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The growth of shear bands in the catastrophic failure of soils


This paper is an attempt to apply the Palmer–Rice fracture mechanics approach to the shear band propagation in sands and normally consolidated clays. This approach, proposed 30 years ago for overconsolidated clays, had a tremendous advantage of treating a shear band evolution as a true physical process and not just as a sufficient mathematical condition for its existence. Extension of this approach to a wider variety of soils requires that non-elastic soil properties (e.g. isotropic hardening plasticity, strain softening, lack of tensile strength, dilatancy, active and passive failure modes, etc.) be taken into account. This paper demonstrates how the energy balance and process zone approaches can be applied to the simple problem of the shallow shear band propagation in an infinite slope built of such a soil. The energy balance approach appears to be the most conservative one. It allows for catastrophic and progressive types of soil failure to be properly identified, and dramatically effects the results of the slope stability analysis.


Puzrin, Alexander and Germanovich, L.N.

Index Terms:

geomechanics; GeomechanicsGroup; Germanovich, L.N.; Puzrin, Alexander

Further Information:

Date published: 2005