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Stochastic Analysis of Levee Stability Subject to Variable Seepage Conditions

  • Author(s): Lanzafame, R;
  • Teng, H;
  • Sitar, N
  • et al.

Levee stability is highly influenced by seepage. Specifically, hydraulic conductivity distribution within a levee influences pore pressure distribution and controls the drained strength of the soil. In this study the influence of hydraulic conductivity and blanket layer thickness on failure probability is evaluated within the context of reliability analyses that also include soil strength and unit weight as random variables. First-Order Reliability Method (FORM) is used to evaluate reliability, rank random variables by importance and to obtain sensitivity of the solution to each random variable and its distribution parameters. Stability is computed using Spencer's method of slices coupled to a finite element seepage code to directly evaluate pore pressure. In addition, response surface method solutions are compared to the direct reliability solution to assess response surface accuracy. The results show that blanket layer thickness is more important than most strength parameters and that the uncertainty in hydraulic conductivity is less important to the variance in safety factor for the case of a low-permeability blanket layer. Numerical challenges caused by implementing a finite element limit-state function are discussed. Response surface methods are found to give a reasonable approximation to the direct reliability solution when the design point is between response surface fitting points.

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