Gravitational deformation mechanisms of slate slopes revealed by model tests and discrete element analysis

Meng Chia Weng, Chia Ming Lo*, Cheng Hsien Wu, Ting Feng Chuang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


This study investigated the factors influencing the gravitational deformation of slate slopes prior to sliding failure, including the slope angle, foliation angle, and material deterioration. To simulate these phenomena, physical model tests were performed in the laboratory under simplified environmental conditions. Subsequently, the discrete element method was employed in simulations to elucidate the deformation behavior exhibited by slate slopes under the long-term influence of gravity and material deterioration. The physical model tests revealed two types of gravitational deformation of slate slopes. The first type is flexural toppling, which was observed in obsequent slopes with high-angle foliation. The second type is fold extrusion near the slope toe; this was exhibited by consequent slopes with low-angle foliation and is attributable to gravitation and deterioration caused by wetness. The results of the physical model test were used to verify the results of the discrete element simulation. The simulated deforming patterns were in strong agreement with the actual deformation at various slope angles. Regarding the factors influencing slope deformation, the simulation showed that the fold in consequent slopes became sharper and the folding area increased as the foliation angle increased; moreover, the folding area rose as the slope angle increased. In obsequent slopes, higher slope and foliation angles induced more substantial flexural toppling deformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-132
Number of pages17
JournalEngineering Geology
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Discrete element method
  • Gravitational deformation
  • Physical model
  • Slate slope


Dive into the research topics of 'Gravitational deformation mechanisms of slate slopes revealed by model tests and discrete element analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this