Passive earth pressure with critical state concept

Yung-Show Fang, Ying Chieh Ho, Tsang Jiang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations


This paper presents experimental data of earth pressure acting against a vertical rigid wall, which moved toward a mass of dry sand. The backfill had been placed in lifts to achieve relative densities of 38, 63, and 80%. The instrumented retaining-wall facility at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan was used to investigate the effects of soil density on the development of earth pressure. Based on the experimental data, it has been found that the Coulomb and Terzaghi solutions calculated with the peak internal friction angle significantly overestimated the ultimate passive thrust for the retaining wall filled with dense sand. As the wall movement S exceed 12% of the wall height H, the passive earth thrust would reach a constant value, regardless of the initial density of backfill. Under such a large wall movement, soils along the rupture surface had reached the critical state, and the shearing strength on the surface could be properly represented with the residual internal-friction angle. The ultimate passive earth pressure was successfully estimated by adopting the critical state concept to either Terzaghi or Coulomb theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-659
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2002


  • Earth pressure
  • Passive pressure
  • Sand
  • Vertical angles

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