Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Robb Moss


Seismic pressures on displacing or rigid retaining or basement walls have been derived based on the original work of Mononobe and Okabe, who used a shake table to calculate dynamic pressures of displacing retaining walls existing in cohesionless soils. Since this original work was done over eighty years ago, the results of Mononobe and Okabe, colloquially known as M-O theory, have been applied to different conditions, including non-displacing basement walls, as well as changes in soil properties. Since the original work of M-O, there have been numerous studies completed to verify the accuracy of the original calculation, most notably the work of Seed and Whitman (1970), Wood (1973), Sitar (Various), and Ostadan (2005). This has resulted in varying opinions for the accuracy of M-O theory, whether it is grossly unconservative or conservative, as well as its effectiveness for situations where the wall does not displace enough to engage active soil conditions. This study examines (3) different wall cases, a cantilever retaining wall, gravity retaining wall, and rigid basement wall, through an implcit finite element analysis, under simple sinusoidal boundary accelerations. The soil is modeled using the Drucker-Prager model for elastic-plastic properties. The dynamic pressure increment is observed for different driving frequencies, with the anticipation that an in-phase and out of phase response between the soil and structure will be achieved, resulting in both lower and higher than M-O pressure values.