Effects of freezing and thawing on retaining wall with changes in groundwater level

Garam Kim, Incheol Kim, Tae Sup Yun, Junhwan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Freezing and thawing of pore water within backfill can affect the stability of retaining wall as the phase change of pore water causes changes in the mechanical characteristics of backfill material. In this study, the effects of freezing and thawing on the mechanical performance of retaining wall with granular backfill were investigated for various temperature and groundwater level (GWL) conditions. The thermal and mechanical finite element analyses were performed by assigning the coefficient of lateral earth pressure according to phase change of soil for at-rest, active and passive stress states. For the at-rest condition, the mobilized lateral stress and overturning moment changed markedly during freezing and thawing. Active-state displacements for the thawed condition were larger than for the unfrozen condition whereas the effect of freezing and thawing was small for the passive condition. GWL affected significantly the lateral force and overturning moment (Mo) acting on the wall during freezing and thawing, indicating that the reduction of safety margin and wall collapse due to freezing and thawing can occur in sudden, unexpected patterns. The beneficial effect of an insulation layer between the retaining wall and the backfill in reducing the heat conduction from the wall face was also investigated and presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-543
Number of pages13
JournalGeomechanics and Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), with grants funded by the government of Korea (Project Nos. 20194030202460 and 2020R1A2C2011966). It was also supported by the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA) grant funded by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (National Research for Smart Construction Technology, No. 20SMIP-A158708-01).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Techno-Press, Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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