Success Stories

July 11, 2017

Steeply sloped, high relief landforms with fractured sedimentary geology in proximity to underground mine voids have the potential to produce far-field ground strains which initiate strain failure modes for cross valley dams. In Greene County, Pennsylvania, the Ryerson Station Dam was breached in 2005 due to substantial structural and seepage issues resulting from unpredicted ground movement caused by nearby longwall coal mining.

A three-dimensional Finite Element Method (FEM) stress/deformation model was constructed in SVSOLID™ to study and predict the effects of ground movement which may lead to excessive strains in dam components (Figures 1 and 2). The numerical model was calibrated from displacement data obtained from three field survey stations for ground movements based on field site-specific material testing values.

The analysis compared results from increasing the subsurface strata precision from 3 layers to 14 layers. The analysis indicated that the number of rock layers had little influence on the precision of the model to predict actual field site ground displacements.

The sensitivity study also investigated resultant stress magnitudes in the subsurface strata based on the ground displacement of geo-referenced control station survey data. It was concluded that the underground mine encroachment on the ridge hillside landform adjoining the dam and reservoir had a greater influence on resultant stresses than the offset distance to the mine.

The modeling investigated fourteen survey stations, totaling 140 calculated strains at eleven time dates from April 26, 2006 through July 27, 2006 to determine the failure mode occurrence potential. Table 1 presents the legend and frequency of occurrence for each strain threshold.

Approximately 86% of the identified failure modes exist after the ridge hillside landform is influenced by mining. Foundation bearing capacity strain thresholds at the fourteen survey stations were exceeded up to 1005 m (3,298 ft.) away, while dam joint stress thresholds were surpassed at offsets up to 566 m (1,857 ft.). Table 2 shows that approximately 10% of the 140 failure scenarios modeled resulted in strain magnitudes which may result in seepage and structural failure modes at distances up to 566 m (1,857 ft.). Approximately 86% of all identified dam failure modes occurred in extraction regions R2 to R7.

Further details related to this research may be found by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..Please click here for further details of the SVSOLID™ software product.

Figure 1. Final model geometry with elevation contours

Figure 2. 3D SVSOLID™ numerical model.

Table 1. Frequency of occurrence for failure modes


Table 2. Summary of failure modes at linear offset for 14 survey monitoring stations and 10 extraction regions



  • "I would like to thank you for all the support and the interest that I got from your team regarding this matter. I was able to successfully finish my project with the help of your technical support and managed to graduate achieving a high grade on the project I did. The software is extremely helpful and wasn't complicated and I look forward to future for more work and experience with your software. Thank you for your help and support."
  • "I have been using SoilVision's SVOFFICE™ software for research and training purposes for a number of years now. Myself and my colleagues have developed a number of training modules in this software, and have been using these to teach limit equilibrium and flow modeling to undergraduate students in the civil, environmental and mining engineering streams.

    In my opinion, this software is easy to learn and fun to use. The built-in tutorials are sufficient to get one started. With these tutorials, my students were generally able to complete their analyses with minimal involvement on my side.

    Based on my own experience, it takes around a month of full-time use to become reasonably competent with the software (provided that one understands the theoretical underpinnings of this type of analysis) - a short learning curve, compared to other products of similar complexity. The interface is intuitive enough for me to figure out things on my own, and I rarely had the need to ask for help.

    I don't generally like praising anything excessively, and I don't post particularly glowing reviews for anything. Having said that, I must mention the SoilVision support. At some point during my research, I was conducting a number of replication studies for my thesis. In that period, I must have emailed SoilVision's support anywhere from 2 to 5 times a day, with fairly complex (and sometimes very dumb) questions. I always got a response by the end of the day, and a resolution within a couple days at most. In a number of urgent cases (such as during a tutorial session with a classroom of students) I called them directly on the phone and, with senior product engineers involved, had the issue addressed in minutes."
  • "We have allowed our students the choice of using multiple Geotechnical software suites in our Dam Design and other Geotechnical courses. Our students consistently gravitate towards SoilVision software as being the most modern and user-friendly."

  • "I've been a geotechnical engineer for more than 25 years and SoilVision has the best tech support I have ever worked with. I truly appreciate their patience and help over the past year."

  • "Peter Brett Associates have been looking to update our existing slope stability software over the last year. After extensive research and trials, SVSLOPE® developed by SoilVision Systems Ltd. was found to meet all our existing and future design requirements. Its ease of use for modeling simple as well as complex geological and geometrical problems was a critical factor in our assessment as well as the incorporation of design to the Eurocodes. Their customer support has been faultless and their willingness to develop the software to meet our own specific design requirements is a most gratifying added bonus."

    "We love the fact that SVSLOPE® is part of an integrated suite of software and that, if required, 3D analysis can be undertaken. We would recommend this product to other geotechnical consulting firms."

  • "We have been using SVSLOPE® and SVFLUX™ for the past year and have found them to be efficient and productive engineering tools which have allowed us to offer our services in an efficient manner. The capability of automated increased discretization of the mesh is an absolute benefit to our modeling, reducing time and effort. We have found the software quick and easy for our engineers to train and utilize. I would recommend this product to other geotechnical consulting firms."

  • "The software is well documented and comes with number of useful example models. We were able to quickly begin creating models after a short review of the user interface and going through the available on-line webinars. The software offers solid benefits of less conservatism and the ability to model real geometry."

  • "This new software for stability analysis includes a number of state-of-the-art options for probabilistic slope stability analysis. This feature, combined with comprehensive deterministic analyses, will provide new opportunities to build confidence in the results of a site-specific analysis.”

  • "I'm excited to see the release of this new and innovative product. I look forward to and encourage the application of this software on additional geotechnical projects.”

  • "In consulting engineering practice, I am increasingly made aware of the important and beneficial role that modeling the unsaturated soil zone can play in providing the client with the best possible engineered solution. The SoilVision software has made it possible to readily estimate and incorporate unsaturated soil properties into the modeling of saturated / unsaturated soil systems.”

  • "The use of SVSLOPE® software as part of a research project on clay slopes under seismic conditions with the Université de Sherbrooke has been incredibly easy and effective. The continuation of this research with SoilVision is promising, with technical support, which was present at the right time, as well as a passionate geotechnical team supporting the project.”

Our industry defining software will change the game for your firm