Millions of lives have been lost over the years as a result of the effects of earthquakes. One of these devastating effects is slope failure, more commonly known as landslide. Over the years, seismologists and engineers have teamed up to better record data during an earthquake. As technology has advanced, the data obtained have become more refined, allowing engineers to use the data in their efforts to estimate earthquakes where they have not yet occurred. Several methods have been proposed over time to utilize the earthquake data and estimate slope displacements. A pioneer in the development of methods to estimate slope displacements, Nathan Newmark, proposed what is now called the Newmark sliding block method. This method explained in very simple ways how a mass, in this case a rigid block, would slide over an incline given that the acceleration of the block surpassed the frictional resistance created between the bottom of the block and the surface of the incline. Because many of the assumptions from this method were criticized by scientists over time, modified Newmark sliding block methods were proposed. As the original and modified Newmark sliding block methods were introduced, the need to account for the uncertainty in the way soil would behave under earthquake loading became a big challenge. Deterministic and probabilistic methods have been used to incorporate parameters that would account for some of the uncertainty in the analysis. In an attempt to use a probabilistic approach in understanding how slopes might fail, the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center proposed a performance-based earthquake engineering framework that would allow decision-makers to use probabilistically generated information to make decisions based on acceptable risk. Previous researchers applied this framework to simplified Newmark sliding block models, but the approach is difficult for engineers to implement in practice because of the numerous probability calculations that are required. The work presented in this thesis provides a solution to the implementation of the performance-based approach by providing a simplified procedure for the performance-based determination of seismic slope displacements using the Rathje & Saygili (2009) and the Bray and Travasarou (2007) simplified Newmark sliding block models. This document also includes hazard parameter maps, which are an important part of the simplified procedure, for five states in the United States. A validation of the method is provided, as well as a comparison of the simplified method against other commonly used approaches such as deterministic and pseudo-probabilistic.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





deterministic, hazard parameter maps, Newmark sliding block, PEER, performance-based earthquake engineering, probabilistic, slope failure