Centrifuge modelling of soil slopes containing model plant roots

R. Sonnenberg, M. F. Bransby*, A. G. Bengough, P. D. Hallett, M. C. R. Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


A series of centrifuge model tests were conducted to investigate the contribution of root reinforcement to slope stability. A compacted sandy clay slope, inclined at 45 degrees, was reinforced with model roots. The model roots were varied in material, architecture, and numbers. They had stiffness values corresponding to upper and lower values found for plant roots. The architecture included taproots and branched roots. Slope collapse was triggered by raising the water table while soil displacements, pore-water pressures, and root strains were measured. The mode of failure was changed by the presence of roots from a progressive block failure to translational failure. The tests revealed how axial strains and bending strains were mobilized in the roots and how the roots influenced the slope failure mechanism. Different limit equilibrium slope stability calculations were performed at slope failure conditions to quantify the amount of reinforcement provided by different root types. These measured root reinforcement contributions were compared with those predicted according to common root reinforcement models. A reinforcement calculation method allowing for root pull-out was found to give the best agreement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • systems
  • mechanics
  • slopes
  • seddlings
  • stability
  • resistance
  • reinforced soils
  • strength
  • model roots
  • vegetation
  • centrifuge modelling
  • anchorage


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