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Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339356

Regional slope stability and slope-failure mechanics from the two-dimensional state of stress in an innite slope
Ulisses T. Mello a, , Lincoln F. Pratson b,1
b

J. Watson Research Center, IBM, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA Received 12 March 1997; accepted 13 April 1998

a Thomas

Abstract Rapid estimates of regional submarine slope stability can be obtained using 1-D innite-slope analysis or empirical 2-D analyses, such as the log-spiral or -circle methods. In these methods, slope stability is evaluated along a pre-dened slip surface because the principal stresses in the slope and the slip-plane directions they control are undened. However, where these pre-dened slip surfaces are not a good approximation of the surface along which a slope failure actually occurs, the analyses cannot explain the physics and observed geometry of the failure. Here we present an alternative, 2-D analytical solution for the state of stress in an innite slope that incorporates cohesion and constant pore pressure, and yields the principal stresses and possible slip-plane directions along which the slope can fail. As a result, the analysis provides a framework for understanding the general geometry and relative motion of mass movements not addressed by 1-D innite-slope analysis or the empirical 2-D analyses. We use our 2-D innite-slope analysis to show that if the compressive stresses in the lower part of a slope are great enough, slope failure will occur along a basal plane, which in turn will permit extensional deformation along a steeper, headwall plane farther upslope. We then discuss how such failure can be facilitated on slopes of low inclination by excess pore pressure. Based on this discussion, we suggest that if pore pressure becomes high enough, slope failure can be initiated at a lower pore pressure and along a lower-angle basal plane than predicted by 1-D innite-slope analysis. 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. Keywords: slope stability; slope failure; basal shear plane; excess pore pressure

1. Introduction An important goal of STRATAFORM is to devise techniques that can aid in predicting where and how slides and mass ows affect submarine slopes (Pratson et al., 1996). Determination of the risk posed by these mass movements to a specic sea-oor area
author. E-mail: ulisses@watson.ibm.com Present address: Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
1 Corresponding

continues to require detailed geotechnical analyses involving mapping, sampling, laboratory testing, and two- or three-dimensional numerical modeling of sea-oor stability (Hampton et al., 1996). However, such extensive analyses are not always possible, and simplied analyses that encapsulate the basic physics behind mass movements are needed for rapidly assessing sea-oor stability using limited data. One-dimensional (1-D) innite-slope analysis is typically used for this purpose. Based only on the balance of forces acting on a plane parallel to the

0025-3227/99/$ see front matter 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 0 2 5 - 3 2 2 7 ( 9 8 ) 0 0 1 2 2 - 4

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slope, this analysis attempts to dene the maximum possible slope inclination at which the shear stress acting on the slope (due to its weight) exactly balances the resistance of the slope sediments to sliding (Fig. 1A). A limitation of 1-D innite-slope analysis is that the potential for slope failure is only evaluated along a plane that parallels the slope surface. This limitation is satisfactory for failures that occur along bedding planes, which often do parallel the sea oor. However, it is not suitable for failures that occur along surfaces that cut across bedding planes, and which change from a relatively steep headwall at their upslope end to a lower-angle basal shear plane that intersects the sea oor at their downslope end (e.g., Fig. 2). This failure surface geometry is better accounted for by empirical 2-D slope-stability analyses, such as the log-spiral and -circle methods, which assume a failure surface that is concave-upward or listricshaped. But in using a single, arbitrarily pre-dened failure surface, these methods like 1-D innite-slope analysis do not allow for the evaluation of other possible surface geometries. Without a detailed stress analysis, it is difcult to ascertain whether these predened surfaces are those along which actual failure did or will in fact occur. The reason for this is that failuire surface geometry depends on the distribution of the principal stresses in a slope, and these are not dened in either 1-D innite-slope analysis or the empirical 2-D analyses. In this paper, we present an alternative, 2-D analysis of the state of stress in an innite slope that can be used to evaluate failure along a range of failure-plane angles, signicantly enhancing the utility of innite-slope analysis in assessing regional slope stability. In developing the analysis, we begin by illustrating how the slip planes in an innite slope are affected by slope inclination under various states of stress. We then discuss how pore pressure may allow for a range of other failure-plane angles at any given slope inclination.

2. Background 2.1. Observed geometry of slope failure Failures of submarine sedimentary slopes vary in terms of the volume of sediment involved, the rigidity=uidity of the failed sediments, the manner in which the failed sediments are transported downslope, and the distance they travel. Two disparate examples are the Humboldt Slide (Fig. 2A) in the northern California STRATAFORM study area (Gardner et al., 1999), and the Cape Fear mudow (Fig. 2B) off North Carolina (Popenoe et al., 1993). Despite their differences, these and many other slope failures share a common failure surface geometry (Fig. 2C). The upslope end of these surfaces tends to be a relatively steep headwall along which the failed sediment mass undergoes extensional failure. At depth, the headwall grades (often abruptly) into a basal failure plane, which towards its downslope end is generally at a lower angle than the sea oor and intersects it (Fig. 2C). The failed sediment mass is thrust over this basal plane toward the lower slope surface, and consequently, often exhibits compressional features (e.g., the compressional ridges at the toe of the Humboldt Slide; Gardner et al., 1999). 2.2. The innite-slope approximation A rst-order estimate of the state of stress that leads to such slope failures can be obtained using a simplied approximation of the slope geometry as an innitely large, planar slope inclined with respect to the horizontal at a uniform angle i (Fig. 1B). Furthermore, the slope is assumed to be composed of homogeneous sediments, so that the weight of the sediments increases uniformly with depth. This type of slope is completely characterized in the horizontal .x / and vertical . y / dimensions. For a differential sediment element to remain at rest within such a slope, the total stresses acting on

Fig. 1. (A) The balance of stresses used in 1-D innite-slope analysis. Note that the failure plane (dashed line) is assumed to be parallel to the slope inclination (i ). The normal ( n ) and shear ( ) stresses are related to the weight of the sediment slab overlying failure plane. The symbols used are d D vertical depth; A D slope-parallel width; W D weight; R D sediment shear resistance; v D vertical stress; s D sediment shear strength; b D bulk density; g D gravitational acceleration; D friction angle; and S0 D cohesion. (B) The balance of stresses used in the 2-D innite-slope analysis: x and y are the horizontal and vertical normal stresses, respectively, while x y and yx are the horizontal and vertical shear stresses, respectively. Note that d is given by y x tan i .

