The weak interlayer in a rock slope often plays a significant role in seismic rockslides; however, the effect of weak interlayer on the seismic slope response and damage process is still not fully understood. This study presents a series of shaking test tests on two model slopes containing a horizontal weak interlayer with different thicknesses. A recorded Wenchuan earthquake ground motion was scaled to excite the slopes. Measurements from accelerometers embedded at different elevations of slope surface and slope interior were analyzed and compared. The effect of the weak interlayer thickness on the seismic response was highlighted by a comparative analysis of the two slopes in terms of topographic amplification, peak accelerations, and deformation characteristics as the input amplitude increased. It was found that the structure deterioration and nonlinear response of the slopes were manifested as a time lag of the horizontal accelerations in the upper slope relative to the lower slope and a reduction of resonant frequency and Fourier spectral ratio. Test results show that under horizontal acceleration, both slopes exhibited significant topographic amplification in the upper half, and the difference in amplification between slope face and slope interior was more pronounced in Slope B (with a thin weak interlayer) than in Slope A (with a thick weak interlayer). A four-phased dynamic response process of both slopes was observed. Similar deformation characteristics including development of strong response zone and macro-cracks, vertical settlement, horizontal extrusion and collapse in the upper half were observed in both slopes as the input amplitude increased; however, the deformations were more severe in Slope B than in Slope A, suggesting an energy isolation effect of the thick interlayer in Slope A.
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