However, at the left edge of the differential
It also decreases with distance from the wall. Both figures
element there is a non-zero shear stress along the wall, w ,
also show that the normalised vertical and lateral stresses
given as
are equal to 10 for  08. Therefore the lateral stress ratio
defined as a ratio of lateral to vertical stresses is equal to w  ahw tan   v K awn tan  (16)
10 when  08, a result that is consistent with a material The rectangular differential flat element with thickness dz
with zero shear strength (such as water). shown in Fig. 7 is subjected to the stresses shown in the
figure: the average vertical stress,  v ; the shear stress, w ,
on its interface with the wall; and the self-weight of the
element. Note that the shear stress in a vertical plane is zero
Active lateral stress ratio at the right edge of the element, and that the triangular
Handy (1985) defined the active lateral stress ratio Kaw at element at the right edge of the differential element is in
the wall using the average vertical stress across a given equilibrium. Therefore the shear stress f at the slip surface
differential flat element, obtaining the following expression must not be considered in vertical force equilibrium. Sum-
for Kaw in the range of  10408 and  : mation of all vertical forces acting on the differential
 
 ahw 1 element gives
Kaw 1:06 cos2 sin2 (11)
v N d v Bz  v K awn tan   dz Bz dz (17)
in which ahw is the active lateral stress at the wall, and  v where Kawn is the new active lateral stress ratio from equa-
is the average vertical stress across the soil element. How- tion (15), and is the unit weight of backfill. Substitution of
ever, equation (11) gives a Kaw value of 106 for  08, Bz (H z)/tan into equation (17) gives a differential
although the active stress ratio for  08 must be equal to equation with general solution:
10. So there is an error in values of Kaw calculated using  

equation (11). This error decreases with increasing  and . v ( H  z)
We shall now derive a new relationship for Kaw that 1  K awn tan  tan
reflects the variation of v with  and . The differential 3 ( H  z) Kawn tan  tan C (18)
vertical force, dV, on the shaded element at point B in Fig. 4
can be expressed as in which H is the height of the retaining wall, z is the depth
  from the surface of the backfill soil, and C is an integration
1 constant. The average vertical stress at any depth may be
dV  v dA  1 sin2 cos2 (R  d  sin )
N obtained by applying the boundary condition  v 0 at
(12) z 0 to equation (18):
in which dA is the width of the shaded element at point B.
The average vertical stress  v across the differential flat
element, shown in Fig. 4, can be obtained by dividing the
total vertical force, V, acting on the differential element by z
the width of the element, Bz R cos : v

V 1 =2 f
v dV dz
B z Bz
=2   (13) w n
1 sin v dv
 1 sin cos
2 2
 d
N cos
Integration of this equation yields Bz 1
 
