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Engineering Geology

j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s e v i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / e n g g e o

considering rainfall characteristics

Sung Eun Cho

Korea Institute of Water and Environment, 462-1, Jeonmin-Dong, Yusung-Gu, Daejon 305-730, Republic of Korea

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:

Received 21 July 2008

Received in revised form 7 December 2008

Accepted 19 December 2008

Available online 3 January 2009

Keywords:

Inltration

Unsaturated soil

Slope stability

Seepage

Rainfall

Suction

a b s t r a c t

Shallow slope failures in residual soil during periods of prolonged inltration are common throughout

the world. Using a one-dimensional inltration model and an innite slope analysis, this study examines an

approximate method of determining how inltration inuences the surcial stability of two-layered slopes.

The method extends Moore's inltration model, which is based on the GreenAmpt model, to cover more

general situations, including those where water moves upward from a perched water table in decreasingly

permeable soil. The method has also been used to evaluate the likelihood of a shallow slope failure being

induced by a particular rainfall event. In making this evaluation, the method takes into accounts the rainfall

intensity and duration of various return periods in a two-layered soil prole. A comparison of the results of

the inltration model with the results of numerical analyses shows that, with the use of properly estimated

input parameters, the proposed model compares reasonably well with other model that rely on more

rigorous nite element method.

2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Rainfall leads to the development of a perched water table, a rise in

the main groundwater level, and surface erosion; and, as the moisture

content increases, the unit weight increases. Moreover, the instability

of unsaturated residual soil slopes during wet periods is common

throughout the world (Morgenstern and de Matos, 1975; Fukuoka,

1980; Brand, 1984; Vargas et al., 1986; Kim et al., 1991). These failures

are generally shallow and the failure surfaces are usually parallel to

the slope surface. Therefore, this paper reviews an innite slope

analysis to estimate the inuence of inltration on surcial stability of

slopes by the limit equilibrium method.

A better understanding of the process of rain inltration and its

effects on unsaturated soils is closely related to the assessment of

slope stability. To estimate the hydraulic response, continual eld

monitoring of the groundwater conditions is needed to avoid difculties in obtaining the parameters required for theoretical analyses.

In most cases, however, it is not feasible to continually monitor

changes in eld conditions (Sun et al., 1998).

On the other hand, during the past few decades, many analytical

and numerical solutions to the unsaturated ow equation have been

developed and have become a necessary tool. Although a considerable

amount of research has been conducted to clarify the various failure

mechanisms based on these solutions (Collins and Znidarcic, 2004;

Zhan and Ng, 2004), it is still difcult to develop a theoretical framework that incorporates these various failure mechanisms.

Tel.: +82 42 870 7632; fax: +82 42 870 7639.

E-mail address: drsecho@hanmail.net.

0013-7952/$ see front matter 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.enggeo.2008.12.007

One way to evaluate the effect of inltration is to use onedimensional inltration models. These models are based on widely

accepted concepts of soil physics and are relatively easy to use.

However, for simplication, most of these models are limited to cases

with uniform initial conditions and homogeneous soils. Because the

natural soil prole is typically nonhomogeneous, the approximations

developed for homogeneous soils have been adapted to show how

inltration behaves in layered soils.

The main objective of this study, mainly focuses on a decreasing

conductivity soil prole, is to propose an approximate method of

evaluating the likelihood that a particular rainfall will induce a shallow

failure in a two-layered slope. The method takes into account the

rainfall intensity and the duration of various return periods. To capture

the principal mechanisms involved when water inltrates two-layered

soil slopes, the results of a series of nite element analyses of a onedimensional seepage ow are presented. On the basis of these results,

this paper presents an inltration model that is an extended form

of Moore's inltration model to evaluate how water inltrates twolayered slopes under various intensities of rainfall.

2. Analysis of the slope stability in relation to inltration

2.1. Slope failures due to rain inltration

According to previous studies on the way rain inltration affects

the stability of slopes, rain induces a rise in the groundwater level

and an increase in pore pressure, both of which decrease the effective

stress and shear strength, thereby resulting in slope failures. Hence,

most traditional analyses of slope stability incorporate rainfall

33

increasing pressure heads and they often assume that the phreatic

surface rises to coincide with the surface of the slope (Collins and

Znidarcic, 2004). However, it is now well known that slope failures

also occur when the shear strength provided by matric suction

decreases enough to trigger the failures (Brooks and Richards, 1994;

Rahardjo et al., 1994; Terlien, 1998; Van Asch et al., 1999).

