Geotechnical risk assessment of rock slope stability using non-linear strength criterion

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R.Boukarm, Laboratory of Construction Engineering and Architecture (LGCA), Faculty of Technology, University of Bejaia,  Bejaia, Algeria, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Mining and Geology Department, Faculty of Technology, University of Bejaia, Bejaia, Algeria

A.Houam, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), Prof., King Khalid University, College of Engineering, Civil Department, Guraiger, Abha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

M. Fredj, Mining and Geology Department, Faculty of Technology, University of Bejaia, Bejaia, Algeria

R. Boucif, Mining and Geology Department, Faculty of Technology, University of Bejaia, Bejaia, Algeria


Purpose. To assess the geotechnical risk of rock slope stability by empirical, numerical and Limit Equilibrium methods with the generalized Hoek-Brown criterion as a strength failure criterion to encompass all structural and geomechanical parameters influencing the stability of the open slope.

Methodology. The study conducted risk assessment in three steps: risk identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation. First, site observation and movement monitoring confirmed the real existence of instability risk. Then, from the in situ and laboratory investigations, an empirical classification called Slope Mass Rating, SMR and a geotechnical model were obtained. Finally, a quantification of this risk was evaluated using the limit equilibrium method and the finite difference method while considering the nonlinear criterion of Hoek-Brown as a criterion of failure.

Findings. The non-linear generalized Hoek-Brown criterion can be used with some reliability in these stability studies since it takes into account the conditions of the discontinuities and the rate of fracturing within the rock mass.

Originality. The method for geotechnical risk management was used based on the application of different approaches to quantify the geotechnical risk induced by the exploitation of this open pit. To attain the objective, the following techniques were involved: rock mass classification, geological strength index, limit equilibrium analysis. The philosophy of the research implies combining geometrical, structural and mechanical parameters to assess the rock slope stability

Practical value. This work has allowed us to conclude that SMR classification can be used as a prior check taking into account the structural and geometric context of the rock mass (orientation and integrity damage conditions, fracturing rates). The values of the safety factors of the extended Janbu’s method and that of Morgenstern & Price are quite close to the method of finite differences (use of shear strength reduction technique)


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ISSN (print) 2071-2227,
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