N 1
v 1 1  cos
2
(14) Hz
3N 3
Dividing equation (2) by equation (14) gives a new ratio, n
Kawn , of the active lateral stress at the wall to the average f
vertical stress over the differential flat element:
45 /2
 ahw 3 N cos2 sin2
Kawn (15)
v 3N  N  1 cos2
Fig. 7. Free body diagram of differential flat element
648 PAIK AND SALGADO
H PARAMETRIC STUDY
v
1  K awn tan  tan Friction angle
"   # Figure 8 shows the active earth pressure distribution on a
z Kawn tan  tan z 4 m high, translating rigid wall with   obtained from
3 1  1 (19) equation (20) as a function of the soil friction angle. It is
H H
found from the figure that the distribution of the active earth
The active lateral stress at any depth acting on the wall can pressure changes from triangular to non-linear as the internal
be calculated by multiplying equation (19) by Kawn , which is friction angle increases from  08. Also, as the internal
given by equation (15): friction angle increases, the active pressure acting on the
wall decreases at every depth and the height of the centroid
HK awn
 ahw of the active earth pressure distribution increases.
1  K awn tan  tan The magnitude of the lateral active force and the height
"   # of its point of application from the base of the wall, normal-
z Kawn tan  tan z ised with respect to wall height, are plotted against internal
3 1  1 (20)
H H friction angle in Fig. 9. As shown in Fig. 9(a), the lateral
active force calculated from equation (22) decreases continu-
According to these equations, the average vertical stress  v ously with friction angle. Equation (22), featuring active
and the active lateral stress at the base of the wall are zero, forces that match those of Coulomb (1776) and Harrop-
unlike the results of classical theory. This results from the Williams (1989) for  0, are larger than those from
arching effects in the backfill soil: as we consider elements existing theories for 0 ,  , 458, and smaller for  > 458.
from the top to the base of the wall, vertical equilibrium is It is seen in Fig. 9(b) that the normalised height of the point
increasingly achieved by w , so that an increasingly small of application of the lateral active force calculated from
vertical stress needs to be transferred across the element. equation (26) increases with increasing internal friction
angle, matching the values from Harrop-Williamss equation
at  08 and  498. The normalised application height
obtained from equation (26) is lower than or equal to those
Magnitude and height of application of lateral active force from Handys and Harrop-Williamss equations for  in the
The lateral active force Pah on the rigid retaining wall can 0 ,  , 498 range.
be obtained by integrating equation (20) with respect to z:
H
Pah  ahw dz (21) Soilwall interface friction angle
0 Figure 10 shows the distribution of the active earth
Substitution of equation (20) into the above equation gives pressure calculated from equation (20) in terms of the soil
wall interface friction angle  for  408 and H 4 m. As
H2 Kawn shown in the figure, the distribution of the active earth
Pah (22)
2 1 Kawn tan  tan pressure is triangular for  0, which is consistent with
Rankines theory. It can also be seen from Fig. 10 that the
If the back of the wall is vertical, the total active force Pa distribution of the active earth pressure changes from trian-
can be calculated from the vector addition of the lateral gular to non-linear as  increases. Note that, as  increases,
active force Pah normal to the wall and the shearing force T
acting tangentially to the wall. Pa which makes an angle 
with the normal to the back of wall, can be obtained as
q q Lateral active earth pressure: kPa
Pah
Pa P2ah T 2 P2ah P2ah tan2  (23) 0
0 20 40 60 80 100
cos 
In the case of non-linear distributed active earth pressure, 0
the height of application of the total active force (which
coincides with the point of application of the lateral force) 10
can be obtained by dividing the moment of the lateral active 20
earth pressure about the wall base by the lateral active force. 1
The moment, M, of the lateral active earth pressure about 30
the wall base can be obtained by integration, as follows: 40
H
M  ahw ( H  z)dz (24)
Depth: m

0
2
Substitution of equation (20) into this equation yields
H3 K awn H 4 m,
M (25)
3 2 K awn tan  tan
Now dividing equation (25) by equation (22) gives the
height of application of the lateral active force, h: 3

M 21 K awn tan  tan


h H (26)
Pah 32 K awn tan  tan
According to equation (26), the height of application of
the lateral active force is one third of the wall height for 4
 08. This is consistent with results obtained from Rankine
theory. Fig. 8. Change of active earth pressure distribution with
ACTIVE EARTH PRESSURE AGAINST RIGID RETAINING WALLS 649
200 the active pressure in the upper zone of the wall increases,
Coulomb (1776) while decreasing close to the base of the wall. Consequently,
Handy (1985)
the distance of the centroid of the active earth pressure
Lateral active force, Pah: kN/m

150
distribution from the base of the wall increases with increas-
Harrop-Williams (1989)
ing soilwall interface friction angle. This result is also
Proposed illustrated in Fig. 11(b), which shows the height of the point
of application of the lateral active force from the base of the
100 wall, normalised with respect to wall height, against .
Figure 11(a) shows changes of the lateral active force on
a translating rigid wall with  ranging from 0 to 408 for
50  408. This figure also shows the results from the equa-
tions of Coulomb (1776), Handy (1985), and Harrop-
H 4 m, Williams (1989). It can be seen from Fig. 11(a) that the
Handy (1985) equation gives the highest lateral active force
0
0 10 20 30 40 50 of all four formulations for  less than about 258 and the
: degrees lowest of all for  greater than about 258. The lateral active
(a)
force obtained from Harrop-Williamss formulation is the
same as that from Coulombs theory, reaching a minimum at
0.6 about  208. The lateral active force calculated using the
Coulomb (1776) analysis proposed in this paper is also plotted in the figure.
Normalised height of application, h/H

H 4 m,
Handy (1985) It is essentially the same as the Coulomb and Harrop-
Harrop-Williams (1989)
Williams values for low  values, but then becomes higher
0.5 Proposed
at  values exceeding 58 or so.

