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Slope Stability - Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are an ancient method of ground engineering, with design and structural concepts that remain valuable today. Retaining walls are structures built for the purpose of neutralizing the effects of unstable slopes holding back rock or soil from buildings, roads or structures. Retaining walls avoid erosion and downslope movement providing support for near-vertical or vertical grade changes. Retaining walls can be made of several materials including wood, natural stone, reinforced cinder block, and concrete block systems.

A key consideration when designing and installing retaining walls is gravity. Gravity creates lateral earth pressure behind the wall making the angle of internal friction, the cohesive strength of the retained material and the direction and magnitude of movement fundamental criteria to be studied.

Extreme weather, seismic activity, and changes in uphill activities can impair the effectiveness of retaining walls. Furthermore, in many cases drainage systems are also needed to disperse any groundwater behind the wall so as to not cause additional horizontal hydrostatic pressure. Retaining walls must be carefully designed to suit the ground conditions, topography and aesthetic requirements of each individual site.

There are several types of retaining walls available. Here are three of the main ones:

Gravity walls

This type of retaining wall relies on gravity comprising of a batter setback leaning the structure into the soil to be retained. Walls can be constructed from many types of materials depending on the needs of the individual projects. Gravity walls can also be enhanced by the addition of soil nailing.

Cantilevered walls

Another solution using much less material than a typical gravity wall that can be used in certain situations are cantilevered retaining walls. Shaped like an upside down T the cantilever can support the active soil pressures and transfer any applied forces vertically into the ground they sit on.

Gabion mesh walls

Gabions are wire mesh boxes filled with rough cut stone or a combination of stone and topsoil to promote vegetative growth for ascetic purposes. The mesh cages and rough stonework form a restraint system.

Please contact us for more information on our retaining walls solutions or click here to send us an online request.