Special Issue "Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering"

A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263). This special issue belongs to the section "Geomechanics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021) | Viewed by 20219

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Valentina Lentini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, University of Enna “Kore”, 94100 Enna, Italy
Interests: geotechnical earthquake engineering; dynamic characterization of soil; liquefaction; site response analysis; foundation; landslide
Dr. Maria Rossella Massimino
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Catania, 95124 Catania, Italy
Interests: soil structure interaction; numerical modeling; earthquake engineering; tunnels; geotechnical innovative materials
Dr. Maurizio Ziccarelli
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering, University of Palermo, 90133 Palermo, Italy
Interests: soil behaviour; foundation; tunnel
Dr. Dimitris Pitilakis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
ARISTOTLE University of Thessaloniki, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece
Interests: geotechnical earthquake engineering; soil-foundation-structure interaction; experimental soil-foundation-structure interaction; performance based design; structural dynamics; numerical analysis; foundation design and analysis; seismic behavior and rehabilitation of historical buildings and monuments; soil dynamics; soil mechanics

Special Issue Information

In recent decades, numerical simulation has increasingly been used for the analysis of stress–strain levels in many fields of geotechnical engineering toward better accounting for the possible initial and boundary conditions associated with micro- to megascale problems, including groundwater flow, fully coupled soil–structure systems, and environmentally friendly innovative materials.

In addition to the developments related to the methods itself (new constitutive models for soil and rock, new numerical procedures, and calculation methods), the role of the numerical approach has evolved from the research field into a daily engineering tool due to the increase of computer power.

This Special Issue will collect contributions on recent research advances and/or well-documented applications of numerical modeling in static and dynamic geotechnical engineering.

Contributions regarding tunnels and deep excavations in urban areas, soil–structure interaction issues, cultural heritage protection, retaining walls, foundations, dams, slope stability, and innovative materials are welcome. Applications of numerical modeling to dynamics, geotechnical earthquake engineering, and constitutive models including of unsaturated soil and soil–structure interface are also welcome.

Finally, we encourage the submission of contributions concerning operative applications with the experimental validation of the models.

Dr. Valentina Lentini
Dr. Maria Rossella Massimino
Dr. Maurizio Ziccarelli
Dr. Dimitris Pitilakis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • constitutive models
  • numerical modeling
  • soil–structure interaction
  • earthquake engineering
  • liquefaction
  • slope stability
  • foundation
  • tunnels
  • environmentally friendly innovative materials
  • cultural heritage protection

