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CEG8212 : Assessment of Slope Stability; Design of Cuttings, Fills, Reinforced Slopes and Tailing Dams

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Stefano Utili
  • Owning School: Engineering
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aims of the module are:-

1. to introduce students to the design and assessment of slopes, open pit mine pitwalls, excavations and tailing dams according to the current international standards (Eurocode 7 and ICOLD Bulletins).

2. to introduce the theoretical concepts and engineering principles underpinning the assessment of the stability of slopes in rock and soils.

3. to introduce the students to the use of stability charts, limit equilibrium methods and finite element analyses for the assessment of the stability of slopes.

4. to introduce the students to a rational approach for the cost-effective design of open pit mine pitwalls and cuttings.

Outline Of Syllabus

* lectures, tutorials and set problems on the analytical and numerical methods available to carry out slope stability assessment with particular emphasis on Limit Equilibrium Methods and Finite Element analyses

* lectures and tutorials on the use of Eurocode 7 for slope stability assessment and design

* lectures and tutorials on the use of stability charts to assess the stability of slopes in rocks and cohesive soils

* lectures on how to design open pit mines pitwalls with tutorials based on stratigraphies from real open pit mines

* lectures on the typical failure modes taking place in tailing dams and soil liquefiability

Slope stability analysis: introduction

Main failure mechanisms: translational, rotational and compound failure mechanisms

Analysis of slope stability under the assumption of infinite slope

The effect of tension cracks on the stability of slopes

Analysis of slopes under seismic action and Newmark’s method

The effect of various hydraulic conditions on slope stability.

Simple Limit Equilibrium Methods (Fellenius and Bishop simplified) for rotational mechanisms

General Limit equilibrium methods (emphasis on Morgensten-Price and Janbu methods)

Tutorials and exercises on carrying out LEM analyses according to Eurocode 7 using the correct partial safety factors.

Finite Element Analysis with strength reduction technique of a slope.

Use of Rocscience Slide 2 for deterministic slope analysis. Consideration of various scenarios of tension cracks

Use of Rocscience R2 for deterministic slope analysis.

Elements of probabilistic slope stability analysis

Hazard assessment at the level of an entire landscape using the infinite slope assumption

Design of open pit mine pitwalls: use of stability charts for Mohr-Coulomb and Hoek-Brown geomaterials. Methods for the conversion of Howk-Brown parameters into Mohr-Coulomb ones in the context of slope stability assessment. Use of Rocscience Slide 2 for the design and assessment of open pit mine pitwalls.

Principles of cost-benefit analyses for the design of road cuttings.

Pros & cons of slope stability assessment by FEM analyses versus LEM analyses

Tailing dams, their modes of failure

Liquefaction of soils

Measurement of soil liquefiability

Measurements of tailing properties by CPT, SPT tests, piezometers etc.
Quantitative risk assessment of tailing dams

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00Individual Coursework
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials600:3030:00non synchronous online lectures providing theory and notions
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading110:0010:00Background reading of course texts
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading130:0030:00Studying online resources that accompany taught sessions and reading lecture notes
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching131:0013:00Tutorials PiP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00PiP Problem solving Exercises
Guided Independent StudySkills practice12:002:00Practice of practical skills
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops17:007:00PiP computer exercise using state-of-the art industry software for slope stability assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery62:0012:00PiP sessions to answer student queries on development of the coursework
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study18:008:00Practice of tutorial questions
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is taught as an intensive block in order to provide an immersive learning experience with a flexible integration of lecture, tutorial and practical sessions.
The module includes lectures to explain the theory, small group teaching activities in the form of tutorials and set problems to be solved to teach the practical application of the theory for slope stability assessment and the design of open pit mine pitwalls and excavations. A computer exercise employing state of the art commercial software is included to teach students how to use industry standard software for slope stability assessment and design.

Drop in surgeries are offered to support the students in the preparation of the coursework assignment (module assessment is 100% based on the coursework).

Plan B for PiP sessions in case of lockdown / severe restrictions: the plan is to run the sessions as synchronous online.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M100Individual Report. 14 pages
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Each student will undertake an individual coursework comprising 1. The assessment of the stability of a slope by hand calculation and using the Limit Equilibrium Method applying EC7; 2. The design of the pitwalls of an open pit mine for a prescribed Factor of Safety.

Reading Lists