You are on page 1of 21

“In Pursuit of Global Competitiveness”

Assignment on



Department of Civil Engineering

Government College of Engineering,Aurangabad
Maharashtra state, India.
(An Autonomous Institute of Government of Maharashtra)
Introduction: Caissons
The term ‘caisson’ is derived from the French word, caisse, meaning a chest or box. Caisson has
come to mean a boxlike structure, round a rectangular, which is sunk from the surface of either
land or water to some desired depth. The caissons are of three types

i. Box caissons

ii. Open caissons(wells)

iii. Peneumatic caissons

Box caisson is open at top and closed at the bottom and is made of timber, reinforced
concrete or steel. This caisson is built on land, then launched and floated to pier site where it
is sunk in position. Such a type of caisson is used where bearing stratum is available at
shallow depth, and where loads are not very heavy. Closed box caissons are also use for
break waters and sea walls. An open caisson is a box of timber, metal, reinforced concrete or
masonry which opens both at the top and bottom, and is used for building and bridge
foundations. Open caissons are called wells. Well foundations from the most common type
of deep foundations for bridges in India. A pneumatic caisson has its lower end designed as a
working chamber in which compressed air forced to prevent the entry of water and thus
permit excavation in dry.

Whenever considerations for scour bearing capacity require foundation being taken to a
depth of more than 5 to 7 meters, open excavations become costly and uneconomic as heavy
timbering has to be provided. Also because of the greater earth work involved due to side
slops, the progress of the work in open excavation will be very slow. Under the disadvantage
of adopting the ordinary type of footing is that excavated material refilled around the
structure is loose and hence easily scourable as compare to natural ground. The above
disadvantages are avoided in a well foundation which a shell sunk by dredging inside of it
and which finally becomes a part of the permanent structure.
The common types of well shapes are as follows:-

1) Single circular

2) Twin circular

3) Dumb-well

4) Double-D

5) Twin-hexagonal

6) Twin-octagonal

7) Rectangular

The choice of a particular shape depends upon dimensions of the base of the pier or
abutment, the care and cost of sinking, the considerations of tilt and shift during
sinking and the vertical and horizontal forces to which the well is subjected. A
circular well has the minimum perimeter for a given dredge area and the ratio of sinking
effort to skin friction is maximum. Also, since the perimeter is equidistance at all the
point from the center of dredge hole, the sinking is more uniform than for other shapes.
However , the disadvantage of a circular is that in the direction parallel to the span of the
bridge, the diameter of the well is much more than the minimum size require to
accommodate the bridge pier and hence the circular well causes and more obstruction to
water way than the bridge pier does. The disadvantage is avoided in the case of double-D
shape which conforms to the shapes of the bridge pier in plan. The dredge area is also
smaller for a double-D. Hence for large piers, a double-D is more economical than a
single circular well. Twin circular well aim at combining the advantage for a circular well
and for a double-D,but the only sang is that the two wells sang closed to each other have
a tendency to close in or move apart. However, in abutments and wing walls where the
tilt and shift position is not important, a battery of small diameter wells are adopted with
advantage the double hexagon and double octagon types, though provide efficient
grabbing to all parts of the curb, suffer from the disadvantage that owing to sharp corners
they can dig and are, therefore, more likely to tilt .also, the sharp corners product greater
Fig shows a typical section of a well foundation with its components parts. The following
components of a well have to be considered in the design of a well foundation:

i) Well curb and cutting edge.

ii) Steining.

iii) Bottom plug

iv) Well cap

The selection of the depth of a well is based on the following two criteria:

1. There should be adequate embedded length of well, called the grip length below the
lowest scour level. In addition to minimum Rankine depth consideration, this is require
for developing sufficient passive resistance to the counteract the overturning moment
due to horizontal forces acting on the bridge deck, as well as those due wind and water.

2. The well should be taken deep enough to rest on strata of adequate bearing capacity in
relation to loads transmitted.

For alluvial soil, mostly met in the North India Rivers, the normal scour depth can be calculated
by Lacey’s Formula:

RL=1.35 …… (1)

Where q=discharge in cumecs per linear meter of water way

f = Lacey’s silt factor=1.76 ...........(2)

md = mean weighted diameter in mm.

The maximum depth of scour, at the nose of pier, is found to be twice Lacey’s value of normal
scour depth.

R=2RL ……… (3)

Where R is measured below the high flood level (HFL).

