Using Reliability Theory to Assess the Stability and Prolong the Design Life of Existing Engineered Slopes

Cormac Reale, Jianfeng Xue, Kenneth Gavin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


Modern engineered slopes are designed to exceed certain safety targets set out in design codes. This is in stark contrast to earthen infrastructure inherited from the 18 th century which typically was constructed in a haphazard manner without design. This infrastructure seldom meets modern deterministic guidelines yet clearly exhibits some degree of safety, as a failure has not occurred in the intervening years. This paper highlights the use of reliability theory for evaluating the stability of existing engineered slopes. A comprehensive review of geotechnical uncertainty and existing reliability based techniques are outlined. Furthermore, the paper highlights the issue of finding the critical slip surface and gives a brief summary of the current state of the art. Finally a case study of an Irish railway embankment is presented and both a deterministic and reliability analysis is performed on it highlighting the benefits of probabilistic methods over traditional techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-81
Number of pages21
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue numberGSP 286
Early online date1 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
EventGeotechnical Safety and Reliability: Honoring Wilson H. Tang - Denver, USA United States
Duration: 4 Jun 20177 Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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