The finite element method (FEM), has been applied to a variety of slope stability problems, including jointed rock masses. Traditionally, discontinuities (e.g., joints, faults) in a rock mass are explicitly modeled using interface elements to capture their behavior. While this approach works well for moderately jointed rock masses, creating a robust finite element mesh for highly jointed rock masses remains a challenge, particularly where the discontinuities intersect or are closely spaced. Employing mesh-independent techniques, such as the extended finite element method (XFEM) can help to resolve these meshing challenges.

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