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
Influence of a Thin Horizontal Weak Layer on the Mechanical Behaviour of Shallow Foundations Resting on Sand
Geosciences 2021, 11(9), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11090392 - 16 Sep 2021
Viewed by 968
Abstract
The presence of minor details of the ground, including soil or rock masses, occurs more frequently than what is normally believed. Thin weak layers, shear bands, and slickensided surfaces can substantially affect the behaviour of foundations, as well as that of other geostructures. [...] Read more.
The presence of minor details of the ground, including soil or rock masses, occurs more frequently than what is normally believed. Thin weak layers, shear bands, and slickensided surfaces can substantially affect the behaviour of foundations, as well as that of other geostructures. In fact, they can affect the failure mechanisms, the ultimate bearing capacity of footings, and the safety factor of the geotechnical system. In this research, numerically conducted through Finite Element Code Plaxis 2D, the influence of a horizontal thin weak layer on the mechanical behaviour of shallow footings was evaluated. The obtained results prove that the weak layer strongly influences both the failure mechanism and the ultimate bearing capacity if its depth is lower than two to four times the footing width. In fact, under these circumstances, the failure mechanisms are always mixtilinear in shape because the shear strains largely develop on the weak layer. However, the reduction in the ultimate bearing capacity is a function of the difference between the shear strength of the foundation soil and the layer. The presence of a thin weak layer decreases the ultimate bearing capacity up to 90%. In conclusion, this research suggests that particular attention must be paid during detailed ground investigations to find thin weak layers. Based on the obtained results, it is convenient to increase the soil volume investigation to a depth equal to four times the width of the foundation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
System Identification of Mosques Resting on Soft Soil. The Case of the Suleiman Mosque in the Medieval City of Rhodes, Greece
Geosciences 2021, 11(7), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11070275 - 30 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1530
Abstract
The present study focuses on the dynamic system identification of the Suleiman Mosque minaret in the medieval city of Rhodes, Greece. Suleiman Mosque was built in 1522 at the site of the destroyed Christian Church of the Apostles. First, we performed sets of [...] Read more.
The present study focuses on the dynamic system identification of the Suleiman Mosque minaret in the medieval city of Rhodes, Greece. Suleiman Mosque was built in 1522 at the site of the destroyed Christian Church of the Apostles. First, we performed sets of ambient vibration measurements at the minaret of the monument. Based on these data, we calculated the eigenproperties of the minaret. Next, we modeled the monument in three dimensions, using the finite element method. Six numerical models were considered. Model Ι is the simplest one (isolated, fixed base minaret). Model VI is the most complicated one (simulation of the whole mosque also considering soil–structure interaction and foundation flexibility). The calculated predominant periods and mode shapes of Models I–VI are validated against the microtremor field measurements, recorded on the minaret’s two floors and ground level. We elaborate on the reliability of finite element models for earthquake response evaluation, considering soil–structure interaction and foundation flexibility on the mode shape eigenfrequencies. Additionally, we discuss the seismic response of the minaret compared to the whole monument. We observed no significant difference in the first two modes of response, implying that the minaret’s dynamic behavior is slightly affected by the entire mosque’s presence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
The Use of Polyurethane Injection as a Geotechnical Seismic Isolation Method in Large-Scale Applications: A Numerical Study
Geosciences 2021, 11(5), 201; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11050201 - 04 May 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1510
Abstract
This paper analyses the effect of polyurethane injections on the seismic surficial response of cohesionless soils. For this purpose, dynamic finite element numerical analyses were performed through GiD + OpenSees. Both the soil and the composite material, resulted after the expansion of the [...] Read more.
This paper analyses the effect of polyurethane injections on the seismic surficial response of cohesionless soils. For this purpose, dynamic finite element numerical analyses were performed through GiD + OpenSees. Both the soil and the composite material, resulted after the expansion of the injected polyurethane, are modelled with a nonlinear hysteretic constitutive model. Based on the polyurethane percentage, a homogenisation of the characteristics was considered for the composite material: linear for density and damping, and exponential (experimentally calibrated) for the stiffness. An expansion coefficient quantifies how much the injected polyurethane expands: three expansion coefficients were considered, each of them related to a different polyurethane density. For the evaluation of the foam stiffness, a linear stiffness–density correlation was used, derived after impact tests. Results showed that polyurethane reduces the surficial accelerations proportionally to the ratio of its seismic impedance and volumetric percentage with respect to the soil seismic impedance and total volume. This is a preliminary indication for the design of polyurethane injections in cohesionless soils for seismic acceleration reduction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
Effects of Soil-Foundation-Interaction on the Seismic Response of a Cooling Tower by 3D-FEM Analysis
Geosciences 2021, 11(5), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11050200 - 03 May 2021
Cited by 23 | Viewed by 2245
Abstract
This paper reports on the results of soil-foundation numerical modelling and the seismic response of a cooling tower founded on piles of a petrochemical facility located in the city of Augusta (Sicily, Italy). The city was affected in the past by some destructive [...] Read more.
