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Demystifying Mechanically Stabilized Earth Walls: An Overview

Mechanically stabilised earth walls can seem complicated, but with a clear overview, they’re simple to understand. That’s why we at Shire Geotechnics have put together this guide, demystifying this type of wall and helping you learn more about them – and if this has got you thinking about retaining wall design, you’re in the right place. As geotechnical engineers, retaining wall design is just one of the services we offer.


What is a mechanically stabilised earth wall?


In the simplest terms, a mechanically stabilised earth wall is a type of retaining wall, but there is much more to it than that. This type of wall has been in use since the 1960s and is made up of multiple layers, alternating between backfill and soil reinforcements. The design also features facing panels.


How do mechanically stabilised earth walls work?


Like other types of retaining walls, mechanically stabilised earth walls work by holding large amounts of soil in place, usually confining it to a slope, in order to stop it from falling down and causing issues for a structure.


What are mechanically stabilised earth walls used for?


This type of retaining wall is often used when the wall needs to be of a significant height, as the design of the mechanically stabilised earth wall allows it to be built higher than other kinds of retaining wall while still being effective. This means that they can be used in all kinds of structures, including but not limited to:

  • Airport runways

  • Dams and waterways

  • Roads

  • Bridges

  • Railways

In short, this type of wall is particularly useful for large-scale projects. While roads and bridges are among its most common uses, the mechanically stabilised earth wall is suitable for any project that requires a wall that can hold back large quantities of soil.


What are the benefits of this type of wall?


One of the key benefits of mechanically stabilised earth walls is that they are highly durable. This means that they should last for a long time, even if they’re being used to retain a large amount of soil. There is also scope for flexibility within the design, as you can use either steel or geosynthetic soil reinforcements.


If you’re looking for a retaining wall design, look no further than Shire Geotechnics. We can provide everything your plan needs, from design to site investigation. Ready to get started on your retaining wall design? Get in touch with us today to get a quote or find out more about what we can do for you.

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