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Arching occurs when there is a difference of the stiffness between the installed structure and the surrounding soil. If the structure is stiffer than the soil then load arches onto the structure. Otherwise, if the structure is less stiff than the soil then load arches away from the structure.
For instance, if part of a rigid support of soil mass yields, the adjoining particles move with respect to the remainder of the soil mass. This movement is resisted by shearing stresses which reduce the pressure on the yielding portion of the support while increasing the pressure on the adjacent rigid zones. This phenomenon is called the arching effect.
This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.
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