Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Guilan, Rasht, Guilan, Iran
Classical methods such as limit equilibrium or limit analysis, dealing with the stability analysis of open cuts and trenches and calculation of critical excavation depth for them, do not fully satisfy the theoretical requirements for stability problems leading to dierent solutions depending on the adopted method. It is now appreciated that geomaterials exhibit considerable heterogeneity, caused by the lithological and inherent variation, which cannot be fully covered by simple methods. This paper highlights the uncertainty embedded in critical excavation depth calculation, arising from spatial variability of shear strength parameters, using Random Finite Dierence Method (RFDM) and Random Limit Equilibrium Method (RLEM). In the present study, the lognormally distributed undrained shear strength is considered spatially correlated throughout the domain. Surface cohesion value and the shear strength density were introduced as the deterministic parameters along with the coecient of variation of undrained shear strength and its scale of uctuation as stochastic parameters; these parameters were studied to see their eect on uncertainty in critical excavation depth estimation. The results clearly demonstrated the uncertainty in critical excavation depth arising from the inherent variability of shear strength parameters using the RFDM results; however, RLEM did not prove to reflect such uncertainty eciently due to local averaging in prescribed failure surfaces.