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In this paper, the results of a substantial program of two dimensional and axisymmetric analyses of open pit slopes are described. Variations in the following parameters were taken into account in this programme: slope angle, slope height and horizontal to vertical in situ stress ratio. The evaluation of the data has concentrated on the tensile stresses and the extension strains in the slopes. This is believed to be the first publication dealing with strain distributions in slopes. The occurrence of zones of tensile stress was very limited. These zones occur in the crests of slopes, except in the case of low horizontal to vertical stress ratios, in which case the tensile zone is in the floor of the pit. In contrast, very large zones of extension strain can occur, and this finding represents a significant new aspect in slope stability that has not been considered before. The greatest magnitudes of extension strain occur near the toe of the slope, either in the slope itself, or in the floor of the pit. The magnitudes of the strains are considered to be large enough to result in fracturing of intact rock, and the fracture orientations predicted are adverse for slope stability. The large zone in which such extension failure could potentially occur in a 1200 m deep pit is typically more than 100 m horizontally behind the toe and about 400 m up the face from the toe. 
The Journal of The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, JULY/AUGUST 2003
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
South Africa
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