342 U.T. Mello, L.F. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339356 Fig. 2. Two end-member examples of submarine slope failure. (A) Humboldt Slide, northern California STRATAFORM study area (from Gardner et al., 1999). (B) Cape Fear mudow, North Carolina continental slope (from Popenoe et al., 1993). (C) Schematic of the failure plane geometry and slope-failure motion common to these and many other slope failures; extensional failure along a relatively steep headwall grading into compressional failure along a low-angle basal plane that intersects the slope surface. The dashed and dotted lines are simply two examples of the degrees to which failed sediments can be displaced downslope.

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the element must balance (Fig. 1B). This balance is described by the equations of equilibrium (Jaeger and Cook, 1979, p. 119). x direction: @x @ yx C D0 (1a) @x @y y direction: @xy @ y C D b g (1b) @y @x where x and y are total normal stresses, xy and yx are shear stresses, b is bulk density, and g is gravity acceleration. 2.3. Effective stress and pore pressure In a submarine slope, the pores in the sediment framework are typically saturated with water. This water exerts pressure on the sediment matrix, which reduces the stress acting on the grains in the framework to produce what are referred to as effective stresses (Terzaghi and Peck, 1967). In tensor notation, the general expression for effective stress, 0 , is: i j D i j
0

Commonly it is assumed that the sediments behave as a MohrCoulomb (MC) material (Lambe and Whitman, 1969). Such materials fail when the shear stress acting along a plane through the sediments exceeds the sediment shear strength, which is given by the Coulomb failure criterion (Jaeger and Cook, 1979, p. 95): j j D n tan
0

C S0
0

(3)

where is the shear stress, n is the effective normal stress, is the friction angle of the slope sediments, and S0 is the sediment cohesion. 2.5. One-dimensional innite-slope analysis In 1-D innite-slope analysis, the Coulomb failure criterion is used to assess the potential for failure along a plane that parallels the slope surface (Fig. 1). The sediments overlying the plane are considered to be a slab of uniform thickness. In this analysis, the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) yields the maximum inclination at which the downslope shear stress due to gravity and pore pressure acting on the slab equals the frictional resistance along its base (i.e., the sediment shear strength holding the slab in place). In this analysis, only the weight of the slab and the resulting shear and effective normal stresses are used (Eqs. 1a, 1b, 2, 3, 4a and 4b in Fig. 1A). This is normally justied by assuming the horizontal forces in an innite slope cancel (Lambe and Whitman, 1969), which is equivalent to ignoring the terms @x =@ x and @xy =@ x in Eqs. 1a and 1b (Delinger and Iverson, 1991). Thus, in considering the balance of stresses in only the vertical direction, the analysis is called one-dimensional. 2.6. Limitations of one-dimensional innite-slope analysis An important limitation of 1-D innite-slope analysis is that by xing the orientation of the slip plane and restricting the balance of stresses to this plane, the principal stresses within the slope are left undened. The principal stresses are signicant because in MC materials, the direction of the maximum principal stress (and the friction angle of the material) denes the slip-plane direction along which MC failure will occur.

i j P

(2)

where i j is the total normal stress at a point, i is the Kronecker delta, P is pore pressure, and is referred to as the Biot constant, which ranges between 0 and 1. The latter reects the fraction of the total stress that is carried by the sediment framework. In the limit, if D 0, all the total stress is borne by the sediment framework, while if D 1, the total stress acting on the grains is partially supported by the full value of P . For the surcial depths to which slope failures occur, the sediment framework tends to be at least two orders of magnitude more compressible than water, and is approximately 1 (Domenico and Schwartz, 1990). It is important to realize that independent of the magnitude of pore pressure, the total stresses must balance as described in Eqs. 1a and 1b for a slope to remain in steady state. 2.4. The MohrCoulomb failure criteria In order to predict the potential for an innite slope to fail, a model needs to address the mechanical behavior of slope sediments under stress.

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The importance of this limitation becomes apparent when a horizontal slope .i D 0/ is considered. A horizontal slope will never fail along a horizontal plane, as assumed in the 1-D innite-slope analysis, because the shear stress along this plane due to the weight of the overlying sediments (Fig. 1A, Eq. 3) is 0. However, if the 1-D analysis is blindly applied to a horizontal slope, it will yield the misleading result that the slope will be stable until the pore pressure is equal to the weight of the overlying sediments (i.e., lithostatic). As we will show, this slope in reality could fail at much lower pore pressure along planes that are not horizontal.

that the slip-plane directions in MC failure depend only on the direction of the maximum effective principal stress and not its magnitude. Slip planes are, therefore, planes of maximum shear stress whose direction at any point bisects the angle between the principal stresses at that point. Using Eqs. 4a, 4b and 5 the Coulomb failure criterion Eq. 3 can now be re-written in terms of the effective principal stresses, i.e.: 2 D K f 1 where Kf D and 2 S0 cos (6c) .1 C sin / This equation indicates that at the state of M C failure, the minimum effective principal stress is linearly related to the maximum effective principal D 0, the sedistress by the variable K f . When S0 ments are cohesionless, and K f is simply the ratio 0 0 of these stresses (i.e., K f D 2 =1 at the state of MC failure). As indicated in Eq. 6b, K f is also a material property that depends only on the friction angle of the slope sediments and is independent of pore pressure.
S0 D
0 0

