Micromechanical approach to slope stability analysis

  • Francesco Calvetti
  • Roberto Nova
Part of the International Centre for Mechanical Sciences book series (CISM, volume 461)


This paper deals with the micromechanical approach to the study of unstable slopes, by means of Distinct Element simulations.

In the first part general issues related to this kind of approach are discussed, by highlighting advantages and difficulties with respect to other (more common) methods.

A particular attention is devoted to define procedures which are necessary for calibrating parameters. This point is addressed by introducing a micro—macro correlation among the contact parameters and the friction angle of the assembly. This relationship is “empirically” obtained by inspection of the results of a series of simulations of a small scale retaining wall.

Then, the obtained correlation is verified by studying a reference small scale model of an infinite slope. The possibility of introducing the effects of seepage, although in a simplified manner, is discussed. The stability of the numerical slope is analyzed for different values of (simulated) water-table level, and the obtained results are compared with those from classical limit analysis.

In the final part of the paper the previously acquired expertise is applied to the study of a representative real—scale landslide. Two main points are investigated: evaluation of the factor of safety, and influence of seepage conditions.


Friction Angle Slope Stability Analysis Distinct Element Method Particle Rotation Infinite Slope 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesco Calvetti
    • 1
  • Roberto Nova
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Structural EngineeringPolitecnico (University of Technology) di MilanoMilanoItaly

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