... Scour level=H.F.L.-R=H.F.L.-2RL …………. (4)

The grip length is taken as R below the scour level according to the code of practice of the

Indian Roads Congress and as R in Railway practice this means that the depth of foundation

should be at least 1 R below HFL according to IRC code, and 1 R below HFL according to
Railway practice. It is further recommended that the minimum depth of embedment below the
scour level should not be less than 2.0 m for piers and abutment with arches and 1.2 m for piers
and abutments supporting other types of super structure.

According to Terzaghi and Peck, the ultimate bearing capacity can be determined from the
following expression:

Qf = Qp + 2πRfsDf ……….(5)

=π …………..(6)


Nc Nq N = Terzaghi’s bearing capacity factors

R = radius of well

Df = depth of well (depth of foundation)

fs =average skin friction

In addition to self–weight and buoyancy, a well carries a dead load of the
superstructure, bearing piers and is liable to the following horizontal forces:

i) Bracking and tractive effort of the moving vehicles.

ii) force on account of resistance of the bearings against movement due to variation
of temperature,

iii) force on account of water current

iv) wind forces,

v) seismic forces,

vi) earth pressure

vii) Centrifugal forces.

The magnitude, direction and point of application of all the above forces can be
found under the worst possible combinations and they can be replaced by two
horizontal forces, P and Q and a single vertical force W as shown in Fig.

P = Resultant of all horizontal forces in the direction across the pier

Q = Resultant of all horizontal forces in the direction along the pier

W = Resultant of vertical forces

The analysis is done on the following assumptions:

1) The well is acted upon by an unidirectional horizontal force P in a direction

across the pier

2) The well is founded in the sandy stratum

3) The resultant unit pressure on soil at any depth is in simple proportion to

horizontal displacement.

4) The ratio between the contract pressure and corresponding displacement is

independent of the pressure.

5) The co-efficient of vertical sub grade reaction has the same value for every
point of surface acted upon by contract pressure.
(1) Horizontal soil reaction-
When a rigid well, embedded in sand, starts moving parallel to its original position,
under the action of a horizontal force P, it transforms the soil on one side to passive state of
plastic equilibrium and the other side into active state. Assuming that the well movement ρ1 is
sufficient to mobilize fully the active and passive earth pressure, the resultant unit pressure at a
depth `z` below the surface is given by,

p1= γ.z. (kp-ka)


γ =unit weight of soil

kp ,ka= co-efficient of passive and active earth pressure and depend upon the angle of
internal friction ¢ , and of wall friction δ.

p = load per unit area of vertical surface of sand

ρ = corresponding displacement

ρ1 = displacement required to increase the value of resultant unit pressure from zero to p1

p= ρ1 (ρ) γ.z. (kp-ka)


Or p = m.z where, m = γ. (kp-ka)

ρ (ρ1)

Factor m is called the coefficient of horizontal soil reaction which depends not only on the
nature of soil but also on the size and shape of the area which carries the load.

(2) Stability of well assuming no plastic flow -

Let a well of length L and width B, acted upon by a horizontal force P per unit length of the
well and vertical load W.
P act at a height H above the scour line and let the depth of well be D below the
scour line.

Let the well rotate at a point A situated at a depth D1 below the scour line. The induced reaction
is shown in fig.

ρ1 = horizontal displacement of the center line of the well at the scour line.

ρ2 = horizontal displacement of the center line of the well at the base level.

ρ3 = vertical upward displacement of the other edge of the well at its base

P1= resultant passive reaction of the well on the left face.

P2= resultant vertical reaction of the well on the lower part of the right face

R = resultant vertical reaction at the base of well

μ P1= skin friction on the left face of the well

μ P2= skin friction on the right face of the well

μ R = frictional resistance of the soil at its base.

From static condition of equilibrium are as follows:

P = P1- P2 - μ R

PH = M3+M2- M1+ μ RD+ μ (P1-P2) B

And, W= μ (P1 + P2) + R


M1= moment at the scour line produced by P1

M2= moment at the scour line produced by P2

M3= moment of the vertical soil reaction at the base

ρ4= uniform vertical displacement of the well due to the resultant vertical forces.