S0

(6a)

.1 sin / .1 C sin /

(6b)

3. Analytical solution for the principal stresses in an innite slope We now describe a 2-D analytical solution for the principal stresses in an innite slope that uses both the vertical and horizontal balance of stresses described by Eqs. 1a and 1b. A full derivation of the solution, which is only summarized here, can be found in Mello and Pratson (1998). The solution is an extension of the one derived by Jaeger and Cook (1979) (p. 422) for the directions and magnitudes of the principal stresses in an innite slope of dry, cohesionless sediments under limiting-equilibrium conditions. Our solution is less restrictive in that it allows for stable as well as limiting-equilibrium conditions and includes sediment cohesion and constant pore pressure. To express the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) in terms of the effective principal stresses we use the Mohr equations (Jaeger and Cook, 1979, p. 14): . j j D 1 2 1
0 0 0

3.1. Extended solution for the principal stresses In order to describe the state of stress in an innite slope for an arbitrary ratio between the principal stresses, we assume that the state of stress at any point in the slope can be described by: 2 D k 1
S0

2 / sin 2
0 0

(4a) 2 / cos 2
0

(7)

. C 2 / C 1 . n D 1 2 1 2 1
0 0

(4b)

where 1 and 2 are the maximum and minimum effective principal stresses (respectively), and is 0 the angle between 1 and the normal to a plane. MC failure occurs when D , where: D C (5) 4 2 Because is only a function of the sedimentfriction angle, it is a material property. This implies

While similar in form to Eq. 6a, Eq. 7 has some signicant differences. One is that the principal stresses in Eq. 7 are not effective stresses, but total stresses at a depth d due to the weight of the overlying sediments up to the slope surface (Fig. 1B) (i.e., pore pressure has not been subtracted from the principal stresses). Another is that these total principal stresses are linearly related by a general lateral stress ratio k . And a third difference is that k depends on the mechanical behavior of the sediments before failure (e.g., elastic). Note, however, that at the state

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of MC failure k D K f , and Eq. 7 is comparable to Eq. 6a. If there is no pressure, the equations are identical at failure state. Substituting Eq. 7 into the Mohr equations, it is possible to determine the normal and shear stresses along any plane through the slope. These stresses in the x and y directions are dened by the equations: .a x D 1 2 1 .a y D 1 2 1 b cos 2!/ b cos 2!/
1 S .1 2 0 1 S .1 2 0

1969). But at MC failure, k must be equal to K f . In addition, Eq. 11 requires that the term b2 =a 2 sin2 i be greater than or equal to zero. This implies that in our solution, k cannot exceed a maximum value, K max , of: K max D .1 sin i / .1 C sin i / (12)

cos 2!/ cos 2!/

(8a) (8b) (8c)

b sin 2! C 1 S sin 2! xy D 1 2 1 2 0

where ! is the angle between the maximum principal stress .1 / and the y direction, a D .k C 1/ and b D .k 1/. The total-stress equilibrium in the x and y directions is determined by solving for the partial derivatives of Eqs. 8a, 8b and 8c, and then substituting them into the total-stress equilibrium Eqs. 1a and 1b, which yields: x direction:
1 .a 2

Note that in Eq. 12, K max depends only on the slope inclination, and like K f , it is independent of pore pressure. Hence, Eqs. 7 and 11 place theoretical limits on the range of k (i.e., K f k K max ) and in turn on the stability of the slope (Fig. 3). Furthermore, Eq. 11 along with Eq. 5 completely dene the slip-plane orientations for MC failure.

4. Slope stability and slip-plane orientations in an innite slope With the solution for the principal stresses, it is now possible to investigate their magnitude and orientation in an innite slope, as well as the orientations of the slip planes were the slope to undergo MC failure. Three key parameters are used to determine the principal stresses: the slope inclination .i /, the lateral stress ratio .k /, and pore pressure . P /. In this section, we discuss the interplay among these parameters. 4.1. The effect of slope inclination on slip-plane orientation In order to separate the effects of slope inclination and pore pressure on the stress eld in an innite slope, we rst consider a dry, subaerial slope with a friction angle . / of 30. For this case, there is no pore pressure, so the stresses in the slope are total stresses. Because the only effect of cohesion is to offset the magnitudes of the principal stresses by an equal amount, we will simplify matters and assume that the slope sediments are cohesionless. Jaeger and Cook (1979) examined the effect of i on the principal stresses when an innite slope is on the verge of failure (i.e., k D K f /. Here we extend their sensitivity study and include the effect of i on the principal stresses when the slope is at rest and stable (i.e., K f k K max /.

b cos 2!/

@1 @1 C1 D0 b sin 2! 2 @x @y

(9a)

y direction: @1 @1 b sin 2! (9b) C1 D b g 2 @x @y This system of equations can now be solved and integrated to obtain 1 :
1 .a 2

C b cos 2!/

1 D where

2b gd .a .b 2 a 2 /

b cos 2!/

(10) (11)

cos 2! D .a =b/ sin2 i .b2 =a 2

sin i /
2

1=2

cos i

Eq. 10 gives the magnitude of the maximum principal stress while Eq. 11 gives its direction, satisfying the boundary conditions for an innite slope, which require that the stresses be invariant in the x direction (i.e., the horizontal stress balance; Eq. 1a). The minimum principal stress is simply orthogonal to 1 , and its magnitude is determined by using Eq. 7. In general, k can have a range of values depending on the mechanical behavior of the sediments, stress path, and the slope inclination (Lambe and Whitman,

