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On the behaviour of flexible retaining walls under seismic actions

TitleOn the behaviour of flexible retaining walls under seismic actions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsConti, R, Madabhushi, GSP, Viggiani, GMB
JournalGeotechnique, Volume 62, Issue 12, December 2012, Pages 1081-1094
KeywordsCentrifuge modelling

This paper describes an experimental investigation of the behaviour of embedded retaining walls under seismic actions. Nine centrifuge tests were carried out on reduced-scale models of pairs of retaining walls in dry sand, either cantilevered or with one level of props near the top. The experimental data indicate that, for maximum accelerations that are smaller than the critical limit equilibrium value, the retaining walls experience significant permanent displacements under increasing structural loads, whereas for larger accelerations the walls rotate under constant internal forces. The critical acceleration at which the walls start to rotate increases with increasing maximum acceleration. No significant displacements are measured if the current earthquake is less severe than earthquakes previously experienced by the wall. The increase of critical acceleration is explained in terms of redistribution of earth pressures and progressive mobilisation of the passive strength in front of the wall. The experimental data for cantilevered retaining walls indicate that the permanent displacements of the wall can be reasonably predicted adopting a Newmark-type calculation with a critical acceleration that is a fraction of the limit equilibrium value.


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