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Weak Surface

1. Introduction

Weak layers can be used to represent interfaces between soil layers, lining material in landfills or any other type of discontinuity. Additionally, weak layers can be used to form a single slip surface.

In this tutorial, first we will demonstrate how to add a weak layer within a slope and use weak layers as user-defined slip surface. Next we see how weak layers can change the shape of slip surfaces to create composite surfaces.

Open the tutorial file in File > Recent > Tutorials > Weak Surface and open the file Weak Surface - starting file

2. Define Materials

The starting file model consists of four different material blocks. To see the defined material properties,

Materials Icon Select: Materials > Define Materials, or select Define Materials Materials Icon from the toolbar.

Material Properties dialog

In addition to the four materials used in the slope geometry, there is also a weak material defined with lower cohesion and friction angle with respect to the other defined materials.

3. Geometry

Select the Geometry workflow tab.

First we will define a Plane that will be used to represent the weak layers.

Select: Geometry > 3D Primitive Geometry > Plane

Expand the Plane Definition section and enter Define by = Dip/Dip Direction.

Enter the following values into the corresponding fields:

  • X = 15, Y =12, Z =11
  • Dip = 0, Dip Direction = 0
  • Select Role = Construction

Create Plane dialog

After selecting OK, repeat the same steps and add another plane with the following values:

  • X = 15, Y = 12, Z = 14
  • Dip = 45, Dip Direction = 90
  • Select Role = Construction

Create Plane dialog

Select OK.

4. Specify Weak Planes

To assign weak layers to the two planes defined in the previous step, you can select both planes from the visibility pane by holding 'Ctrl' key.

Select: Materials > Weak Layers > Add Weak Layer Surface

Weak Layers can also be defined by specifying a table of coordinates that make up the surface. This feature can be accessed using Add Weak Layer by Location.

Specify the Material to be weak and click OK.

Add Weak Layer by Surface dialog

5. Slip Surfaces

The layers defined above form a sliding mass which its factor of safety can be computed. But before computing the model, we need to set the Surface Generation Method to User-Defined Surfaces to avoid creation of any other slip surfaces by search algorithms.

Slip Surface Icon Select: Surfaces > Slip Surface Options

Enable the Use Weak Layer Surfaces as User-Defined Surfaces option and change the Weak Layer Handling to Always snap to highest layer.

Slip Surface Options dialog

Select OK.

6. Results

Calculator Icon Save the file and Compute.

Results Tab To see the results, go to Results tab, and select Show contour Contoured Model Icon from the toolbar.

The Janbu safety factor is about 2.2. Contoured Model View with Weak Layers Intersecting with Slip Surfaces

Now that we have seen how weak layers could be used to define a user-defined slip surface, let’s move on to see how weak layers interact with slip surfaces created by a search method.

A weak layer clips any slip surface that its base intersects with the weak layer plane. To see this effect, let’s slightly modify the model.

Modify Weak Planes and Surface Options

Select the non-horizontal weak plane from Visibility pane, then remove it by clicking on Delete Icon.

Slip Surface Icon Select: Surfaces > Slip Surface Options

Now we switch the Surface Generation Method to Search Method. Use the following settings:

  • Surface Type = Sphere,
  • Search method = Cuckoo, and
  • Surface Optimization disabled.

Slip Surface Options dialog after weak layer removal

Select OK and compute the model.

Results

As expected, the global minimum slip surface looks to be clipped at the bottom by the horizontal weak layer. If you turn on contours and select Base Cohesion, you will see the part that has been clipped by the weak layer, displays a different material property.

Base Cohesion Contours Model View

Safety Map

Additionally, if you click on Safety Map from the toolbar, you notice almost all the contour remains on top of the weak layer.

Safety Map Contours Model View

7. Extra Discussion

Please see Weak Layer Overview for a detailed discussion of the limitations for the weak layers feature in Slide3. These limitations concern models that have discontinuous and/or vertical weak layers.

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