Resiliency of MSE Walls to Surge and Wave Loading

The project objectives are to identify the mode of failure that mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls have exhibited as a result of hydrodynamic storm surge and wave loading and study effective remediation measures to improve their reliability. The research team will conduct model tests of different MSE wall cases subjected to representative tropical storm hydrodynamics using finite element modeling and centrifuge tests. The parameters of the walls will be the same as those that failed during Hurricane Ian’s landfall near Fort Myers, Florida in September 2022. The parameters of the hydrodynamics will be based on observations and data available through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USGA and other agencies and in the literature. Measurements of pore pressures in the MSE wall backfill and bearing soil will be made in order to assess the stability changes associated with excess pore pressures driven by the hydrodynamics. The surge water levels and velocities will also be measured through each test. Remediation measures that will be tested include larger mean particle size of the backfill improve permeability and reduce residual excess pore pressure and external porous façade elements as a hydrodynamic energy dissipative boundary. A study of influential parameters will be made using calibrated finite element models of the tested MSE walls.