Well curb: The well curb is design for supporting the weight of the well with partial support at
the bottom of the cutting edge, i.e. when only part of the cutting edge is in contract with the soil
and the remaining portion is only held on skin friction. A three point support of the cutting edge
resting on a log may be assumed for design purpose. The load Cuming on the cutting edge is
uncertain as a considerable part of it is borne by skin friction. Another factor of uncertainty is in
regard to the effective depth of the well curb, since the entire well acts as deep girder to resist
torsion and bending. Since the load is occasional, working stress up to 99% of yield stress may
be permitted. The well curb has also to withstand stress due to the sand blows, as well as due to
the light blasting required when boulder obstructs the sinking of the well.

cutting edge: The cutting edge should have as sharp as angle as practicable for knifing into the
soil without making it too weak to resist the various stresses induced by boulders, blows,
blasting, etc. An angle to the vertical of 30o, or a slope of 1 horizontal to 2 vertical has been
found satisfactory in practice. In concrete caissons, the lower portion of the cutting edge is
wrapped with 12mm steel plates which are anchored to the concrete by means of steel straps. A
sharp vertical edge is generally provided along the outside face of the caissons. Such a angle
facilitates the rate of sinking and prevents air leakage in the case of pneumatic caissons.

Steining thickness. The thickness of the steining is designed in such a way that well can be sunk
under its own weight. As a need for weighting with kentledge takes time and retards progress
considerably. For a circular well with outer diameter D and thickness t of the steining, we have

Self-weight per unit height = π (D-t) t ρ

Skin friction force per unit weight = π D rf

Where, ρ = unit weight of concrete or masonry of the steining

rf = unit skin friction

Equating the two, we get π (D-t) t ρ = π D rf

From which t = D/2 [1- ]

It will be seen from this equation that for a given value of skin friction, the steining however,
contrary to the usual practice of providing greater thickness of steining with increasing diameter
of the well as given in the following table:

D (outside diameter of the well) t (steining thickness)

3m 0.75m

5m 1.20m

7m 2.00m

This is so because large diameter wells are taken deeper and the skin friction increases with
depth. Moreover, for deeper wells, water is invariably met with and the effective self weight is
reduced by buoyancy in the portion of thee well below water level, and hence larger steining
thickness is required.

Skin Friction: The unit skin friction increases with depth, and at a given depth ,the skin friction
is equal to the coefficient of the friction μ times the lateral earth pressure. However it is not
possible to evaluate the skin friction from laboratory tests as the lateral earth pressure depends on
state of stress. It is also not possible to accurately determine the value of μ. For the purpose of
design, the values of skin friction given in the following table may be used :

Type of soil Skin friction

Silt and soft clay 0.73 - 2.93

Very stiff clay 4.9 - 19.5

Loose Sand 1.22 – 3.42

Dense sand 3.42 – 6.84

Dense Gravel 4.9 – 9.4

Greater skin friction requires greater sinking efforts, and hence retards the sinking of the
well. Hence methods should be used to reduce the skin friction while sinking the well. Since the
frictional resistance depends on the roughness of the surface of contact, a smoothly plastered
well steining surface which is in a true plane without kinks or wraps will considerably reduce
skin friction. Skin friction is also reduced by flaring the well. In order to reduce skin friction on
the san Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, a coating which gave a smoothly oily surface and which
was tough enough not to rubbed off during the sinking process was used on the walls of the
caissons and it was estimated that this reduced the friction between the concrete and fairly stiff
clay by roughly 40%. It has also been reported that bentonite solution injected on the external
surface considerably reduces skin friction.

Bottom plug: The bottom plug of concrete to be designed for an upward load equal to the soil
pressure (including the pour pressure) minus self weight of bottom plug and filling. The bottom
plug is made Bowl-shaped so as to have inverted arch action. As generally under water
concreting has to be done for bottom plug, no reinforcement can be provided. The bottom plug is
generally designed as a thick plate subjected to a unit bearing pressure under the maximum
vertical which is transmitted from the vertical wall of the well. Based on the theory of elasticity,
the thickness of bottom plug is as follows:

t2 = 3W/8πfc (3+μ) = 1.18R (For circular wells)

And t2= (For rectangular wells)

Where t = thickness of the concrete or steel plug

W = total bearing pressure on the base of the well

fc = flexural strength of concrete seal.

μ = Poisson’s ratio = 0.15 for concrete

R = Radius of well base

q = unit bearing pressure against base of well

b = width or short side of well

α = width/ length or, short side/ long side of well

(1) Laying the well crub:
If the river bed is dry, laying of well curb presents no difficulty. In such a case,
excavation up to half a meter above subsoil water level is carried out and well curb is laid. If
however there is water in the river, suitable cofferdams are constructed around the site of the
well and islands are made. The sizes of the island should be such as to allow free working space
necessary to operate tools and plane for movements of laborer etc. When the island is made the
center point of well is accurately marked & the cutting edge is placed in a level plane. It is
desirable to insert wooden sleepers below the cutting at regular intervals so as to distribute the
load & avoid setting of cutting edge unevenly during concreting. These sleepers however
removed once the shuttering is made of brick masonry built to proper profile and plastered. The
outer shuttering is made of wood or steel. Steel lined timber shuttering is preferable. All
reinforcement of the curb should be placed in position properly, and the vertical steining bars
should also be placed such that they project about 2m beyond the top of the curb. All concreting
in well curb should be done in one continuous operation.

