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Pile Instability during Earthquake Liquefaction.
Subhamoy Bhattacharya, S.P.G.Madabhushi and Malcolm Bolton Cambridge Geotechnical Research Group, University of Cambridge (U.K)
Abstract: Collapse of piled foundations in liquefiable areas has been observed in the majority of the recent strong earthquakes despite the fact that a large margin of safety is employed in their design. This paper critically reviews the current design methods and the underlying mechanism (bending) behind the design methods. Critical remarks will be made on the current understanding of pile failure citing the example of the well-known failure of Showa Bridge. An alternative mechanism of pile failure is proposed. This mechanism, based on buckling, is verified using dynamic centrifuge tests. This paper describes and discusses the salient features of the centrifuge tests results. The practical implications of this research are highlighted. Introduction: Pile failure during earthquake liquefaction Structural failure of piles passing through liquefiable layers has been observed in many recent strong earthquakes, for example Figures 1(a), (b), (c) and (d). This implies that the bending moments or shear forces that are experienced by the piles exceed that predicted by those design method (or code of practice). All current design codes apparently provide a high margin of safety (partial safety factors on load, material stress), which would mean that the actual moment or shear force experienced by the pile is many times the predicted moment or shear. It may be concluded that design methods are not consistent with the physical mechanism that governs the failure. In other words, something is missing. This section of the paper investigates what is missing in the current understanding.
Figure 1(a): Observed failure of a piled foundation in 2001 Bhuj earthquake, Madabhushi et al (2001). Figure 1(b) Failure of piles in a 3 storied building in 1995 Kobe earthquake, Tokimatsu et al (1997). Figure 1(c): Failure of piles in NFCH building during 1964 Niigata earthquake exposed after excavation, Hamada (1992). Figure 1(d): Failure of piles in NHK building during 1964 Niigata earthquake, Hamada (1992)
the current mechanism of failure assumes that the soil pushes the pile. This code advises practising engineers to design pile against bending failure assuming that non-liquefied crust offers passive earth pressure to the pile and the liquefied soil offers 30% of total overburden pressure. part 5(1998) also focus on bending strength of the pile due to lateral loads (soil flow and inertia). 2003. This has been accepted as the explanation of pile failure in many earthquakes Hamada (1992). As can be seen from Figure 3. This pressure distribution is formulated by back analysing few piled bridge foundation of Hanshin expressway that were not seriously damaged following the 1995 Kobe earthquake (Yokoyama et al. These soil layers drag the pile with them.ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). This unanimity has led to the Japanese Highway code of practice (JRA 1996) for example. causing a bending failure.1997. the piles of pier no P5 deformed towards the left and the piles of pier P6 deformed towards the right. This section highlights the shortcomings of the current understanding of pile failure by using the well-documented case history of Showa Bridge during 1964 Niigata earthquake. Fukoka (1996). _____________________________________________________________________ Current understanding of pile failure and review of codes of practice The current understanding of pile failure is as follows. Seattle. Had the cause of pile failure been due to lateral spreading the piers should have deformed identically in the . This is often referred to as “failure due to lateral spreading”. Other codes. In terms of soil pile interaction. According to the knowledge of the authors. Inconsistency of the current understanding with observed seismic pile failure at liquefiable sites. 1997). Abdoun and Dobry (2002). The failure is widely accepted as being due to lateral spreading. Goh and O’Rourke (1999). Ishihara (1993). The failure of the bridge is shown in Figures 3 and 4. Hamada (1992). causing it to flow and taking with it any overlying non-liquefied crust. Takata et al (1965). qNL= Passive earth pressure qL= 30% of overburden pressure Figure 2: JRA (1996) code of practice showing the idealisation for seismic design of bridge foundation. losing its shear strength. to codify this concept and is shown in Figure 2. such as the USA code (NEHRP 2000) and Eurocode 8. 16-18th July. Finn and Fujita (2002). 1998). Tokimatsu et al (1996. Ishihara (1997). in a report published by National Research Council (1985) “lateral spreading” was first proposed as a possible cause of pile failure during liquefaction. Soil liquefies. The deformation of the ground surface adjacent to the piled foundation is indeed suggestive of the current mechanism.