Height of wall
The active earth pressure distribution is plotted in Fig. 12
0.4 for   408 and several wall heights. As shown in the

45
0.3 Coulomb (1776)
0 10 20 30 40 50
: degrees Handy (1985)
Lateral active force, Pah: kN/m

(b) 40 Harrop-Williams (1989)


Proposed
Fig. 9. Effect of : (a) on lateral active force; (b) on normalised
height of application of lateral active force
35

Lateral active earth pressure: kPa 30

0 5 10 15 20
0 40, H 4 m

25
0 0 10 20 30 40

10 : degrees
(a)
20
1 0.6
30
Coulomb (1776)
Normalised height of application, h/H

40 40, H 4 m
Handy (1985)
Harrop-Williams (1989)
0.5
Depth: m

Proposed
2

0.4

40, H 4 m
0.3
0 10 20 30 40
: degrees
(b)
4
Fig. 11. Effect of : (a) on lateral active force; (b) on
Fig. 10. Change of earth pressure distribution with normalised height of application of lateral active force
650 PAIK AND SALGADO
Lateral active earth pressure: kPa 3.0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
0 Coulomb (1776)

Normalised lateral force, Pah/H 2: kN/m3


40
Handy (1985)
H2m Harrop-Williams (1989)

H4m 2.5 Proposed


0.2
Depth normalised with respect to wall height

H6m

H8m

H 10 m 2.0
0.4

1.5
0.6 0 2 4 6 8 10
Height of retaining wall: m
(a)

0.6
0.8
Coulomb (1776)

Normalised height of application, h/H


40 Handy (1985)
40
Harrop-Williams (1989)
1.0 0.5 Proposed

Fig. 12. Change of earth pressure distribution with wall height

0.4
figure, the wall height does not have an effect on the shape
of the active earth pressure distribution, but does have an
effect on the magnitude of the lateral active force. This is
more evident in Fig. 13, which shows the magnitude and
height of the point of application of the lateral active force, 0.3
0 2 4 6 8 10
normalised by the square of the wall height and by the wall
Height of retaining wall: m
height, respectively, against wall height. It is seen in Fig.
(b)
13(a) that the lateral active force calculated by the proposed
formulation increases in proportion to the square of the wall Fig. 13. Effect of wall height: (a) on lateral active force; (b) on
height. The ratio of the height of the point of application of normalised height of application of lateral active force
the lateral active force to the wall height is independent of
wall height for all formulations, as evident in Fig. 13(b).

