Slope stability analysis with nonlinear failure criterion

Xiao Li Yang, Jianhua Yin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

181 Citations (Scopus)


A linear failure criterion is widely used in slope stability analyses. However, the strength envelope of almost all geomaterials has the nature of nonlinearity. This paper computes rigorous upper bounds on slope stability factors under the condition of plane strain with a nonlinear yield criterion by employing the upper bound theorem of plasticity. A stability factor (or a limit load) computed using a linear Mohr-Coulomb (MC) failure criterion which circumscribes the actual nonlinear failure criterion is an upper bound value of the actual stability factor (or limit load). In this paper, an improved method using a "generalized tangential" technique to approximate a nonlinear failure criterion is proposed to estimate the stability factor of a slope on the basis of the upper bound theorem of plasticity. Using the "generalized tangential" technique, the curve of the nonlinear failure criterion is simplified as a set of straight lines according to the linear MC failure criterion. The straight line is tangential to the curve of the nonlinear failure criterion. The set of straight lines of the linear MC failure criterion is employed to formulate the slope stability problem as a classical optimization problem. The objective function formulated in this way is minimized with respect to the location of sliding body center and the location of tangency point. Two typical slope stability problems (a homogeneous soil slope with two slope angles and a vertical cut slope with a tension crack) are analyzed using the proposed method. For the soil slope with two slope angles, the computed results are compared with published solutions by others. The comparison shows that the proposed method gives reasonable and consistent values of the stability factor of the slope. For the vertical cut slope with a tension crack, a statically admissible stress field is constructed for the slope. The stress field does not violate the nonlinear failure criterion. Lower bound solutions are obtained by satisfying stress equilibrium conditions. The upper bound solutions obtained from the proposed method are equal to the lower bound solutions for the vertical cut slope. The agreement further supports the validation of the proposed approach. The influences of the strength parameters in the nonlinear criterion on the stability of slopes are also studied and discussed in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-273
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Engineering Mechanics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2004


  • Failures
  • Limit analysis
  • Nonlinear analysis
  • Optimization
  • Slope stability
  • Soils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Slope stability analysis with nonlinear failure criterion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this