Advanced reliability analysis of slopes in spatially variable soils using multivariate adaptive regression splines

Lei Lei Liu, Shao He Zhang, Yung Ming Cheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to extend the multivariate adaptive regression splines (MARS)‒Monte Carlo simulation (MCS) method for reliability analysis of slopes in spatially variable soils. This approach is used to explore the influences of the multiscale spatial variability of soil properties on the probability of failure (P f) of the slopes. In the proposed approach, the relationship between the factor of safety and the soil strength parameters characterized with spatial variability is approximated by the MARS, with the aid of Karhunen–Loève expansion. MCS is subsequently performed on the established MARS model to evaluate P f. Finally, a nominally homogeneous cohesive‒frictional slope and a heterogeneous cohesive slope, which are both characterized with different spatial variabilities, are utilized to illustrate the proposed approach. Results showed that the proposed approach can estimate the P f of the slopes efficiently in spatially variable soils with sufficient accuracy. Moreover, the approach is relatively robust to the influence of different statistics of soil properties, thereby making it an effective and practical tool for addressing slope reliability problems concerning time-consuming deterministic stability models with low levels of P f. Furthermore, disregarding the multiscale spatial variability of soil properties can overestimate or underestimate the P f. Although the difference is small in general, the multiscale spatial variability of the soil properties must still be considered in the reliability analysis of heterogeneous slopes, especially for those highly related to cost effective and accurate designs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeoscience Frontiers
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018


  • Efficient reliability analysis
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Multivariate adaptive regression splines
  • Random field
  • Slope stability
  • Spatial variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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