spaced piles to stabilise clay highway slopes
Prepared for Geotechnics Operations Support Division,
Highways Agency
D R Carder
TRL Report TRL632
ii
First Published 2005
ISSN 09684107
ISBN 1846086310
Copyright TRL Limited 2005.
This report has been produced by TRL Limited, under/as part
of a contract placed by the Highways Agency. Any views
expressed in it are not necessarily those of the Agency.
TRL is committed to optimising energy efficiency, reducing
waste and promoting recycling and reuse. In support of these
environmental goals, this report has been printed on recycled
paper, comprising 100% postconsumer waste, manufactured
using a TCF (totally chlorine free) process.
iii
CONTENTS
Page
Executive Summary 1
1 Introduction 3
2 Objective of strengthening 3
2.1 Remediation of deepseated slope failures 3
2.2 Steepening of slopes for highway widening purposes 3
3 Site investigation 3
3.1 Desk study 3
3.2 Topographical survey 4
3.3 Soil profiling 4
3.4 Ground water and drainage 4
3.5 Laboratory testing 4
3.6 In situ testing 4
3.7 Instrumentation and monitoring 5
3.8 Site specific features 5
3.9 Environmental issues 5
4 Factors for consideration in the design 5
4.1 Spacing and diameter of piles 5
4.2 Lateral resistance supplied by piles 6
4.3 Penetration and location of the piles 6
4.4 Overall stability 6
4.5 Differences between cutting and embankment situations 6
4.6 Influence of construction sequence 7
4.7 Other issues 7
5 Design procedures 7
5.1 Methods based on rigidplastic behaviour 7
5.2 Methods based on plastic deformation 9
5.3 Numerical analyses 10
5.4 Overall stability analyses 11
5.5 Retaining wall methods 12
6 Site operations 12
7 Summary 15
8 Acknowledgements 15
9 References 15
Abstract 18
Related publications 18
iv
1
Executive Summary
A single row of bored piles spaced at intervals along a clay
slope provides an effective remedial measure to improve
the stability of slopes that have either failed or are showing
incipient signs of failure. The technique can also be used to
steepen slopes so that highway corridors can be widened
within existing boundaries to accommodate extra vehicular
lanes or other modes of transport.
Determination of the optimum design for the piled slope
is a complex soilstructure interaction problem and this
report is intended to provide advice on relevant issues. This
design advice is primarily based upon the findings from:
! a literature review of existing case histories and current
design methods;
! centrifuge modelling of a cutting slope;
! three dimensional finite element modelling;
! instrumented trials of remediation of a Gault Clay
cutting slope on the M25 and a London Clay cutting
slope on the A12.
Guidance on the nature of the site investigation
(including an assessment of environmental impacts and
site specific details relevant to plant operations) are
included in the report. For the geotechnical design it is
essential to identify the potential or active failure plane or
zone, any waterbearing or weak strata, and a stiff
founding stratum for the piles.
The main factors for consideration in the design include
the spacing and diameter of piles, their lateral resistance,
the optimum penetration and location of the piles, and
overall stability. The depth of penetration and required
lateral resistance of stabilising piles in a cutting are likely
to be greater than in an embankment situation.
Current design approaches are aimed at evaluating the
restoring force required to stabilise the slope, the
required shear and bending moment capacities of the
piles, and pile dimensions and layout. The available
design methods are discussed in the report.
Approximate methods of using retaining wall theory
also proved a useful guide to performance.
The recommendations within the report are generally
applicable for clay highway slopes which are typically up
to about 10m in height. For higher slopes more than one
row of piles or anchoring of the pile heads may be
considered necessary for stability. It should be noted that
this report concentrates on giving design guidance when
only a single row of cantilevered piles is employed,
although it is anticipated that some of the philosophies can
be used more widely.