This paper reports on the results of soil-foundation numerical modelling and the seismic response of a cooling tower founded on piles of a petrochemical facility located in the city of Augusta (Sicily, Italy). The city was affected in the past by some destructive earthquakes (1693, 1848, and 1990) that damaged a large territory of Southeastern Sicily, which was characterized by a very high seismic hazard. With this aim, the paper reports the FEM modelling of the seismic behaviour of the coupled soil-structure system. To determine the soil profile and the geotechnical characteristics, laboratory and in situ investigations were carried out in the studied area. The seismic event occurred in January 1693 and has been chosen as a scenario earthquake. Moreover, a parametric study with different input motions has also been carried out. A Mohr-Coulomb model has been adopted for the soil, and structural elements have been simulated by means of an elastic constitutive model. Two different vertical alignments have been analysed, considering both the free-field condition and the soil-structure interaction. The dynamic response has been investigated in terms of accelerations, response spectra, and amplification functions. The results have also been compared with those provided by Italian technical regulations. Finally, the seismic response of the coupled soil-structure system has been further examined in terms of peak bending moments along the pile foundation, emphasizing the possibility of a kinematic interaction on piles induced by the seismic action. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
Stability of Embankments Resting on Foundation Soils with a Weak Layer
Geosciences 2021, 11(2), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11020086 - 13 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1181
Abstract
The presence of weak layers in geotechnical systems, including soil or rock masses, both natural and man-made, is more frequent than is normally believed. Weak layers can affect both failure mechanisms, in drained and in undrained conditions, as well as in static and [...] Read more.
The presence of weak layers in geotechnical systems, including soil or rock masses, both natural and man-made, is more frequent than is normally believed. Weak layers can affect both failure mechanisms, in drained and in undrained conditions, as well as in static and seismic conditions, and the safety factor. In the present study, conducted numerically using the finite-element method (FEM) Plaxis 2D code, the influence of a horizontal thin weak layer on stress and strain distribution, on failure mechanisms and on the overall stability of an embankment was evaluated. The results obtained prove that when the weak layer is located at a significant depth from the foundation plane, the failure mechanisms are normally mixtilinear in shape because the shear strains largely develop on the weak layer. As a result, the safety factor highly decreases compared to the same case without a weak layer. Then, in the presence of weak layers, even embankments that, if founded on homogeneous soils, would have very high global safety factors (higher than 2) can become unstable, i.e., the safety factor can become unitary. So particular attention must be paid during detail ground investigations to finding thin weak layers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
A Geospatial Approach for Mapping the Earthquake-Induced Liquefaction Risk at the European Scale
Geosciences 2021, 11(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11010032 - 08 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2180
Abstract
This paper presents a geospatial methodology for zoning the earthquake-induced soil liquefaction risk at a continental scale and set-up in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment by coupling data-driven and knowledge-driven approaches. It is worth mentioning that liquefaction is a phenomenon of soil [...] Read more.
This paper presents a geospatial methodology for zoning the earthquake-induced soil liquefaction risk at a continental scale and set-up in a Geographic Information System (GIS) environment by coupling data-driven and knowledge-driven approaches. It is worth mentioning that liquefaction is a phenomenon of soil instability occurring at a very local spatial scale; thus, the mega-zonation of liquefaction risk at a continental scale is a hard facing challenge. Since the risk from natural disasters is the convolution of hazard, vulnerability, and exposure, the liquefaction risk mapping is based on the combination of geospatial explanatory variables, available at the continental scale, of the previously listed three assumed independent random variables. First, by applying a prediction model calibrated for Europe, the probability of liquefaction is mapped for the whole continent. Then, the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) is adopted to identify areas that have a high risk of liquefaction, taking into account proxy data for exposure. The maps are computed for different levels of severity of ground shaking specified by three return periods (i.e., 475, 975, and 2475 years). A broad variety of stakeholders would benefit from the outcomes of this study, such as civil protection organizations, insurance and re-insurance companies, and infrastructure operators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
New Stress Reduction Factor for Evaluating Soil Liquefaction in the Coastal Area of Catania (Italy)
Geosciences 2021, 11(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11010012 - 28 Dec 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2103
Abstract
In this paper, a study concerning the soil liquefaction potential in the city of Catania is presented. The stress-based liquefaction analysis framework for cohesionless soil includes a function that describes fundamental aspects of dynamic site response, i.e., the shear stress reduction coefficient, r [...] Read more.
In this paper, a study concerning the soil liquefaction potential in the city of Catania is presented. The stress-based liquefaction analysis framework for cohesionless soil includes a function that describes fundamental aspects of dynamic site response, i.e., the shear stress reduction coefficient, rd, which depends on several factors (depth; earthquake and ground motion characteristics; dynamic soil properties). Various relationships of rd are reported in literature because of the importance of assessment of CSR. Herein, new variations of rd with depth have been obtained using different deterministic earthquake scenarios as input motion. The relationships are based on large numbers of site response analyses for different site conditions. The new relationships obtained have been used for the evaluation of the liquefaction potential in the area of the Catania Harbour. The liquefaction resistance has been evaluated by the horizontal stress index (KD) from seismic dilatometer Marchetti tests (SDMTs). Various correlations were developed to estimate the CRR from KD, expressed in form of CRR-KD curves to differentiate between liquefiable and non-liquefiable zones. In this study three different CRR-KD curves have been used. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
Numerical Evaluation of Natural Periods and Mode Shapes of Earth Dams for Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis Applications
Geosciences 2020, 10(12), 499; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10120499 - 12 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1450
Abstract
The evaluation of natural periods and related mode shapes of earth dams represents a critical issue when performing structure-specific probabilistic seismic hazard analyses (PSHA). The identification of critical scenario events, using techniques such as disaggregation of the seismic hazard, and the calculation of [...] Read more.
