Current reinforced earth structure designs arbitrarily distinguish between reinforced walls and slopes, that is, the batter of walls is 20° or less while in slopes it is larger than 20°.
This has led to disjointed design methodologies where walls employ a lateral earth pressure approach and slopes utilize limit equilibrium analyses. The earth pressure approach used is either simplified (e.g., ignoring facing effects), approximated (e.g., considering facing effects only partially), or purely empirical. It results in selection of a geosynthetic with a long-term strength that is potentially overly conservative or, by virtue of ignoring statics, potentially unconservative. The limit equilibrium approach used in slopes deals explicitly with global equilibrium only; it is ambiguous about the load in individual layers. Presented is a simple limit equilibrium methodology to determine the unfactored global geosynthetic strength required to ensure sufficient internal stability in reinforced earth structures. This approach allows for seamless integration of the design methodologies for reinforced earth walls and slopes. The methodology that is developed accounts for the sliding resistance of the facing. The results are displayed in the form of dimensionless stability charts. Given the slope angle, the design frictional strength of the soil, and the toe resistance, the required global unfactored strength of the reinforcement can be determined using these charts. The global strength is then distributed among individual layers using three different assumed distribution functions. It is observed that, generally, the assumed distribution functions have secondary effects on the trace of the critical slip surface. The impact of the distribution function on the required global strength of reinforcement is minor and exists only when there is no toe resistance, when the slope tends to be vertical, or when the soil has low strength. Conversely, the impact of the distribution function on the maximum unfactored load in individual layers, a value which is typically used to select the geosynthetics, can result in doubling its required long-term strength.