Date of Award


Document Type

Master's report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Stanley Vitton


In 1988 a landslide occurred at a construction site in Birmingham, Alabama in which a portion of the construction site required excavating a rock slope with a group of apartments that were located at the top of the slope. During construction, two separate landslides occurred causing one and half of the apartment buildings to collapse downslope. The slope failure was investigated by two firms. One firm investigated the site conditions and the second firm investigated the design of the cut slope. The main concerns in the investigation were (1) the lack of consideration for the existing joint system, (2) using averaged the strength parameters, (3) the possibility of damaging the slope with blasting, and (4) the potential that there were underground mines at the site. The Rocscience program RocPlane was used to model the in situ conditions and the excavation. The model showed that the joint system’s pore water pressure was most likely the main factor in the failure.