The Effect of Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere Interaction on Slope Stability: A Numerical Study

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The stability of a dike is influenced strongly by its water content, via changes in effective stress and weight. While flow through porous media is relatively well understood, water flux in and out of a dike through a vegetated surface is not as well understood. This paper presents a numerical study of the Soil-Vegetation-Atmosphere (SVA) interaction and discusses how it influences the stability of dikes covered with grass. A crop model is used to simulate vegetation growth, and infiltration in response to meteorological forcing. The Plaxis Finite Element Method (FEM) model is used to simulate the impact of this infiltration on hydro-mechanical behavior and dike stability. Results from a four-year analysis indicate a strong correlation between root zone water content (WC rz ) and factor of safety (FoS), although not a unique relationship. Leaf Area Index (LAI) was also found to have a strong, lagged correlation with the water flux into the dike. This suggests that monitoring LAI could be a useful tool to identify vulnerable locations along dikes. It is therefore proposed that vegetation and root zone water content could be used as an indication to detect vulnerable dikes in early stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Geotechnics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Aug 2019


  • Slope Stability
  • Vegetation

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