Slope Stability, Excavations, and Retention


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Course Overview

Develop a firm grasp of standard-of-care analysis, design, and remediation of unstable slopes, landslides, rockfalls, earth retention, excavations, buttresses, and embankments. Learn from expert and diverse course faculty about industry-leading and advancing topics such as rainfall-induced movements, slope risk assessment and asset management, and LiDAR and photogrammetry. After attending Slope Stability and Landslides, you will understand:

  • How to identify and analyze unstable slopes
  • How to identify, analyze, prevent and remediate landslides and other slope displacements caused by natural and human activities 
  • How to deal with landslides and slope instabilities by learning the importance of engineering, geology, and local experience 
  • How to analyze slopes with applied science using limit equilibrium-, deformation-, and probabilistic-based methods

Who Should Attend?

Who Should Attend?

  • Civil and geotechnical engineers
  • Employees with geological surveys and water boards
  • Consultants and investigation/laboratory subcontractors
  • Geological engineers and geoscientists
  • Facility managers and physical plant engineers
  • Earthwork contractors and estimators
  • Architects and landscape architects
  • Utility engineers and managers
  • Local, county, and state transportation commissioners and staff
  • Engineers and contractors for military facilities
  • Lawyers and mediation professionals

Course Outline

Day 1

Soil Slopes, Excavations, and Cut Slopes

Introduction, Expectations, and Objectives

  • Slope failures, movements, and processes
  • Triggering mechanisms
  • The 4 G’s of slope stability: geometry, geology, hydrogeology and geotechnical

Shear Strength, Stress States, and Water Pressures

  • Fundamentals of shear strength
  • Measurements of strength
    • Laboratory tests and standards
    • In situ field tests of strength
  • Importance of Water and Pore Pressures in Slope Stability
    • Soil permeability
    • Seepage forces
    • Porewater pressure

 Slope Stability Analysis

  • Mechanics of limit equilibrium
  • Slope stability analysis methods
  • Commonly used Methods of Slices
  • Selection of analysis method
    • Drained versus undrained conditions
    • Total stress versus effective stress analysis
  • Evolving Analysis methods
    • Deformation analysis
    • Finite element methods
    • Probabilistic methods

Slope Stability Reporting

  • Components and structure of comprehensive slope stability analysis
  • Slope stability reporting

How and Why Unsaturated Slopes Fail

  • Soil suction and the soil-water characteristic curve
  • Stress conditions in unsaturated slopes
  • Infinite slope stability under unsaturated seepage conditions
  • Case studies of rainfall-induced cut slopes

 Demonstration of Slope Stability Analysis Programs

  • Why do 3D analysis?
  • Overview of 3D slope stability analysis using SVSLOPE
  • 2-D and 3-D Case studies, step-by-step
  • 3-D Conceptual model building
  • 3-D Orientation and MPA analyses


Day 2

Rock Slopes and Landslides

Geologic Aspects of Landslides

  • Geologic materials and processes affecting landslides
  • Landslide mechanisms and climatic conditions

Oso Landslide Case History

  • Historical context
  • Subsurface characterization
  • Land use and risk
  • Analysis and mechanisms

Rock Mechanics and Rock Slope Investigations

  • Methods to estimate shear strength of discontinuities
  • Rock slope failure modes and analysis
  • Rock slope investigation
  • Mapping
  • Geological engineering of rock slopes

Rock Slope and Landslide Investigations

  • Rock slope remediation
  • Quarry slope case study

Advancing Topics in Slope Engineering

  • Proactive Risk Assessment
  • Performance-based Asset Management
  • LiDAR and Photogrammetry for Slope Stability Assessment


  • Types and ratings
  • Investigation and instrumentation
  • Analysis
  • Mitigation and construction

Rock Toppling Case Study

Debris Flows

  • Design methodologies
  • Debris flow barriers


Day 3

Engineering Design for Slopes and Earth Retention

Geosynthetic Use in Slopes and Embankments

  • Reinforcement
  • Erosion control
  • Drainage
  • Landslide repair

Lateral Earth Pressures

  • Definitions and development of active, passive, and neutral earth pressures
  • Movements to mobilize active and passive pressures
  • Examples of lateral earth pressures

Design of Excavation Support Systems

  • Earth pressures for cantilever and anchored shoring
  • Design of cantilever shoring (hand method)
  • Design of anchored shorting (hadn method)
  • Design of cantilever shoring (computer program)
  • Basal heave, surface settlement, and lateral deflections

Case Studies in Slope Stabilization, Support, and Repair

  • Pipe and board method for shallow slope failure
  • Drilled pier and grade beam retaining wall for shallow slope failures
  • Lateral support system in an active landslide zone
  • Lateral support systems at a property line

Embankment and Buttress Design

  • Failure modes
  • Stress distributions
  • Nature and selection of fill material
  • Compaction specifications and acceptance criteria
  • Buttressing
  • Drainage


“A practical and multidisciplinary course that also combined the theoretical/mathematical with current ground experience.”

Imogen Crawford, Statkraft

“Needed a soils refresher and to dig deeper into slope stability solutions etc. Was a great course.”

Michelle Hase, Wisconsin DNR

“I now have a much better understanding of the mechanics of the failure and solutions for the problems. Every session was informative.”

Danny K. Grimm, Hannah Engineering

“The information I obtained will help me with my job as a regulator.”

Greg Baptist - CISEC 

“Hands down the most comprehensive, practical, and useful slope stability course I’ve attended. I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity and expertise brought by multiple instructors.”

Steve Carroll, Ducks Unlimited

“Very informative and a good refresher...5’s for all instructors.”

Jeff Richardson, City of Medicine Hat, AB

“The course was fantastic! I appreciate all the instructors offering their specialized expertise on each topic.”

Vicki Voight. Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Geological Survey


James Tinjum

Dr. James M. Tinjum, PE, is responsible for outreach, research, and continuing engineering education in the areas of geotechnical, geoenvironmental, and energy geotechnics with an emphasis on transmitting practical research applications directly to the engineering community. Over the past 15 years, he has specialized (consulting, expert support, and research) in foundation investigation, monitoring, and research into foundations for wind turbine generators. 

Upcoming dates (0)

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

James Tinjum

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