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Building firm foundations

Slope stability software

Posted by Kshitija Nadgouda on January 4, 2007

There is plenty of software available these days to do pretty much everything one can think of. As a geotechnical engineer, the software programs I have used most often have to be the ones available for slope stability or for geogrid design of a (soil) slope, besides using AutoCAD and gINT. Discussing AutoCAD and gINT calls for separate posts!

For a very comprehensive list on the different geotechnical and geoenvironmental software programs avaiable, check out the GGSD website. They list thousands of software programs, ranging widely in cost and applications.

The site lists a whopping 53 different programs for slope stability of soil alone!
The programs that I have most extensively used from the list are:

  1. XSTABL
  2. GSLOPE
  3. SLIDE

XSTABL is a DOS-based program and hence has not many takers. However, it does give a reasonably good graphical output. Although DOS-based, it is fairly easy to input data and has a good help feature. It allows the user to see the progress of the data while entering so you can edit any errors one may have made. It gives you an option of circular or non-circular search for failure surface. It uses Bishop and Janbu methods to calculate the factor of safety. The biggest advantage of the program is that it is relatively cheap! It costs US $450 only!! That roughly converts to approximately Indian Rs. 20,000 excluding any shipping and handling fees that may be added. A demo version is available at their website.

I primarily used GSLOPE for design of geogrid-reinforced slope stability checks. It is Windows-based and very user friendly. The program uses Bishop’s Modified method and Janbu’s Simplified method for calculating the factor of safety. It allows either method to be applied to circular, composite, and non-circular surfaces (which is not very correct – non-circular surfaces should be analyzed using Janbu method – not Bishop’s modified method). Data input can be done by either entering the co-ordinates of slope geometry or also be entered using a mouse (i.e. drawing the slope surface or subsequent soil strata). One good feature is that the analysis is real-time, i.e. if you modify a non-circular slip surface, it will update the factor of safety immediately. The program costs about Indian Rs. 45,000 (US $995) and additional cost for shipping and handling, roughly Indian Rs. 2,000. It provides a demo version for trial.
GLSOPE

SLIDE is a more complex program and very comprehensive. It has a steep learning curve, but can do a detailed study of the problem at hand. It can even perform probabilistic and sensitivity analysis. One can perform back-analysis of a slope that has failed, to determine the soil properties. Groundwater seepage analysis can be easily performed. Although it has a steep learning curve, the documentation and tutorials provided with the software are extremely useful.
The program has 10 different methods by which you can analyze a given slope. All analysis is performed simultaneously and the results are viewed in a separate “Interpreter” window. It has a CAD-like interface and so it is easy to draw the slope and soil strata during modeling. SLIDE doesn’t allow a demo version download and costs a whopping US $1495 plus shipping and handling, approximately Indian Rs. 67,000!
SLIDE

Some free software like STABLE is also available. My next task is to look at these freewares and review them!

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Copyright Kshitija Nadgouda.

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18 Responses to “Slope stability software”

  1. Dharmananda Mazumdar said

    Kshitija, Its a very nice work done by you and very useful. I have used MSTAB from Delft, Netherland for Slope Stability Analysis. Its costly $5000 around but very useful. Some Student version also available with them for free.

  2. Thank you for your input. I am glad you found my post useful. Please keep the comments/suggestions coming!

  3. PaulB said

    Kshitija, have you had a chance to look at SLOPE/W?

    Paul

    Disclosure: I work at GEO-SLOPE http://www.geo-slope.com

  4. MRB said

    With so many specialty software options out there, how do firms decide which ones to go with?

    MRB
    http://www.CivilEngineeringCentral.com
    building teams . engineering careers

  5. hemant kumar said

    kindly tell about software available free of cost and the address to download

  6. MRB,
    I am not sure if there is any standard practice that companies follow for choosing a particular software over others. But here are some things a company may think about:
    1. Cost – initial cost and maintenance or upgrade cost
    2. Re-usability – if it is costly but good, it may be economical only if it is going to be used frequently later.
    3. Learning curve – how easy it is to learn and use. Whether training is available and how much time and money to set aside periodically for the training.
    4. End use – If you are going to use output from your program to present to a client, you will want fancy, colourful output that gives a clear picture (literally and metaphorically) of the case under study.
    There may be many such factors to think about before deciding which software to buy.

  7. Hemant Kumar,

    You can take a look at GGSD – Geotechnical & Geo-environmental Software Directory for a comprehensive listing, but I doubt if any are available for free. There may be some softwares available for free, but typically those are older versions. Some new products offer a free demo version.

  8. marganda said

    hello Kshitija Nadgouda.

    I` am a GIS Programmer, but in my office

    my supervisor encourage me to learn geotechnical software.

    He gave some information about UDEC 4.0, but i haven`t experienced about that

    Could you gave the others software beside UDEC 4.0 to determine safety factor in coal mine strip ??

    thank you

  9. Hello,

    I do not have any information on mining software, but there are many softwares available for stability of slopes in general. I recommend you visit Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Software Directory for more information.

    • hi, i am doing a project in slope stability in mines. with two software galena and ansys. is it satisfactory or not give me some suggestion about project work. because i am civil student and doing project in mining

  10. Yong said

    I don’t think we can ever simulate reality in a slope stability software…

    As such, I tend to go for simplicity and cost effectiveness…

  11. It is certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thank you for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more on this blog soon.

    Avril Benedict

  12. I want this software

  13. Hi! I am a dam designer of the National Irrigation Administration, a government office in charge of design and construction of embankment dams in the Philippines. We are looking for a good software for slope stability of embankment dams that we can use in our office. Can you please advise us on what to look for in a software, or better yet, since you have used some of them, recommend to us softwares that you think is best? Thanks.

    • Hi Maria,

      Choice of slope stability software is very personal. The commercial limit equilibrium programs all do the basics i.e.Bishop, Janbu, Spencer etc. I do slope stability analysis for the mining industry and mainly use two, 2D limit equilibrium analysis programs. They are GALENA (www.galenasoftware.com) and SLIDE (www.rocscience.com).Both are widely used in the Australian mining industry and both are well respected. If I was to summarize the two programs I would say GALENA is very easy to use and you are less likely to make a mistake, whereas SLIDE has more options and has a more sophisticated water modelling component. SLIDE’s methods of analysis all rely on vertical slice methods whereas GALENA also includes the Sarma method of non-vertical slices.

      For everyday use, 95% of the time, I use GALENA because of its simplicity and ease of changing surfaces and profiles.

      Both programs are well supported by their suppliers who, in my experience, provide very quick responses to questions. But, it is a personal thing and there are many other programs out there which would serve you just as well.

      I hope this helps you in your search.

      Paul Maconochie

  14. Hugo said

    Hi, did you ever reviewed the free slope stability software and commented on your findings.
    Thanks.

  15. For slope stability assessment, it is also wise to consult with hands on experts. Ask an environmental engineer. You may also read http://www.envirotech.com.au/slope-stability-assessment

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