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Lillian Holmes
Director of Public Works
Asked a question last year

Which pressure us higher in retaining wall, water or soil?

Which pressure us higher in retaining wall, water or soil?

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The pressure of water is higher act on retaining wall because that water doesn’t have any active or passive coefficient, so total pressure of water act = (0.5)* unit weight *height^2

In soil pressure

Total soil pressure on retaining wall is =(0.5)*k*unit weight of soil *height^2

In that term, k = active or passive coefficient.

K active = (1-sin∅)/(1+sin∅)

K passive = (1+sin∅)/(1-sin∅)

So most of the case that is active pressure active on soil.

In active pressure it is less than water pressure

And in passive state soil pressure is higher than water pressure

Wilma Caldwell
Architectural technologist

In technical terms,

Above the Water table,

Pressure exerted by water on retaining wall = 0.5 K.H^2

K = coefficient of earth pressure

H= vertical height of wall.

Total stress = effective stress + pore water pressure.

Earth pressure due to soil:

Total stress = effective stress.