2
3
1 Introduction
One of the options for improving the stability of clay
highway slopes is to use a single row of spaced piles to
provide support. This piling technique for stabilising
slopes has been used widely and with success for some
considerable time primarily elsewhere in Europe and in
Japan (Carder and Temporal, 2000), although there is a
paucity of well documented case histories. Stabilisation of
landslides and natural slopes appears to have been more
usual than attempts to stabilise embankments. The
technique is however now becoming more frequently used
in the UK both on the highway and rail networks for
stabilisation of soil slopes.
Determination of pile diameter, spacing, penetration
depth and location on the slope is a complex soilstructure
interaction problem on which further design guidance is
needed. This report attempts to address this problem and
provides design guidance, which is primarily based upon
the findings of the following:
! a literature review of existing case histories and current
design methods undertaken by Carder and Temporal
(2000);
! centrifuge modelling of a cutting slope reported by
Hayward et al. (2000);
! three dimensional finite element modelling discussed by
Carder and Easton (2001);
! an instrumented trial of remediation of a Gault Clay
cutting slope on the M25 reported by Carder and Barker
(2005a);
! an instrumented trial of remediation of a London Clay
cutting slope on the A12 reported by Carder and Barker
(2005b).
Recommendations within the report are generally
applicable for clay highway slopes which are typically up
to about 10m in height. For higher slopes more than one
row of piles or anchoring of the pile heads may be
considered necessary for stability. It should be noted that
this report concentrates on giving design guidance when
only a single row of cantilevered piles is employed,
although it is anticipated that the some of the philosophies
can be used more widely.
The piling technique can be used as a remedial measure
to improve the stability of slopes that have either failed or
are showing incipient signs of failure. Also, with an
integrated transport policy there is likely to be a need to
widen highway corridors by steepening slopes within
existing boundaries to provide extra space for bus/cycle
lanes and other modes of transport. The application of this
technique in meeting these objectives is now discussed in
more detail.
2 Objective of strengthening
2.1 Remediation of deepseated slope failures
Many clay slopes which are prone to shallow failures (Perry,
1989) are now reaching a critical age for deepseated failure
to occur. In addition, prolonged delays in dealing with
shallow failures may lead to the formation of deeper slips
(Geotechnical Consulting Group, 1993). This situation is
also exacerbated by the increasing incidence of heavy
rainfall and flooding, which will add to the risk of
softening of clay, that has occurred in recent years due to
the effects of climate change.
The option of using a row of spaced piles is attractive in
providing a near permanent solution to deepseated slope
instability. The longevity of the repair is expected to be
significantly better than that provided by more traditional
methods such as digging out and replacing with higher
quality fill.
2.2 Steepening of slopes for highway widening purposes
In highway widening situations there is an increasing
demand for embankment and cutting slopes to be
steepened, so reducing the landtake and associated costs
and delays to construction. However, depending upon the
geological strata, Perry (1989) generally recommended
that cutting and embankment slopes on highways are
constructed at slope angles of between 1v:5h and 1v:2h to
avoid instabilities developing. Therefore, when steepening
slopes, additional slope support is often required.
In many cases, improvements in deepseated slope
stability can be provided by installation of a single row of
piles spaced at intervals along the slope to accommodate
the additional lateral loading developed near the toe of the
slope. These measures may need to be used in conjunction
with techniques such as that of increased vegetation
(MacNeil et al., 2001) to improve the stability against
shallow slip failures.
3 Site investigation
When using bored piles to stabilise or strengthen a slope
against a potential or active deepseated failure, there are
three fundamental factors to ascertain during the site
investigation in order to achieve a safe and economic
design. These are:
! to identify the potential or active failure plane or zone;
! to identify any waterbearing or weak strata;
! to identify a stiff founding stratum for the piles.
This information can be obtained from a combination of
the following activities.
3.1 Desk study
Past records may be invaluable in assisting with the design of
a bored pile system to stabilise or steepen a highway slope.
These records may include the site investigation report for
construction of the embankment or cutting slope, information
from other borehole logs in the area, and any other relevant
data on the geological history of the site and the neighbouring
area. Sources of information may include geological maps,
aerial photographs, local knowledge, the Highways Agency
GDMS database and the British Geological Society
Geoscience Data Index (www.bgs.ac.uk).
