Stability analysis of complex soil slopes using limit analysis

Jongmin Kim, Rodrigo Salgado, Junhwan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


The limit equilibrium method is commonly used for slope stability analysis. Limit equilibrium solutions, however, are not rigorous because neither static nor kinematic admissibility conditions are satisfied. Limit analysis takes advantage of the lower- and upper-bound theorems of plasticity theory to provide rigorous bounds on the true solution of a stability problem. In this study, finite- element models are used to construct both statically admissible stress fields for lower-bound analysis and kinematically admissible velocity fields for upper-bound analysis of soil slopes. While limit analysis of relatively simple slopes, typically homogeneous and of simple geometry, has been done previously, limit analysis of slopes with complex geometries, soil profiles, and groundwater patterns could not be effectively done in the past. In this paper, the theoretical basis and procedure for limit analysis of such slopes is presented. Various examples of slopes are selected from the literature and analyzed using both limit equilibrium and limit analysis. Factors of safety from limit equilibrium and limit analysis are compared. A comparison is also made, for each example, between the critical slip surfaces from limit equilibrium with the velocity field and plastic zone from the upper-bound solution and with the stress field from the lower-bound solution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)546-557
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jul

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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