match the measured values most closely, whereas the Handy


COMPARISON WITH EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS (1985) equation produces the values that differ the most
Distribution of active earth pressure from the measurements. The Harrop-Williams (1989) equa-
In order to check the applicability of the proposed for- tion yields active earth pressure values equal to the results
mulation, the predictions from the equation are compared of the Coulomb (1776) theory. It is also apparent that for
with field test results of Tsagareli (1965), who measured the every equation the difference between calculated and meas-
distribution of the active earth pressures on translating rigid ured values increases with increasing wall height.
retaining walls with five different heights (20, 25, 30, 35 In the design of retaining walls, it is usually important to
and 40 m). The unit weight of the backfill used in Tsagar- predict the maximum shear force and bending moment in
elis full-scale tests was 1765 kN/m3 (18 g/cm3 ), with  the wall, which are primarily a function of the earth pressure
and  reported as equal to 378. distribution. Additionally, if the point of application of the
Figure 14 shows the distribution of the active earth lateral active force is not determined accurately, the over-
pressure calculated using equation (20) together with Tsagar- turning moment will not be calculated accurately either. A
elis measurements for the walls with five different wall comparison of measured with calculated values for the
heights. The figure also shows the distributions obtained height of the point of application of the lateral active force
using the analyses of Coulomb (1776), Handy (1985) and is plotted in Fig. 15(b). According to the test results of
Harrop-Williams (1989). The equation proposed in this study Tsagareli, the normalised height of the point of application
provides the best approximation to the measured values. of the lateral active force from the base of the wall tends to
decrease slightly with increasing wall height, in contrast to
all of the theoretical analyses, according to which the
Magnitude and height of the point of application of lateral normalised height of the point of application is independent
active force of wall height. This is most likely due to reduced dilatancy
Figure 15 shows a comparison of the magnitude and and reduced  with the higher confinement imposed by a
height of the point of application of the lateral active force taller wall. As shown in Fig. 9(b), the point of application of
predicted by the proposed formulation with the measure- the lateral active force moves down when  drops. The point
ments of Tsagareli (1965). Fig. 15(a) shows that the lateral of application of the lateral active force calculated by the
active forces calculated using the proposed formulation Handy (1985) and Harrop-Williams (1989) equations is
ACTIVE EARTH PRESSURE AGAINST RIGID RETAINING WALLS 651
Lateral active earth pressure: kPa
0 5 0 5 10 0 5 10 0 5 10 0 5 10 15
0

H2m H 2.5 m H3m H 3.5 m H4m

1
Depth: m

Measured
3
Coulomb (1776)
Handy (1985)
Harrop-Williams (1989)
Proposed
4

Fig. 14. Comparison between predicted and measured distributions of active earth pressure

50 2.0

Coulomb (1776) Coulomb (1776)


Handy (1985)
Handy (1985)
Calculated height of application of Pah: m
Calculated lateral active force, Pah: kN/m

40
Harrop-Williams (1989)
Harrop-Williams (1989)
Proposed
Proposed
1.5
30

20
1.0

10

0 0.5
0 10 20 30 40 50 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
Measured lateral active force, Pah: kN/m Measured height of application of Pah: m
(a) (b)

Fig. 15. Comparison between predicted and measured values: (a) lateral active force; (b) normalised height of point of
application of lateral active force

higher than the measured values, whereas the Coulomb 1


Pah K AW   H 2 (27)
(1776) theory produces values lower than the measured 2
values. The values calculated using the proposed equation
are fairly consistent with the values observed in the five test in which Pah is the lateral active force calculated from the
walls. proposed equation, is the soil unit weight, and H is the
height of the retaining wall.
Figure 16(a) shows values of KAW against / for various
values of . According to the figure, KAW decreases gradu-
SIMPLIFIED DESIGN METHOD ally with increasing / up to / 07, then increases
The use of equations (20), (22) and (26) for the calcula- again for higher values of /. At  0, KAW is equal to
tion of active earth pressures is not as practical as is usually 10 irrespective of /. It can also be seen in the figure that
desirable in practice. In order to facilitate use of the equa- the value of KAW increases with decreasing  at a rate that
tion, simplified design charts for the modified active earth increases gradually with decreasing .
pressure coefficient and for the height of the point of The height of the point of application of the lateral active
application of the lateral active force on a translating rigid force, normalised by wall height, is given in Fig. 16(b)
wall are proposed in Fig. 16 based on the results of the against  for various values of /. As shown in the figure,
parametric study discussed earlier. The modified active earth the normalised height of the point of application of the
pressure coefficient KAW was back-calculated from lateral active force from the base of the wall increases with
652 PAIK AND SALGADO
1.0 0.44
0

Normalised height of application of Pah, h/H


0.42 / 1.0
Modified active pressure coefficient, KAW

0.8

10
0.40
0.6
/ 0.8
20 0.38
/ 0.6
0.4
30 0.36 / 0.4

40 / 0.2
0.2
0.34
50 / 0

0 0.32
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 0 10 20 30 40 50
/ : degrees
(a) (b)

