(1) Department of Civil Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, maithree.kurukulasur@ucalgary.ca (2) Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada, ngshrive@ucalgary.ca


Among the wide range of earth retaining structures employed in modern engineering practice, the use of an arch shape in retaining walls is surprisingly unprecedented in the recent past. A novel low-rise unreinforced concrete block arch masonry retaining wall is introduced, where the arch wall resists the lateral earth pressure by arch action. The wall was 2.4m high with a “rise” of 1.08m on a span of 7.6m between two rigid walls (abutments). The response of the wall to backfilling, soil pressure and surcharge loading was monitored through strain gauges and displacement transducers. One half of the wall was fully grouted, while the other half was left hollow to compare the behaviour of the grouted and ungrouted masonry. The use of concrete blocks was desirable in this instance due to their strength, ease of construction, cost effectiveness and aesthetic appearance. This makes such a wall ideal for low-rise retention, opening a new market in which masonry can compete. The efficacy of the arch masonry retaining wall was substantiated through experimental results, with deflections less than 1.3% of the least dimension of the wall, compressive stresses well within the elastic range of masonry and no cracks observed in the visible region of the wall. Analytical and numerical predictions for the experimental structure and recommendations for design are also discussed.

KEYWORDS: earth retaining structure, arch, concrete block masonry.