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Vol15 No.4: 845-858

Title】Mechanism of slope failure in loess terrains during spring thawing

Author】XU Jian1; WANG Zhang-quan1; REN Jian-wei1; WANG Song-he2*; JIN Long3

Addresses】1 School of Civil Engineering, Xi'an University of Architecture and Technology, Xi'an 710055, China; 2 Institute of Geotechnical Engineering, Xi'an University of Technology, Xi'an 710048, China; 3 State Key Laboratory of Road Engineering Safety and Health in Cold and High-altitude Region, CCCC First Highway Consultants Co., Ltd., Xi'an 710075, China

Corresponding author】WANG Song-he

Citation】Xu J, Wang ZQ, Ren JW, et al. (2018) Mechanism of slope failure in loess terrains during spring thawing. Journal of Mountain Science 15(4). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-017-4584-8

DOI】10.1007/s11629-017-4584-8

Abstract】Slope failure in loess terrains of Northern China during spring thawing period is closely related to the freeze-thaw cycling that surface soils inevitably experienced. Field surveys were carried out on natural and artificial slopes in thirteen surveying sites located in the Northern Shaanxi, the center of Loess Plateau, covering five characteristic topographic features including tablelands, ridges, hills, gullies and valleys. Based on the scale that is involved in freeze-thaw cycling, the induced failures can be classified into three main modes, i.e., erosion, peeling and thaw collapse, depending on both high porosity and loose cementation of loess that is easily affected. Model tests on loess slopes with gradients of 53.1°, 45.0° and 33.7° were carried out to reveal the heat transfer, water migration and deformation during slope failure. The surface morphology of slopes was photographed, with flake shaped erosion and cracks noted. For three slope models, time histories for the thermal regime exhibit three obvious cycles of freeze and thaw and the maximum frost depth develops downwards as freeze-thaw cycling proceeds. Soil water in the unfrozen domain beneath was migrated towards the slope surface, as can be noticed from the considerable change in the unfrozen water content, almost synchronous with the variation of temperature. The displacement in both vertical and horizontal directions varies over time and three obvious cycles can be traced. The residual displacement for each cycle tends to grow and the slopes with higher gradients are more sensitive to potentially sliding during freeze-thaw cycling.

Keywords】Freeze and thaw; Loess; Slope failure; Water migration; Heat transfer