Geotechnical & Geological Engineering

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 51–66 | Cite as

Stability analysis of rock wedges with multiple sliding surfaces

  • M. Mauldon
  • J. Ureta


Although wedge and plane sliding stability analyses are well established in the geotechnical literature, certain geologic environments produce blocks which cannot be adequately modelled as either wedges or plane slides. An example is blocks forming in cylindrically folded sedimentary rocks, where the surface of sliding is neither a single plane nor a double plane but is curved. This type of block may be idealized as a prismatic block with multiple sliding planes, all with parallel lines of intersection. If the sliding planes number three or more, the distribution of normal forces, and hence the factor of safety, is indeterminate. A new analytical model for sliding stability analysis is described in which the distribution of normal forces on the contact planes is chosen to minimize the potential energy of the system. The classic wedge and plane solutions are shown to be special cases of this more general model, which allows determination of the safety factor for any shape of prismatic contact surface. An example from Tennessee concerning a block with a curved sliding surface is described and the factor of safety compared with the standard wedge analysis. It is shown that with three or more contact planes, the safety factor may be significantly lower than that calculated from the wedge model, which provides an upper limit on stability.


Rock slope stability wedge slides 


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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Mauldon
    • 1
  • J. Ureta
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Geotechnology, Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of Tecnológica de PanamáPanamáRep. de Panamá

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