Authors: Sullivan, TD


Cite As:
Sullivan, TD 2007, 'Hydromechanical Coupling and Pit Slope Movements', in Y Potvin (ed.), Slope Stability 2007: Proceedings of the 2007 International Symposium on Rock Slope Stability in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 3-43,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

This paper presents a review of the general state of the art in the understanding of the interaction between water and pit slope deformations. The topics covered include; the theory of hydromechanical coupling, the interaction between stress and pore fluid responses for rock structure and rock masses and the impacts of these on open pit slopes. The hydrogeological cycle for an open pit is explained and the importance of transient and partial pore pressures are highlighted. The paper includes an explanation of pit slope deformations and failure movements. A new system for classifying pit slope movements is presented together with critical movement thresholds. The various methods for slope depressurisation are addressed and the accuracy and methodology for assessing pore pressure input to slope design at all slope scales are reviewed. Examples of hydromechanical coupling, pore pressure responses in structure and rock masses, statistics on the interaction between rainfall and pit slope failures and the role of undrained loading for the liquefaction potential for pit slopes are presented. It is concluded that the effective management of pit slopes is only possible by the integration of pit slope deformations and movements with the hydraulic properties and pore pressure responses of the rock mass.

Alonso, E.E., Gens, A. and Delahaye, C.H. (2003) Influence of Rainfall on the Deformation and Stability of a Slope in
Overconsolidated Clays : A Case Study. Hydrogeology Journal 11, pp. 174-192.
Biot, M.A. (1941) General theory of three-dimensional consolidation. J. Appl. Phys. 12(2), pp. 155-164.
Bishop, A.W. and Bjerrum, L. (1960) The Relevance of the Triaxial Test to the Solution of Stability Problems. Proc.
ASCE Research Conf. on Shear Strength of Cohesive Soils, Boulder, Col., pp. 437-501.
Brown, A. (1982) The Influence and Control of Groundwater in Large Slopes. Proceedings 3rd Int. Symposium
Stability in Surface Mining, Chapter 3, pp. 19-39.
Broadbent, C.D. and Zavodni, Z.M. (1982) Influence of Rock Structure on Stability. Stability in Surface Mining,
Volume 3, Society of Mining Engineers, Chap. 2.
Burland, J.B., Longworth, T.I. and Moore, J.F.A. (1977) A study of ground movement and progressive failure caused
by a deep excavation in Oxford Clay. Geotechnique, Vol. 27 (4), pp. 557-591.
Hydromechanical Coupling and Pit Slope Movements T.D. Sullivan
42 Slope Stability 2007, Perth, Australia
Burman, B.C. and Sullivan, T.D. (1985) Dewatering and Depressurisation Studies for Development of the Lochiel Open
Pit Mine, South Australia. Mine Water, Granada, Spain, pp. 307-324.
Couture, R. and Evans, S.G. (2006) Slow-Moving Disintegrating Rockslides on Mountain Slopes. S.G. Evans et al.
(eds.) Landslides from Massive Rock Slope Failure, pp. 377-393.
Fell, R., Hungr, O., Leroueil, S. and Riemer, W. (2000) Keynote Lecture – Geotechnical Engineering of The Stability of
Natural Slopes, and Cuts and Fills in Soil. Proc. Conference GeoEng 2000, Melbourne, Australia.
Freeze, R.A. and Cherry, J.A. (1979) Groundwater. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632.
Glastonbury, J. (1999) Preliminary Study of the pre collapse deformation of cut rock slopes. Unpublished report, School
of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney (part of Phd study).
Hutchinson, J.N. (2006) Massive Rock Slope Failure: Perspectives and Retrospectives on State-of-the-Ar. S.G. Evans et
al. (eds.) Landslides from Massive Rock Slope Failure, pp. 619-662.
Kennedy, B.A. and Niermeyer, K.E. (1970) Slope monitoring systems used in the prediction of major slope failure at