1965) Figure 4: Failure of Showa Bridge. which may represent a row of piles or a pile group in absence of soil. EI ………(1). _____________________________________________________________________ direction of the slope. Proposed hypothesis of pile failure During earthquake-induced liquefaction. Example for buckling of frames having slender columns (L/D =93) is shown in Figure 5(a &b). It is often seen that hinge formation also occurs within the top third of the pile e. At a particular load the frames becomes unstable and this load is often termed as Euler’s critical load (Pcr) and is predicted using equation 1. by bending. and 1(d). the soil surrounding the pile loses its effective stress and can no longer offer sufficient support to it. 2003. assumes that the pile remains in stable equilibrium (i. Figure 3: Schematic diagram of the Fall-off of the girders in Showa bridge (Takata et al. Bond (1989). The location of plastic hinge due to lateral spreading is expected to occur at the interface of liquefiable and non-liquefiable layer as this section experiences the highest bending moment. In other words. whereas here the lateral spread was seen to be severe. 16-18th July. Structural nature of pile Structurally. Leff = Effective length of the slender column in the unsupported (buckling) zone.g. If unsupported. Furthermore. Seattle. The pile may now acts as an unsupported column prone to axial instability.e. the piers close to the riverbanks did not fail. The definition of effective length adopted from column stability theory and is shown in figure 5(c).ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). where L2 eff EI = stiffness of the pile. axially loaded piles are slender columns with lateral support from the surrounding soil. these columns will fail due to buckling instability and not due to crushing of the material. What is missing in the current understanding or design methods? The current hypothesis of pile failure. Leff is also familiar as the “Euler’s buckling length” of a strut pinned at both ends. the hypothesis ignores the structural nature of pile as described below. vibrates back and forth and does not move unidirectionally as in case of instability) during the period of liquefaction and before the onset of lateral spreading. Figures 1(b).. This instability can cause it to buckle sideways in the direction of least elastic bending stiffness under the action of axial load eventually causing a Pcr = π2 . Piles normally have ratios of length (L) to diameter (D) of 25 to 100. 1(c).
which in turn can reduce the buckling load and promote a more rapid collapse. the stress of the soil is to be correctly modelled as the behaviour of soil has been established to be highly non-linear and stress dependent. Experimental verification of the hypothesis of pile failure by buckling instability Dynamic centrifuge modelling Figure 1 (a) shows a 22m high piled control tower building at Kandla Port. Fig 5 (a) L = 280mm D = 3mm L/D = 93 A row of slender columns representing Showa Bridge piles (Fig 4) L = 280mm D = 3mm L/D = 93 Fig 5 (b) Fig 5 (c) Pile head unrestrained Leff= L0 Pile head free to translate but fixed in direction Buckling zone/ Liquefiable layer= L0 Leff= 2L0 Leff= 2L0 Euler’s buckling of equivalent pinned strut Euler’s buckling of equivalent pinned strut A group of slender columns representing a pile group Figure 5: Instability of slender columns and the concept of effective length In contrast to the current hypothesis i. it is hard to ascertain the failure mechanism unless deep excavation is carried out. 2003.e. lateral spreading. which tilted by 15 degrees towards the sea during the 2001 Bhuj earthquake. In soil structure interaction problems. Dynamic centrifuge modelling has been established as a powerful technique over the past decade in obtaining physical data under earthquake events. for prototype behaviours to be reproduced in small-scale models. _____________________________________________________________________ plastic hinge. Lateral loading due to inertia or slope movement (lateral spreading). As earthquakes are very rapid events and as much of the damage to piles occurs beneath the ground. and investigating seismic soil- .ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). 16-18th July. out of line straightness or other imperfections will increase lateral deflections. this new hypothesis of pile failure assumes that the pile pushes the soil. Physical modelling is one of the alternative techniques to understand such mechanism. This hypothesis of pile failure is verified using dynamic centrifuge tests and is described in the next section. Seattle.
