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LEM-DEM coupling for slope stability analysis

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Slope stability analysis is a keen area of interest to researchers of geotechnical engineering and geological hazards. To date, the most popular approach applied in slope engineering design is the limit equilibrium method (LEM). However, for this method, some assumptions are required when obtaining the sliding force and the resistance force on the slide face. The discrete element method (DEM) presents an advantage in the calculation of the interaction forces between adjacent blocks without assumptions. This paper introduces a new slope stability analysis based on coupling of both approaches, herein referred to as LEM-DEM. The main LEM-DEM procedure is to transform the slice model of a slope in LEM into the DEM model and obtain the sliding force and the resistance force to calculate the factor of stability (Fos). The sensitivity analysis of the parameters in DEM, such as normal and shear stiffness, was conducted to illustrate that LEM-DEM suggests higher contact stiffness. A comparison between the Fos values in DEM and LEM-DEM was also conducted to indicate the rationality and advantages of LEM-DEM, especially for a gentle slope with a changing shear force direction in the slice model where the interslice forces in LEM are unreasonable. Furthermore, this study carried out a 3D landslide stability analysis extension, along with the results, for the proposed method.

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Author information

Correspondence to WenJie Xu.

Additional information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51679123, 51479095, 51879142).

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Xu, W., Wang, S. & Bilal, M. LEM-DEM coupling for slope stability analysis. Sci. China Technol. Sci. 63, 329–340 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11431-018-9387-2

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  • limit equilibrium method (LEM)
  • discrete element method (DEM)
  • slope stability
  • factor of stability (Fos)
  • coupling