The effect of discontinuity

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The effect of discontinuity

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227-236, 1983

0148-9062/8353.00 + 0.00

Copyright ( 1983 Pergamon Press Lid

on Rock Slope Stability

H.

D.

G.

K.

H. EINSTEIN*

VENEZIANO*

B. B A E C H E R t

J. O'REILLY$

Discontinuity persistence has a major effect on rock mass resistance (strength)

but, as direct mapping of discontinuities internal to a rock mass is not possible,

persistence is a difficult parameter to measure. As a result, the conservative

approach of assuming full persistence is often taken. In this paper a method

is developed for relating rock mass stability and hence persistence to the

geometry and spatial variability of discontinuities. The method is applied to

slope stability calculations in which the probability of failure is related to

discontinuity data, as obtained in joint surveys. The complete method makes

use of dynamic programming and simulation, but a closed form e,vpression

satisfactory for most purposes is also presented.

INTRODUCTION

Discontinuity (hereafter referred to as joint) persistence

is among the parameters most significantly affecting rock

mass strength, and is a problematic one. While relatively

small bridges of intact rock between otherwise continouous joints substantially increase strength, the mapping of each joint is impossible on a practical basis. An

attractive alternative to separately considering specific

joints is offered by statistical techniques for sampling

and describing the geometry of discontinuities.

These techniques are at an early stage of development,

but offer a significant advancement of the state of the art:

they characterize persistence as a random variable and,

in conjunction with a mechanical model of rock failure,

produce the probability distribution of rock mass

strength.

A method is developed here for rock-slope reliability

analysis based on a probabilistic characterization of the

joint system. In doing so, it is found convenient to

modify the traditional definition of rock persistence by

accounting for the uncertain failure path. Preceding

work is briefly described, and is followed by a description of the present method.

defined as the fraction of area that is actually discontinuous. One can therefore express K as the limit

K=

Y~ aoi

i

is the area of the i th joint in D (Fig. 1). The summation

in equation (1) is over all joints in D. Equivalently, joint

persistence can be expressed as a limit length ratio along

a given line on a joint plane. In this case,

K = lim-

AD

AD

AREA OF JOINT PLANE

at: Department of Civil Engineering, Massachussetts Institute of

Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, U.S.A.

227

(2a)

E,, is the length of the i th joint segment in S; or for a

particular joint (Fig. 2),

P E R S I S T E N C E AND A S S O C I A T E D

PROBLEMS

rock mass that contains a patchwork of discontinuities

and intact-rock regions), joint persistence K is usually

(i)

lim

]~ODI ,~ Jointed Area

AD-~m A D

Total Area

228

/~-'f

rock bridge

(RBR)

N-ECHELON

~:JL+ ZRBR

friction and cohesion parameters, are given by

ZJL

K - ZJL + ERBR"

(2b)

intensity I, defined as the area of joints per unit rock

volume,

a i

i

I = lim - V,~

(3)

volume V.

Joint persistence can be used to estimate the strength

of a rock mass against sliding along a given plane: if the

plane of sliding has area A, then shearing resistance can

be adequately expressed as

Rr = (tr~ tan ~b~+ cr)A,

(4)

Rj = (a, tan 4~j+ cj)A,

(5)

friction angles of intact rock and the joint respectively,

c~ and cj, the intact rock- and joint-cohesion. In both

cases, a, is the average normal stress across the region

of sliding. If the sliding region is partitioned into an

intact-rock portion of area A~ and a jointed portion of

area Aj = A - A~ (Fig. 3), then following Jennings [5] one

can evaluate the shear resistance to sliding, R, as a

weighted combination of R~ and Rj according to the

expression

A~

FAILURE

Aj

R = ~ - Rr + ~- Rj

= (tr~ tan q~, + c.)A,

(6)

c a = ( l - K) cr + Kcj,

tan Oa = (1 - K) tan 4). + K tan ~bj.

(7)

jointed rock masses has several shortcomings:

(1) Failure surfaces are restricted to .joint planes. Enechelon failures (Fig. 4), common in the field, are

neglected.