The evaluation of natural periods and related mode shapes of earth dams represents a critical issue when performing structure-specific probabilistic seismic hazard analyses (PSHA). The identification of critical scenario events, using techniques such as disaggregation of the seismic hazard, and the calculation of a suitable target spectrum for ground motion selection and scaling procedures (e.g., the conditional mean spectrum), require at least the knowledge of the fundamental period of the system. This problem can be solved using analytical, numerical, and/or empirical techniques. We present several linear elastic modal analyses for an earth dam located in Southern Italy, using a numerical solution of the generalized eigenvalue problem obtained by the finite element method (FEM). Our numerical experiments are performed, testing various assumptions on boundary conditions, degree of saturation, and the distribution of geotechnical characteristics of the dam’s materials. We then compare our results against existing analytical solutions. We show that ignoring soil–structure interaction effects due to the flexibility of the dam foundation (i.e., under the assumption of fixed base) can lead to a substantial underestimation of the fundamental period of the dam. This effect should be carefully addressed when modal analysis results are used in PSHA-related applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
Numerical Modelling of Structures Adjacent to Retaining Walls Subjected to Earthquake Loading
Geosciences 2020, 10(12), 486; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10120486 - 03 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1924
Abstract
In an urban environment, it is often necessary to locate structures close to existing retaining walls due to congestion in space. When such structures are in seismically active zones, the dynamic loading attracted by the retaining wall can increase. In a novel approach [...] Read more.
In an urban environment, it is often necessary to locate structures close to existing retaining walls due to congestion in space. When such structures are in seismically active zones, the dynamic loading attracted by the retaining wall can increase. In a novel approach taken in this paper, finite element-based numerical analyses are presented for the case of a flexible, cantilever sheet pile wall with and without a structure on the backfill side. This enables a direct comparison of the influence exerted by the structure on the dynamic behaviour of the retaining wall. In this paper, the initial static bending moments and horizontal stresses prior to application of any earthquake loading are compared to Coulomb’s theory. The dynamic behaviour of the retaining wall is compared in terms of wall-top accelerations and bending moments for different earthquake loadings. The dynamic structural rotation induced by the differential settlements of the foundations is presented. The accelerations generated in the soil body are considered in three zones, i.e., the free field, the active and the passive zones. The differences caused by the presence of the structure are highlighted. Finally, the distribution of horizontal soil pressures generated by the earthquake loading behind the wall, and in front of the wall is compared to the traditional Mononobe-Okabe type analytical solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
Innovative Seismic Microzonation Maps of Urban Areas for the Management of Building Heritage: A Catania Case Study
Geosciences 2020, 10(12), 480; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10120480 - 26 Nov 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1434
Abstract
Several urban areas in the Mediterranean have already been subjected to seismic microzonation studies aimed at determining the acceleration expected on the ground surface, therefore mitigating the associated seismic risks. These studies have been generally related to free-field conditions. The present paper shows [...] Read more.
Several urban areas in the Mediterranean have already been subjected to seismic microzonation studies aimed at determining the acceleration expected on the ground surface, therefore mitigating the associated seismic risks. These studies have been generally related to free-field conditions. The present paper shows innovative seismic microzonation maps based on a large-scale estimate of soil-structure interaction (SSI) effects on design accelerations for some areas characterized by a high seismic risk in Catania, Italy. The proposed procedure combined: (1) geotechnical characteristics; (2) building features; and (3) 1-D seismic response analyses in free-field conditions. The seismic hazard and site effects were evaluated using artificial inputs and inputs recorded recently in Catania. Structural fundamental periods and related spectral accelerations, considering both the fixed-base building configuration and flexible-base configuration, were mapped in the Google My Maps environment. These results showed that SSI often had a beneficial effect, but sometimes it had detrimental effects, especially for some masonry buildings. These maps provided important information for planning the seismic retrofitting of investigated buildings, which were based on more detailed analyses of SSI and the developed maps requiring them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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Article
Geotechnical Analysis and 3D Fem Modeling of Ville San Pietro (Italy)
Geosciences 2020, 10(11), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10110473 - 22 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1741
Abstract
The paper describes the three-dimensional numerical model of Ville San Pietro, an Italian village subject to slope movements causing damage. The church (dating back to 1776), which is the most significant building of the area, is modelled too. The information from geotechnical and [...] Read more.
The paper describes the three-dimensional numerical model of Ville San Pietro, an Italian village subject to slope movements causing damage. The church (dating back to 1776), which is the most significant building of the area, is modelled too. The information from geotechnical and geophysical surveys on field are used to define the model geometry and the soil properties. A finite element code is adopted to simulate the slope behavior in occurrence of water table fluctuations, detected by piezometers, and to evaluate the slope displacements and stability. The validation of the model is carried out using the inclinometer and interferometry measures and by on-site inspections. The model demonstrated a good ability to simulate the slope behavior during the raising and lowering of the water table. The critical areas computed by the numerical code are in good accordance to the actual portions affected by soil displacements and damages. The modelling presented in this paper is crucial for future analyses that will take advantage of an innovative monitoring system, which will be installed on site. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Numerical Modeling in Geotechnical Engineering)
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