Vertical-Facing Loads in Steel-Reinforced Soil Walls

The paper investigates the influence of backfill soil, foundation soil, and horizontal joint vertical compressibility on the magnitude of vertical loads developed in steel-reinforced soil concrete panel retaining walls at the end of construction. Measurements of toe loads recorded from instrumented field walls are reviewed and demonstrate that vertical toe loads can be much larger than the self-weight of the facing. In extreme cases, these loads can result in panel-to-panel contact leading to concrete spalling at the front of the wall. Vertical loads in excess of panel self-weight have been ascribed to relative movement between the backfill soil and the panels that can develop panel-soil interface shear and downdrag loads at the connections between the panels and the steel-reinforcement elements. A two-dimensional finite-element model is developed to systematically investigate the influence of backfill soil, foundation soil, bearing pad stiffness, and panel-soil interaction on vertical loads in the panel facing. The results show that an appropriately selected number and type of compressible bearing pads can be effective in reducing vertical compression loads in these structures and at the same time ensure an acceptable vertical gap between concrete panels. The parametric analyses have been restricted to a single wall height (16.7 m) and embedment depth of 1.5 m, matching a well-documented field case. However, the observations reported in the paper are applicable to other similar structures. The general numerical approach can be used by engineers to optimize the design of the bearing pads for similar steel-reinforced soil wall structures using available commercial finite-element model packages together with simple constitutive models.


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  • Accession Number: 01491876
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ASCE
  • Created Date: Aug 14 2013 10:25AM