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U.T. Mello, L.F. Pratson / Marine Geology 154 (1999) 339356 Table 1 Solutions for extensional and compressional effective principal stresses in a dry, subaerial innite slope inclined at i D 0 and i D i D 0 k D Kf
E 1 E 2 E 1 E 1

347

iD k D K max / / / / gd gd gd gd k D Kf gd .1 C sin / gd .1 sin / k D K max gd .1 C sin / gd .1 sin /

gd

.1 sin gd .1 C sin .1 C sin gd .1 sin gd

gd .1 C sin / gd .1 sin /

gd .1 C sin / gd .1 sin /

4.1.1. Case 1: i D 0 When the slope is horizontal, i D 0 and Eq. 11 reduces to cos 2! D 1, so ! D 0 or ! D =2. This implies that the direction of 1 can be either vertical, which corresponds to an extensional (active earth pressure) state of stress ( E , or it can be horizontal, which corresponds to a compressional (passive earth pressure) state of stress ( c ). The solutions for the principal stresses in both environments are given in Table 1. In each environment, there are two endmember solutions: k D K f (MC failure state), and k D K max D 1 (isotropic compression). These endmember solutions dene the limits to the possible values for k , and thus the range of stress elds that can exist in the slope at any given inclination. The two solutions in Table 1 indicate that for a horizontal slope, the range is broad depending on the magnitude of the sediment-friction angle. The main difference between the extensional and compressional solutions is in the magnitudes of the principal stresses. In an extensional state, the maximum principal stress is equivalent to the overlying lithostatic stress v , while in a compressional state, it is the minimum principal stress that equals v . The extensional and compressional solutions for the principal stresses in a horizontal slope when k D K f , as well as the slip-plane orientations and motions associated with these stress states are shown in Fig. 3, where i D 0. In an extensional stress state,

the maximum principal stress is vertical and acts to push the dark gray area between the conjugate slip planes below the surrounding slope surface (i.e., normal faulting). In a compressional stress state, the maximum principal stress is horizontal, and acts to push the dark gray area between the conjugate slip planes above the surrounding slope surface (i.e., thrust faulting). In both cases, the direction of the maximum principal stress governs the slip-plane angles. As will be shown later, the principal stress directions are in turn inuenced by the value of k . 4.1.2. Case 2: i D When the slope inclination equals the sedimentfriction angle, Eq. 11 reduces to cos 2! D sin D cos. C =2/. Thus based on Eq. 5, ! D , the critical angle for MC failure. Note that when i D , there is just one solution for the maximum principal stress and for the minimum principal stress regardless of whether the state of stress is extensional or compressional (Table 1). In this situation, the lithostatic stress .v / is equal to the mean of the principal stresses, the principal stresses are oriented at an angle to the slope surface, and the two possible slip-plane directions are parallel to the surface and vertical (Fig. 3, i D D 30/. Upon failure, shearing will occur along one of these slip-plane directions. Normally, this is the direction in which the movement of the failed sediment mass is aided by gravity,

Fig. 3. Stress states and MC slip-plane directions in an innite slope under limiting equilibrium conditions k D K f ) as a function of slope inclination. Shown at each inclination are the relative magnitudes of the principal stresses (dashed line), the stress ellipsoid (ellipse), the synthetic slip plane (solid line), the antithetic slip plane (dotted line), and the relative motion across the slip planes (arrows). Dark gray areas highlight the block between the conjugate slip planes and emphasize the direction in which the slip planes are rotated as inclination is increased. Note the rotation of ellipsoid and change in the magnitude of the principal stresses with increasing slope inclinations.

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and is referred to as the synthetic slip direction. Its conjugate is the antithetic slip direction. Considering that sin 2 D cos , the normal and shear stresses acting on the synthetic slip plane can be determined by using the principal stresses in the Mohr equations Eqs. 4a and 4b. The result is: y 0 D gd cos2 x 0 y 0 D gd sin cos (13a) (13b)

the slope-parallel slip-plane direction assumed in the 1-D analysis is the direction of maximum shear stress in the 2-D analysis. 4.1.3. Case 3:0 < i < As suggested by the results of the previous two cases, the range of stress elds possible in an innite slope is K f k K max which converges toward a single stress eld as the slope inclination is increased from 0 to the sediment-friction angle . This convergence is depicted in Fig. 4, which shows that while K f is independent of slope inclination, K max is not. With increasing inclination, K max is reduced from a maximum value of one at i D 0 to a minimum value of K f when i D , whereupon the slope fails (Fig. 4). Although K max represents a theoretical limit to the maximum value of k , at certain inclinations this limit

Note that these are the same equations for the normal and shear stresses used in 1-D innite-slope analysis (Fig. 1, Eqs. 2 and 3). Thus, in a dry, subaerial slope, the stress solutions given by 1-D and 2-D innite-slope analysis are identical for the special case of when the slope inclination equals the sediment-friction angle. This happens because

Fig. 4. Effect of slope inclination on the possible stress states in an innite slope having a friction angle ( ) of 30. Theoretically possible stress states lie between Kf < k < Kmax . These states can be further constrained for normally compacted sediments using an empirical measure for k at rest, such as K0 .

