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Bearing Capacity
Of Foundations
Classification of Foundation Types
Low
column load
Soil
Large Distributed
load
Distributed load with one
huge footing
Very Large column load
Competent support
material
Shallow Foundations
By definition
D
f
/B < 1
D
f
B
Satisfactory Shallow Foundations
• Ultimate limit state
–Safe against overall shear failure in the soil
that supports them
• Serviceability limit state
–Cannot undergo excessive settlement
allowed for a structure depends on several
considerations
Allowable Bearing Stress
The maximum allowable loading intensity at the
base of the foundation taking into account of:
– the ultimate bearing capacity (ultimate limit
state),
– the quantity and type of settlement (serviceability
limit state) that is anticipated, the ability of the
structure to accommodate settlement (structure
stability).
Limit States
Serviceability Ultimate
Footing Performance
Vertical Load
V
e
r
t
i
c
a
l
m
o
v
e
m
e
n
t
Elastic
Plastic
Failure
Serviceability Limit State
maximum tolerable
settlement
maximum service
load
ultimate
capacity
safe load = ultimate capacity/FS
Ultimate Limit State
Maximum allowable load =
min [safe load, max service load ]
Serviceability Limit State
• Induced settlement, particularly differential
settlement is less than the allowable value
which will not cause any unacceptable
damage nor interfere with the function of
the structure
– Total settlement
– Differential settlement
– Angular distortion
Differential Settlement
Masonry Structures 
settlement tolerance :
1 in 600
Timber Structures 
settlement tolerance :
1 in 150
rotation
Ultimate Limit State
• q
u
= ultimate bearing capacity
• q
all
= allowable bearing capacity
• FS = factor of safety
Gross ultimate bearing capacity:
q
all
s q
u
/FS (3.12)
Bearing Pressure Definitions
F
Plan Area, A
Bearing Pressure q
b
= F/A = F/(BxL)
Ultimate Bearing Capacity q
u
= F
fail
/A
Safe design q
b
< q
u
/FS
Ultimate Bearing Capacity, q
u
Methods that can be used to determine q
u
:
1. Field loading tests
• Plate loading tests for very large projects
2. Analytical solutions
• Upper and lower bound solutions for special
cases
• Numerical simulations
Historical / experience : Building codes specifies
allowable values (q
all
) in particular formations
Type of Failures
• General Shear Failure
– associated with dense soils, the slip surface is
continuous from the edge of the footing to the soil
surface
– large amount of heaving occurs on both sides of
the footing
q
u
rigid
radial
shear
passive
log spiral
Type of Failures
• Local Shear Failure
– associated with medium dense soil
– only slight heaving occurs
q
u
Type of Failures
• Punching Shear Failure
– Common for loose and very compressible soils
– No heave and tendency to tilt
– Vertical shear deformation is visible
q
u
Analytical Solutions
• The failure of real soils with weight, cohesion and
friction is a complex phenomenon, not amenable
to simple theoretical solutions
• If simplifying assumptions are made, it is possible
to develop particular analytical solutions
• These analytical solutions must be based either
on principles of equilibrium or kinematic
admissibility
