Fully softened shear strength at low stresses for levee and embankment design

Joseph A. Gamez, Timothy D. Stark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shallow slides in levee and other embankment slopes are usually controlled by effective normal stresses less than 12 kPa (250 psf). For first-time slides in fine-grained soils, the fully softened shear strength is frequently used to model the strength of embankment soils because it represents the shear strength remaining after the effects of overconsolidation, compaction, desiccation, or other strengthening processes have been removed because of wetting, infiltration, stress relief, swelling, and weathering. However, there is limited fully softened strength data at effective normal stresses less than 50 kPa (1,000 psf), so existing correlations in this stress range must be extrapolated. This paper presents new fully softened shear strength data at an effective normal stress of 12 kPa (250 psf) and recommendations for estimating and modeling the stressdependent fully softened shear strength envelope directly or as a power function in stability analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number06014010
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2014


  • Fully softened shear strength
  • Highway embankments
  • Landslides
  • Levees
  • Low effective normal stress
  • Power function
  • Slope stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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