What is free software for geotechnics

Kinematic element method (KEM)

General information about KEM

The kinematic element method (KEM) or method of kinematic elements is a modern calculation method for geotechnical load bearing and stability problems. It is used to calculate solids in the fracture state.

The method is kinematically and statically correct, but requires sufficient numerical optimization of the fracture geometry. The optimization goal is either the breaking load or the reduction factor of the shear strength defined as stability (Fellenius rule), at which the breaking load disappears. Some of the slip circle methods mentioned in DIN 4084 contain static errors and they are often not sufficiently adaptable, especially in the case of non-homogeneous soils. Much more general fracture mechanisms can be modeled with the KEM.

The calculation process is briefly explained below using the example of the stability of an embankment. The solid continuum to be calculated is divided into several fracture bodies (three to five or sometimes more are common). First the kinematic displacement and movement possibilities of the fracture bodies and then the equilibrium conditions are formulated. The existing safety factor against failure is calculated. The shape of the fracture body is varied until a minimum safety factor is found. This then indicates the existing security.

With the KEM, shift changes and groundwater conditions as well as various external loads can be taken into account. Structural elements, e.g. gravity walls, can be integrated into the rupture mechanism. The load-bearing effect of anchors, nails or piles can also be recorded. The possibilities are illustrated by the examples stored here.

The KEM software was developed by Dr.-Ing. habil. Peter Gussmann elaborates and programs and has been maintained and further developed since 2011 in close cooperation with Mr. Gussmann from the Chair for Soil Mechanics, Foundation Engineering and Environmental Geotechnics at the Ruhr University in Bochum. The software can run on Windows 9x / NT / XP & Windows 7, 8, 10 platforms and is available as a full version, demo version and student version.


  • Construction elements: any stratifications, water levels, surfaces and concentrated loads, anchors and nails
  • Elements can be generated automatically or individually
  • Optimization of the relevant geometry through powerful algorithms
  • Visual control options as well as digital output of the results
  • Graphic output of the varied KEM geometry, the kinematics or the force corner
  • Each drawing can be saved and further processed as an * .emf image file
  • Toolbar, tooltips and menu displays in the status bar
  • Demonstration of the possible applications through more than 40 examples
  • Optionally, the stability of an embankment can be calculated using the "Janbu" method
  • Simulation of 3D effects using flank forces


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Publications on the KEM

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Examples of the KEM

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