Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Deterioration of an infrastructure cutting subjected to climate change

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mohamed Rouainia, Dr Peter HelmORCiD, Dr Owen Davies, Professor Stephanie Glendinning



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020, The Author(s).Observations show that many soils in linear geotechnical infrastructure including embankments and cuttings undergo seasonal volume changes, and different studies confirm that this is due to cycles in climatic and hydrological conditions. These cycles can give rise to progressive failure of the soil mass, which in turn may lead to deterioration of performance and ultimately slope failure. It is expected that the magnitude of the seasonal cycles of pore pressure will be increased by more extreme and more frequent events of wet and dry periods predicted by future climate scenarios. In this paper, numerical modelling has been undertaken to simulate a continuous time series pore water pressure within a representative cutting in London Clay. The approach uses synthetic control and future climate scenarios from a weather generator to investigate the potential impacts of climate change on cutting stability. Surface pore water pressures are obtained by a hydrological model, which are then applied to a coupled fluid-mechanical model. These models are able to capture the significant soil–vegetation–atmospheric interaction processes allowing the induced unsaturated hydro-mechanical response to be investigated. The chosen hydraulic conductivity variables in the model are shown to affect the total magnitude of pore pressure fluctuation and hence the rate of progressive failure. The results demonstrate for the first time that higher total magnitude of annual variation in pore pressures caused by future climate scenarios can have a significant effect on deformations in cuttings. This in turn leads to increased rates of deterioration and reduces time to failure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rouainia M, Helm P, Davies O, Glendinning S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Acta Geotechnica

Year: 2020

Volume: 15

Issue: 10

Pages: 2997-3016

Online publication date: 19/05/2020

Acceptance date: 10/04/2020

Date deposited: 22/06/2020

ISSN (print): 1861-1125

ISSN (electronic): 1861-1133

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s11440-020-00965-1


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name