Behavior and Design of Gravity Earth Retaining Structures

by J. Michael Duncan,
G. Wayne Clough,
Robert M. Ebeling,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Design and Performance of Earth Retaining Structures


This paper summarizes recent research on the soil-structure interaction of gravity earth retaining structures and provides new design procedures for these structures. The procedures currently used for designing new structures and evaluating the safety of existing structures are conventional equilibrium methods. However, the conditions of equilibrium are insufficient for a complete analysis of the soil-structure assumptions regarding the loading and resisting forces that act on these structures. For example, field studies and finite element analyses have shown that sand backfills and gravel backfills exert downward shear loads on the back of the gravity retaining walls founded on rock. This shear force acts to stabilize the wall and is not included in traditional equilibrium methods of analysis, leading to excessive conservatism. This is evident from several cases which current equilibrium methods indicate that stable walls are on the verge of failure.

Subject Headings: Structural behavior | Retaining structures | Equilibrium | Structural safety | Shear forces | Soil structures | Field tests | Backfills

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