(2) Shear failure does not typically occurjbr the usually

low values ofaa. For example, for slopes of 30 m (100 ft)

height, tr~ is about 0.7MPa (100psi), whereas cr is

typically ten to hundred of MPa. If tr, is negligible, then

the major principal stress must exceed cr for shear failure

to occur (Fig. 5). This is unrealistic, as Lajtai [6] and

Stimpson [9] have pointed out. Also, peak shear resistance in the intact rock and on the joint probably are

not mobilized simultaneously.

(3) Small variations of persistence produce large variations of resistance. Therefore, even modest uncertainty

about persistence forces the designer to the conservative

assumption of 100% persistence.

To surmount these difficulties a new definition of persistence is required.

NEW CONCEPT OF PERSISTENCE

Any planar or non-planar surface (or "path") through

intact rock and joints in a rock mass (Fig. 4) constitutes

a potential failure surface (failure path) with associated

driving force L and resisting force R. For a given

configuration of the joint system and a given set of

strength parameters, there is a path of minimum safety

or "critical path" (Fig. 6). The critical path for a

particular joint configuration is that combination of

joint and intact-rock portions having the minimum

safety margin SM = R - L. If the SM for this path is

negative, the rock mass fails; otherwise it resists. Thus,

a critical path may or may not be a failure path. The

probability of failure Pf of a randomly-jointed rock mass

can be expressed as the limit of relative frequency of

failure across the spectrum of joint configurations,

P f = lira Nf

];o i

Aj

Fig. 3. Jennings"relations.

Aj

not failing) and Nf is the number of critical paths for

EINSTEIN et al.:

229

Or

1"

Fig. 5, Mohr's circle at failure predicted by Jennings' relations at low stress levels.

(8) suggests a way to estimate Pf: using statistical

information on joint length and spacing distributions

one can simulate a number of networks of joints such as

that in Fig. 7 and then determine the SM for all possible

paths in each network or configuration. The critical path

for a configuration of the type in Fig. 7 is obtained by

identifying the path of minimum SM among all or

among a reasonable number of in-plane and en-echelon

paths. In some configurations the critical path will be a

failure path (SM ~< l) while in others it will not be

represents various ways that joint populations with the

same spacing and length characterization may manifest,

and at the same time produces the parametrs N and Nf

for use in equation (8). In any one realization the SM for

the critical path can be used to calculate an apparent

persistence, and thus one obtains a relation between

resistance and apparent persistence for a rock mass

characterized by joint length and spacing distributions.

To date, these principles have been applied to 2-D

slope stability models in which the pattern of jointing,

and strength coefficients, are assumed similar for all

cross-sections: 3-D extensions for slope and tunnel applications have been limited [7].

Call and Nicholas [l] and Giynn [3] have developed

methods of 2-D slope stability analysis that use statistical information on jointing and that allow for both

in-plane and en-echeion failures. The model of Call and

Nicholas considers two random joint sets. Given distributions of joint length and separation and of spacing

J/

~~-I~

,,Critical oath

-S/

Fig. 6. Critical paths for different joint configurations.

Fig. 7. Joint configuration and its critical path in a portion of the rock

mass.

230

EINSTEIN et al.:

path

angle

/Step = a

"

% Tensile

Failure

= "~- I00

RANDOM VARIABLES

Length

Dip

Spacing

//;/

along the path and implicitly on configuration. Repeated

simulation of the joint pattern yields in a distribution of

K, to be used in a probabilistic version of Jennings'

approach. The result is probability of slope failure.

Both previous models consider stochastic jointing and

failures occuring in plane or an echelon. Results are

expressed as probability distributions. The limitations of

these models are that they (1) apply to a specific rock

mass geometry and (2) use unsatisfactory, mechanical

models (i.e. shearing is ignored or unrealistically treated)

[7,2].

Cross Joint Set

Overlap

critical

"step-paths"

as

shown

in

Fig. 8. Specifically, for each simulated realization of the

joint network, "exit points" are identified (i.e. intersections of the shallow joint planes with the slope face),

and the critical step-path through each exit point is New probabilistic persistence modeI--SLOPESIM

SLOPESIM is a computer code for the analysis of

found. Critical paths are obtained by alternately following jointed segments, which fail in shear, and tensile rock slopes that contain one set of parallel joints (Fig.

fractures through the intact rock between joint planes. 9). SLOPESIM use Monte Carlo simulation to generate