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is not representative of the mechanical behavior of sediments at rest (e.g., when i D 0, K max D 1/ and an empirical constraint should be placed on the maximum value of k . An example of such a constraint is Jakys equation (Lambe and Whitman, 1969), which is commonly used to estimate the value of k at rest in normally compacted sediments, K 0 : K0 D 1 sin (14)

into the 2-D analysis by modifying Eqs. 10 and 7 such that they become: 1 D
0 0

2b gd .a .b 2 a 2 /
S0 /

b cos 2!/

Pd

(15a) (15b)

2 D .k 1

Pd

Thus, Jakys equation can be used to impose an additional constraint on the range of stress elds possible in an innite slope (Fig. 3). Regardless of the value of k , the stress eld and the slip-plane directions rotate as slope inclination increases. Fig. 3 shows the general pattern with increasing slope steepness, the principal stresses rotate from being parallel and perpendicular to the slope surface to being at an angle to the surface. Correspondingly, the slip planes rotate from being at an angle to the slope surface to paralleling it and being vertical. In an extensional environment, the rotation is counterclockwise, while in a compressional environment it is clockwise. Furthermore, at limiting equilibrium with increasing slope inclination, the stresses needed to cause failure along the extensional slip plane increase, while those needed to cause failure along the compressional slip plane decrease. This is indicated in Fig. 3 by the change in the size of the stress ellipsoids (the ellipses bounding the principal stresses) at the different slope inclinations. Note, however, that at all inclinations up to that of the friction angle, the stresses needed to cause failure along the compressional slip plane are greater than those needed to cause failure along the extensional slip plane. In other words, it is generally harder to cause MC failure along the compressional slip plane than along the extensional slip plane. 4.2. The effect of pore pressure Pore pressure partially supports the total principal stresses in a slope, which are normal stresses. Hence, pore pressure reduces the effective principal stresses acting on the grains of the sediment framework. For a given k , the directions of the total principal stresses and slip planes are constant, and are unaffected by pore pressure. Constant pore pressure can be factored

where Pd is the pore pressure at a depth d below the slope surface minus the hydrostatic pore pressure above the slope surface, if the slope is submerged. This is reected in the Mohr diagram as a shift of the Mohr stress circle left toward the MC failure envelope. As a result, with increasing pore pressure, MC failure can be triggered at lower effective stresses. Despite the inclusion of pore pressure, several important relationships governing the state of stress in an innite slope remain unchanged including the relationship for K f (Eq. 6b), K max (Eq. 12), and the angle of the slip planes at failure given by (Eq. 5). Consequently, the directions of the principal stresses and slip planes vary with slope inclination in a similar manner to that shown in Fig. 3, whether the slope is dry, overpressured, subaerial or submarine.

5. Discussion 5.1. The coupling between extensional and compressional states of stress The analytical 2-D innite-slope analysis does not allow for the state of stress to change along the slope. However, through the results arrived at above, the analysis can be used as a framework for understanding the basic mechanics of submarine slope failures characterized by extensional failure along a relatively steep headwall grading into compressional failure along a low-angle basal plane (Fig. 2C). Fig. 5A illustrates that this same combination of failure motions can be obtained when the extensional and compressional solutions for the synthetic slip plane are coupled. By contrast, when the antithetic slip planes are coupled (Fig. 5B), the failure motion is in an uphill direction which is opposite that observed (compare to Fig. 2C). While extensional and compressional stress states cannot exist at the same point in a slope, they will

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Fig. 5. The composite slip surfaces that would result when the compressional and extensional synthetic slip planes for a given slope inclination are combined. Solid lines are the slip planes along which MC failure would occur in an innite slope. Arrows indicate the direction of motion along the slip planes. Upslope stress ellipsoid represents the stress state along the extensional slip plane. Downslope stress ellipsoid represents the stress state along the compressional slip plane. Dotted lines approximate the change in direction of the maximum principal stress needed to go from an extensional-stress state in the upper slope to a compressional stress state in the lower slope. This direction change also would cause a change in the slip-plane direction leading to a composite slip surface that is listric-shaped, approximated by the gray curves.

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exist at different points within the slope. Generally, the upper part of a slope tends to be in a state of extension due to the downhill pull of gravity (Fig. 5A). The lower part of the slope, on the other hand, tends to be under compression due to the weight of the sediments above. As shown in Fig. 3, the stresses needed to cause extensional failure tend to be much less than those needed to cause compressional failure. This implies that slope failure will occur only when the shear stress along the compressional slip plane in the lower slope is great enough to overcome the sediment shear strength in this direction. If it is, failure along this plane will remove the support holding the sediments farther up slope in place, signicantly reducing the stress in these sediments and causing them to fail also, but along the extensional slip plane. Given that the upper part of a slope tends to be in extension and the lower part under compression, there must be a rotation of the stress eld within the slope. As this stress eld rotates, the slip planes rotate as well, which produces a composite, listricshaped slip surface (Fig. 5A,D) like those assumed in the 2-D log-spiral and -circle slope stability methods. Note, however, that as slope inclination increases, the directions of the extensional and compressional synthetic slip planes converge toward a single slip plane that parallels the slope surface (Fig. 5C). Thus, our analysis suggests that with increasing inclination, the listric shape of the failure surface becomes more planar. Another effect of slope inclination is that as it is increased, the compressional slip-plane direction rotates such that it eventually becomes oriented downslope (e.g., Fig. 3, i D 2030). The signicance of this is that if the sediments fail along the compressional slip plane, the overlying sediments will move downslope abetted by gravity. Based on Fig. 3, we suggest that this occurs when the slope inclination is 2=3 of the friction angle. This would be 13 for marine sediments, which have friction angles between 20 and 45 (Hampton et al., 1996). At inclinations <2=3 of the friction angle, the compressional slip plane is oriented such that upon failure, the overlying sediments must be moved uphill against gravity (Fig. 3, i D 015). This type of failure motion can occur in rotational slides or slumps when the weight of the upslope portion of the failed sediments drives the lower portion of the