5 78 201 65. 16-18th July.6 24 39. The 10-m beam centrifuge at the Schofield Centre at Cambridge University Engineering Department was used to perform the centrifuge tests.7 10.1 54.46 0.22 1. the brass weight imposes increasing axial load in the pile. 2003. During earthquakes. LVDT’s.35 0. the predominant loads acting on a pile are axial. It can be seen from table 1.5 0.25 1. This advanced physical modelling technique allows small-scale physical models to be taken through an ever more realistic sequences of loading at correct prototype stress and strain levels. and accelerometers were buried in the model to obtain soil responses.25 0. A mechanical shaking table known as the SAM actuator developed at Cambridge University (Madabhushi et al 1998) was used to impart in flight earthquake loading to the physical models.7 mm2 SB-03 Pile length = 180mm A = 11.04 1. Table 1 summarises the performance of the piles along with the load effects acting.2 mm2 SB-04 Pile length = 180mm A = 11. which decouple the effects of inertia and axial load. Seattle. Axial load (P) was applied to the pile through a block of brass fixed at the pile head.97 1. The present paper will mainly discuss in some detail the results of four piles that were subjected to only axial load. Modelling of pile buckling The central aim of the centrifuge tests was to verify if fully embedded end-bearing piles passing through saturated. The packages were centrifuged to 50-g and earthquakes were fired during the flight.ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). loose to medium dense sands and resting on hard layers buckle under the action of axial load alone if the surrounding soil liquefies in an earthquake. The effect of axial load alone was studied by using a specially designed frame to restrain the head mass against inertial action. The centrifuge tests were designed in level ground to avoid the effects of lateral spreading. Details of the centrifuge and the applicable scaling laws can be found in Schofield (1980 & 1981). axial loads applied to the piles ranged from 22% to 148% of Euler’s elastic critical load (Pcr) treating piles as long columns neglecting any support from the soil.48 0.3 19.01 0. Twelve piles were tested in a series of four centrifuge tests including some. With the increase in centrifugal acceleration. This would verify the proposed hypothesis of pile failure mentioned in the earlier section.4 0. The failure of a pile can be because of any of these load effects or a suitable combination of them. Details can be seen in Bhattacharya et al (2002).2 mm2 Axial + Inertia Axial + Inertia Axial + Inertia Axial + Inertia Axial + Inertia Axial + Inertia Axial Axial Axial Axial Axial + Inertia Axial + Inertia Failed Failed Failed Did not collapse Did not collapse Did not collapse Failed Failed Did not collapse Failed Did not collapse Failed .2 mm2 SB-06 Pile length = 180mm A = 11. Miniature instruments such as PPT’s.97 0.75 Load effects Remarks Test ID SB-02 Pile length = 160mm A=9. _____________________________________________________________________ structure interaction problems with one its aims being verification of mechanisms and design methods. inertial and lateral movement of the soil (lateral spreading). Table 1: Summary of pile performance Pile ID Max load P/Pcr P P/A N MPa 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 768 642 617 294 220 113 610 872 2249 735 269 441 79 65 63 26.
16-18th July. This confirms that the support offered by the soil was eliminated by earthquake liquefaction and that the pile started to buckle in the direction of least elastic bending stiffness.5 mm PPT 6793 92.5 mm PPT 6669 PPT 6697 PPT 6674 2 mm 5 mm Figure 7: Instrumentation layout and free field pore pressure traces surrounding pile 8. _____________________________________________________________________ (a) Pile failure in test SB-02 (b) Pile no -3 (c) Pile 7 during (d) Pile 7 after (e) Pile 7 tested in excavation excavation absence of soil. 2003. The pile heads were restrained in the direction of shaking (no inertia effects) and the piles buckled transversely to the direction of shaking. Estimated σv'=0 52. It must also be remembered that the piles were carrying the same load (load at which it failed) at 50-g and was stable before the earthquake. if the axial load is high enough (P/Pcr ≥ 1) it may not be necessary to invoke lateral spreading of the soil to cause a pile to collapse and piles can collapse before lateral spreading starts once the surrounding soil has liquefied. Thus we must conclude. Figure 8: Plot of PPT data in far field of the pile . Figure 6: Pile failure observed in centrifuge tests Test results and discussion Verification of the hypothesis It immediately becomes obvious from the table that the piles having P/Pcr ratio close to 1 failed.ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). The stress in the pile section is well within elastic range of the material (less than 30% of the yield strength) but it failed as the earthquake was fired.5 mm PPT 6671 PPT 6680 PPT 6260 PPT J13 PPT 6264 127. The loads in the piles marked 7 8 and 10 were purely axial. Seattle. Figures 6(c &d).