Shear failure of intact rock bridges between joints is joint patterns ("realizations") in accordance with given

considered improbable except for extremely short probability distributions of joint length and plane spacbridges (<6cm). Faced with a choice among paths ing (corresponding to the statistical information on joint

through intact rock, the model chooses that with lowest length and spacing taken in surveys). For each exit point

angle. Through simulation of the jointing pattern, the the algorithm finds the path of minimum SM. Critical

model calculates the distribution of average step-path paths may be planar or may involve transitions to

angle and fraction of path containing jointed segments, overlying joint planes. The distribution of SM and in

the latter taken as a measure of persistence. These particular the probability of unstable paths (SM < 0)

distributions are conditioned on slope geometry, depend on the elevation of the exit joint. SLOPESIM

estimates the distribution and probability by grouping

strength parameters, and spacing.

Glynn's [2,3] JOINTSIM model generates joint net- exit points according to elevation intervals (Fig. 10). For

works with exponential distributions of spacing and example, the probability of unstable paths for the i th

length. The strength of intact rock bridges, in plane or elevation interval is calculated as:

en echelon, is determined by superimposing a negative

increment of horizontal stresses AaH and a positive

Pf, = ~ / ,

(10)

increment of shear stress Ar on the initial state of stress,

such that failure is caused. Using this calculated strength

of rock bridges and the resistance of the jointed segCritical paths

ments, the critical path for a given joint pattern is

calculated. "Apparent persistence" KS is defined as the

value of K along a joint plane that would have the same

resistance as the failure path,

Rr- R

K, - - Rr- Rj'

(9)

where

R=

Rj =

R~ =

Rr =

resistance

resistance

resistance

resistance

of failure path,

of joint plane if 100Yo persistence,

along joint path, if intact rock only.

along joint path, if intact rock only.

.:,

afiai0gy of shear resistance of intact rock bridges to

resistance in direct shear tests. At least for short intact

rock bridges, this analogy is justified by the assumption

of rigid body motion of the overlying unstable wedge in

the direction of jointing. In direct shear tests, the resistance of intact rock can be mobilized in one of two

ways:

~,% P'~M,

I /

pf, _ Nr~

Ni,

(10)

(critical paths) in the ith elevation interval and Nf, is the

number of such exit joints associated with unstable

critical paths (i.e. failure paths). The identification of the

critical path through each exit point is performed

through a dynamic programming method: the algorithm

starts with the exit points on the top of the slope and

progresses backwards towards the exit points on the face

of the slope. During this backwards progression, the

algorithm considers all the physically realizable paths

through a discrete set of points, including the end points

of each joint. For more details on this procedure, see [3].

An important feature of SLOPESIM is the realistic

modeling of failure mechanisms. Driving and resisting

force calculations are based on the method of slices

which is common to many deterministic slope stability

methods (the method as applied here is simplified by

neglecting interslice forces). The principle is illustrated in

simplified form in Fig. 11: the slope overlying the failure

path is partitioned into a series of vertical slices,

bounded at their bottom end by joints or intact rock.

The total driving force L and the total resistance R are

calculated by summing slice contributions, i.e.

L = E W, sin ~,

R = ~ R~,

231

At relatively low stress levels (tra small), the application of shear stress in the direction of movement leads

to a minimum principal stress (r3 equal to the tensile

strength of intact rock. Hence in this case, failure

occurs by tensile fractures that develop at high angles

to the direction of sliding (Fig. 12a). Simultaneously

with the appearance of these fractures, peak shear

resistance za in the sliding direction is attained. Thereafter, shearing at residual stress values takes place in

the direction of sliding.

At higher normal stress levels, the minimum principal

stress does not exceed the tensile strength and failure

occurs when ra equals the shear resistance defined by

the Coulomb failure criterion. In this case, shear

fractures develop in the sliding direction at the time

when the applied shear stress is maximum (see Fig.

12b).

The two modes can be visualized by use of Mohr's

circle. In a direct sheart test, the center of Mohr's circle

remains at all times at trJ2 as the shear stress varies from

zero to the value at failure. For small (r~ (Fig. 13),

Mohr's circle becomes tangent to the failure envelope at

a = - T s , ~ = 0 and thus failure occurs in tension (Mode

1). For larger O'a, the center of Mohr's circle lies more to

the right and the point of first tangency is located on the

linear portion of the envelope. Thus, as shown in Fig. 14,

this mode of failure (mode 2) corresponds to shear

failure in the traditional formulation as used by Jennings

[5]. Both types of failure can occur, but Mode 2 probably

only in high slopes with weak intact rock. Thus, Mode

2 is neglected in the following discussion.