4
During this desk study any evidence of previous slope
instability in the region should be sought so that any relic
shear planes can be identified.
3.2 Topographical survey
Walkover and topographical surveys are essential to establish
parameters such as the slope height, slope angle, the extent of
any vegetation, proximity to the highway and any structures,
and the drainage situation (see Section 3.4). Any signs of
either incipient or actual failure should be sought. These may
include the location of tension cracks, the extent of any
backscarp, and any areas where bulging or slumping has
occurred. Deformed lines in any fencing or safety barrier, tree
movements, or loss of verticality in highway furniture such as
lampposts may provide useful indicators of slope
performance. Changes in vegetation cover may indicate either
different geologies or past remedial works.
3.3 Soil profiling
When using a row of bored piles to stabilise or steepen a
slope, the potential for failure is likely to be one of a deep
seated failure. For this reason, mobilisation of a cable tool
percussion or small tracked rotary drilling rig is normally
required as the soil profile will need to be known to at least
the full depth of the piles. During this process, as well as
logging the strata, soil samples can conveniently be
obtained for classification, moisture content determination
and laboratory strength testing following the ground
investigation procedures given in BS5930 (1999).
Identification of weathered and unweathered zones
together with any waterbearing strata is an essential pre
requisite during this operation.
In some cases, access to the slope may be difficult and
recourse may need to be made to profiling by trial pit and
window sampler. Trial pits may be necessary in any event
for detecting rupture surfaces where they emerge within
the slope in a failure situation.
The information obtained from the soil profiles is
usefully plotted in a section through the slope so that any
potential or active shear planes can be related to the
geology. The optimum location for the row of bored piles
can then be assessed (see Section 4.3).
3.4 Ground water and drainage
An accurate knowledge of the ground water conditions and
the effectiveness of any existing drainage systems is of
paramount importance in assessing the current stability of
the slope and also in the design of the piling. Ground water
levels are best determined by direct measurement of pore
water pressures using piezometers (see Section 3.7) and
sufficient data need to be obtained to identify if any
perched water table conditions exist. The seasonal
fluctuation in pore water pressures may also be significant
with suctions developing in the slope surface during the
summer particularly if there is vegetation on the slope. In
the design of the slope strengthening system, the most
severe pore water pressures that are likely to exist in winter
should be taken into account.
The effectiveness of any existing or proposed drainage
system is important in ensuring stability after installation
of a spaced pile system. A failure in the existing system
may have been the root cause of any slope instability. A
new system including drainage at the toe or crest of the
slope, and possibly slope or counterfort drains may need to
be considered. Control of ground water is important in
restricting wetting up of the soil retained by the spaced
piles, which may lead to plastic flow or washout of the soil
between them.
3.5 Laboratory testing
Guidance on the methods of laboratory testing of soils is
given in BS1377 (1990). Preliminary classification of the
different soil strata can be carried out on the soil samples
retrieved from the site investigation by determination of
the changes in plastic limit, liquid limit, and moisture
content with depth. This provides an early indication of
clay plasticity and the extent of any weathering.
Strength testing is essential to establish parameters for
limit equilibrium (slope stability) type analyses and for
more sophisticated numerical methods employing finite or
discrete element, or finite difference approaches. Effective
stress parameters are normally employed for these analyses
to establish long term behaviour. Peak and residual
strengths can be established by triaxial testing of
undisturbed samples. Residual strengths should be
preferred to model behaviour in zones where shearing has
already occurred. Back analyses of slope failures by Crabb
and Atkinson (1991) have also shown that critical state
values, which lie between peak and residual strength,
provide a good prediction in overconsolidated clay slopes.
For more sophisticated numerical modelling, the
modulus of each geological stratum is required. This can
be approximately determined from triaxial test results on
undisturbed soil samples, or from unloadreload loops
carried out using the selfboring pressuremeter. These data
are however hard to reliably obtain and in many instances
it may be acceptable to use historical data and carry out a
sensitivity analysis of performance.