When rainwater inltrates through an unsaturated zone, the

advancement of the wetted zone near the slope surface may lead to

failure during periods of prolonged rainfall. These failures are usually

characterized by shallow failure surfaces that develop parallel to the

slope surface (Rahardjo et al., 1994; Fourie et al., 1999). A simple

innite slope analysis method can therefore be used to estimate the

factor of safety.

For two-layered soil slopes with a surface layer of thickness L1, the

limit equilibrium method can be readily applied to calculate the factor

of safety as shown in Fig. 1. The shear resistance that is associated with

the net normal stress and the matric suction within the slice mass can

be characterized as follows by the modied MohrCoulomb failure

criterion (Fredlund et al., 1978) for unsaturated soil:

f

c V + n ua tan/V+ ua uw tan/b

=

1

m

m

2c V

tan/V

2ua tan/V

=

+

tan

f 1 L1 + 2 zw L1 g sin2

f 1 L1 + 2 zw L1 g sin2

Fs =

2ua uw tan/b

f 1 L1 + 2 zw L1 g sin2

where m is the shear stress at any point along the slip surface, f is

the shear strength at the corresponding point, is the slope angle, W

is the weight of a slice with unit width, c is the cohesion intercept, n

is the total normal stress, ua is the pore air pressure, uw is the pore

water pressure, (n ua) is the net normal stress, (ua uw) is the

matric suction, is the effective angle of friction, and b is the angle

that denes how the shear strength increases with the increase in

matric suction. If the soil is fully saturated at a certain depth, then the

air pressure becomes equal to the water pressure (that is, ua = uw).

This approach uses two independent stress variables that enable a

consistent approach to be used when analyzing stability, irrespective

of whether the pore pressures are positive or negative. In this

equation, the rst term is related to the cohesion, the second term is

related to the effective angle of friction, and the last term is related to

the matric suction.

When an advancing wet front from rainfall inltration saturates the

upper soil layer, if the rainfall intensity is greater than the hydraulic

conductivity of the sublayer, a rise in the ground water table may occur.

The rise in the ground water table induces the condition of a ow

parallel to the slope and hydrostatic state, resulting in the following

expression for the pore pressure at a depth of zw from the water table:

2

uw = w zw cos

where w is the unit weight of water. Then Eq. (1) can be reduced to

the classical solution for innite slope in the saturated slope.

When the effective cohesion of soil is zero (c = 0), and the slope

angle () is greater than or equal to the effective internal friction angle

of the soil (), the unsaturated soil slope fails from a loss of apparent

cohesion upon saturation of the soil by the inltrating wetting front.

In this case, failure from a reduction in the shear strength because of a

rise in the ground water table or the occurrence of a perched water

table is unlikely since the slope can only be stable with the shear

strength due to the matric suction that fully disappears before

saturation is achieved. However, if the slope angle does not exceed the

effective friction angle of the soil, slopes are not susceptible to failure

from the loss of matric suction since the slopes remain stable without

the additional shear strength due to the matric suction; yet the slopes

will fail from a reduction in the effective stress in the saturated

condition that results in the reduction in the shear strength of soil.

When a slope possess an effective cohesion component (c), and

the effective cohesion of the soil is adequate, even a partially saturated

slope with a slope angle that is greater than the effective friction angle

can remain stable in spite of a complete loss of apparent cohesion.

However, even these types of slopes would fail in the saturated

condition if an increase in pore pressure reduces the effective stress

(Sudhakar, 1996).

3. Inltration model

A key factor that dominates slope stability is the hydrological

response associated with inltration. Hence, the soilwater prole

must be reviewed during rainfall inltration of unsaturated soil to

evaluate the effect of inltration on slope stability. Due to the

complexity of the problem, numerical methods, such as the nite

element method, are commonly used to solve the partial differential

equation that governs the seepage. However, to get solutions for

various boundary conditions is laborious and computationally expensive as the numerical solution requires an implicit iterative technique

with ne spatial and time discretisation.

Another way to evaluate the effect of inltration is to use a onedimensional inltration model. Green and Ampt (1911) rst derived

a physically based model by describing the inltration capacity of a soil

for ponded surfaces. The GreenAmpt model has received considerable

34

it has been shown to have a theoretical basis, as well as measurable

parameters.

Mein and Larson (1973) developed a simple two-stage model

for predicting inltration before and after surface ponding; they

based their model on the GreenAmpt model by assuming the initial

moisture content was uniform under rainfall with a constant intensity.