Failures may be in plane or out of plane (en echelon).

During in-plane failure, tension cracks develop first,

%

TO..._ ~

~- Primory tension

i l l / / ] ~ frocture (high ongle)

p t - - / - ~ - F - i i'--seon~..y ,o...ok.)

[/----,

j ir

shear frocture

o) FAILURE IN TENSION

(l I)

i th slice, and R~ is the peak shear force mobilized by the

portion of path underlying that slice. The ith portion of

the path may be jointed, in which case Ri can be

calculated through equation (5), or it may consist of

intact rock. In the latter case R~ is best calculated using

rock resistance criteria in Lajtai [6] and Einstein et al. [2].

%

~ . ~ L o w

I

J~

b) FAILURE IN SHEAR

232

EINSTEIN et al.:

Pointof

IN-PLANEFAILUREOFINTACTROCKPRIMARYTENSIONFRACTURES

@(et)TOJOINTPLANE

/~

The angle of the tension cracks 0t, can be obtained.from

Mohr's circle. The same mechanism applies to out-ofplane failures with low-angle transitions [with

(fl ~t) < 0,, see Fig. 16], whereas for high angle transitions a continuous tension crack occurs directly between

joints, without secondary shear fractures (Fig. 17).

Therefore, Mode 1 failures with initial tension fractures

encompass the entire range of geometrical conditions in

slopes with a single joint set, including in-plane as well

as low- and high-angle out-of-plane transitions.

In summary, intact-rock resistance R can be calculated as follows: For in-plane or low-angle out-of-plane

transitions (fl < 0, + ~),

shear fracture

the joint plane.

R = r,d,

(12)

define the bridge (Fig. 17) and Ts is the intact rock tensile

strength. The contributions to resistance from intact

rock bridges and from joint segments are added to

obtain the total resisting force associated with a given

path.

The driving force associated with the same path is

assumed to be due solely to the overburden weight; it is

therefore calculated as the sum of the driving force

contributions Li from each slice above a path segment

(Fig. I 1). If ~t denotes the angle of sliding (joint angle)

and W~ is the weight of the i 'h slice, then

(Fig. 16) and z, is the peak shear stress mobilized in the

L,= W, sin ~t

(15)

direction of jointing. In terms of the intact cohesion c~

The SM of a given path can thus be calculated. (The

and the ratio c = z,/c, the peak shear stress is

effect of cleft water pressure has not been included in the

r, = ~

+ I.

(13)

For high angle transition (/~ >1 O, + ~),

R = T~X,

cro

(]4)

~,tJ

Pointof

1.--Yl-

o\',,I

Tensile

~---'lf r o e t u r y

~ V ~

' ',,

singrOtofailure

fracture

O"

Fig. 16. Failure of "'low angle" (fl <(0 +~)) transitions through

intact rock.

EINSTEIN et al.:

cture

feature would only be consistent if the spatial variability

in pressure distributions were expressed, which has not

been done so far.) SLOPESIM uses dynamic programming to scan the large number of potential failure

paths and to identify, for each "exit joint", the path with

minimum SM.

The program has been used to conduct a parametric

study of rock slope reliability, aimed at identifying

critical variables and at obtaining simple reliability

formulae. Results from the numerical analyses are summarized in the following sections.

PARAMETRIC STUDY OF SLOPE

RELIABILITY

which for the most part describe geometry and resistance. In the course of the parametric study, these

parameters have been given values according to Table 1.

Slope safety resulting from the parametric studies has

been expressed in several terms:

(I) Failure Probability Pr(:), is defined as the ratio of

critical

paths

having

negative

SMs

to

all critical paths, as a function of the depth z (Fig. 18)

at which the paths daylight on the slope face. If a joint

plane daylights in height interval "i" on the slope face

(Fig. 10), the probability that at least one wedge belonging to this interval is unstable is Pf(zi) where ,j is the

vertical distance between the mid-point of the height

interval and the slope crest. At present, the only way to

calculate Pf(z) is through repeated Monte Carlo simulation of the network of joints. However, it is possible

to obtain analytical lower bounds to Pf(z). One such

bound, in many cases close to the exact value, is derived

in Appendix A.

