University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Engineering Department Geotechnical Research Seminars > Performance-based design in geotechnical engineering

Performance-based design in geotechnical engineering

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Engineering design consists of a sequence of decisions which should satisfy the client’s objective performance requirements. This lecture will argue that an assessment of geotechnical performance must involve ground displacements, and that the traditional approach of specifying safety factors is potentially wasteful. In particular, the Limit State Design (LSD) approach adopted in the Eurocodes will be shown to lack objectivity and therefore to be inadequate to the needs of clients and society at large. Improvements will be proposed through the adoption of Mobilizeable Strength Design (MSD) principles in which the designer explicitly considers the stress-strain behaviour of the ground. Central to the MSD approach will be an assessment of the possible deformability and strength of the soil that lies within the anticipated deformation mechanism of the proposed geo-structure. Displacements are then calculated by applying the principle of conservation of energy to the deformation mechanism. This leaves the designer with an implicit assessment of deformations before any other checks which might later be made by Finite Element Analysis (FEA), and ensures that the intended design performance can always be checked by monitoring during construction. Examples of the application of MSD will include earth retaining structures, slopes and foundations.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Geotechnical Research Seminars series.

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