3D failure of a scale-down dry stone retaining wall: a DEM modelling

J.-C. Quezada, E. Vincens, R. Mouterde, Jean-Claude Morel

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    23 Citations (Scopus)
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    Dry stone retaining walls are vernacular structures that can be found in many places around the world and were mainly built toreduce slope erosion and to allow agricultural practices. Their stability is essentially warranted by the global wall weight and thecapacity of individual blocks to develop friction at contact. The arrangement of these hand-placed blocks contributes also to thestability of the wall. A new interest arose in these structures in the last years, first due to the necessity to repair damages inherent toany built heritage, but also to their possible advantages regarding sustainability.Several studies have tried to address the behavior of slope dry stone retaining walls, whereas few conclusive studies have beenperformed concerning road dry stone retaining walls. In this latter case, the loading implies, apart from the backfill, the existenceof a concentrated force on the backfill surface. The failure of such masonry work is accompanied by true three-dimensionaldeformations.This study is a first attempt to provide a better understanding of the mechanical behavior of road dry stone retaining walls. Itinvolves a small-scale prototype with clay bricks for the wall, and steel blocks, acting as a concentrated loading on the backfillsurface at a given distance from the inward wall face. Steel blocks have been superposed until wall failure. A numerical studybased on these experiments is then performed by means of a mixed discrete-continuum approach.The numerical model was able to retrieve the average value of the concentrated force triggering failure found in the experiences,except when the concentrated loading is very close to the wall. Nevertheless, the results provided by this study are considered asencouraging even if further work is required to definitely state about the validity of such a numerical technique for the study ofactual road dry stone retaining walls.
    NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Engineering Structures. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Engineering Structures, [VOL, 117, (2016)] DOI: 10.1016/j.engstruct.2016.03.020

    © 2016, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)506-517
    JournalEngineering Structures
    Early online date26 Mar 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2016


    • Dry stone
    • retaining walls
    • DEM
    • small-scale test


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