On the basis of the one-dimensional solution, Morgenstern and de

Matos (1975), Lumb (1975) and Gavin and Xue (2008) calculated the

advancement of the wetting front, and Vargas et al. (1986) studied the

importance of the rate of rainfall on slope stability. In the method of

Pradel and Raad (1993), which is based on the GreenAmpt model,

two conditions must be satised to saturate the soil to the critical

depth at which the slope can fail. These conditions are, rstly, that the

rain intensity must be greater than the inltration capacity of the soil

and, secondly, that the rainfall must be longer than the critical time

necessary to saturate the soil to the critical depth. Fourie et al. (1999)

applied the method of Pradel and Raad to a eld problem.

The approximate method of Cho and Lee (2002) is a modied form

of the Pradel and Raad method. Based on the Mein and Larson model,

the method of Cho and Lee takes into account the rainfall intensity and

duration of various return periods in order to evaluate the likelihood

that a particular rainfall will induce a shallow slope failure.

Although these methods are limited by the assumption that rainfall

inltrates homogeneous soil, the approximate methods provide a

practical tool for assessing the hydraulic response to inltration.

3.1. Hydraulic characteristics

There are two important hydraulic properties associated with

inltration into unsaturated soils, namely, the soilwater characteristic

curve and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. A complete description of

the inltration process entails the characterization of these properties.

The soilwater characteristic curve relates the water content of a

soil to the matric suction, and a number of empirical and semiempirical functions have been proposed in the past to represent the

soilwater characteristic curves.

The unsaturated hydraulic conductivity that varies with the soil

water content is usually predicted on the basis of the measured soil

water characteristic curve due to the difculty associated with the

measurement of unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. The variation

of unsaturated hydraulic conductivity is commonly represented by

the relative hydraulic conductivity function, which represents a ratio

of the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity to the saturated hydraulic

conductivity.

and the hydraulic conductivity may progressively change with depth

according to the degree of weathering, few applications of the Green

Ampt equation to consider the progressive change in the hydraulic

conductivity have been developed due to the complexity of the problem and the basic assumption of the GreenAmpt model. Only a

few researches that conceptualize the soil prole by dividing it into

multiple internally homogeneous layers have been conducted

(Bouwer, 1969; Childs and Bybordi, 1969).

In this study, the proposed model based on the GreenAmpt model

assumes a piston-type water content prole with a well-dened wetting

front; therefore, the approximations developed for homogeneous

soils have also been adapted to show how inltration behaves in layered

soils.

4.1. Moore's model

Fig. 2 shows the conceptual two-layered soil prole used in the

derivation of Moore's model. The soil consists of a surface layer of

thickness L1, with an initial moisture decit, 1, and the soil is

characterized by hydraulic conductivity, K1. Below this layer, the soil is

homogeneous and semi-innite with an initial moisture decit, 2.

The soil is also characterized by hydraulic conductivity in the wetted

zone of K2.

When the rainfall has a constant intensity, i, that is greater than the

saturated hydraulic conductivity of the soil, the governing equations

can be expressed as follows: f = i until t = tp, where tp = Fp/i and Fp is

given by either

Fp =

1 f1

;

i = K1 1

Fp =

H Ei = K2

+ F1 ;

i = K2 1

zp = Fp = 1 for zp V L1 or

zp =

Fp L1 1 2

for zp > L1 ; 4

2

the cumulative inltration at the time of the surface ponding,

H = 2(L1 + f2), E = L12(K2/K1), F1 = L11, zp = the depth of

the wetting front at the time of the surface ponding, tp =the time of the

surface ponding, f1 =the suction head at the wetting front in the surface,

and f2 =the suction head at the wetting front in the subsurface layer.

To model the inltration process in a layered soil under an

unsaturated condition has been a great concern in many engineering

and scientic elds related to soils (Srivastava and Yeh, 1991; Choo

and Yanful, 2000). Although some analytical and conceptual models

for transient vertical inltration in layered soils have been presented,

the solutions are too complex for practical applications.

Extensions of the GreenAmpt approach to describe the inltration in nonuniform soils have been made (Bouwer, 1969; Childs and

Bybordi, 1969; Fok, 1970; Ahmed et al., 1980; Moore and Eigel, 1981;

Moore, 1981; Flerchinger et al., 1988). However, few have been applied

to the problem of slope stability analysis.

Moore (1981) modied the Mein and Larson model to describe

inltration for delayed ponding with nonuniform soils when the constant intensity of the rainfall is greater than the saturated hydraulic

conductivity of the soil. According to Moore and Eigel (1981), the

model shows good to excellent agreement with the numerical model,

thereby indicating that Moore's model closely represents the performance of the Richards' equation.