3.6 In situ testing
Continuous profiling of changes in strength or stiffness can
be undertaken by penetration testing (Meigh, 1987) or by
one of the range of portable dynamic probes which are
now available. In general this approach can only be relied
on to detect relative changes with depth rather than
absolute values. Their use can however be informative in
some situations where only limited data can be obtained
from other sources.
Potts et al. (1997) found that the lateral stress in the in
situ clay has an influence on the stability of unreinforced
cutting slopes and the risk of a delayed collapse. This
factor needs to be taken into account when designing piled
systems to support steepened cutting slopes in over
consolidated clay. Where a stable slope is being steepened
for highway widening purposes, in situ testing using the
load cell pressuremeter (Carder and Bush, 2001) would
provide a measure of lateral stress levels.
5
3.7 Instrumentation and monitoring
Measurement of the lateral movement of a slope is
essential in terms of establishing whether it is stable or not.
The design of a piling system will depend on the
magnitude and extent of the movement zone where
shearing has occurred or is likely. In the case of piles being
used to steepen a slope for highway widening purposes,
postconstruction monitoring may also be advisable.
At simplest level, slope surface movements can be
monitored using a system of pegs or marker posts. However,
if stabilising piles are being considered, it usually implies
that there is a potential for deep failure and subsurface
movements need to be measured to identify the planes of
shearing. The normal way of measuring lateral subsurface
movement involves installing inclinometer access tubes at
critical locations within the slope. Indications of subsurface
movement can also be obtained using slip indicators or by
installing electrolevel strings within inclinometer tubes. The
former detects the depth to movement but gives little feel for
its magnitude, the latter technique requires specialist
installation but has the benefit of providing real time
monitoring in highly critical situations.
In carrying out an inclinometer (or electrolevel) survey in
an access tube, the movements are normally determined
assuming fixity of the base of the tube and for this reason it
is essential to found the tube in a firm stratum. Alternatively
movements can be determined relative to the top of the tube
if its exact position can be established by electronic distance
measurement from a stable reference point. Generally
inclinometer tubes are effective in determining lateral
movements to an accuracy of better than a few millimetres,
although in extreme cases of instability the access tubes may
be damaged by excessive movement.
The other important parameter to be measured is that of
pore water pressure. Pore water pressures can be measured by
installing profiles of piezometers in boreholes at different
depths. If measurements of pore pressure are required near to
the slope surface and/or at shallow depths below vegetation,
pore suctions may be measured during the summer and the
appropriate piezometer type needs to be selected for this
purpose (Ridley, Brady and Vaughan, 2003).
3.8 Site specific features
Site specific features which may have either affected the
stability of the slope or have an influence on the design of
the slope strengthening system need to be identified during
the site investigation. For example, a change in the drainage
system or a change in the loading conditions may have
occurred. The latter might be due to the excavation of a
deep trench at the toe or crest of the slope for utility works.
If the site is prone to flooding this should be identified
as it can cause softening of clay within a slope. Equally
well, vegetation can act as a stabilising influence although
its presence may well impede construction operations.
Any problems with site access and boundaries, which
will influence the operational zone of a piling rig and the
location of the row of spaced piles, also need investigating
at this stage.
3.9 Environmental issues
An environmental assessment should be included in the
condition appraisal of the slope prior to implementing any
piling works. Where the slope has failed, it can be argued
that the slope has already been disrupted in terms of its
ecology. However, environmental pressures are likely to
require that the slope condition be restored to its original
state or better using a bioengineered approach.
4 Factors for consideration in the design
The main factors that need to be considered when carrying
out the design of the piling system to stabilise the slope are
now discussed.
4.1 Spacing and diameter of piles
The spacing between and diameter of the piles must be
designed to maximise the arching of the soil between the
piles whilst minimising the flow of soil between them.
Various theories have been developed for design purposes
based on a combination of elastic and plastic soil
behaviour and these are described later in Section 5.
