Rock and Soil Mechanics ›› 2023, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (1): 119-130.doi: 10.16285/j.rsm.2022.5297

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Influence of valley topography on earth pressure of high-fill arch culvert

FENG Zhong-ju1, WANG Si-qi1, WANG Xi-qing1, WANG Ze-guo1, PAN Fang2, CHENG Yuan-meng1, LI Jun2   

  1. 1. School of Highway, Chang’an University, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710064, China 2. Guangdong Province Expressway Co., Ltd, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510623, China
  • Online:2023-01-17 Published:2023-03-13
  • Contact: WANG Si-qi, male, born in 1992, PhD candidate, focusing on highway culvert and tunnel engineering. e-mail: E-mail:
  • About author:FENG Zhong-ju, male, born in 1965, PhD, Professor, PhD supervisor, mainly engaged in research on geotechnical engineering and bridge engineering.
  • Supported by:
    the Central Universities Basic Research Business Expenses Special Funds Project (300102218208) and the Science and Technology Plan Project of Guangdong Provincial Department of Transportation (2013-02-010).

Abstract: High-fill culverts placed in valley topography have a complex earth pressure distribution law due to their locations around culverts in various valley topography conditions. In order to investigate the influence of valley topography on the earth pressure around the culvert of high-fill arch culverts, an interaction model of "topography-culvert-fill" was established by using centrifugal model test and numerical simulation method. Additionally, the distribution laws of earth pressure around the arch culverts and earth pressure concentration coefficient Ks at the top of the culvert under different valley widths B and valley slopes α were analyzed and were compared with the latest Chinese culvert design code. Furthermore, the mechanism of earth pressure formation of high-fill arch culverts under valley topography was presented. The research findings are as follows: (1) The influence of the valley width B on the earth pressure concentration coefficient Ks at the top of the culvert is significant, and the increment of the earth pressure concentration coefficient Ks at the top of the culvert is larger when B is 4D−6DD is the clear span of arch culvert). (2) When B is less than 4D, the topography would play the role of load reduction to the culvert. (3) With valley slopes ranging from 45° to 60°, the earth pressure at the tops and Ks would be affected dramatically. (4) When fill height is 20 m with α >70°, Ks≤1; and when 40 m fill height with α >50°, Ks≤1. (5) The Ks recommended by the latest Chinese culvert design code differs to some extent from those by centrifugal model test and numerical simulation. In the case of α =45° with a small B value, the earth pressure concentration coefficient Ks at the top of a culvert of the code is more conservative. (6) Ks of high-fill arch culvert in valley is related to the formation of arch top compaction area and isobaric surface. The arch top compaction area can cause the earth pressure concentration on the top of the arch culvert, and cause the vertical earth pressure of the soil around the compaction area to be arched. At a certain depth approaching the surface of the fill, the arch distribution gradually transits to the horizontal distribution, thus forming an isobaric surface. The upper load of the isobaric surface will be dispersed on the valley slope, so the unloading effect of the valley topography can be exerted.

Key words: high-fill arch culvert, valley width, valley slope, earth pressure around the culvert, loading mechanism