35

1 f1

for zw V L1 or

f = K1 1 +

F

H + F F1

for zw > L1 ;

E + F F1

f = K2

cumulative inltrations are given by either

F + f1 1

F = Fp + K1 t tp + f1 1 ln

Fp + f1 1

F + H F1

F = Fp + K2 t tp E H ln

Fp + H F1

for zw V L1 or 7

!

for zw > L1 :

Eqs. (7) and (8) are implicit, and can therefore be solved by an

iterative procedure or by the method presented in Appendix A.

4.2. Model parameters

Fig. 3. Conceptual water content prole for two-layered soil (K2 b i b K1).

K1, K2, 1, 2, f1 and f2. The moisture decit from saturation, 1,

is specied as the initial condition when considering the antecedent

moisture contents. If the effect of air entrapment is unimportant, the

value of the hydraulic conductivity above the wetting front K1 is the

saturated hydraulic conductivity. The suction head at the wetting

front, f1, is a function of the soil water content and can be determined

from experimental measurements or from the following equation

(Mein and Farrel, 1974):

Z

i

f =

Kr d;

9

0

content and Kr is the relative hydraulic conductivity function.

Estimates of K2, 2 and f2 depend on whether the prole of the

two-layer soil consists of ne-over-coarse stratication or coarseover-ne stratication. For the coarse-over-ne stratication, the ne

lower layer restricts the inltration of the prole, and both layers will

be saturated. Therefore, for this case, K2 is the saturated hydraulic

conductivity, 2 is the moisture decit from saturation and f2 is

dened by Eq. (9) for the lower layer (Moore, 1981).

For the ne-over-coarse stratication, the surface layer restricts

inltration, and the coarse lower layer is not saturated. A procedure is

then needed to estimate the moisture content and the corresponding

hydraulic conductivity in the lower layer. Moore (1981) derived the

following equation by considering steady state inltration in twolayered proles of ne-over-coarse stratication:

K2

K

= 1;

w + L1

L1

10

surface layer.

Using the soilwater characteristic curve (SWCC), the hydraulic

conductivity curve and the known values of L1 and K1, the remaining

parameters can be evaluated by solving Eq. (10) by trial and error.

4.3. Extension of Moore's inltration model

Moore's inltration model can be applied when the constant

intensity, i, of the rainfall is greater than the saturated hydraulic

conductivities in the prole. However, in the coarse-over-ne stratication, the surface ponding can also occur as a result of the upward

movement of the water because the rainfall intensity may be greater

than the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the lower layer but

Fig. 3 shows the conceptual moisture prole for the condition

of K2 b i b K1. Fig. 3 implies that if the application rate has a value

somewhere between the lowest and highest hydraulic conductivity in

the prole, then subsurface saturation occurs at the interface. If water

application is continued, then the upward movement of the water

from the perched water table eventually saturates the surface. Zhan

and Ng (2004) referred to this effect of soil heterogeneity on the basis

of the analytical solution of Srivastava and Yeh (1991).

In such case, the inltration processes can be conveniently broken

down into the following four conceptual stages, which is conrmed

to be reasonable from the results of numerical analysis in a later

section:

(a) Stage I: Until the time t1 when the wetting front reaches the

interface between the soil layers (t t1)

Because the rainfall intensity is smaller than the inltration capacity of the soil, all the rain will inltrate the soil without any runoff

(f = i, F = it). Thus, the time at which the wetting front reaches the

interface can be calculated as follows:

t1 =

1VL1

;

i

11

initial volumetric water content.

The new volumetric water content at the surface differs from

the saturated volumetric water content in the upper soil, 1s,

because the surface ponding does not occur during this stage.

Careful consideration is therefore needed to evaluate the volumetric

water content at the surface. If the rain falls on the surface, a wetting front is created in the soil. Thus, according to Darcy's law, the

hydraulic gradient at the wetting front abruptly increases to deliver

the applied rainwater because the hydraulic conductivity in the

unsaturated soil is far smaller than the intensity of the applied

rainfall. As the rain continues to fall, the hydraulic gradient decreases

and consequently becomes equal to unity or very close to unity for a

substantial portion of the soil (Sun et al., 1998) because the hydraulic

conductivity of the soil increases to a value that is numerically

equal to the intensity of the applied rainfall behind the wetting front.

The matric suction that corresponds to the value that is numerically

equal to the intensity of the rainfall can be estimated from the

hydraulic conductivity function. As a result, the volumetric water

36

from the SWCC.