Carder and Temporal (2000) drew analogies with other
construction techniques, where soil flow and arching
occur. The principal findings from a review of the
performance of piled foundations embedded in clays is that
a pile spacing of about 5 times the pile diameter is
sufficiently large to minimise the interaction between
adjoining piles, no interaction is expected at a spacing of
more than 8 diameters. On this basis it can be argued that
in a slope situation, flow of soil between piles is fairly
certain at spacings of more than 8 diameters and possible
at spacings of more than 5 diameters. A review of design
recommendations for spillthrough abutments suggested a
similar result with an upper limit for spacing of 8 pier
diameters (or widths) for arching to be effective in
granular soils. It must be noted that some authors however
recommended a lower ratio of 5 diameters.
Centrifuge tests carried out by Hayward et al. (2000)
concluded that a clay slope with piles installed at a spacing
of 6.3 pile diameters failed, while the slopes with piles
installed at 3.2 and 4.2 diameters did not. Three
dimensional finite element modelling of ground
deformations under working loads (ie. prefailure)
investigated the differential movement between the piles
and ground midway between them (Carder and Easton,
2001). For both embankment and cutting slopes, little
differential movement was predicted when piles were
spaced at 3 diameter centres whereas significant movement
occurred when the spacing was increased to 6 diameters.
On the basis of the above discussion it is anticipated that
the spacing between pile centres in a typical stabilisation
scheme for a highway slope is likely to be in the range of 3
to 5 pile diameters. Pile diameters will to some extent be
dictated by site access and the type of rig which can be
mobilised, but are generally expected to be between
600mm and 1200mm.
6
4.2 Lateral resistance supplied by piles
Although most of the existing design approaches enable
the lateral force acting on each pile to be determined, the
lateral resistance provided by the piles will be limited by
the yield pressure of the soil both above and below the
potential slip surface. Information on yield pressures is
available both for the case of a laterally loaded single pile
pushing through level ground and creating pressures in
front of the pile, and for the movement of soil past existing
piles. Both cases have similarities with smaller yield
pressures near the surface than at depth.
For noncohesive soils, Broms (1964) used a limiting
soil reaction per unit length of pile of 3K
p
σ
v
'd where d is
the diameter of the pile. Fleming et al. (1994) suggested
from the data of Barton (1982) that at depths of up to 1.5
diameters, the limiting force per unit length was better
given by K
p
σ
v
'd. At depths beyond this, K
p
2
σ
v
'd was
considered a better approximation. Although these formula
were derived for a pile installed in level ground, account
can then be tentatively taken of the slope angle by
modifying the value of K
p
according to whether the
resistance of the soil to the top of the pile deflecting or the
toe fixity of the pile is being determined.
For piles in cohesive soil, Fleming et al. (1994) reports
that the limiting pressure developed on the front of the pile
from the wedge of the soil near the ground surface is
approximately 2c
u
d. It can be conservatively assumed that
this value increases linearly to about 9c
u
d at a depth of 3
pile diameters and then remains constant. More
complicated expressions from wedge theory have been
derived by Ashour et al. (1998) and for piles in sloping
ground by Gabr and Borden (1990).
The ultimate lateral resistance of the lower part of the
pile below the potential rupture zone is important. If the
pile is short because it is founded in an underlying stiff
stratum, its lateral resistance will be high and large
bending moments will develop on reversal of curvature as
the pile passes into the founding layer (Carder and Easton,
2001). With long piles in more homogeneous ground, the
lateral resistance will develop more uniformly along its
length, and the pile bending moments will generally be
lower. The maximum shear resistance of the pile itself also
needs consideration to ensure it has sufficient capacity.
The ultimate load which can be developed on the part of
the pile embedded in the potential failure or failed zone
will depend on the amount of soil arching or flow between
piles as has been discussed in Section 4.1.
4.3 Penetration and location of the piles
The decision on the penetration of the piles is primarily
dependent upon the findings of the ground investigation.
When using a row of piles to stabilise a cutting or
embankment slope or to steepen a slope for highway
widening purposes, the piles must extend well below the
expected critical failure surface. This ensures that the
failure zone does not increase to encompass the toe of the
piles so obviating the potential support gained from them.