failed sediments up the basal failure surface. However, it is not characteristic of translational slides and mass ows (e.g., Fig. 2B) in which the basal failure surface is oriented downslope. And because numerous examples of translational slides and mass ows have been documented on submarine slopes dipping 2, there must be additional factors inuencing the Failure surface directions in these events. 5.2. The potential role of pore pressure in causing slope failure at low inclinations One such additional inuence on failure-plane direction may be pore pressure. As noted above, pore pressure reduces the effective stresses needed to cause MC failure, which is reected in the Mohr diagram as a shift in the stress circle left toward the failure envelope. When pore pressure is high enough that the Mohr circle touches the failure envelope, MC failure occurs. Generally not contemplated is what happens when MC failure does not result in signicant movement of the overlying sediments along the MC failure plane. This is a distinct possibility, if the failure plane dips steeply in a direction opposite to the dip of the slope surface as in Fig. 5D. If pore pressure continues to increase in these sediments, then in the limit, the sediments will hydrofracture. But we suggest that between the pore pressure needed to cause MC failure and the pore pressure needed to cause hydrofracturing, there are intermediate pore pressures that could allow for Coulomb failure along a range of plane directions, including planes that are oriented downslope. We rst present a conceptual explanation of how this may occur. Consider the innite slope in Fig. 5D, which is inclined at 2. If pore pressure in this slope is gradually increased, the effective stresses will eventually drop to the point that MC failure could occur along the extensional slip-plane direction. As discussed above, for the material bounded between the extensional and compressional slip-plane directions to be mobilized as a mass movement, failure also would have to occur along the compressional slip-plane direction. At a given pore pressure, MC failure in this direction requires higher stresses. But these critical stresses are reduced if pore pressure is increased even further.

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Now assume that pore pressure is high enough and the effective stresses are low enough that M C failure can occur along the compressional slipplane direction. The compressional slip plane dips at a relatively steep angle (27 with respect to the horizontal) that is opposite to the dip of the slope surface (Fig. 5D). For all the sediments between the extensional and compressional slip planes to be displaced downslope as a slide or mass ow, some additional force would be required to push the failed sediments up the compressional slip plane against gravity. Without this additional force, the sediments would largely remain in place even though the slope has failed. Finally, assume that pore pressure is increased even further. In other words, the Mohr circle for the compressional environment is forced farther left in the Mohr diagram such that it partially crosses the MC failure envelope. In this instance, the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) is satised or exceeded not along the MC slip plane, but along a range of other potential failure planes. This effect of pore pressure on potential failure-plane direction is analogous to the effect that pre-existing fractures have on failure planes (see Suppe, 1985, p. 162). Furthermore, in a low-angle slope, these additional potential failureplane directions are less steep than the slip-plane angle along which MC failure would occur. And if pore pressure is high enough, the range may include plane directions that are at the same angle as the slope surface, as is assumed in 1-D innite-slope analysis. 5.3. A demonstration of the relation between pore pressure and slip-plane angle We now illustrate the effect of pore pressure on arbitrary plane angles along which the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) is met, beginning with a simple example for which the result is easily veried. Consider once again the end-member of a horizontal innite slope (Fig. 6A). Assume that this slope is composed of dry, cohesionless sediments having a friction angle of D 30, and that the slope is on the verge of failure. For this to be the case, forces other than just gravity would need to be acting on the slope. However, the nature of these forces is not important here, because this example is simply
Fig. 6. Extensional stress state: Change in the plane direction for a horizontal innite slope along which the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) is satised, as pore pressure is increased from zero ( D 0) to lithostatic ( D 1). (A) Example plane inclinations are measured clockwise in degrees with respect to the horizontal. (B) Curves of pore pressure () required to induce failure as a function of lateral stress ratio (k) and slip-plane inclinations in horizontal slope. (C) Similar curves for a slope inclined 16. Note in (C) that a minimum is required is at the MC slip planes. Also note in (C) that regardless of the value of k, all curves intersect at a failure-plane angle of 16 (the slope inclination) and a of 0.46, which are the inclination and predicted by 1-D innite-slope analysis. This same result also occurs in (A).

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being used to demonstrate the potential inuence of pore pressure on failure plane direction. If the slope is at the state of MC failure, then the principal stresses in the slope are related by k D K f D 1=3 and 2 D 1=31 . Furthermore, using Table 1, the extensional solution for these principal stresses in a horizontal slope is 1 D v , so 2 D 1=3v . Because the slope is already at a state of M C failure, no pore pressure is needed to bring this about. However, the result can be veried by using the principal stresses along with D =4 C =2 D 60 in the Mohr equations (Eq. 5). These yield the normal and shear stresses along the #1 slip plane shown in Fig. 6A, where i D 0. Placing these stresses in the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) then gives the pore pressure needed to actually cause failure along this plane. Representing Pd in terms of the dimensionless pore pressure ratio , where D Pd =v , (Eq. 3) becomes 0 D .1 / , and the MC failure criterion reduces to: 1 cos D 1 v tan 3 2 v Solving this equation for leads to the expected result of D 0. This same approach can be used to determine the pore pressure required to induce failure along a horizontal plane, as assumed in 1-D innite-slope analysis. In this case, the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) becomes 0 D .v v / tan . Thus D 1, meaning pore pressure must be lithostatic in order to induce failure along the horizontal plane (#3 in Fig. 6A). Note that this is the same result provided by 1-D innite-slope analysis mentioned in Section 2.5. Based on the pore pressures needed to cause failure along the two plane directions considered for the case above, it can be anticipated that the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) will be satised along plane angles between 60 and 0 with respect to the horizontal when pore pressure is between zero . D 0/ and lithostatic . D 1/. For a general case, the required to induce failure can be obtained directly from the Coulomb failure criterion Eq. 3: D n v .j j S0 / v tan (16)