Lower Bound Solution
“If an equilibrium distribution of stresses can
be found which balances the applied load, and
nowhere violates the yield criterion, the soil
mass will not fail or will be just at the point of
failure (statically admissible) ”  i.e. it will be a
lowerbound estimate of capacity.
Frictionless Strip Foundation at G.L on an Undrained
Saturated Weightless Clay
Assume weightless soil (¸=0) ,  = 0 and C=Cu
Zone 1
q
u
= 4Cu
Zone 2 Zone 2
o
H2
o
V2
o
H2
o
V2
o
H1
o
V1
t
o
V2
o
H2
o
H1
o
V1
=q
u
Cu
Cu
Upper Bound Solution
“If a solution is kinematically admissible and
simultaneously satisfies equilibrium
considerations, failure must result  i.e. it
will be an upperbound estimate of
capacity.”
Weightless
soil  = 0
q
u
r
O
c
u
c
u
q
u
r. r/2 o > t r.c
u
.r o
= 2tc
u
e.g. slope stability  optimize failure surface; choose FS
Upper Bound Solution
Other classic analytical solutions for
weightless soils:
• Solutions with  = 0 :
– Prandtl smooth punch : q
u
= 5.14c
u
– Prandtl rough punch : q
u
= 5.7c
u
• Solutions with  = 0 :
– Rough punch
passive
active
log spiral
Solutions for Real Soils
• There is no rigorous mathematical solution for
a soil which contains cohesion, c, and angle of
friction, , and weight, ¸
• Empirical or numerical approaches must be
used to provide methods of estimating
bearing capacity in practical situations
• Numerical approaches including finite
element and boundary element methods are
rarely used in practice
Terzaghi Approximate Analysis
• Solution for soil with c, , ¸ and D
f
> 0
• Solution is based on superposition of 3
separate analytical cases:
– Soil with  and ¸ but c = D
f
= 0 : q
u
= f(¸) N
¸
– Soil with  and D
f
but c = ¸ = 0 : q
u
= f(D
f
) N
q
– Soil with c but  = ¸ = D
f
= 0 : q
u
= f(c) N
c
Bearing Capacity Factors: N
c
, N
q
, N
¸
Terzaghi Bearing Equation
Solution for c only soil
q
u
= cN
c
+ qN
q
+ 0.5B¸N
¸
(3.3)
Solution for D
f
and  only soil
Solution for ¸ and  only soil
Terzaghi Bearing Equation
– applies to strip footing
– N
c
, N
q
and N
¸
are functions of , and are given
in Table 3.1 (Pg. 139)
– c,  and ¸ refer to soil properties in the failure
zone below the footing
– q is the effective overburden pressure at the
footing level
– shear strength contribution above footing level
is ignored (conservative)
q
u
= c N
c
+ q
N
q
+ ½ ¸ B N
¸
The General Bearing Capacity Equation
Terzaghi bearing capacity equation does not take
into account the shear resistance along the
failure surface in soil above the bottom of the
foundation
In addition, the load on the foundation may be
inclined (combined normal and tangential
loads)
The bearing capacity equation was improved by
Meyerhof (1963) in the form of:
q
u
= c’N
c
F
cs
F
cd
F
ci
+ qN
q
F
qs
F
qd
F
qi
+ 0.5¸BN
¸
F
¸s
F
¸d
F
¸i
The General Bearing Capacity Equation
• Strength parameters: c’ and 
• Bearing Capacity factors: N
c
, N
q
and N
¸
• Shape factors: F
cs
, F
qs
, and F
¸s
• Depth factors: F
cd
, F
qd
, and F
¸d
• Load inclination factors: F
ci
, F
qi
, and F
¸i
q
u
= c’N
c
F
cs
F
cd
F
ci
+ qN
q
F
qs
F
qd
F
qi
+ 0.5¸BN
¸
F
¸s
F
¸d
F
¸i
Bearing Capacity Factors
N
c
, N
q
and N
¸
(3.22) ' tan ) 1 ( 2 N
(3.21) ' cot ) 1 (
(3.20)
2
'
45 tan
' tan 2



