We present a generalized framework for the stability of infinite slopes under steady unsaturated seepage conditions. The analytical framework allows the water table to be located at any depth below the ground surface and variation of soil suction and moisture content above the water table under steady infiltration conditions. The framework also explicitly considers the effect of weathering and porosity increase near the ground surface on changes in the friction angle of the soil. The factor of safety is conceptualized as a function of the depth within the vadose zone and can be reduced to the classical analytical solution for subaerial infinite slopes in the saturated zone. Slope stability analyses with hypothetical sandy and silty soils are conducted to illustrate the effectiveness of the framework. These analyses indicate that for hillslopes of both sandy and silty soils, failure can occur above the water table under steady infiltration conditions, which is consistent with some field observations that cannot be predicted by the classical infinite slope theory. A case study of shallow slope failures of sandy colluvium on steep coastal hillslopes near Seattle, Washington, is presented to examine the predictive utility of the proposed framework. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Infinite slope stability under steady unsaturated seepage conditions