The exact relationship between pore pressure and an arbitrary plane along which the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) is satised in a horizontal innite

slope (with k D K f D 1=3/ is given by the curve in Fig. 6B. This relationship was obtained using our 2-D innite-slope analysis as outlined in Table 2. Fig. 6A shows examples of the slip-plane directions given by this relationship, when D 0, 0.5 and 1 (planes 1, 2 and 3, respectively). Also shown in Fig. 6B are the relationships between pore pressure and the slip-plane directions that satisfy Eq. 3 in a horizontal innite slope when k D 0:4 and 0.5. Note that these values of k , which as indicated in Eq. 7 are assumed to be independent of pore pressure, are greater than K f (the latter corresponding to K 0 /, and hence, the initial stress conditions are not limiting equilibrium conditions. Each of these curves can be used to estimate the pore pressure needed to cause Coulomb failure along an arbitrary plane through the slope. For example, in a horizontal slope for which k D K 0 D 1=2, failure is possible along a plane inclined 60 from the horizontal when D 1=4. Note that , and therefore, pore pressure is always a minimum at the plane inclination given by the direction of the maximum principal stress and in Eq. 5 (i.e., the plane direction along which MC failure would occur). This minimum implies that a horizontal slope could fail along an inclined-plane angle long before pore pressure reaches lithostatic pressure in a horizontal slope. As shown in Fig. 3, the potential failure-plane angle is also inuenced by slope inclination, and its effect when combined with pore pressure can be seen by comparing Fig. 6B with Fig. 6C. The latter gure shows the relationship between pore pressure and the plane direction that satises (Eq. 3) for an innite slope inclined at 16, with a friction angle D 30. As in Fig. 6B, the relationship is presented for three values of k : 0.33 . K f /, 0.4 and 0.5 . K 0 /. Again, pore pressure is always a minimum at the slip-plane inclination along which MC failure would rst occur, which in this case is 30 from the direction of the 1 . However, also note that all three relationships cross to yield the same at a plane angle of 16, which is not only the slope inclination, but also the failure-plane direction assumed in 1-D innite-slope analysis. Furthermore, the pore pressure represented by this value of is the same that is obtained when applying 1-D innite-slope analysis to this case. Thus the 1-D innite-slope solution is a subset of the 2-D slope

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Table 2 Method for estimating principal stresses, slip-plane orientations, and dimensionless pore pressure ratio involved in failing an innite slope Step: 1 2 3 4 5 Use: i, ! 1, k 1, 2, , , n In equation(s): Eq. 12 (C D extension; Eq. 11 Eqs. 8a, 8b and 8c Eqs. 6a, 6b and 6c Eq. 3 and Eq. 16 D compression) To determine: Direction of 1 Magnitude of 1 Magnitude of 2 and n along slip-plane direction

=2

solution obtained by applying the approach outlined in Table 2. This is seen also in Fig. 6B, where the relationships converge on a lithostatic pore pressure when the slope inclination is 0. 5.4. Application to Humboldt Slide and Cape Fear mudow The preceding examples demonstrating the relationship between pore pressure and the plane direction along which the Coulomb failure criterion is satised correspond to the 2-D extensional solution for the principal stresses (Table 2). However, because the potential for MC failure appears to hinge on the magnitude of the stresses acting along the compressional slip-plane direction, we now consider the compressional solution for the principal stresses. Furthermore, we consider the case of an innite slope with a low inclination of 2, which approximates the regional sea-oor slope in the vicinity of the Humboldt Slide (Fig. 2A) and the Cape Fear mudow (Fig. 2B). Applying the same analysis as before but for compression (Table 2), the slip-plane inclination along which Coulomb failure criterion is rst satised (i.e., along which MC failure will occur) is 27 counterclockwise with respect to the horizontal. For k ranging from 1=3 to 1=2 . K f to K 0 /, varies from 0 to 0.49 at this slip-plane angle. However, at sufciently higher values of (0.820.9), a range of plane angles (along which Coulomb failure could occur) becomes possible in the compressional environment and they are oriented downslope. Given that the basal slip surfaces for both the Humboldt Slide (Fig. 2A) and Cape Fear mudow (Fig. 2B) are both oriented downslope but at a lower angle than the sea oor, this range (between plane angles of 0 and 2; lines 2 and 3, respectively, in Fig. 7) is of

particular interest. In order to fail along the 2 plane (line 3 in Fig. 7), must reach a near-lithostatic value of 0.940.96, which is the same value obtained using 1-D innite-slope analysis. More interesting is the 0 plane (line 2 in Fig. 7), which is horizontal. Failure could occur along plane angles slightly steeper than this, when exceeds lesser values of 0.820.9. And once failure occurs, movement of the failed sediments along the planes would be aided by gravity rather than working against it. 5.5. Model for slope-failure mechanics With the additional effect of pore pressure on slipplane direction, we can now develop a hypothesis for the relationship between MC failure and frictional sliding due to gravity in mass movements. In a low-angle slope, relatively high compressive stresses are needed to cause MC failure. Even if these compressive stresses are reached, signicant mass movement may not be triggered because MC failure will occur along a slip plane that is at a relatively high angle in the reverse direction to the slope surface (Fig. 7B). Without a continuing force acting to move the failed sediments uphill along this slip plane, the sediment mass will essentially remain in place. However, if pore pressure is increased, then the chances the failed sediments will move as a slide or mass ow down the slope begin to increase as well. This is because pore pressure not only reduces the shear resistance of the sediments to failure, but it may open the possibility for Coulomb failure along a range of plane directions (Figs. 6 and 7). If pore pressure becomes high enough, this range will include potential failure plane directions that are oriented downslope, signicantly enhancing the chances for mass movement. If failure does occur

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A.