(2) Probability Distribution of Apparent Persistence

Ka. Ka is the average persistence along an existing joint

plane that produces a SM equal to that of the associated

critical path, the plane and its critical path daylighting

at the same point on the slope face (the critical path may

be the particular joint plane or it may have an en echelon

shape involving other joint planes). It follows from the

definition that Ka is not smaller than the actual persistence of the plane, K. The probability distribution of

apparent persistence depends on depth. Of special interest is the variation with depth of the mean value mKd and

the standard deviation rx~, which together with the

critical persistence defined below are used to define a

second moment reliability index.

(3) Critical Persistence K,.. The critical path is unstable and failure occurs if/Ca exceeds the critical value of

persistence Kc which, in using the parameters in Table 1,

is given by

Parameter

Symbol

H

:

0

JL

RBR

__K

SP

Slope height

Fixed 30m (100 ft)

Depth below slope apex

0-30m (0-100 ft)

Slope angle

50--90'

Mean joint length (joint length

3-12 m (10--40fl)

assumed exponentially distributed)

Mean rock bridge length

Not directly varied,

(rock bridge length assumed

considered by

exponentially distributed)

varying persistence

Mean joint plane persistence

10-73/0

Mean joint plane spacing (joint

0.6--3 m (2-10 ft)

plane spacing assumed exponentially

distributed)

Mean joint intensity, a derived

K

variable ) = SP

Joint plane angle

30-80

cj

~bj

7r

Unit weight

~b,

Value or

range

Definition

Resistance parameters

Intact-rock cohesion

(assumed to be twice the rock

tensile strength)

Intact-rock friction angle (not

important at low stress levels)

Joint cohesion

Joint friction angle

CF

233

0.30-24.0 MPa

(8-500 ksf)

Fixed 30~

Fixed 0

0-40

Other parameter

Fixed 2.2 g/cm 3

( 150 Ib/ft 3)

234

3z

Kc=100

x/~+l-2ctan4~,'

(16)

where

W cos a

C--

--

JLcr

(4) Second-Movement Reliability Index [3 is the number of standard deviations separating the mean K. from

the critical value Kc,

/3 - K~

mx__-____.___~"

(17)

For Fh.(K) the cumulative distribution function of apparent persistence at a given depth, the probability of

failure at that depth becomes

Pf = 1 - F~q (K~)

= 1 - Fx,(mK+/3ax,)

(18)

parameters of Table 1 has been studied by varying one

parameter at a time within the specified ranges, while

holding all the other parameters fixed at given values. Of

special interest is the dependence of Pr on depth z, which

is shown in Fig. 19. The same figure contains a plot of

the lower bound P~ (see equation A2 in the Appendix)

which for slope heights up to 30m (100ft) and for

typical values of c~ (c~/> 24 MPa (500 ksf)) provides a

good approximation to Pf (accuracy depends also__ on

other parameters, such as the mean joint length JL and

the friction angle for the joints, ~j). The parametric

study also revealed that dependence of Pr, mx, and 13 on

intact-rock strength c~ for depths up to 30 m (100 ft), is

small. This is a welcome result because it allows one to

calculate the reliability index/3 in equation (17) after a

single use of SLOPESIM to obtain representative values

of mx~ and aKo.

Similar sensitivity analyses were made with respect to

the other parameters of Table 1 (see [7]), leading to the

following conclusions:

The influence of strength parameters c, and q~j usually

dominates other parameters. Slopes with high values of

c, and q~j (c,>/24MPa (500ksf), % ~ a) tend to be

reliable at all depths investigated (up to 30m (100 ft)),

regardless of the other parameters. When c~ and q~j are

small, joint and slope geometry become important.

Among the joint geometry parameters (K, JL, SP), mean

mean joint length JL may also substantially modify P,

and/3 at any given depth, whereas mean joint spacing S-P

plays a less significant role. For small K (K < 30,;) P,

depends on K and S-P almost exclusively through the

ratio K/SP. which to first-order accuracy equals the

mean intensity 7.

Joint inclination, ~, has varying effect of reliability.