¸
 t
+ =
÷ =

.

\

+ =
q
q c
o
q
N
N N
e N
Bearing Capacity Factors N
c
, N
q
and N
¸
Page 144
Shape and Depth Factors
These are empirical relations based on extensive
laboratory tests
L
B
F
L
B
F
N
N
L
B
F
s
qs
c
q
cs
4 . 0 1
' tan 1
1970 DeBeer 1
÷ =
+ =
+ =
¸

1
) ' sin 1 ( ' tan 2 1
1
1
' tan
1
0 For
Hansen1970 4 . 0 1
0 For
2
=


.

\

÷ + =
÷
÷
+ =
÷
÷ =
>
+ =
=
d
f
qd
q
qd
qd
c
qd
qd cd
f
cd
F
B
D
F
N
F
F
N
F
F F
B
D
F
¸
 



Table 3.4, pg. 145
Inclination Factors

Q
v
Q
H
R
vertical the respect to with foundation
on the load the of on inclindati
1
1981 Meyerhorf and Hanna
1963; Meyerhorf
90
1
2
2
=


.

\

÷ =


.

\

÷ = =




¸
o
o
i
o
o
qi ci
F
F F
Gross and Net Bearing Stress
Before Construction After Construction
FL
GL
D
f
q
u
o'
vo
q
gross
= q
u
q
net
= q
u
 o’
vo
Net Applied Stress Rules
For bearing capacity:
q
net applied
= o
below
 o
beside
Net stress increase on soil =
Net ultimate bearing capacity
FS
Applied Stress, F
• Apply line load = 120 kN/m
• What is the applied stress in these two situations?
1.2m
1.0m
q = 100 kPa
Net Applied Stress, F
• Apply stress = 100 kN/m
2
: ¸ = 20 kN/m
3
• What is the net applied stress in these two
situations?
1.2m
1.0m
q
net
= 100 kPa q
net
= 80 kPa
Effective stress analysis of shallow foundation
Foundation at depth D
f
and ground water level
below foundation level
q
d
D
f
q
u
Where
¸* = ¸’ + d(¸ – ¸’)/B (3.18)
B
¸
¸
sat
q
u
= cN
c
F
cs
F
cd
F
ci
+ qN
q
F
qs
F
qd
F
qi
+ 0.5¸*BN
¸
F
¸s
F
¸d
F
¸i
Example
Determine the size of a square foundation (BxB) to
support a column load of 150 kip at a depth of 4 ft
in a medium dense sand. The soil has an average
unit weight of 118 pcf. The SPT result is given:
•
Depth N
60
Approximated 
5 4 28.3
10 6 28.9
15 6 28.9
20 10 30.0
Example
A square footing (2.5x2.5 m) is to be placed on a
cohesionless soil. The unit weight of the soil is
18.1 kN/m
3
above ground water and 20 kN/m
3
below ground water. The friction angle of the
soil is 35°. The ground water level is at 1.95
m. The depth of the footing is at 1.1 m
Estimate the allowable bearing capacity with a
FS of 2.
Bearing Capacity
Of Eccentrically
Loaded
Foundations
Eccentrically Loaded Foundations
B
e
q
1
q
2
(2/3)B
q
1
= Q/B
q
2
(B/4)(2B/3) = Qe
q
2
= 6Qe/B
2
¬q
max
=q
1
+q
2
=Q/B + 6Qe/B
2
¬q
max
=Q/B(1 + 6e/B)
¬q
min
=q
1
 q
2
= Q/B(1  6e/B)
For q
min
=0 e = B/6
In practice we want
q
min
> 0 e < B/6
Q
q
2
(B/4)
q
min
q
max
e
P
e < B/6 :
q
min
= Q (1  6e/B)/BL (3.37)
q
max
= Q (1 + 6e/B)/BL (3.36)
rigid
Rectangular Footings with eccentric loads
Foundations with eccentric loads
max
6
1
'
'(effective width) 2
ult
ult u
Q e
q
BL B
Q
FS
Q
Q q B L
B B e
 
= +

\ .
=
=
= ÷
q
u
= cN
c
F
cs
F
cd
F
ci
+ qN
q
F
qs
F
qd
F
qi
+ 0.5¸B’N
¸
F
¸s
F
¸d
F
¸i
Shape factors and inclination factors are calculated
using the effective dimensions (B’, L)
Depth factors are obtained using the original dimensions
(B, L)
Meyerhof Method for eccentric loads
P
e
2e
B' = B 2e
B
Equivalent
area
q
u
= cN
c
F
cs
F
cd
F
ci
+ qN
q
F
qs
F
qd
F
qi
+ 0.5¸B’N
¸
F
¸s
F
¸d
F
¸i
2way eccentricity
P
e
1
L
2e
1
L' = L 2e
1
B
e
2
2e
2
B
'
=
B

2
e
2
Equivalent
area
TwoWay Eccentricity
In additional to Meyerhof’s effective area
method, the effective dimensions can be
determined using Figs 3.20 to 3.23 for various
situations
Footings with moments
Q
M
e
Q
e = M
Q
treat as equivalent eccentric load
Design considerations
• Foundations must be designed both
structurally and geotechnically
• Able to safely carry compression, tension and
shear loads, and possible moments
• Structurally efficient
• Geotechnically efficient
• Take tolerance of structure to movement into
account
Application of the Bearing Capacity
Equation
1. Immediate undrained analysis with respect
to total stress of foundation on saturated clay
(C=C
u
, 
u
= 0 : => N
c
=5.14, N
q
=1.0
and N
¸
=0)
2. Long term drained analysis with respect to
effective stress of a foundation on clay (C=C’,
 = ’ and ¸=¸’)
3. Immediate and long term analysis with
respect to effective stress for granular soils