1.0 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.0
1 1-D Infinite Slope Analysis Solution 2 3

= 30 i = 2 compressional environment

k = 0.5

k = 0.4

k = 0.33
-25 -20 -15 -10 slip plane inclination () clockwise from horizontal -5 0

B.

3 2

Vertical Exaggeration 1:1

Extension along Headwall Failure Plane

C.
2

Compression at Failure Front Frictional Sliding along Basal Failure Plane

Vertical Exaggeration 5:1

Fig. 7. Compressional stress state: Effect of pore pressure on the orientation of the plane direction satisfying the Coulomb failure criterion (Eq. 3) in an innite slope inclined at 2. (A) Pore pressure () as a function of lateral stress ratio (k) and plane inclinations. (B) Orientations of the compressional slip planes corresponding to values at points (1), (2) and (3) in A. (C) Schematic of how slope failure could initiate along the horizontal plane (2). Compare with Fig. 2C. Plane inclination is measured counterclockwise in degrees with respect to the horizontal. Again, note that all the curves intersect at the slope inclination and predicted by 1-D innite-slope analysis.

along one of these planes, then the failed sediment mass can continue sliding downslope after the initial failure simply due to its weight.

At the point that mass movement is initiated, the front of the failed sediment mass will be thrust from behind toward and onto the sea oor (Fig. 7C).

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At the same time, the movement will reduce the stresses towards the rear of the sediment mass creating conditions for extensional failure to occur farther upslope (Fig. 7C). As in the compressional environment, a range of extensional failure-plane directions becomes possible when pore pressure is greater than that necessary to cause MC failure. But unlike the compressional-plane directions, all the extensionalplane directions are oriented downslope at a steeper angle than the sea oor. Thus, Coulomb failure along any of these planes will be abetted by gravity, including the MC failure slip plane (Fig. 3). Regardless of the plane angle along which extensional failure occurs, the mass movement as a whole will be characterized by compressional failure along a low-angle basal shear plane that intersects the sea oor, and extensional failure farther upslope along a relatively high-angle headwall (Fig. 7C). This is the same basic failure geometry observed for slides and mass ows in Fig. 2C.

Acknowledgements This study was made possible by funding from the Ofce of Naval Research for L. Pratson (ONR Grant No. N00014-97-1-0016). Special thanks are extended to J. Kravitz for supporting this work as part of STRATAFORM, and to C. Nittrouer for his encouragement and detailed review of the manuscript. The manuscript also beneted from the comments of G. Parker, S. Martel, E. Hutton, H. Lee and two anonymous reviewers.

References
Delinger, R.P., Iverson, R.M., 1991. Limiting equilibrium and liquefaction potential in innite submarine slopes. Mar. Geotechnol. 9, 299312. Domenico, P.A., Schwartz, F.W., 1990. Physical and Chemical Hydrogeology. Wiley, New York, 824 pp. Gardner, J.V., Prior, D.B., Field, M.E., 1999. Humboldt Slide a large shear-dominated retrogressive slope failure. Mar. Geol. 154, 323338. Hampton, M.A., Lee, H.J., Locat, J., 1996. Submarine slides. Rev. Geophys. 34, 3359. Jaeger, J.C., Cook, N.G.W., 1979. Fundamentals of Rock Mechanics (3rd ed.). Methuen, London, 593 pp. Lambe, T.W., Whitman, R.V., 1969. Soil Mechanics. Wiley, New York, 553 pp. Mello, U.T., Pratson, L.F., 1998. Regional slope stability and slope-failure mechanics from the two-dimensional state of stress in an innite slope: mathematical formulation. IBM Research Report RC. Orange, D.L., Breen, N.A., 1992. The effects of uid escape on accretionary wedges, 2. Seepage force, slope failure, headless submarine canyons, and vents. J. Geophys. Res. 97, 9277 9295. Popenoe, P., Schmuck, E.A., Dillon, W.P., 1993. The Cape Fear landslide: slope failure associated with salt diapirism and gas hydrate decomposition. In: Schwab, W.C., Lee, H.J., Twichell, D.C. (Eds.), Submarine Landslides: Selected Studies in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. U.S. Geol. Surv. Bull. 2002, 4053. Pratson, L.F., Lee, H., Parker, G., Garcia, M., Coakley, B.J., Mohrig, D., Locat, J., Mello, U., Parsons, J., Choi, S.-U., Israel, K., 1996. Studies of mass movements on continental slopes. Oceanography 9, 168172. Prior, D.B., Suhayda, J.N., 1979. Application of innite slope analysis to subaqueous sediment instability, Mississippi Delta. Eng. Geol. 14, 110. Suppe, J., 1985. Principals of Structural Geology. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 537 pp. Terzaghi, K., Peck, R.B., 1967. Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice. Wiley, New York, 425 pp.

6. Conclusions Based on our 2-D innite-slope analysis, the compressional state of stress in the lower part of a slope appears to dictate whether or not signicant mass movement will occur. If the compressive stresses in this part of the slope are great enough to initiate failure, then extensional failure can also ensue farther up the slope. Our analysis also suggests that if pore pressure becomes sufciently high in a slope, a range of plane angles along which Coulomb failure could occur become possible. If the pore pressure is high enough, these will include planes that are oriented downslope, but at a lower angle than the slope surface. This pore pressure can be less than that needed to cause failure along a plane that parallels the slope surface, as assumed in 1-D innite-slope analysis. This implies that previous investigations of regional submarine slope stability that have used 1-D inniteslope analysis (Prior and Suhayda, 1979; Delinger and Iverson, 1991; Orange and Breen, 1992) may have overestimated the pore pressures that could cause slope failure.