(b) Stage II: From t1 to t2 when subsurface ponding occurs

(t1 b t t2)

All the rain will inltrate the lower soil layer because the intensity

of the rainfall is still smaller than the inltration capacity of the soil

(f = i, F = it). Subsurface saturation eventually occurs at the interface,

however, because the application rate is greater than the saturated

hydraulic conductivity of the lower layer. The time of subsurface

ponding can then be calculated as follows:

t2 =

K2 2 2f

+ t1 :

ii K2

12

it L1 V

1

zw = L1 + 2

:

2

13

(c) Stage III: From t2 to t3 when surface ponding occurs (t2 b t t3)

Once the subsurface saturation occurs, excess water starts to accumulate in the upper layer because the inltration capacity of the lower

layer monotonically decreases with time until the minimum inltration

capacity is reached. If the water application continues, the upward water

movement from the perched water table nally reaches the surface and

surface saturation occurs. Before the surface ponding, the inltration rate

of the two-layered soil is equal to the application rate (f =i, F=it).

The excess water that accumulates in the upper layer, R, during the

period from t2 to t3 is calculated as

R=

Zt3

i f dt = it3 t2 F;

(Gardner, 1958):

n m

u uw

= r + s r 1 + a a

w

1

u uw

;

Kr = 1 + V a

w

In this example, two types of soil, namely sand and silt were

considered. Fig. 4 shows the SWCCs and the relative hydraulic conductivity functions for each soil. The properties have been selected as

a representative for ne-grained and coarse-grained soils since twolayer soil systems that consist of ne-grained and coarse-grained soils

have been widely studied due to the contrasting hydraulic characteristics of the soils. Soilwater characteristic curves for ne-grained soils

may be relatively at, while for coarse-grained soils the function may

be quite steep, such that as soon as the soil desaturates, the hydraulic

conductivity drops dramatically.

14

t3 through the lower layer (see Appendix A). Moreover, an additional

amount of water, S, which can be absorbed by the upper layer after the

subsurface ponding, is calculated as

15

1= 1s 1o

where

expressed as the difference between the volumetric water contents

before and after the upward wetting in the surface layer.

Because the surface ponding occurs when R becomes equal to S

and the pressure head at the surface becomes zero, the time of the

incipient surface ponding can be computed as

t3 = 1W L1 + F + it2

i:

16

zp = L1 +

it3 L1 1

:

2

17

Eqs. (6) and (8) can be applied after the surface ponding because

the inltration capacity decreases with time as the wetting front goes

deeper into the soil.

5. Application of the inltration model to slope stability

To illustrate the procedure for estimating the inltration process in

two-layered slopes, the extended model was applied to two examples.

As shown in the following equations, the SWCC is represented by

using the van Genuchten function (van Genuchten, 1980), and the

19

content, respectively; a, n, and m = constants; and and

= constants.

t2

S = 1W L1 ;

18

37

Table 1

Example 1: Parameters for SWCC and hydraulic conductivity function.

Soil type

Fine sand

Silt

SWCC

Hydraulic

conductivity

function

11.31

9.88 10 4

4.03

7.38

0.185

0.0

0.346

0.373

1.841

0.426

6.442

40.057

0.229

0.041

Table 1 tabulates the parameters for the SWCC and the relative

hydraulic conductivity function. It was assumed that the initial matric

suction was 30 kPa through the depth and that the thickness of the

surface layer was 0.5 m. Next, because the inltration behavior in the

layered soil depends on whether the prole is increasingly permeable

or decreasingly permeable, both the coarse-over-ne stratication

and the ne-over-coarse stratication were examined. Table 2 presents the estimated input data for the inltration model.

The mechanical properties of the soils to calculate the factor of

safety were also presented in Table 2.

5.1.1. Analysis for a decreasing conductivity prole

Fig. 5 shows the typical results from a one-dimensional nite

element analysis using SEEP/W (Geo-Slope, 2003) under the condition of K1 b i. The results show that the rainfall inltrates the soil and

that eventually surface ponding occurs (Fig. 5(a) and (b)). If the rain

continues to fall after the ponding, positive pore pressure (a perched

water table) develops in the upper layer (Fig. 5(a)). Fig. 5(c) shows

that the hydraulic gradient increases sharply at the wetting front, and

that the largest gradient occurs when the wetting front passes the

interface. The gradient in the lower layer is not so high because the

hydraulic conductivity of the silt changes more gradually.

Results for the condition of K2 b i b K1 show that the conceptual

moisture prole presented in Fig. 3 is reasonable (Fig. 6(b)). That is,

the upward saturation starts when subsurface ponding occurs at the

interface and eventually surface ponding occurs (Fig. 6(a)). Fig. 6(c)

indicates that the hydraulic gradients behind the wetting front in the

upper layer are near to unity before the wetting front passes the

interface, as mentioned in the previous section (Section 4.3).

