Oil Sands Excavation Slope Stability using SVSlope® 3D


May 30, 2011

As part of the SVSlope® 3D Beta program, SoilVision Systems Ltd. worked closely with Amer Awad, Ph.D., P.Eng., to analyze the applications of the software in the assessment of temporary excavation slopes for a seepage mitigation structure in an Oil Sands related project. The structure was about 1800 m long with sections varying in geometry, depth, lithology and material properties. Typical section geometry is shown in the screenshot below.

Original 2D cross-section
Original 2D cross-section

Initially, a 2D stability analysis was conducted whereby the slopes with factor of safety less than the preferred value were identified. Flattening of the slopes, in some sections, were hindered and necessitated a different efficient and economical mitigation measure such as limiting the extent of the excavation to make use of the lateral support.

A 2D slope stability analysis will not be useful in this type of problem as the problem is fundamentally 3D in nature. Therefore, SVSlope® 3D was utilized in this scenario in order to determine the optimal excavation length that meets the required factor of safety.

The 3D numerical model was first created as a 2D cross-section as shown above. The 2D cross-section was extruded and then formed a full 3D model as shown here. This 3D numerical model represents the base of the excavated slope. The length of the exaction was also varied between 20 to 50 meters to obtain the optimal value.

Final 3D model
Final 3D model

The results of the 3D slope stability numerical modeling by SVSlope® 3D resulted in proper recommendation of optimal excavation length for the project.


The modeling project we worked on had a 3D component which could not be reasonably modeled with existing 2D software. The team at SoilVision Systems Ltd. was helpful in training regarding the use of the SVSlope 3D product. The software worked well for the project at hand and we look forward to its continued use.

Amer Awad, Ph.D., P.Eng., Senior Geotechnical Engineer

If you are interested in us providing this type of solution for your facility, please contact us directly.