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Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108

DOI 10.1007/s10706-011-9442-9


Probabilistic Analysis and Design of a Strip Footing

on Layered Soil Media
Priti Maheshwari • P. Pradeep Kumar

Received: 14 May 2010 / Accepted: 23 August 2011 / Published online: 4 September 2011
Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Abstract In the present paper, the analysis of a strip 1 Introduction

footing resting on a layered soil system has been
carried out considering the elastic moduli of soil There are various factors that cause natural soil to be
layers as random variables. Three layers of soil have non-homogeneous like, removal of overburden,
been considered and the analysis employs Monte chemical bonding, change of static ground water
Carlo simulation. The modulus of elasticity has been level etc. Therefore, it is of interest to be able to
considered as random variable having lognormal predict the behavior of structures built on it. To
distribution. Factors of safety with respect to settle- predict the response of soil–foundation system, the
ment of footing and the interfacial stresses have been value of soil parameters is adopted from the results of
determined and have been related to the associated multiple tests conducted for this purpose. The data
risk factor and coefficient of variation of the random from these tests suggest that there is a fair amount of
variable. A detailed parametric study revealed that for variability which is indicative of the fact that the soil
a given risk level, the factors of safety is strongly parameters are random rather than deterministic in
dependent on the coefficient of variation of elastic nature. However, the design engineers usually tend to
modulus and only mildly upon other parameters of resolve this dilemma by adopting an arithmetic mean
the soil–foundation system. This facilitated the of various estimates in subsequent modeling of the
development of closed form equations for the upper state variables viz. settlement, stresses etc. The
bounds on factors of safety only in terms of allowable possible variability of the parameter around its mean
risk of failure and the coefficient of variation of is rather indirectly accounted for by assigning factors
elastic modulus. of safety to the concerned state variables. However,
these are chosen arbitrarily or intuitively rather than
Keywords Strip footing  Probabilistic process  deriving them from the variation of the parameter
Monte Carlo simulation  Risk of failure  visible in the outcome of the multiple tests. There-
Factor of safety  Coefficient of variation fore, it becomes essential to carry out probabilistic
analysis of soil–foundation system rather that a
deterministic analysis.
Some of the soil parameters, usually invoked in the
modeling of soil–foundation system include elastic
P. Maheshwari (&)  P. P. Kumar
modulus, modulus of subgrade reaction, hydraulic
Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute
of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee 247 667, India conductivity etc. These are the outcome of a variety
e-mail: of geological processes and may vary randomly over