Fig. 7(a) shows the inltration diagram for different rainfall

intensities that are greater than K1. If the applied rainfall intensity

is smaller than the inltration capacity of the soil, then all the rain will

inltrate the soil. Once the surface saturation occurs, the runoff starts

and the inltration capacity decreases monotonically with time until

the minimum inltration capacity, K2, is reached. Fig. 7(a) also compares the inltration model and the numerical model for different

rainfall intensities. Given the basic assumptions of both models, the

comparative performance of the inltration model is acceptable.

Fig. 7(b) shows the inltration diagram for different rainfall

intensities that are greater than the saturated hydraulic conductivity

of the lower layer but smaller than the saturated hydraulic conductivity

of the surface layer, that is, when K2 b i b K1. In the diagram, the time

Table 2

Example 1: Input parameters for the analysis

Parameters for the inltration model

K1 (cm/h)

K2 (cm/h)

f1 (cm) f2 (cm)

Coarse/ne 1.55 (4.31106 m/s) 0.09 (2.50107 m/s) 0.15 0.14 60.64

Fine/coarse 0.09 (2.50107 m/s) 0.22 (6.11107 m/s) 0.14 0.08 251.78

251.78

76.96

Fig. 5. Example 1: Results of numerical analyses for coarse-over-ne stratications (K1 b i).

Mechanical properties

Sand

Silt

t (kN/m3)

c (kPa)

()

b ()

19

19

0

10

35

25

15

10

38

stratications.

Fig. 6. Example 1: Results of numerical analyses for coarse-over-ne stratications (K2 bibK1).

when the wetting front reaches the interface (t1), the time of subsurface

ponding at the interface (t2), and the time of surface ponding (t3) are

indicated, respectively. The results also agree well with the results of the

numerical model.

The relationship between the time of surface ponding and the

corresponding depth of the wetting front for rainfall intensities can be

determined by using the proposed inltration model as summarized

in Fig. 8. Curve B in Fig. 9 shows the time of surface ponding as a

function of the rainfall intensity, along with the intensityduration

frequency curve. The curve can be obtained by calculating the time of

surface ponding for rainfall intensities larger than the saturated

hydraulic conductivity K2. If K1 b i, then the time of surface ponding

and the corresponding depth of the wetting front can be calculated

from Eqs. (3) and (4). If K2 b i K1, then the time of surface ponding

and the corresponding depth of the wetting front can be calculated

from Eqs. (16) and (17). Each point on the curve provides a minimum

requirement for saturation (imin, tmin) to the corresponding depth zp.

That is, to saturate the soil to the corresponding depth zp, the rainfall

intensity must be greater than imin and the rainfall must last longer

than tmin. Fig. 9 therefore indicates that only the rainfall above curve B

can saturate the soil to the corresponding depth of the wetting front

indicated in Fig. 10.

The corresponding depth of the wetting front at incipient surface

ponding is a function of the rainfall intensity. This is shown in Fig. 10,

with the shallower depth being associated with the higher intensity,

and, therefore, the earlier time of ponding.

The factor of safety associated with various depths of the wetting

front can be calculated easily by using Eq. (1). The detailed equations

derived from Eq. (1) are presented in Fig. 11. The results are

39

Fig. 8. Flow diagram to determine the time of surface ponding and the corresponding depth of the wetting front for uniform rain.

proposed method is shown in Figs. 9 and 10. The limiting condition

plotted as point A that moves on the curve B was Tmin = 2.19 h and

imin = 3.425 cm/h from Eq. (3) (Fig. 9). This statistically means that

rainfall intensities greater than imin = 3.425 cm/h have to last at least

2.19 h in order to saturate up to a depth of 0.5 m (point C in Fig. 10).

From the gure, the effect of inltration on slope stability can be

seen to reduce the factor of safety after sufcient advancement of the

wetting front.

