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Effect of Reinforcement Stiffness on the Response of Back-to-Back MSE Wall upon Infiltration

G. Rajagopal, S. Thiyyakkandi
Published: 4 October 2021

Abstract: Back-to-back mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls are being widely utilized as bridge abutments and highway ramps, considering their cost effectiveness and ease of construction. Though high quality well-graded granular fill is the most appropriate backfill material, owing to its scarcity, locally available low-quality soils are often used as backfill. Nevertheless, numerous failure cases of such walls with low-quality soil are reported, especially subsequent to the rainwater infiltration. The stiffness of reinforcement is a key parameter affecting the overall behaviour of MSE walls. The present study investigates the influence of reinforcement stiffness on the response of select fill, marginal fill, and hybrid-fill back-to-back MSE walls using a finite element (FE) based approach. Results show that stiffness of reinforcement has a significant effect on the overall performance of marginal fill wall upon rainfall infiltration. Specifically, with the increase of reinforcement stiffness, the infiltration induced facing displacement decreases and reinforcement tension increases. However, the performance of select fill and hybrid-fill walls following rainfall infiltration was found to be satisfactory even with low stiffness reinforcements and further improvement with increase of reinforcement stiffness was insignificant. The reduction of safety factors during infiltration was shown to be independent of reinforcement stiffness for all wall types.
Keywords: rainfall / infiltration / reinforcement stiffness / soil / backfill / safety / MSE

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