Values of ~ for which reliability is smallest are typically

around 45 . As ~ increases above this value, approaching

the slope angle, reliability increases due to the decrease

in driving force. This effect is especially significant in

slopes with weak intact rock (cr < 4.8 MPa (100 kst))

and weak joints ~bj<<~). Reliability increases also as

decreases from 45-, especially as it approaches %.

Slope depth z is a very significant parameter. For this

reason, probability of failure is presented here as Pf(z)

curves. Figure 20 shows a few such curves for different

slope parameter combinations and leads to two observations:

(1) The shape of Pr(z) does not vary much with any

parameter and displays a minimum at a "characteristic

depth", Zc. This depth is in some cases outside the range

shown. That Pf decreases with slope height before increasing again for H > zc seems at first glance to be

incorrect. However, the result is in fact correct: it is due

to the overriding part played by persistent portions of

joints for low slope heights (and thus small driving

forces). For fixed mean joint length JL the probability of

a 100% persistent joint increases as z decreases (at z = 0

the probability of failure equals the average persistence

K'!). Observations in nature are consistent with this

result. Natural slopes are often convex near the crest.

Although weathering effects play a role in this geometry,

50

Cr = 1,2- 24 MPo

~i =0"

8 = 60*

(Z=40*

Xr = Z,2 g/cm 3

40

d[=40

S'-P= I.Sm

K:50 %

1.2 MPa

3O

Pf (%)

2.4 M Pa

20

N

4.8 MPa

IO

Pc

0/

0

(o

I

7.5

I

15

I

27

30 m

25

50

75

ioo ft',

Z ~

F i g . 19. E f f e c t o f i n t a c t - r o c k

c o h e s i o n (cJ o n Pr(:)-

E I N S T E I N et al.: D I S C O N T I N U I T Y P E R S I S T E N C E A N D SLOPE S T A B I L I T Y

zc

Z -..--o-

235

DEC.

Z -~-'~,-

z .------~

Z -------~

t

\

I)

hc

Z -~4P-

Z ---4~

Z.~-

Z .-~-

Fig. 20. Probability of failure Pr as a function of slope depth z and of the other slope parameters.

the crest is significant.

(2) Pf(z) can often be approximated by Pl(z) (see

Appendix A), which is the probability that the joint

plane at depth z is 100% persistent. This approximation

is good either when Cr or q~jis high (~j ~ ~t or Cr > 24 MPa

(500 ks0). Also when both cr and ~j are small (q~j<<ac

and cr < 4.8 MPa (100 ksf)), the approximation remains

good for

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

to 0.

Short joint length [JL ~<3-6 m (10-20 ft)]

Large joint-plane spacing [SP > 3 m (10 ft)]

Joint inclination angle ~t close to ~bj or

c, is very large) the approximation Pf(z)~ P~(z) loses

accuracy regardless of the other parameters.

The parametric analysis has been instrumental in

assessing the influence on reliability of strength and

geometry parameters. Critical parameter combinations

that lead to failure have been identified. These parameters (e.g. J---Land ~" if cr and ~bj are small) should be

accurately determined.

In its present form, the model is limited to slopes with

a single parallel set of joints and neglects 3-D effects.

However, extensions are possible. For example, Shair [8]

has developed a version of SLOPESIM for two parallel

joint sets. As expected, reliability is smaller than in

otherwise comparable cases with a single joint set, the

magnitude of the safety decrease depending on the

particular parameter combination. A first attempt at

including the third, along-slope dimension has been

made by O'Reilly [7], but more work is needed. Also, the

RUM

s. 20/5--c

certainly be improved. Finally, procedures of the type

used here for slopes have potential application in rockmass stability problems in tunnelling and can be extended to problems of rock-mass deformation and flow.

CONCLUSIONS

Joint persistence has a major effect on rock-mass

resistance, and yet, it is difficult to define a persistence

parameter simply and directly related to resistance.

First, joint geometry internal to a rock mass is not

known with certainty, and second, failure involves a

combination of mechanisms, including shearing along

joints and failure through intact rock, either in plane or

en-echelon.

The proposed approach expressed probability of rockslope failure as a function of joint geometry and intact

rock and joint resistance. Spatial variability of joint

geometry is taken into account by making use of statistical information obtained from standard joint surveys.