According to the analysis of slope having slope-parallel layers by

Cho and Lee (2001), a saturated slope-parallel ow in the upper layer

of the slope was formed due to a perched water table caused by the

presence of an underlying less permeable layer. They showed that the

hydrological response can induce concentrated mechanical responses

such as shear strain and shear stress above the interface, which nally

leads to failure. Therefore, when the lower layer is less permeable, any

failure along the interface must be also checked in relation to the

positive pore water pressure (Eq. (2)), which usually leads to the most

critical condition as shown in Fig. 11. As an illustration, the minimum

Fig. 12 shows the typical results of a one-dimensional nite element analysis for a ne-over-coarse stratication under the condition

of K1 b i. The results show that the sublayer does not reach saturation

because the surface layer is less pervious than the subsoil (Fig. 12(a)

and (b)). The hydraulic gradient behind the wetting front in the lower

layer drops because the hydraulic conductivity of the soil increases to

40

Fig. 11. Example 1: Variance of the factor of safety with depth of wetting front.

a value enough to drain the rainwater inltrated from the upper layer

(Fig. 12(c)). The inltration rate, as well as the cumulative inltration,

is much lower in the ne-over-coarse stratication than in the coarseover-ne stratication. The factor of safety can also be calculated for

the depth of the wetting front. In this type of soil prole, the stability

condition of slope is more favorable than a decreasing conductivity

soil prole since the unsaturated condition (i.e., negative pore

water pressure) is maintained in the lower layer. Therefore, by using

a suitable type of cover system such as compacted clay covers, plastic

membrane and asphalt pavement at the ground surface the stability

can be effectively maintained in the slope.

Fig. 13 shows that after the wetting front passes through the

interface the inltration rate decreases to a constant nal value equal

to the water ux at the interface. This is because the hydraulic conductivity of the sublayer is great enough to drain the inltrated water

from the upper layer. Namely, the entire inltration process is controlled mainly by the less permeable upper layer. Although the

diagram shows an abrupt decrease in the inltration rate, the results

agree reasonably well with the results of the numerical model. The

reason for the sudden reduction in the modied GAML model arises

from the difference between the physics of a true wetting front and

the physics of the piston-type wetting front assumed in the derivation

of the GAML equations. In the modied GAML model the piston-type

wetting front encounters the interface between the two soil layers at

a certain time when the inltration rate drops to an approximately

constant rate. However, the wetting front in the numerical model is

not as sharply dened as that in the modied GAML and so produces a

gradual reduction in inltration rate to a nearly constant value, when

the wetting front completes its passage through the interface (Moore,

1981).

41

Table 3

Example 2: Parameters for SWCC and hydraulic conductivity function.

Soil type

Weathered soil

Bedrock

Hydraulic

conductivity

function

SWCC

28.01

28.01

1.69

1.69

0.0952

0.0952

0.357

0.357

0.447

0.447

1.005

1.005

0.797

0.797

Table 4

Example 2: Input parameters for the inltration model.

K1 (cm/h)

K2 (cm/h)

1 2 f1 (cm) f2 (cm)

Weathered

18 (5 10 5 m/s) 0.018 (5108 m/s) 0.10 0.10 23.89

soil/bedrock

23.89

Fig. 13. Example 1: Inltration diagram of uniform rainfall conditions for ne-over-coarse

stratications.

bedrock

In Korea where the depth of weathering is very shallow, many

slope failures occur in layer of weathered residual soil overlying the

bedrock. These failures are characterized by shallow failure surfaces

(mostly less than 1 m deep) located near the contact between the

weathered soil and the underlying bedrock.

For a two-layered slope in which the hydraulic conductivity of

the upper layer is much greater than that of the lower layer, if the

applied rainfall intensity is greater than the hydraulic conductivity

of the lower layer, the inltrated water reaches the contact between

the soil and the underlying impermeable bedrock, causing a rapid rise

in pore water pressures, and the formation of a perched water table

that destabilizes the upper layer of soil (Biavati et al., 2006).

Consequently the factor of safety starts to rapidly decrease.

In this example numerical and inltration models to simulate

the response to rainfall have been applied to a slope with a 1 m thick

weathered granite soil layer above the bedrock to study rainfallinduced landslides for a landslide-prone hillslope. A typical weathered

granite soil, sampled in Seochang, classied as SM by the United Soil

Classication System (Kim, 2003) was used. The soilwater characteristic curve (Fig. 14(a)) was obtained through a pressure plate test, and

the relative hydraulic conductivity function (Fig. 14(b)) was measured

by the steady state method involves the measurement of hydraulic

conductivity of an unsaturated soil specimen under a constant matric

suction. Table 3 tabulates the parameters for the SWCC and the

relative hydraulic conductivity function. The analysis was conducted

for the initial matric suction of 20 kPa through the depth.

Although soil layers are expected to have less water retention

capacity as they are commonly looser than those from deeper layers,

Fig. 15. Example 2: Inltration diagram of uniform rainfall conditions for a soil-mantled

slope with impermeable bedrock.

42

Fig. 18. Example 2: Pressure head response at the contact between the two layers

(results of numerical analyses).

only soil heterogeneity in terms of the saturated hydraulic conductivity is considered since the two layers share the same parent rock and

the lower bedrock was relatively impermeable. Values for the input

parameters used for the model simulations are presented in Table 4.

