Computational Slope Stability Analysis

Professor Vaughan Griffiths

Slope stability analysis remains a central activity for geotechnical practitioners and a continued area of interest and research for academics. A wide range of methodologies for slope stability analysis have been developed, ranging from Taylor’s charts from the 1930s to state-of-art random finite element methods for probabilistic analysis. The lecture starts with a general discussion of the factor of safety and discusses the significant contrast between factors on loads, as opposed to factors on strength. A classical slope problem solved by Taylor is then revisited using (i) simple optimization assuming circular failure mechanisms, (ii) elastic-plastic finite elements with strength reduction and (iii) upper- and lower-bound finite element limit analysis. The results show the benefits of the finite element approaches, especially as the slope becomes relatively flat where the simple approach starts to overestimate the factor of safety.

About the speaker

Photo of Prof. Vaughan Griffiths

Professor Vaughan Griffiths Professor of Civil Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, USA, Fulbright Distinguished Chair, University of Newcastle, NSW

Vaughan Griffiths PhD, DSc, PE, D.GE, C.Eng, FICE, Dist.M.ASCE is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. His research interests lie in application of finite element and risk assessment methodologies in geotechnical engineering, and his papers on slope stability analysis are among the most highly cited in the geotechnical engineering literature. He is the co-author of three textbooks that have gone into multiple and foreign language editions on “Programming the Finite Element Method”, “Risk Assessment in Geotechnical Engineering” and “Numerical Methods for Engineers”. He gives regular short-courses on Risk Assessment for practitioners, with recent offerings in China, New Zealand, Australia, Colombia, Norway, Canada, Taiwan, and the USA. Professor Griffiths is a past editor of Computers and GeotechnicsJGGE and Géotechnique. He has acted as a consultant to industry on projects ranging from landslide analysis to petroleum geomechanics. In 2017, he was named the Cross-Canada Lecturer by the Canadian Geotechnical Society, and the same year received the H. Bolton Seed Medal from the ASCE/Geo-Institute. He gave the TH Wu Distinguished lecture in 2021 and the Wilson Tang lecture in 2022. He was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Chair for 2023 to spend 6 months in Australia working on geotechnical risk research. He served on the Board of Direction of ASCE from 2010-2013 representing Region 7, and was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the ASCE in 2020.

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