_____________________________________________________________________ Replication of mechanism Figure 6 (a) shows the surface observation of the piles after test SB-02. It may be noted that as the shaking starts the pore pressure rises in the soil starting from top and proceeding downwards. 2003. at a time of about 0. The piles in the test were not restrained at the top and therefore experienced the full inertia load. Figure 1(b) shows the point of hinge formation in the failure of a three-storey R.5 seconds in the history.3mm 20mm 40 mm 3. Thus the centrifuge tests point out that buckling can be a possible failure mechanism of piles in liquefiable soil sites.25 s after shaking started. One of the piles that failed during the earthquake is shown in Figure 6(b). Figure 10: Near field & far field pore pressure measurements at 52. but that some secondary support then becomes available. Pile-soil interaction Figure 7 shows the instrumentation layout with pore pressure transducer locations surrounding pile 8 and also in the free field. the tests suggest that the deeper part of the “liquefied” soil zone offered resistance to the buckling pile and reduced bending moments in the lower two-thirds of its length. 16-18th July. There is a similarity between the locations of hinge formation in the centrifuge test and in the aftermath of real earthquakes. It may be noted that the heads of the piles duly rotated and translated. Dia = 9. It may be noted that the real piled buildings were in laterally spreading soil whereas the model piles in the experiments were in level ground. The figure shows that the hinge formed at the top third of the pile. Resistance of liquefied soil The test SB-04 was repeated as SB-05 (not included in table 1) but without soil (and in presence of air) where the model piles acted as cantilever struts. Seattle. Figure 8 shows the free field traces of excess pore pressure.ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). This is quite similar to visual observations of the collapsed piled building in laterally spreading soil as shown in Figure 1 (a).5mm depth for pile 8 (Figure 7).5mm 38% 200% P 20mm Shearing of soil above the hinge formation 90 mm Percentage of shearing of soil from the plastic deformation measurements of the pile after the test 3. This demonstrates that the pile failure mechanisms observed in the field can be replicated using dynamic centrifuge modelling. Figure 8 shows that in each case the plateau correspond well with an estimate . or about 0. Figure 6(d) and 6(e) compare the mode shape of pile 7 in the two tests and it is interesting to note the difference in mode shape of the piles. Curvature being related to bending moment.C building revealed after excavation following the 1995 Kobe earthquake. the excess pore pressures δu in the free field reach a plateau. We might conclude that “liquefied” soil cannot prevent the initiation of buckling in an initially straight pile. In every case.5mm 50 mm Fixed base Figure 9: Plastic deformation measurements of pile 8 after test SB-04.
