AbstractRepeated rapid drawdown (RDD) and rapid rise in water level during extreme events lead to the progressive development of plastic strain zones within the earth embankments with subtle, rather than obvious, visible signs of distress. The traditional approach within the framework of limit equilibrium does not account for accumulated permanent deformation with repeated hydraulic loading. Work presented herein is focused on quantifying the level of deviatoric strain, in terms of key surface deformation and distress level of earth embankment slopes, with repeated hydraulic loading. A simple linear relationship between the deviatoric strain and surface deformation at the toe of the slip surface is proposed as a function of the geometry of the slope for rotational sliding. This relationship is applied using the stress-strain data obtained from conventional triaxial testing and provides a simple means to estimate the ultimate performance limit state that corresponds to the onset of embankment slope instability. Results from a parametric study show good agreement between the numerical results and proposed analytical criterion. The proposed criterion is also compared with data from field cases reported in literature by others, and reasonably good agreement with onset of failure is obtained. Results from applying the proposed model to the case studies indicate the applicability of the proposed approach as a framework for various loading conditions, slope geometries, and material properties.