This paper presents an alternative numerical method in addition to the traditional ‘probe test’ to investigate the combined loading failure envelopes of foundations in soil. In the ‘probe test’ method, the foundation is displaced with a specified displacement path and eventually the soil resistance force reaches a stabilised point sitting on the failure envelope in the load space. While the displacement paths are arbitrarily or empirically set, the positions of the stabilised loads on the failure envelope can not be predetermined or planned. This paper’s new method, however, can specify the load paths, which directly shoot onto the failure envelope. This allows the investigation of the failure envelope can be better achieved with planned load paths. In addition, this new method is advantageous in checking the plastic flow conditions (i.e. normality of the failure envelope) as the load path directions are predetermined.

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