(2) Masonry in well steining :

The well steining should be built in initial short height of about 2m only. It is absolutely
essential that the well steining is built in one straight line from bottom to top. To ensure this the
steining must be built with straight edges preferably of angle iron. The lower portion of the
straight edges must keep butted with masonry of lower stage throughout the building of fresh
In no case should a plumb bob be used to build more than 1m at a time. It is desirable to keep
the stages of masonry work at the location of joints in vertical steining bars. After sinking of one
stage is complete all the damaged portions in the next stage is started. The well masonry is fully
cured for at least 48 hours before starting the loading or sinking operations.
(3) Sinking operations:
A well is ready to be set in after having cast the curb and having built first short
stage of masonry over it. The well is sunk by excavating material from inside under the curb. In
the initial stage of sinking the well is unstable and progress can be very rapid with only little
material being excavated out. Great care should therefore be exercised during the stage to see
that the well sinks to true position. To sink the well straight it should never be allowed to go out
of plumb.

Excavation and scooping out of the soil inside the well can be done sending
down workers inside the wells till such a stage that the depth of water inside becomes about 1m.
after this stage Jhams worked by manual or animal power or by means of diesel, electric or
steam winches are used for excavating the material from inside and under water. When clay
strata is to be pierced through a rail chisel may be used. In case the soil is not very hard but hard
enough as not to be excavated by Jhams, the use of phawrah Jhams is effective. When power
winches are available clayey strata can also successfully excavated with the help of big grabs
having tempered steet teeth.

As the well sink deeper the skin friction on the sides progressively increases.
To overcome the increased skin friction and the loss in weight of the well due to buoyancy,
additional loading known as Kent ledge is applied on the well.

Pumping out the water from inside the well is effective in sinking of well
under certain conditions. Pumping should be discouraged in the initial stage. Unless the well has
gone deep enough has passed through ring of clayey strata so that chances of tilt and shift are
minimize during this process. Complete dewatering should not be allowed when the well has
been sunk to about 10m depth. Sinking thereafter should be done by grabbing, chiseling,
applying Kent ledge and using gelignite charges. Only when these methods have failed,
dewatering may be allowed up to depressed water level of 5m or not more.

(4) Tilts and Shift:

The primary aim in well in well sinking is to sink them straight and at correct
position. Suitable precautions should be taken to avoid tilts and shift. Also proper record of tilts
and shifts should be maintained and measure should be taken to counter act tilts and shifts. The
precaution to avoid tilts and shifts are as follows:

a) The outer surface of the well curb and steining should be as regular and smooth as
b) The radius of curb should be kept 2 to 4 cm larger than outside radius of well
c) The cutting edge of the curb should be of uniform thickness and sharpness since the
sharper edge has a greater tendency of sinking than a blunt edge.
d) The dredging should be uniformly in circular well and in voth pockets of a twin well.
Tilts and shifts of well, if any, must be carefully check and recorded. The correct
measurement of tilts of any stage in perhaps one of most important observation
require during well sinking.
As soon as tilt exceed 1 in 200, the sinking should be supervised with special
care and rectifying measures should be immediately taken. Any of following measure
can usefully be employed to counteract the tilts in well during sinking operation;

i) Regulation of grabbing-

Unequal dredging causes tilts and hence if higher side is grabbed more by regulating the
dredging, the tilt can be rectified. This method is not very effective when well has been sunk to a
great depth in that case, a hole in the staining of the well is made on higher side and by hooks,
the rope of grab is pulled towards higher to the maximum possible extent the hole is made near
ground. The well may be dewatered if possible and open excavation on higher side is carried out.

ii) Eccentric loading-

The well normally is given Kent ledge in order to provide necessary sinking effort. In order to
provide greater sinking effort on the higher side of well, eccentric loading is necessary by
providing a suitable platform. As a sinking progress heavier Kent ledge with greater eccentricity
is required in order to rectify the tilt.

