Uncertainty analysis remains at the forefront of geotechnical design, due to the predictive nature of the applied discipline. Designs must be analysed within a reliability-based framework, such that inherent risks are demonstrated to decision makers. This research explores this paradigm in three important areas of geotechnical design; namely, continuum, Discrete Fracture Network (DFN) and discontinuum modelling. Continuum modelling examined the negative effects of ignoring spatial heterogeneity on model prediction. This was conducted through the stochastic modelling of spatial heterogeneities found within a large open pit mine slope. DFN analysis introduced a novel approach to fracture generation to solve issues associated with the incorporation of traditional DFNs into geomechanical simulation models. Finally, discontinuum modelling explored the inherent mesh dependencies that exist in UDEC grain boundary models (UDEC-GBM). Conclusions suggest that a transition is required from deterministic to uncertainty based design practices within the geotechnical discipline.
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Thesis advisor: Stead, Doug
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