Fig. 16. Simplified design charts: (a) modified active earth pressure coefficient; (b) normalised height of point of application
of lateral active force

increasing  for constant / and with increasing / for Kaw active lateral stress ratio proposed by Handy
constant . It is seen that the normalised height of the point Kawn new active lateral stress ratio proposed in this study
of application of the lateral active force for / 0 is 033 KAW modified active earth pressure coefficient for simple
regardless of the internal friction angle. This is consistent calculation of active earth pressure
with Rankines theory. It is also apparent that the highest M moment of lateral active earth pressure about base of wall
N ratio of major to minor principal stresses tan2 (45 + /2)
normalised height of the point of application of Pah to be
Pa total active force
expected in practice would be of the order of 043. Pah lateral active force including arching effect
R radius of minor principal stress trajectory
T shearing force on back of wall
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS x horizontal distant from retaining wall
The estimation of active earth pressures acting on retain- z depth from surface of backfill
ing walls is very important in geotechnical design. However, angle of failure line to horizontal 45 + /2
unlike the assumption used in the analysis of Coulomb unit weight of backfill
 wall friction angle
(1776), which is generally used to calculate active earth
at wall
pressure, the distribution of active earth pressure behind the  internal friction angle of backfill
wall is non-linear, and the earth pressure distribution differs 1 , 3 major and minor principal stress
depending on the mode of wall movement (tilting about the ah active lateral stress at arbitrary point on differential flat
top or base of the wall or translation). This is due to arching element
effects in the retained soil, which result from the frictional ahw active lateral stress at wall
resistance between the wall and the soil. v vertical stress across on differential flat element
In this paper, a new formulation is proposed for the non- vw vertical stress across at wall
linear distribution of active earth pressure on a translating v average value of v over differential flat element
retaining wall considering arching effects, under the assump- f frictional resistance at slip surface
w frictional resistance at wall.
tion that the slip surface in the soil behind the wall is planar angle between tangent to 3 trajectory and vertical at
and makes an angle of 458 + /2 with the horizontal. In arbitrary point
order to check the accuracy of predictions using the pro-
posed equations, the equations were applied to existing test
results for five rigid retaining walls with different heights.
Comparison of predicted with measured values showed that
the proposed equations produce satisfactory results. Design REFERENCES
charts are also proposed for the modified active earth Coulomb, C. A. (1776). Essai sur une application des regles des
pressure coefficient and for the height of application of the maximis et minimis a quelques problemes de statique relatifs a
lateral active force. larchitecture. Mem. Acad. Roy. Pres. Divers Savants 7, Paris.
Fang, Y. & Ishibashi, I. (1986). Static earth pressures with various
wall movements. J. Geotech. Engng, ASCE 112, No. 3, 317
333.
NOTATION Handy, R. L. (1985). The arch in soil arching. J. Geotech. Engng,
Bz width of differential flat element at depth z ASCE 111, No. 3, 302318.
C integrating constant determined by a boundary condition Harrop-Williams, K. O. (1989). Geostatic wall pressures. J. Geo-
dz thickness of differential flat element tech. Engng, ASCE 115, No. 9, 13211325.
h height of point of application of lateral active force from Janssen, H. A. (1895). Versuche uber getreidedruck in silozellen.
base of wall Zeitschrift, Verein Deutscher Ingenieure 39, 10451049 (partial
H height of retaining wall English translation in Proc. Inst. Civ. Engrs, 1986, 553.
ACTIVE EARTH PRESSURE AGAINST RIGID RETAINING WALLS 653
Livingston, C. W. (1961). The natural arch, the fracture pattern, and Stevic, M., Jasarevic, I. & Ramiz, F. (1979). Arching in hanging
the sequence of failure in massive rock surrounding an under- walls over leached deposits of rock salt. Proc. 4th Int. Cong.
ground opening. Proceedings of the symposium on rock mech- Rock Mech., Montreaux 1, 745752.
anics, Pennsylvania State University, Bulletin 76, 197204. Terzaghi, K. (1943). Theoretical soil mechanics. New York: Wiley.
Matsuo, M., Kenmochi, S. & Yagi, H. (1978). Experimental study Tsagareli, Z. V. (1965). Experimental investigation of the pressure
on earth pressure of retaining wall by field tests. Soils Found. of a loose medium on retaining walls with a vertical back face
18, No. 3, 2741. and horizontal backfill surface. J. Soil Mech. Found. Engng,
Paikowsky, S. G. (1989). A static evaluation of soil plug behavior ASCE 91, No. 4, 197200.
with application to the pile plugging problem. PhD thesis, Depart- Walker, D. M. (1966). An approximate theory for pressure and
ment of Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. arching in hoppers. Chem. Engng Sci. 21, 975997.
Spangler, M. G. & Handy, R. L. (1984). Soil engineering, New Wang, Y. Z. (2000). Distribution of earth pressure on a retaining
York: Harper & Row. wall. Geotechnique 50, No. 1, 8388.
Errata
The following error was printed in the following paper: Paik, 45
K. H. & Salgado, R. (2003). Estimation of active earth Coulomb (1776)
pressure against rigid retaining walls considering arching Handy (1985)

