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Technical paper: Reinforced Earth: application of theory and research to practice

David P McKittrick BEng, MSCE, MASCE. This paper was first published in GE’s January 1979 edition.

In the eleven years since the first commercial use of Reinforced Earth, over 2200 structures have been completed. These structures have included retaining walls and bridge abutments for transportation applications, industrial structures including material processing and storage facilities, containment dykes for crude oil and liquefied natural gas storage, foundation slabs and hydraulic structures such as sea-walls, flood protection structures, sedimentation basins and dams.

Structures have been completed in all parts of the world in a variety of environmental settings; structures have been designed for and been subjected to a variety of loading conditions including static, moving and dynamic loads, thermal stresses and hydraulic and seepage forces.

The performance of these structures has been closely monitored, either through gross observation or by precise instrumentation. This experience has provided the opportunity to examine theoretical and applied research critically, to compare predicted with actual performance, to refine design procedures, and to improve construction methods and technology to optimise economics.

This article reports on the present state of the art from a practising engineer’s view-point and proposes design procedures that are consistent with both basic soil and structural mechanics theory as well as observed behaviour of completed structures. 

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