1100 Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108

the space. Due to the limitations of sampling, the As mentioned above, although many studies have
spatial distribution remains largely unknown. Conse- been undertaken for understanding the stochastic
quently these parameters may be viewed as a nature of soil parameters, however, the foundation
stochastic process characterized by certain mean, designs remain largely deterministic. The possible
variance and an auto-correlation function [c(r)], variability of the parameters around their mean is
describing variation of its autocorrelation with dis- rather indirectly accounted for by assigning factors of
tance—all derived from the limited sampling. safety to the concerned state variables. However,
Another important derived parameter of a random values of these factors of safety are chosen arbitrarily
process is the autocorrelation distance (R) defined as: or intuitively rather than deriving them from the
R ¼ 0 cðrÞdr: With the autocorrelation practically variation of the parameters visible in the outcome of
vanishing at and beyond R, the persistence of soil the multiple tests. The present study is aimed at
parameters in space is thus quantified by R and c(r). developing the closed form equations for the factors of
In case R is known to be small, c(r) is modeled as 1-D safety to be used in the analysis and design of strip
Markov model wherein the autocorrelation decays footings on basis of the uncertainty in the elastic
exponentially. In case of long autocorrelation dis- modulus of soil. The state variables considered are
tances, one may adopt a Fractal model wherein the maximum settlement and the vertical stresses below
spatially persistent stochastic process is viewed as the centre of a strip footing. The equations for factors
comprising of multiple low frequency waves (har- of safety are derived by conducting Monte Carlo
monics) with random amplitudes (Fenton 1999). The simulations on a deterministic elastic model. Various
distribution of the power among harmonics is research workers have proposed different models for
described by a spectral density function. A stochastic the analysis of foundations resting on layered soil
process may be studied in two distinct ways viz. media employing different numerical as well as
analytical or numerical. Baker et al. (1989), Baker analytical methods. In the present work, a determin-
and Zeitoun (1990), Mahmoud and El Tawil (1992) istic model as proposed by Maheshwari and Madhav
etc. employed various analytical methods for model- (2006) has been adopted for the probabilistic analysis
ing a stochastic process with respect to soil param- of strip footings.
eters. Paice et al. (1996) studied the effect of random
and spatially correlated soil stiffness on the total
settlement under the centre of a uniformly loaded 2 Monte Carlo Simulation
flexible-strip footing by means of a combination of
random field theory and finite element method. Monte-Carlo simulation is a numerical study wherein
Fenton and Griffiths (2002) analyzed isolated multiple realizations of the random variables forming
footings on random soil media using finite element the stochastic process are generated. The realizations
method. Guo and Weitsman (2002) presented an are made to honor the known mean, variance and the
analytical method accompanied by a numerical autocorrelation function of the random process.
scheme, to evaluate the response of beams on non Subsequently the corresponding realizations of the
uniform elastic solution. Spatial variation of modulus relevant state variables are generated by invoking
of subgrade reaction was considered in the analysis. deterministic models. An analysis of the generated
Fenton and Griffiths (2005) modeled the soil as a 3-D realizations provides the probability density/distribu-
spatially random medium, and estimated the reliabil- tion functions of the state variables. On account of the
ity of shallow foundations against serviceability limit spatial correlation, the realizations are dependent
state failure, in the form of excessive settlement and/ upon the spatial coordinates (say X) and the realiza-
or differential settlement. The soil’s elastic modulus, tion number (x). Smith and Freeze (1979) invoked
E, was represented as a lognormally distributed the nearest-neighbor model to generate realizations of
random field with an isotropic correlation structure. logarithm of hydraulic conductivity. Baker (1984)
Many of the studies employ Monte–Carlo simulation presented the same model as a second order two-
method as the numerical approach for studying a parameter stochastic differential equation whose
stochastic process. numerical solution provides realizations of modulus

Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108 1101

of subgrade reaction. The parameters of the equation generate realizations of the relevant state variables. In
as well as the nodal spacing were related to the the present work, a deterministic model (Maheshwari
autocorrelation distance (R). Righetti and Williams and Madhav 2006, Maheshwari and Viladkar 2007)
(1988) incorporated the essentials of Monte-Carlo of the soil–footing system (Fig. 1) has been adopted
simulation in finite element based modeling of to compute the state variables viz. settlement and the
displacement and stress, treating the elastic modulus vertical stresses at soil interfaces at the mid-section of
as a stochastic process. the strip footing. A brief description of the model has
It follows from the preceding discussion that on been given below:
account of the spatial autocorrelation, the realizations The soil media has been assumed to consist of
of elastic modulus would be spatially varying [i.e., three soil layers having thicknesses, H1, H2 and H3,
E = E(X, x)] even if elastic modulus is presumed to respectively. These layers have been founded on a
be a stationary process having a uniform mean value rigid base and the elastic modulus and Poisson’s ratio
over the entire spatial domain. As such a distributed of these layers have been denoted as (E1, m1), (E2, m2)
parameter model would be required for computing and (E3, m3), respectively. The footing is acted upon
the state variables corresponding to the generated by a load intensity, q over a width, 2B at the ground
realizations. However, if the autocorrelation distance level, i.e., at the top of soil layer—I. The magnitude
is long enough, elastic modulus may be treated as of load has been assumed to be such that the soil
space-invariant random variable (Baker et al. 1989) layers remain in elastic state to ensure the applica-
whose realizations are dependent upon the realization bility of the theory of elasticity. Further, the soil
number (x) only [i.e., E = E (x)] and are indepen- layers have been assumed as cohesionless, where the
dent of the location. The state variables in this case settlement is only immediate and elastic under
can be computed by invoking any deterministic working loads. To make the analysis simple, Pois-
model representing the soil–foundation system as son’s ratio has been considered to be the same for all
mentioned in previous section. The assumption of the the three soil layers, i.e., m1 = m2 = m3 = 0.3 and
autocorrelation distance being large enough may in constant, for all the cases analyzed. Due to symmetry
fact generally hold for the reason as visualized by of the geometry, only half of the soil media
Fenton (1999) the natural processes contributing (x C B) has been analyzed (Fig. 2).
towards soil properties may be quite extensive For a plane strain situation involving a strip load,
regionally. the governing differential equation in terms of the
stress function, u (Timoshenko and Goodier 1951;
Ragab and Bayoumi 1998) can be written as:
3 Stochastic Design of a Strip Footing