Probability of failure as derived with the SLOPESIM

approach or the related expression of apparent persistence thus makes it possible to represent the effect of

joint persistence directly.

Parametric studies show the relations between rockslope reliability (l-Pf) and various mechanical and geometric parameters; graphs of probability of failure vs

slope height are particularly illustrative. An important

result is the indication of when strength parameters are

more important than geometry, and vice versa.

Although an initial step, the proposed approach

promises insights into a major problem in rock mechanics.

236

EINSTEIN et al.:

REFERENCES

1. Call R. D. and Nicholas D. E. Prediction of step path failure

geometry for slope stability analysis. Proc. 19th U.S. Syrup. on Rock

Mechanics (1978).

2. Einstein H. H. et al. Risk analysis for rock slopes in open pit

mines, Parts I-V, USBM Technical Rept J0275015 (1980).

3. Glynn E. F. A probabilistic approach to the stability of rock

slopes, Ph.D. dissertation, M.I.T. (February, 1979).

4. Hasofer A. M. and Lind N. C. Exact and invariant second moment

code format. A S C E J. Engng Mech. Die. 100, 111-121, No. EMI,

Proc. Paper 10376 (February, 1974).

5. Jennings J. E. A mathematical theory for the calculation of the

stability of open cast mines. Proc. Symp. on the Theoretical Background to the Planning o f Open Pit Mines, pp. 87-102, Johannesburg

(1970).

6. Lajtai E. Z. Strength of discontinuous rocks in shear. Geotechnique

19(2), 218-233 (1969).

7. O'Reilly K. J. The effect of joint phase persistence on slope

reliability, M.Sc. thesis, M.I.T., 553 pp (1980).

8. Shair A. K. The effect of two sets of joints on rock slope reliability,

M.Sc. thesis, M.I.T.. 307pp (1981).

9. Stimpson D. Failure of slopes containing discontinuous planar

joints. Proc. 19th U.S. Syrup. on Rock Mechanics, pp. 246-300

(1978).

APPENDIX

The probability of failure, Pf(z) has been defined as the fraction of

unstable critical paths that daylight at depth z. Lower bounds to Pf(z)

can be obtained by constraining the geometry of the critical path and

the pattern of jointing that can produce failure. One such bound is

obtained here under the following conditions: with reference to Fig.

A l, failure of the joint plane exiting at : can occur only if:

(1) The joint plane AA' is 100% persistent, i.e. L~ >/L, and failure

is by sliding along AA'.

(2) The joint plane AA' is not completely jointed; however, the next

joint plane BB' is completely jointed (100% persistent) and the distance

(D) between the joint planes is sufficiently small (smaller than a critical

distance D,). Failure occurs by sliding along the jointed segment of

AA', fracturing through intact rock to connect to BB' and sliding

along BB'.

(3) Only parts of AA' and BB' are jointed but the jointed parts

overlap or are equal to L (L~ + L~/> L). and the distance D is smaller

than De. Failure occurs by sliding along the two jointed portions and

a connecting fracture through intact rock.

Because these three failure events are mutually exclusive, the probability Pc that any one of them occurs is the sum of their individual

probabilities (Pt, P2, and P3) and

Pf(z ) >1 Pc(z) = Pl(z ) + P2(z ) + P3(z )

(AI)

the mean rock bridge length,

~" = ]'L/(J[ + R-]~) the mean joint plane persistence and g]5 the

average spacing between joint planes. Also denote by D c the critical

joint separation that corresponds to unstable wedges in cases 2 and 3

(note that D c is stress-dependent and thus dependent on its location in

the slope. Since the following approximation omits /)2 and P3, no

further consideration of D c is necessary). Thus, using Glynn's [3]

probabilistic model of joints, one finds the following expression for P~,

P2, and P3:

P~ = K e -L'E = K" e -::dL~') = K e -:'jL ~n'~

P, = (I - Pi) PI( 1 - e- Dc/sP)

depth and of intact-rock strength c r (Pt does not depend on c,), while

all other parameters are kept constant. As c r increases, Pc becomes

closer to P~ because in the limit, as cr-* ~ , failure can occur only if a

joint plane is 100% persistent (Mode 1). The probability PI is thus a

simple and often good approximation to Pf[2,7].

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