Finite Element Analyses of Retaining Wall Behavior

by G. Wayne Clough, (A.M.ASCE), Asst. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Duke Univ., Durham, NC,
James M. Duncan, (A.M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA,

Serial Information: Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division, 1971, Vol. 97, Issue 12, Pg. 1657-1673

Document Type: Journal Paper


A means is developed for simulation of realistic behavior of the interface between a backfill soil and a retaining wall in finite element analyses. The interface behavior is shown from a series of laboratory tests to be dependent upon normal and shear stresses on the interface. An analytical formulation is derived to fit the observed relationships and utilized to govern the behavior of a one-dimensional element which serves as the interface between two dimensional soil and retaining wall elements in finite element analyses. Analyses are presented of a typical retaining wall-backfill system with varying modes of wall behavior and degrees of wall roughness. Earth presure distributions before the ultimate conditions are reached are shown to be nonlinear. Ultimate conditions and general behavior of the system are shown to be in agreement with classical theory and previously observed behavior. An additional analysis is presented in which the exact construction sequence of a retaining-wall backfill system is simulated.

Subject Headings: Finite element method | Soil analysis | Retaining structures | Backfills | Shear stress | Two-dimensional analysis | Shear tests | Job satisfaction

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