The present study concentrates on stochastic design

of a strip footing resting on three layered soil media
subjected to uniform loading. The elastic moduli of
soil layers have been considered to be stochastic
processes with a large autocorrelation distance. The
factors of safety in respect of settlement and vertical
stresses at soil interfaces at the centre of strip footing
have been related to the risk level and the coefficient
of variation (COV) of the random variables.

3.1 Deterministic Model of Soil–Footing System

Any Monte Carlo simulation study is conducted on a

deterministic model of the system under consider-
ation. The chosen model is repeatedly invoked to Fig. 1 Definition sketch of three layer soil system

1102 Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108

G o ou ow >
Gr2 u þ þ ¼ 0>
ð1  2mÞ ox ox oz
G o ou ow >
Gr2 w þ þ ¼ 0>
ð1  2mÞ oz ox oz
The stresses can be expressed in terms of dis-
placements as:
E ou ow >
rx ¼ ð 1  mÞ þ m >
ð1 þ mÞð1  2mÞ ox oz >
E ou ow =
rz ¼ m þ ð 1  mÞ ð6Þ
ð1 þ mÞð1  2mÞ ox oz >
ow ou >
sxz ¼ G þ >
ox oz
where E and t are the elastic modulus and Poisson’s
ratio, respectively. rx and rz are, respectively the
Fig. 2 Typical discretization of soil with boundary and normal stresses in x and z directions and sxz is the
continuity conditions shear stress. ex and ez are the normal strains in x and
z directions, respectively while cxz is the shear strain,
o2 o2 o2 u o2 u G represents the shear modulus and u and w are the
þ þ 2 ¼0 ð1Þ independent displacements in x and z directions,
ox2 oz2 ox2 oz
where u is the stress function and x and z are co-
ordinates of any point as shown in Fig. 1.
It is difficult to solve (1) in terms of stress 3.2 Boundary and Continuity Conditions
function, u. Therefore, a simpler formulation in terms
of displacements has been adopted. The equilibrium A uniform load intensity, q, has been applied over a
equations, width, 2B of a smooth strip footing. The boundary
9 and the continuity conditions are given as follows
orx oszx >
þ ¼ 0>= (Fig. 2):
ox oz
osxz orz >
þ ¼ 0>; rz ¼ q for x  B; z ¼ 0 ð7Þ
ox oz
rz ¼ 0 for x [ B; z ¼ 0 ð8Þ
are coupled with stress–strain relationships for plane
strain condition, sxz ¼ 0 for all x; z ¼ 0 ð9Þ

1   9 The soil media has been considered as having

ex ¼ rx  t r y þ r z > >
> three different finite soil layers lying on a rigid base.
E >
ez ¼ rz  t r x þ r y > u¼w¼0 for all x; z ¼ H ð10Þ
E >
sxz >
> As the soil media has an infinite extent in
cxz ¼ ;
G x direction, all the stresses and displacements become
and strain–displacement equations, zero for x tending to ?. For the cases analyzed in the
present study, this condition has been satisfied at
ou ow ou ow x = 8B.
ex ¼ ; ez ¼ ;c ¼ þ ð4Þ
ox oz xz oz ox The continuity of vertical as well as the shear
to obtain the governing equations (Ragab and stresses has been satisfied at the interfaces of soil
Bayoumi 1998) as: layers, i.e.,

Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108 1103

rð1;2Þ ¼ rð2;1Þ and sð1;2Þ ¼ sð2;1Þ at z ¼ H1 ð11Þ layers to be same (m) and dx = dz, for a typical node
z z xz xz
(i, j) in x–z plane, the governing differential equations
z ¼ rð3;2Þ
z and sð2;3Þ
xz ¼ sð3;2Þ
xz at z ¼ H1 þ H2 (5) can be written in finite difference form as:
ð12Þ 1m   1  2m   9
ui;j ¼ ui1;j þ uiþ1;j þ ui;j1 þ ui;jþ1 >
3  4m 2ð3  4mÞ >
where rð1;2Þ
z ; rð2;1Þ
z are the normal stresses and 1  >
ð1;2Þ ð2;1Þ þ wiþ1;jþ1  wiþ1;j1  wi1;jþ1 þ wi1;j1 > >
sxz ; sxz are the shear stresses at the interface 8ð3  4mÞ
between layers I and II, while rð2;3Þ ; rð3;2Þ 1m   1  2m   >
z z are the wi;j ¼ wi;j1 þ wi;jþ1 þ wi1;j þ wiþ1;j > >
3  4m 2ð3  4mÞ >
ð2;3Þ ð3;2Þ
normal stresses and sxz ; sxz are the shear stresses >
1   >
at the interface between layers II and III. þ uiþ1;jþ1  uiþ1;j1  ui1;jþ1 þ ui1;j1 > ;
8ð3  4mÞ
As governing differential equations (6) have been ð19Þ
expressed in terms of vertical and horizontal dis-
placements, above stated boundary and the continuity The boundary and continuity conditions have also
conditions (7)–(9) have also been expressed in terms been written in finite different form and solved along
of displacements. with the above equation using Gauss–Siedel iterative
Displacement boundary conditions have been method.
satisfied by imposing horizontal displacement, Thus, the equation system can be represented in
the following form:
u ¼ 0 for x  B; z ¼ 0 and ð13Þ
w; r ¼ UðE1 ; E2 =E1 ; E3 =E2 ; H1 =H; H2 =H; q; B; mÞ
u; w ¼ 0 for all x; z ¼ H: ð14Þ ð20Þ
At the interface where z = H1, the continuity Various terms appearing in the above equation can
conditions can be expressed in terms of displace- be classified as follows: E1, E2/E1, E3/E2, H1/H, H2/
ments as: H, q, B and m are the model parameters; w and r are
 state variables; and U is the model as proposed by
E1 ow ou
ð1  m1 Þ þ m1 Maheshwari and Madhav (2006).
ð1 þ m1 Þð1  2m1 Þ  oz ox
E2 ow ou
¼ ð1  m2 Þ þ m2 ð15Þ
ð1 þ m2 Þð1  2m2 Þ oz ox
3.3 Linking Factors of Safety to Risk
  Invoking the above model for the analysis of strip
ow ou ow ou
G1 þ ¼ G2 þ ð16Þ footings on layered soil media, one can design the
ox oz ox oz
system restricting a state variable W (=w or r) to a
Similarly at the interface where z = H1 ? H2, prescribed upper limit Wm. Parameters (Ei, i = 1, 2,
 3) are random variables with mean (lEi) and a
E2 ow ou
ð1  m2 Þ þ m2 coefficient of variation (COV). This problem can be
ð1 þ m2 Þð1  2m2 Þ  oz ox
E3 ow ou addressed in a deterministic or stochastic mode.
¼ ð1  m3 Þ þ m3 ð17Þ In the deterministic approach, W is computed
ð1 þ m3 Þð1  2m3 Þ oz ox
through the model assigning the mean values (lEi) to
and the corresponding stochastic parameters (Ei). Then
  recognizing the inherent uncertainty in the parame-
ow ou ow ou
G2 þ ¼ G3 þ ð18Þ ters, Ei and hence in computed state variable, W, the
ox oz ox oz
upper limit on W is attenuated through an arbitrarily
A finite difference scheme has been adopted for assigned factor of safety (FOS). The system is
solution of above equation system. The soil media designed assigning an upper limit on Wu that is
has been discretized in a manner shown in Fig. 2 with lower than Wm through a factor, FOS (i.e., Wu = Wm/
an interval of dx in x direction and dz in z direction. FOS). The main problem with this approach is that
Assuming the Poisson’s ratio for all the three soil the prescribed FOS is rather arbitrary.

