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Analysis of deep excavations using the mobilized strength design(MSD) method
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Civil and Architectural Engineering, Soil and Rock Mechanics.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The population in Sweden and around the world is increasing. When population increases, cities

become more densely populated and a demand for investments in housing and infrastructure is

created. The investments needed are usually large in size and the projects resulting from the

investments are often of a complex nature. A major factor responsible for creating the

complexity of the projects is the lack of space due to the dense population. The lack of space

creates a situation where a very common feature of these types of projects is the use of earth

retaining systems.

The design of retaining systems in Europe is performed today based on Eurocode. Eurocode is a

newly introduced standard for the design of structures and is developed in order to make it

easier to work cross borders by using the same principle of design in all countries. For the

design of retaining walls in Sweden, Eurocode uses the old standard as the basis of the design

procedure consisting of two separate calculations, ultimate limit state and serviceability limit

state. Since soil does not consist of two separate mechanisms consisting of failure and

serviceability, this approach to solving engineering problems fails to address the real behavior

of soils. To handle this problem Bolton et. al. (1990a, 1990b, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010)

developed the theory of “mobilized strength design” where a single calculation procedure

incorporates both the calculation of deformations and the safety against failure. The calculation

uses conservation of energy and the degree of mobilized shear strength to study deformations in

and around the retaining system and the safety against failure in mobilizing the maximum shear

strength of the soil.

The aim of this thesis was to introduce the theory of mobilized strength design to geotechnical

engineers in Sweden working both in academia and in industry. Another aim of the thesis was to

develop a tool that could be used to perform calculations of earth retaining systems based on

this theory.

The development of a working tool has resulted in a Matlab code which can in a simple way be

used to calculate both deformations in the retaining system and the safety against failure by

using the degree of mobilized shear strength presented in the theory. The Matlab code can

handle ground layering with different shear strengths and weights of the soil. A comparison

instrument in a Mathcad calculation sheet have been developed to produce results based on the

original theory where the feature of soil layering is not incorporated into the calculation

procedure. The thesis shows that the Matlab code developed performs well but is not yet

sensitive enough to produce the same results as the Mathcad calculation sheet and needs to be

further developed to make it more robust in order to handle all different excavation scenarios.


The theory of mobilized strength design has been introduced to geotechnical engineers in

Sweden and the thesis studies the theory and shows the calculation procedure and how the

different input values and calculations affect the analysis.

The thesis also shows some areas in which the theory and the code can be modified and where

further research can be performed in order to make them fully applicable to Swedish conditions.

As an example the use of rock dowels drilled into the bedrock and attached to the retaining

structure is a common feature for deep excavations in Sweden. Further research can be pursued

on how to incorporate the energy stored in the rock dowels into the calculation procedure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 98 p.
Examensarbete Jord- och bergmekanik, ISSN 1652-599X ; 13/07
Keyword [en]
eurocode, matlab code, mathcad, excavations, MSD method, mobilised strength design
National Category
Geotechnical Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-136584OAI: diva2:676511
Subject / course
Soil and Rock Mechanics
Educational program
Master of Science in Engineering - Urban Management
Available from: 2013-12-06 Created: 2013-12-06 Last updated: 2013-12-06Bibliographically approved

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