Fig. 15 shows the inltration diagram for rainfall intensities of 1 cm/

h and 2 cm/h that are greater than the saturated hydraulic conductivity

of the lower layer but smaller than the saturated hydraulic conductivity

of the surface layer. The diagram shows that the time of surface ponding

(tp) when the soil layer is completely saturated agrees well with the

result of the numerical model.

The time of surface ponding and the corresponding depth of

the wetting front were plotted varying the rainfall intensity (Figs. 16

and 17). Point A in Fig. 16 shows that the time of surface ponding is

11.3 h for the constant rainfall intensity of 1 cm/h.

The depth of wetting corresponding to the rainfall intensity 1 cm/h

and time of ponding 11.3 h is found to be 113 cm at the point C in

Fig. 17, which means that the required minimum time of duration

to completely saturate the soil layer above the bedrock under the

intensity of 1 cm/h is 11.3 h and then the wetting front inltrate to the

depth of 113 cm for the rainfall condition. The at portion of the curve

in Fig. 17 illustrates that the further inltration of rainwater into the

bedrock requires much longer time of duration due to the very small

hydraulic conductivity of the bedrock.

Fig. 18 shows the pressure head response with time at the contact between the two layers obtained from numerical analyses. The

pressure head continues to increase and reaches the steady state

value of 1 m after about 11.7 h for the intensity of 1 cm/h and 5.67 h

for the intensity of 2 cm/h as a consequence of the prolonged

contribution of rainfall water from the slope surface. Such a worst case

scenario (i.e. a water table at the ground surface and slope-parallel

ow above impermeable bedrock) that results its minimum factor of

safety is often assumed for engineering design purposes (Biavati et al.,

2006). Then the factor of safety can be easily calculated from Eq. (1) as

previously explained in Fig. 11.

The results indicate that the proposed inltration model to determine the inltration rate at the surface can provide useful insight

for the stability of a soil-mantled slope with impermeable bedrock to

rainfall inltration.

6. Conclusions

During periods of prolonged inltration, surcial failures occur

because of the positive pore water pressure or the reduced suction

when the pore pressure is still negative. Because inltration is a

complex process that generally involves an unsaturated ow in a

vertical direction, one-dimensional nite element analyses were conducted to gain a better understanding of the mechanism of seepage

ow in a two-layered soil slope.

To assess how the rainfall inltration affects the slope stability in

two-layered soil, Moore's inltration model was reviewed. Moore's

model was then extended to cover more general situations, including

those in which water moves upward from a perched water table

in decreasingly permeable soil. By taking into account the rainfall

intensity and the duration of various return periods in two-layered

soil, the model was used to evaluate the likelihood of a particular

rainfall event inducing a shallow slope failure. The results of the

inltration model were compared with those of the numerical

analyses. With the use of properly estimated input parameters from

the SWCCs and the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity functions, the

proposed model compared reasonably well with the results of the

more rigorous nite element analyses.

Although the proposed model has some limitations with respect

to general applicability, it can provide a perspective on the failure

mechanism of a two-layered slope under the inltration of rainfall.

In addition, when the proposed framework is properly used it offers

a quick and easy way of estimating how inltration affects a slope's

in two-layered soil prior to undertaking in-depth analyses.

Appendix A. Computational algorithm for the inltration model

The simple two-step method proposed by Li et al. (1976) was used

to estimate the cumulative inltration because the method is simple

and easy to use.

After the ponding but within the period of interest, according to

Eq. (8) the increment of cumulative inltration is dened as

F = K2 t E H ln 1 +

F

F + H F1

for zw > L1 ;

20

step and F is the unknown term.

The rst estimate of F can be obtained by using a truncated series

expansion as

Fo =

q

1

K t 2F + E F1 + f2F + E F1 K2 t g2 + 8K2 t F + H F1 ;

2 2

21

where Fo is an initial estimate of the increment of cumulative inltration.

A second-order Newton method based on a Taylor series expansion

can be used to obtain a more precise solution. F must be found such

that f(F) = 0. This equation is expressed as follows:

f F = F K2 t + E H ln 1 +

F

:

F + H F1

22

F1 = Fo

f VFo

+

f WFo

where f VFo =

s

2

f VFo

f Fo

f WFo 2

;

f WFo

F + E F1 + Fo

F + H F1 + Fo ,

f WFo =

23

H E

.

F + H F1 + Fo 2

approximately 8% for the rst estimate and less than 0.003% for the

second estimate. The procedure is equally applicable when zw L1.

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