In larger size wells to sink to greater depth, eccentric loading may be as much as 400
to 600 tones with an eccentricity of 3 to 4 meter. In such case a welded frame bracket is used as
shown in figure.

iii) Water jetting or digging pit outside the higher side of well-

In this method, water jet is forced on the outer force of the well, towards the higher side, so that
skin frictions reduce towards the higher side. The method if used alone is not very effective but
provides the contributory effect if used with other methods.

iv) The excavation under cutting edge-

A filled well generally refuses to strengthen an account of unbroken stiff strata on the higher side
of the well. In such a case, the well is dewatered, if possible and safe and open excavation is
done below the cutting edge of the higher side. If dewatering is unsafe, divers should be sent to
loosen the strata.

v) Providing temporary obstacles below the cutting edge-

In some cases wooden sleeper pieces are put temporary below the cutting edge of the well on the
lower side to avoid further tilt of the well while varies expedients are being tempted to rectify the
vi) Pulling the well-

This method is effective only in early stages of sinking. The well is pulled towards the higher
side by placing one or more steel ropes round the wells with vertical sleepers packed in between
to distribute pressure over larger areas of well steining. The pulling of rope may be carried out by

vii) Strutting the well-

This method is used to avoid any further increase in the tilt is pulled of the well rather than
rectifying it. The well is strutted on its tilted side with suitable logs of wood. The well steining is
given covering plate to distribute the pressure. The other ends of the logs rest against firm and
non yielding base by driving piles etc. Wood pieces are kept ready to be inserted and fixed in the
gaps caused by the tilts of the well being rectified.

viii) Pushing by jacks-

The well may be pushed by force applied by hydraulic or mechanical jack on the tilted side of
the wells.

Pneumatic caissons are closed at the top and open at the bottom. The essential feature of a
pneumatic caisson is that compressed air is used to exclude or remove water from the working
chamber at the bottom and the excavations are carried out in dry conditions. The method of
construction of pneumatic caissons is similar to that for open well (caissons) except that the
working chamber is kept air tight. In order that sub soil water may not enter the working
chamber, the pressure of the air in the shaft is kept just higher than that of the water at that depth.
However the maximum pressure is limited from the consideration of health of persons who work
inside the chamber. Normally the tolerable air pressure under which a man can work is limited to
3.5 kg/cm2 .

Pneumatic caissons are adopted only if the head of water is more than 12m. Thus a
pneumatic caisson can be used for a depth of water ranging from 12 to 35m.

Sinking of pneumatic caissons is tedious, time consuming and expansive. However they are
adopted at places where it is difficult to use bulky equipments required for sinking well. Another
advantages of pneumatic caisson is that the entire process of sinking of well is carried out under
controlled condition. It affords easy inspection work.
The procedure for sinking the pneumatic well as follows:

i) The caisson is sunk in the same manner as used for well sinking till the depth of water is
shallow and no trouble is encountered in sinking the well.

ii) When the presence of water posses problem an air lock is placed inside the well. The air lock
may rest on rubber seals just above the cutting edge. The number of air locks may vary from 1 to
3. Generally two air locks are used one for sending men inside and the other for moving the
excavated material with the help of the much bucket and hoisting rope.

iii) After placing the air lock in position so that direct entry is sealed, water is pumped out from
the bottom and air pressure is gradually increased so that fresh water does not enter the working

iv) Laborers are then sent down to the working chamber through the appropriate air lock. In
order to prevent leakage of air arrangement of double gates is provided. The person enters the
first gate where pressure is atmospheric. The first door is closed and the pressure is gradually
increased to make it equal to the one in the working chamber. The height of working chamber is
kept about 2m with proper lighting arrangement. Air is supplied through the air inlet pipe
connected to air compressor.

v) Excavation is carried out in the working chamber by the laborers sent down through air lock.
The excavated material is sent up trough the muck buckets lifted up by a hoisting rope operated
by winch drum, through the air lock.
vi) When the caisson bottom has reached the desired level, concrete seal is made by concreting
up to underside roof of working chamber. Sufficient air pressure is maintained to force the
concrete against the bottom surface till it harden.

vii) Air locks are removed, well is filled with sand or water. The well cap is then formed on its
top as usual.

Whenever considerations for scour bearing capacity require foundation being taken to a
depth of more than 5 to 7 meters, open excavations become costly and uneconomic as heavy
timbering has to be provided. Also because of the greater earth work involved due to side
slops, the progress of the work in open excavation will be very slow. Under the disadvantage
of adopting the ordinary type of footing is that excavated material refilled around the
structure is loose and hence easily scourable as compare to natural ground. The above
disadvantages are avoided in a well foundation which a shell sunk by dredging inside of it
and which finally becomes a part of the permanent structure.
B.C.PUNMIA.”Soil mechanics and foundations” Laxmi publication.P.(LTD)

V.N.S.MURTHY.” Soil mechanics and foundations” CBS Publisher.