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Physical and Numerical Evaluation of a Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil Wall with Concave Facing Profile

Geosynthetic reinforced soil walls (GRSWs) offer an environmental-friendly and low-cost solution to earth retaining structures. GRSWs are usually built with a planar facing profile and only few studies have investigated the effects of profile geometry on the wall performance. Several studies based on analytical solutions suggested that a concave geometry could improve the stability of a slope or reduce the tensile forces acting on the reinforcement layers of a GRSW. This study investigated the performance of a concave GRSW compared to planar ones based on physical modelling (centrifuge tests with 1:10 scale) and numerical models using the finite element method. The results of this study show that a concave wall can significantly reduce the mobilized tensile force (up to 27%), when the soil is at a critical state (low friction angle) and the reinforcement is of low stiffness. For a higher soil internal friction and stiffer reinforcement, the advantage of concave geometry is insignificant. In summary, this study provides physical and numerical evidence showing that the concave GRSWs are more stable than planer ones. Last but not least, another highlight of this study is that we utilized 3D printing to fabricate block miniatures in building a concave wall model.