Numerical simulations for response of MSE wall-supported bridge abutments to vertical load

Yewei Zheng, Patrick J. Fox, P. Benson Shing

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


In recent years, mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls have been proposed as support for bridge abutments on shallow foundations due to significant cost savings over conventional pile-supported designs. This paper presents new research on numerical modeling of a realistic MSE wall-supported bridge abutment using the finite difference program FLAC-2D. MSE abutments are typically subjected to much larger loads from bridge superstructures than conventional MSE walls. An MSE bridge abutment with a flexible wall facing is a complex system that includes granular backfill, reinforcement, concrete facing blocks, and a shallow foundation for the abutment structure. In the numerical simulations, soil-block, block-block, and soil-abutment interactions were simulated using interface elements, and soil-geogrid interactions were simulated using cable elements. The MSE abutment is subjected to a vertical bridge load of 200 kPa. Results are presented for static conditions and include lower wall facing displacements, abutment structure settlements, maximum tensile forces in the reinforcement, lateral earth pressures, and vertical stresses under the abutment structure and at the soil foundation level. The numerical results are discussed with regard to practical field applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGround Improvement and Geosynthetics - Selected Papers from the Proceedings of the 2014 GeoShanghai International Congress
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages10
Edition238 GSP
ISBN (Print)9780784413401
StatePublished - 2014
Event2014 GeoShanghai International Congress: Ground Improvement and Geosynthetics - Shanghai, China
Duration: May 26 2014May 28 2014

Publication series

NameGeotechnical Special Publication
Number238 GSP
ISSN (Print)0895-0563


Other2014 GeoShanghai International Congress: Ground Improvement and Geosynthetics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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