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, by way of 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 interaction and discusses how it influences the stability of dikes covered with grass. A crop model was used to simulate vegetation growth and infiltration in response to meteorological forcing. The PLAXIS finite-element method model was used to simulate the impact of this infiltration on hydromechanical behaviour and dike stability. Results from a 4-year analysis indicated a strong correlation between root zone water content (WC rz) and factor of safety, although the relationship is not unique. The 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 the early stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-441
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Geotechnics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project

Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Slope Stability
  • Vegetation
  • Seepage
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Slopes-stabilization


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