If I have to find the maximum bending moment of this retaining wall, is the maximum bending moment located at the toe? If not, where is the location of the maximum bending? In order to find the maximum bending moment, I added the moment due to weight and that to the earth pressure (trapezium distributed load) at the toe, is it correct? enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Are you a student, and is this a homework assignment? The distribution of the soil pressure is incorrect if there is no soil in front of the wall. Also, the base slab is too small to meet stability requirements and carry the load. $\endgroup$
    – r13
    Apr 28 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ The horizontal loads will not change the moment about a point if the point moves left or right since the moment arm will be in the vertical direction. However, the vertical load caused by the dead weight of the concrete (and soil if there was any over a heel slab) are affected by the left and right placement of your reference point. At the toe your dead weight is clockwise and your soil is counter clock wise. At the heel they are both clockwise. Normally for design you have three critical location to check. Toe/Stem, Toe/heel and Stem/footing interfaces. $\endgroup$
    – Forward Ed
    Apr 28 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


I assume that this sketch is not up to scale otherwise this retaining wall would topple! One would need a longer and thicker toe possibly with a heal. Usually, we use the relation, $ \ \frac{RM}{OM}\geq 2$

  • RM = resisting moment
  • OM = overturning moment

Getting back to your question.

If you do not have soil in front of the stem to offer passive pressure which is your case, the retaining wall acts as a cantilever beam with support at the base.

So the maximum moment is at the middle of the wall thickness at the level of the top of the toe.

ret wall

  • $\begingroup$ Not to scale or... The reinforcing is not shown, so you are missing the dowels from the footing into the bedrock that are resisting the uplift at the heel? $\endgroup$
    – Forward Ed
    May 1 at 1:27

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