i. For Euler’s buckling.0 s in Figure 8. top-down. when normalised by the pile diameter D. Figure 10. At first. 2003.0 s the PPT in front of the pile shows a circa 10 kPa reduction of pore pressure with additional sharper downward spikes at each earthquake cycle. 2002) of δ/D = 200%. Because it must carry load. Evidently the soil in that zone is liquefied no longer.1 s this PPT is recording a steady 25 kPa pore pressure deficit compared with the “liquefied” far field. When this advancing front reaches a critical depth Hc given by equation 2. the three PPTs record the same pressures rising to “liquefaction”. Then.e. gives a reference shear strain (Goh and O’Rourke. (2) 4P This instability will cause the pile to begin to move slowly sideways. the pore pressure reduction in front of the pile has diminished. and because it can generate as much effective stress as it needs to achieve that. . PPT 6793 behind the pile) and the far field PPT J13. however. This magnitude of shear strain is quite sufficient for the achievement of a critical state in the shear zone. temporarily. Seattle. At that point the pile head load collapsed onto the surface of the saturated sand. By 1. 16-18th July. _____________________________________________________________________ of the pre-existing effective vertical stress at the corresponding elevation. Takahashi et al. due to transient inflow presumably. pushing the soil. suppressed by the need for water to flow into the zone affected.4 s. It must be expected that the imposition of shear strains (due to pile monotonically pushing the soil) at low effective stresses in moderately dense soil will lead to an attempt to dilate. suggesting that σ′v had fallen to zero. taking Leff = 2 HC for a pile with no restraint at the head. the front of zero effective stress continues to advance swiftly downwards until the whole length of the pile is unsupported by the soil grains. when the pile plastically buckled.0 s in the time record of figure 10. its pore pressure drops correspondingly. Figure 9 shows that the ultimate displacement δ of the top of the pile. but enjoys a vertical effective stress of between 10 and 20 kPa – enough for the pile to receive significant support – again. But the steady component of pore pressure reduction in front of the pile must be due to suppressed dilation as the pile begins to push the previously “liquefied” soil aside. which must then create a local reduction of pore fluid pressure. acting as a rather tilted shallow foundation. as the previously “liquefied” soil in the near field must now participate in the undrained bearing capacity of the load. and therefore to motions orthogonal to the eventual direction of buckling. in the direction of eventual buckling. it is obvious that the hinge should form at the bottom for a cantilever strut but for pile buckling it is observed that hinges form within top half of the pile. 1999. to the point where the positive spikes take the pore pressure in front of the pile back up to the “liquefaction” pressures of the far field. The cyclic component of the PPT data behaviour is clearly related to the shaking. The PPT behind the pile shows positive spikes which are at first out of phase with those in front and which then come in phase. At the same time. Between 0. By the time shaking ceases at 1. up to 0.5 s and 1. A tremendous negative spike of pore pressure is seen on PPT 6260 in front of the pile. compares the PPT traces at shallow depth in the near field of the pile (PPT 6260 in front of the pile. the pile would have become elastically unstable following equation 1. the pile will have lost all lateral effective stress in a progressive fashion.ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). Hc = π 2 EI “Euler’s classical buckling” and “Pile buckling” Figures 5 (a & b) and 6 (d & e) clearly demonstrate the difference between Euler’s classical buckling mode shape and the pile buckling mode shape. until 1.
so the restraint necessary to hold it in equilibrium will also increase. This behaviour can be visualised by the hollow co-axial rigid jacketed tube. the resistance will decrease as the pile shears the “initially liquefied soil”. 3. 16-18th July. For the lower part of the pile. 2. Figure 11: A simple experiment . The following conclusions can be drawn: 1. and which can fully soften (zero shear strength and zero bearing strength) the supporting soil adjacent to it. Figure 12 (b) shows the mode shape of a failed pile in a centrifuge test. The buckling pile will also suffer increasing loss of bending stiffness due to plastic yielding. It must be noted that the top part of the slender columns can move freely simulating the fully liquefied soil in upper part of the liquefiable layer. deteriorating bending stiffness of the pile and the reducing differential soil support along its length. It will be shortly demonstrated that the difference in mode shape is due to the post-buckling behaviour of the pile. Seattle. A schematic view of the experiment is shown in Figure 12 (a). The upper part of the soil can be properly described