International Speaker: Application of Limit State Principles to Geotechnical Problems

Brian Simpson

Eurocode 7, on Geotechnical Design, is one of a suite of 9 European codes for the design of buildings and civil engineering structures. Work on Eurocode 7 started in the early 1980s, and it was published as a draft for development in 1995. A final version is due for publication in 2001. It is intended that the Eurocodes will be mutually consistent documents, and this has set a major challenge to geotechnical design, since the interface between geotechnical and structural design codes has been confused in many nations, including the UK. The Eurocodes are based on a limit state method, with safety margins generally provided in the form of partial factors. Eurocode 7 sets out the use of a partial factor approach to geotechnical design in a context of sound geotechnical engineering. It attempts to define the process by which parameter values will be selected for calculation, from the usual sparse and scattered data available to engineers. In separate sections, it then details the application of this approach to typical foundation types, retaining structures and slopes.

The talk described the contents of the code and presented some of the more important, and controversial, features of its methods. These were illustrated by examples of both foundations and retaining structures. Likely changes between the 1995 draft and the issue planned for 2001 were also discussed.

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