Interaction of Strength and Stress in High, Steep Rock Slopes

  •  John Smith    


The strength of rock mass and the stress in a slope are each complex fields of investigation. They are also intimately related as increasing confining stress makes a rock mass stronger and the strength of a rock mass can limit the magnitude of stress. Whereas these interactions are comparatively well understood for soils, principally through the advances of laboratory soil mechanics, the scale of rock masses, principally the presence of discontinuity surfaces, limits the capacity for laboratory investigation. The interaction of strength and stress in rock slopes is most evident in high, steep slopes where stress is typically greater. The slope angle and failure mechanisms occurring in the rock slope can reveal the ways that strength and stress interact to produce the observed morphology. McKay Bluff, near Nelson, South Island, New Zealand, is a high, steep rock slope affected by marine coastal erosion at its base. Finite element modeling illustrates sensitivities in determination of the stress magnitude in the slope. Engineering geology methods demonstrate the difficulty in precise determination of the rock mass strength. The ranges of these parameters are compared to find a compatible range for the interacting factors. The stress in a range of other high, steep slope types is reviewed and the implications for geomorphic analysis are discussed.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1916-9779
  • ISSN(Online): 1916-9787
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: semiannual

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