Module 6: Earthquake resistant retaining wall design

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About this document

  • Published on 29 November 2021
  • Updated on 29 November 2021
  • Of interest to Building consent authorities, Engineers,
  • ISBN: 978-1-98-851769-8 (Print) / 978-1-98-851768-1 (Online)


Module 6 of the Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Practice guidelines covers the principles of the seismic design of retaining walls of a routine nature throughout New Zealand and should be used in conjunction with established handbooks which cover other aspects of retaining wall design in all situations and soil conditions.


Developed jointly by MBIE and the New Zealand Geotechnical Society, Module 6 is part of the Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Practice series and relates specifically to earthquake-resistant retaining wall design.

High level changes in this version include

  • Updates and additions to:
    • Section 4: Performance objectives for retaining structures with earthquake loading
    • Section 5: Seismic design parameters
    • Section 6 : Design of new retaining structures - inclusion of explicit consideration of mechanically stabilised earth walls
  • Appendix B: Worked example 1 - Changes made to worked example 1, design of cantilever pole retaining walls to resist earthquake loading, to reflect new analysis from John Wood
  • Appendix E: Worked example 4 - Changes made to worked example 4, design of a tied-back retaining wall to resist earthquake loading to include higher wall dimensions
  • Minor content revisions, clarifications and updates, including consideration and incorporation of relevant existing feedback
  • Updated Reference section.

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This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: