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Water retention


The failure mechanism in the New Orleans 17th Canal Street levee (NCE 16 March), which involved water pressure in a flooded tension crack pushing the embedded retaining wall over while the clay behind it remained intact, was identified by us in a paper published in Geotechnique in September 1988.

A requirement for designers to consider explicitly the possibility of failure occurring in this way for unpropped embedded walls retaining clay soils was subsequently included in the UK code of practice for the design of retaining walls (BS 8002: ), Eurocode EC7 and CIRIA guidance C580.

Malcolm D Bolton, Engineering Department, University of Cambridge and William Powrie, School of Civil Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, uk

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