1104 Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108

In the stochastic approach, the parameters Ei and (though skewed) ensures non-negativity. As such, the
hence the state variable W are treated as random parameters, Ei (i = 1, 2, 3) is assumed to follow the
variables. W can be characterized by a cumulative log-normal distribution. This implies that ln Ei (say
probability distribution function (cdf) or by its mean Pi) follows a normal distribution with the following
and variance. Both may be derived from the known mean and standard deviation.
stochastic structure of random variables (Ei). Monte 0 1
Carlo simulation has to be resorted to for generating r Ei
the cdf. Therefore, the deterministic design criterion lPi ¼ ln@lEi þ1A ð24Þ
(restricting W to Wu) can be stated in a stochastic

mode as follows: u
u  2 !
rPi ¼ tln
EðW Þ ¼ Wu þ1 ð25Þ
The risk of failure (i.e., W exceeding Wm) in the
deterministic design can be expressed as follows. In the present study, realizations of Pi are gener-
ated by applying the central limit theorem to random
e ¼ PðW [ Wm Þ numbers (uniformly distributed in the range 0–1).
or The application essentially involves summing up ‘n’
random numbers that as per the theorem provides a
e ¼ 1  FW ðFOS  lW Þ ð21Þ realization of a normally distributed random variable
where, e = risk of failure (termed henceforth as risk) (say Si) with mean as ‘n/2’ and variance as ‘n/12’. In
associated with the deterministic design characterized the present application, ‘n’ is taken as 40.
by FOS, and FW = the cumulative probability distri- These realizations are then transformed to the
bution function of W. realizations of Pi (ln Ei) as follows.
Thus, the necessary FOS for an assigned risk level
Si  n
can be computed as follows. Pi ¼ pffiffiffinffi2 rPi þ lPi ð26Þ
FOS ¼ l1 1
W FW ð1  eÞ ð22Þ
Subsequently realizations of Ei are generated by
Recalling that the cdf is a non-diminishing exponentiating the realizations of ln Ei (i.e., Pi).
function varying from zero at minus infinity to These realizations along with the stipulated values of
one at plus infinity, it can be seen that a lower H1/H, H2/H, q, B, t (20) are fed to the chosen
prescribed risk level shall always lead to a higher deterministic elastic model of settlement and the
factor of safety. In the limiting case of zero risk, vertical stresses (Maheshwari and Madhav 2006;
the required FOS is infinity. This implies that by Maheshwari and Viladkar 2007) as described earlier
suitably increasing the FOS, the risk can be to compute the realizations of W (=w or r). These
reduced to any level above zero. Similarly the realizations are invoked to construct the cdf (FW) of
necessary FOS for implementing a 50% risk in the W which provides arrays of e and the corresponding
design is one. As the FOS increases beyond one, FOS as per (21) or (22). These arrays are regressed to
the risk decreases. Maheshwari and Kashyap (2008, estimate the parameters, a and b of (23). The number
2009) presented the following approximate func- of Monte Carlo simulations adopted in the present
tional relation, honoring the requirements stated study is 101.
earlier. In the present work, only the uncertainty due to
inherent variability in the soil properties has been
FOS  aeb ð23Þ
considered. The used deterministic model simulates
where, a and b are the fitting parameters to be the cohesionless soil layers in which the settlement is
estimated by regression of e versus FOS arrays. These immediate and elastic under working loads. However,
arrays are generated in accordance with Eqs. 21 (or in the practical situation, the soil layers may not be
22). The soil parameters are mostly considered to perfectly cohesionless and this will also introduce
follow log-normal distribution (25–28). The distribu- some uncertainty which has not been considered in
tion apart from permitting a spread around the mean the present study.

Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108 1105

4 Results and Discussion Relative thickness of middle soil layer, H2/

H = 0.05 - 0.3
The proposed method has been initially validated for Applied load intensity, q = 0.15, 0.3 MN/m
a deterministic homogeneous finite layer, in which
Typically, width of loaded region (B) and depth of
case the moduli and Poisson’s ratio of the three layers
soil strata (H) has been kept constant for all the
are equal (E1 = E2 = E3 = 10 MPa and t1 = t2 =
studies as 1 and 16 m, respectively.
t3 = 0.3), by comparing the results with those given
Typical results from a detail parametric study have
by Poulos and Davis (Poulos and Davis 1974). The
been presented in Fig. 3 comprising the generated
difference in values of displacements obtained by the
discrete FOS in respect of settlement versus the risk
present method at ground level (35.53 mm) and that
points for the extreme values of [l (E1), l (E2/E1), l
by Poulos and Davis (1974) (30.78 mm) is around
(E3/E2), H1/H, H2/H, q] for a typical COV = 15%. It
12–14%. This may be because Poulos and Davis
is evident from the figure that the parameters [lE1, l
method uses an approximate method i.e., Steinbren-
(E2/E1), l (E3/E3), H1/H, H2/H, q] do not affect the
ner’s approximation.
FOS significantly. Similar kind of observation has
The parameters (a and b) of the factor of safety
been made for the FOS in respect of vertical stresses
versus risk relation (23) are dependent upon the mean
at soil interfaces. However, as COV has been
and COV of the random variables, E1, E2 and E3 and
changed, the significant change in FOS versus
also upon the variables: H1/H, H2/H, q. Numerical
probability of failure relation has been observed.
experiments have been conducted to estimate the
From these results, it has been evident that while FOS
parameters (a and b) for the following ranges of
is sensitive enough to COV, other parameters [l (E1),
variation of the contributing variables:
l (E2/E1), l (E3/E2), H1/H, H2/H, q] do not affect the
Mean of Elastic modulus of upper soil layer, FOS significantly. Keeping this in view, an upper
lE1 = 30 - 120 MPa envelope, representing the upper bound on the FOS
Mean of modular ratio, l (E2/E1) = 0.5 - 2.0 has been fitted on to all these data (Fig. 3). Similar
Mean of modular ratio, l (E3/E2) = 0.25 - 2.0 trends have been observed at all assigned values of
COV of elastic moduli of soil layers (%) = 1 - 25 COV (varying from 1 to 25%) leading to similar
Relative thickness of top soil layer, H1/ action, i.e., fitting upper envelops. Since these
H = 0.05 - 0.3 envelops represent the variation of the upper bound

Fig. 3 Typical FOS

(settlement) versus
probability of failure

1106 Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108

Fig. 4 Fitting parameter a (settlement) versus COV Fig. 7 Fitting parameter b (vertical stress at top interface)
versus COV

Fig. 5 Fitting parameter b (settlement) versus COV Fig. 8 Fitting parameter a (vertical stress at bottom interface)
versus COV

Fig. 6 Fitting parameter a (vertical stress at top interface) Fig. 9 Fitting parameter b (vertical stress at bottom interface)
versus COV versus COV

on FOS with the risk, (23) has been fitted on to them. ([0.9). The estimated parameters (a and b) at various
The fits have been generally found to be well charac- levels of the COV for the three state variables
terized with high enough correlation coefficients (settlement and vertical stresses at soil interfaces) have

Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108 1107

been shown graphically in Figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Table 3 Factors of safety (vertical stress at bottom interface)
Recognizing quite pronounced linear trends, a and corresponding to coefficient of variation and associated risk
factor or probability of failure
b are expressed as linear functions of COV. This
leads to the following closed form expressions for the Risk level (%) Coefficient of variation (%)
factors of safety in terms of the risk (e) and the 5 10 15 20 25 30
coefficient of variation (COV) of the elastic moduli of
soil layers (Ei). 0.01 1.36 1.79 2.30 2.92 3.66 4.54
0.05 1.29 1.63 2.01 2.44 2.93 3.48
FOS ðsettlementÞ ¼ ½0:98 þ 0:033 ðCOVÞ 0.1 1.26 1.56 1.89 2.25 2.66 3.10
ð27Þ 0.5 1.20 1.42 1.65 1.88 2.13 2.38
 e½0:0036 þ 0:0053 ðCOVÞ
1 1.17 1.36 1.55 1.74 1.93 2.12
FOS ðvertical stress at top interfaceÞ 2 1.14 1.31 1.46 1.61 1.75 1.89
¼ ½0:95 þ 0:049 ðCOVÞ e½0:0104 þ 0:0053 ðCOVÞ
These closed form solutions provide the necessary
and FOS in respect of the settlement and vertical stress at
FOS ðvertical stress at bottom interfaceÞ the interface of soil layers for any assigned level of
risk. Tables comprising the computed factors of
¼ ½0:98 þ 0:038 ðCOVÞ e½0:0065 þ 0:0053 ðCOVÞ
safety for typical risk levels have been presented in
ð29Þ Tables 1, 2 and 3.

5 Concluding Remarks
Table 1 Factors of safety (deflection) corresponding to coef-
ficient of variation and associated risk factor or probability of Ideally, any soil–foundation system should be
designed in a stochastic-distributed mode because
Risk level (%) Coefficient of variation (%) of inevitable uncertainty of the soil parameters
5 10 15 20 25 30 (elastic modulus) used while modeling the system
under study. However, mostly the design engineers
0.01 1.32 1.70 2.16 2.72 3.38 4.17 prefer a deterministic approach invoking mean value
0.05 1.25 1.55 1.89 2.28 2.71 3.21 of the elastic moduli and rather empirical factors of
0.1 1.23 1.49 1.79 2.11 2.47 2.86 safety to account for the uncertainty. The present
0.5 1.17 1.36 1.56 1.77 1.98 2.21 study amalgamates deterministic and the stochastic
1 1.15 1.31 1.48 1.64 1.81 1.97 approaches by linking the factors of safety (in respect
2 1.12 1.26 1.39 1.52 1.64 1.76 of the maximum settlement and vertical stresses) to
the allowable risk of failure that is essentially an
attribute of stochastic design. The linkage is achieved
Table 2 Factors of safety (vertical stress at top interface)
assuming elastic moduli of soil layers in layered soil
corresponding to coefficient of variation and associated risk
factor or probability of failure system to be a stationary random process with large
enough autocorrelation distance. With these assump-
Risk level (%) Coefficient of variation (%)
tions, the stochasticity of elastic moduli is described
5 10 15 20 25 30 completely in terms of its mean and variance.
0.01 1.42 1.93 2.55 3.30 4.20 5.28
Further, its realizations become space-invariant facil-
0.05 1.33 1.74 2.21 2.74 3.34 4.02
itating the application of a lumped parameter model.
A detailed parametric study was carried out on the
0.1 1.30 1.67 2.07 2.52 3.02 3.57
soil–strip footing system and this revealed that the
0.5 1.23 1.50 1.79 2.09 2.40 2.72
factors of safety are strongly dependent upon only
1 1.20 1.44 1.69 1.93 2.18 2.42
the coefficient of variation of the elastic moduli of
2 1.16 1.38 1.58 1.78 1.97 2.15
soil layers. This facilitated the development of closed

1108 Geotech Geol Eng (2011) 29:1099–1108

form equations for the three factors of safety Maheshwari P, Kashyap D (2008) Rationalization of factors of
exclusively in terms of the allowable risk of failure safety in analysis of beams on geosynthetic reinforced
random earth beds by Monte Carlo simulation. Int J
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