the Chuquicamata Mine, Chile. Proceedings Symposium on Planning Open Pit Mines, Johannesburg. A.A.
Balkema, Amsterdam.
Lamb, T.W. and Whitman, R.V. (1969) Soil Mechanics. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Leroueil, S., Locat, J., Vaunat, J., Picarelli, L. and Faure, R. (1996) Geo Characterisation of Slope Movements.
Proceedings 7th International Symposium on Landslides, K. Senneset (editor) Trondheim, Norway, Balkema,
Rotterdam. Vol. 1, pp. 53-74.
Louis, C. (1974) Rock Hydraulics. International Centre for Mechanical Sciences. Courses and Lectures – No. 165.
Rock Mechanics. Edited by L. Műller.
Martin, D.C. (1993) Time dependent deformation of rock slopes. PhD Thesis, University of London, August 1993.
Neuzil, C.E. (2003) Hydromechanical Coupling in Geologic Processes. Hydrogeology Journal 11, pp. 41-83.
O’Brien, M.D. and Sullivan, T.D. (1988) The Lochiel Trial Pit Design and Excavation. The AusIMM Sydney Branch,
Minerals and Exploration at the Crossroads, Sydney, NSW, pp. 125-133.
O’Brien, M.D., Sullivan, T.D. and Redman, P.G. (1988) Design and Operation of the Dewatering System for the
Lochiel Trial Pit. The Third International Mine Water Congress, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 721-731.
Pariseau, W.G. (2001) Coupled Geomechanic-Hydrologic Approach to Slope Stability Based on Finite Elements. Slope
Stability in Surface Mining, Chapter 11. Published by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration Inc.
Rutqvist, J. and Stephansson, O. (2003) The Role of Hydromechanical Coupling in Fractured Rock Engineering.
Hydrogeology Journal, 11, pp. 7-40.
Ryan, T.M. and Call, R.D. (1992) Application of rock mass monitoring for stability assessment of pit slope failure.
Proceedings of 33rd U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium, pp. 221-229.
Savely, J.P. (1993) Slope management strategies for successful mining. In Innovative Mine Design for the 21st Century.
Kingston, August 23-26, 1993, pp. 25-34.
Sharp, J.C. (1970) Fluid flow through fractured media. PhD Thesis, University of London.
Small, C.A. and Morgenstern, N.R. (1992) Performance of a highwall in soft rock Highvale Mine, Alberta. Canadian
Geotech. Jour., 29, 3 June 1992.
Snow, D.T. (1965) A parallel plate model of fractured permeable media. PhD Thesis, University of California,
Snow, D.T. (1968) Rock fracture spacings, openings, and porosities. J. Soil Mech. Found. Div. ASCE 73-91.
Stacey, T.R., Terbrugge, P.J., Keyter, G.J., and Xianbin, Y. (2003) Extension Strain – A New Concept in Open Pit
Slope Stability, and its Use in the Explanation of Two Slope Failures.
Sullivan, T.D. (1993) Understanding Pit Slope Movements. Geotechnical Instrumentation and Monitoring in Open Pit
and Underground Mining, T. Szwedzicki (editor). Balkema, Rotterdam, ISBN 90 5410 321 3.
Sullivan, T.D. (1994) Mine Slope Design – The Chances of Getting the Answer Right and the Risk of Getting it Wrong.
4th Large Open Pit Mining Conference, Perth.
Sullivan, T.D. (2006) Pit Slope Design and Risk – A View of the Current State of the Art. International Symposium on
Stability of Rock Slopes in Open Pit Mining and Civil Engineering. The South African Institute of Mining and
Metallurgy. Symposium Series 544. Cape Town, South Africa.
Terzaghi, K. (1923) Die Berechnung der Durchlässigkeitziffer des Tones aus dem Verlauf der hydrodynamischen
Spannungserscheinungen. Akad. Wissensch. Wien Sitzungsber. Mathnaturwissensch Klasse IIa 142 (3/4), pp.
Wang, H.F. (2000) Theory of Linear Poroelasticity. Princeton University Press, p. 287.
Wyllie, D.C. and Mah, C.W. (2004) Rock Slope Eng. Civil and mining 4th edition.
Zavodni, Z.M. (2001) Time-Dependent Movements of Open-Pit Slopes. SME Proceedings, Denver, Colorado, pp. 81-
Rock Slope Design
Slope Stability 2007, Perth, Australia 43

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to