The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has just released a report that investigates the composite behavior of a geosynthetic reinforced soil (GRS) mass.
GRS bear strong resemblance to Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE). The two systems, however, are different in fundamental design concept. A GRS wall incorporates closely-spaced geosynthetic reinforcement in a soil mass to improve the engineering behavior of the soil mass, hence the term “reinforced” in GRS. On the other hand, a MSE wall uses reinforcement as “tiebacks,” i.e., as a tension resistance member to help keeping a potential failure wedge in place and preventing it from reaching a failure condition, hence the term “stabilized” in MSE. A GRS system typically has reinforcement spacing of 0.2~0.3 m to acquire significant beneficial effects of soil-geosynthetic interaction; whereas the reinforcement spacing in a MSE system is usually much larger (0.4~1.0 m) to reduce construction time, as reinforcement spacing has little effect in a tieback system.
The PDF file of the report is available through http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/169426.aspx.
Source: Transportation Research Board via email of Jonathan Wu