Lateral active force, Pah: kN/m


40
effects. Geotechnique 53, No. 7, 643654. Figs 10 and 11 Harrop-Williams (1989)
were incorrect as they appeared in the paper. Corrected Proposed
versions of these two figures are reproduced below. 35
The second paragraph of the section Soilwall interface
friction angle should read as follows.
30

Lateral active earth pressure: kPa


25
0 5 10 15 20 5 40, H 5 4 m
0

5 0 20
0 10 20 30 40
5 10 :
(a)
5 20
1
5 30 06
5 40

Normalized height of application: h/H


Coulomb (1776)
5 40, H 5 4 m
Handy (1985)
Depth: m

Harrop-Williams (1989)
2 05
Proposed

04
3 5 40, H 5 4 m

03
0 10 20 30 40
4 :
(b)
Fig. 10. Change of earth pressure distribution with
Fig. 11. Effect of : (a) on lateral active force; (b) on
normalised height of application of lateral active force
It is seen in Fig. 11(a) that the lateral active force
calculated using the proposed equation is lower than the The following errors were printed in Rocchi, G., Fontana,
values calculated using both the Coulomb and the Harrop- M. & Da Prat, M. (2003). Modelling of natural soft clay
Williams formulations for values of  less than about 39.58. destruction processes using viscoplasticity theory. Geotechni-
For values of  exceeding 39.58, the lateral active force que 53, No. 8, 729745.
becomes larger than the values calculated using both the
Coulomb and the Harrop-Williams equations. The Handy
(1985) equation gives the largest lateral active force of all (a) In Fig. 1 the label on the p axis should read p*ci0.
four formulations for  less than about 2.58 and the lowest (b) In Fig. 3 cae cae /(1+e0 ) should read c c /(1+e0 )
of all for  greater than about 2.58. and cae 0.10.2% should read c 0.10.2%.
Figure 11(b) shows that the height of the point of applica- (c) In Fig. 10, on the x axis label, pcn should read p9cn .
tion of the lateral active force from the base of the wall, (d) In Fig. 13 all instances of cae should read c .
normalised with respect to wall height, increases with in- (e) In the Notation list M 6 sin jj9cv /3-sin j9cv should read
creasing soil-wall interface friction angle for all lateral earth M 6 sin j9cv /(3-sin j9cv ). The caption for the solid
pressure formulations. The proposed formulation provides thick line should read From initial portion of. . . and
slightly higher values than the Harrop-Williams equation for not From final portion of. . .
 less than 37.58, but lower values for  greater than 37.58. ( f ) In the Notation list p9 91+92+93/3 generic or
However, the normalised application height obtained from current mean effective stress should read p9
the proposed formulation is always lower than that from the (91+92+93)/3 generic or current mean effective
Handy formulation irrespective of the value of . stress

342