Upper bound solution for ultimate bearing capacity with a modified Hoek-Brown failure criterion

Xiao Li Yang, Jianhua Yin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)


Conventional calculations of ultimate bearing capacity are formulated in terms of a linear Mohr-Coulomb (MC) failure criterion. However, experimental data shows that the strength envelops of almost all types of rocks are nonlinear over the wide range of normal stresses. In this paper, the strength envelope of rock masses is considered to follow a modified Hoek-Brown failure criterion that is a nonlinear failure criterion. Two different kinds of techniques are used to develop the ultimate bearing capacity in the framework of limit analysis in plasticity. The first technique is the generalized tangential technique proposed by the authors. Based on a multi-wedge translation failure mechanism, a generalized tangential technique is used to formulate the bearing capacity problem as a classical optimization problem where the objective function, which is to be minimized with respects to the parameters of failure mechanism and the location of tangency point, corresponds to the dissipated power. The minimum solution is obtained by optimization. Using the technique, the effects of rock weight under the base of the footing and surcharge load can be considered. The second technique, "tangential" line technique, was originally used to analyze slope stability with a nonlinear failure criterion. In order to assess the validity of the proposed method, the "tangential" line technique is extended to evaluate the bearing capacity factor with the nonlinear failure criterion, where the effects of self-weight and surcharge load on the bearing capacity cannot considered. The second technique, however, has to utilize the previously calculated ultimate bearing capacity factor with a linear MC failure criterion. Numerical results are compared and presented for practical use in rock engineering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-560
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2005


  • Bearing capacity
  • Modified Hoek-Brown criterion
  • Rock masses
  • Upper bound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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