as liquefied. The above phenomenon can be visualised by considering the simple experiment described in the next section. according to the necessary conditions laid down in Schofield (1981). This is due to development of negative pore pressure in the sheared soil which will induce transient flow from the neighbouring “liquefied but not sheared” soil. in the true sense of the word in science or common language. _____________________________________________________________________ It is evident that the resistance of the liquefied soil prevents the development of the full height buckle observed when a similar pile is tested in air. It is the upper part of a liquefiable sand layer that remains longest in a state of zero effective stress (Figure 8) due to upward hydraulic gradients. Experimental work of Takahashi et al (2002) shows that initial resistance to movement of pile in liquefied soil is negligible but some lateral resistance becomes mobilised after a certain amount of displacement.ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). creates a plastic hinge before dynamic collapse of the structure. The buckling load or the critical load remain the same in experiments with or without the hollow rigid tube. this tube should be thought to expand its diameter gradually due to the softening of the soil induced by transient flow. which is very similar to the mode shape of failures in the thought experiment. and it is the upper part of the pile which displaces most (Figure 9). This imbalance between increasing bending moment created by displacement of pile cap. A simple experiment The instability test shown in Figure 5(b) is repeated with a hollow rigid tube partially jacketed around the slender columns as shown in Figure 11. Muhunthan and Schofield (2000). In the light of the discussion of pile-soil interaction. The location of the hinge is dependent on post-buckling behaviour and depends on the resistance experienced by the buckling column after it became unstable. From the final buckled shape the effective length of the pile should not be estimated. 2003.
It is then necessary to select a pile section having a margin of factor of safety against buckling under the worst credible loads. Eurocode 8: Part 5 (1998). Imperial College (UK). M. interlocked sections should also be effective.G and Bolton. Design provisions for earthquake resistance of structuresfoundations.D (2002): An alternative mechanism of pile failure in liquefiable deposits during earthquakes.pdf 3. (1989). 4. 16-18th July. Cellular foundations of contiguous. Codes of practice need to include a criterion to prevent buckling of slender piles in liquefiable soils. Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering 22. Sufficient information has been obtained from centrifuge models to propose a hypothesis for pile-soil interaction during a buckling event. which will start to offer some temporary lateral resistance but not enough to avoid hinge formation or collapse. Bond. Designers should specify fewer. European Committee for standardization.. No 22. retaining structures and geotechnical aspects.ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003).cam.uk/geotech_new/publications/TR/TR324. Behaviour of displacement piles in over-consolidated clays. Future research should focus on retrofitting existing unsafe piled foundations. R (2002). Evaluation of pile foundation response to lateral spreading. J. Seattle. . S. 2003. 4. CUED/D-SOILS/TR324 (Oct 2002). large modulus piles.eng. by considering any restraints offered by the pile cap.http://wwwciv. or the zone of embedment beneath the liquefiable soil layer. Madabhushi.ac. 3. 2. Bhattacharya. pp 1051-1058. 2. Technical report of University of Cambridge. The buckling pile begins to shear the soil next to it. Brussels. T and Dobry. Reference 1. S. A. in order to avoid problems with buckling due to liquefaction.P. _____________________________________________________________________ Y P Hc Hinge formation Hollow rigid tube L Resistance offered by soil X (a) Schematic of the thought experiment (b) Pile 12 in the centrifuge (c) Idealisation of pile buckling Figure 12: Comparison of centrifuge models with simple models Conclusions 1. Abdoun. PhD thesis. The designer should first estimate the equivalent length for Euler’s buckling.
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O (1997): Design methods of bridge foundations against soil liquefaction and liquefaction-induced ground flow. . _____________________________________________________________________ 23. Satake. Second Italy-Japan workshop on seismic design and retrofit of bridges.. Oh-oka Hiroshi. pp 95-100. 24. 2003.ASCE Engineering Mechanics Conference (EM2003). Tamura. (1997). K and Matsuo. 1997. No-495. Shamoto Y. Tokimatsu K. Rome. Seattle.. Feb 27 and 28.. Italy. 16-18th July. Journal Struct. Yokoyama. AIJ (Japan). and Asaka Y. K. K. Eng. Failure and deformation modes of piles due to liquefaction-induced lateral spreading in the 1995 Hyogoken-Nambu earthquake”.
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