The fixity of the toes of the piles is particularly important
as the larger the restoring force they can sustain, the
smaller will be the slope movements that occur.
Little guidance is available in the literature on the
optimum location of the piles in the slope. However, if the
row of piles is placed near the top of the slope, a
significant failure may simply occur in front of the piles.
Likewise, if the row of piles is installed near the bottom of
the slope, although heave of the carriageway may be
prevented a significant failure may occur behind the piles.
Engineering judgement would suggest that the row of piles
is probably better placed about one third to one half of the
way up the slope, although this can be validated for a
particular site situation using finite element or other
numerical techniques.
4.4 Overall stability
Methods for determining overall stability are separately
discussed in Section 5.4. The normal factors crucial to a
realistic stability analysis, as with an unreinforced slope,
are the pore water pressure distribution in the slope and the
appropriateness of the soil strength parameters. The
relevance of peak, residual and critical state shear strength
parameters has already been discussed in Section 3.5.
It must be noted that the location of the critical failure
surface will change and is likely to become deeper when the
piles are installed and for this reason an iterative procedure
needs to be used to identify the new critical surface.
4.5 Differences between cutting and embankment
situations
There are significant differences in the behaviour of
unreinforced cutting and embankment slopes, which have
implications for the design of a strengthening system using
piles. Firstly, because cuttings are constructed from in situ
clay the permeability of the clay will generally be lower
than that of clay fill used for an embankment, and softening
will therefore proceed at a slower rate over many decades
before a delayed collapse may occur (Skempton, 1964;
Vaughan, 1994). If clay fill for an embankment has been
excavated from a deep borrow pit, suctions will exist in the
clay lumps and their dissipation may lead to significant
softening and swelling over a shorter period of time.
The development of the failure zone will also be dependent
on the lateral stress within the clay and Potts et al. (1997)
reported that for cutting slopes the depth and extent of
progressive failures tended to increase with over
consolidation ratio. Generally failures with cuttings,
although often slower in developing, will be deeper than
those with embankments. This is because the long term
dissipation of suctions (caused by the unloading due to
excavation of the cutting) will result in significant
subsurface heave of the ground within the cutting. For this
reason the depth of penetration and the lateral resistance of
the stabilising piles generally need to be much larger in a
cutting situation. Measurements of pile lateral movements
and bending moments showed increases in response to
prolonged periods of heavy rainfall as the piles were called
on to provide more support to a cutting slope in Gault Clay
(Carder and Barker, 2005a). Emphasis in design therefore
needs to be placed on the long term condition.
7
Carder and Easton (2001) found that for embankment
slopes, the influence of the drainage blanket was significant
in improving stability not only because pore pressures are
controlled but also because the potential rupture is confined
to above the stiff granular layer forming the blanket. This
was the case with the analyses of performance of both the
unreinforced and pile reinforced slopes.
Finite element analyses carried out by Carder and Easton
(2001) also indicated that in a cutting slope, a buildup in
soil stress was observed as the top of the pile pushed
downslope although its magnitude will ultimately be limited
by the yield pressure of the soil. The limit pressure methods
of Broms (1964) and Fleming et al. (1994), which are
discussed in Section 4.2, may therefore be appropriate to
determine loads near the top of the pile in this case. In an
embankment situation, a buildup in lateral stress was
predicted upslope of the top of the pile and only small
stresses downslope of the pile. This mechanism of the
ground pushing onto the piles means that methods such as
those of Ito and Matsui (1975) and Wang and Yen (1974),
which consider plastic deformation and soil arching between
piles respectively, may be more appropriate than limit
pressure methods near the top of embankment piles.
4.6 Influence of construction sequence
As discussed in Section 6, the installation of large diameter
bored piles involves access for a piling rig which generally
needs to operate from a firm platform, ie. a bench cut into
the slope. After installation of the row of piles is complete,
placement and compaction of fill to reinstate the bench and
restore the slope to its intended shape may act to preload
the piles. This effect was reported by Carder and Barker
(2005b) would found that the tops of the piles cantilevered
downslope with an associated increase in pile bending
moments during the reinstatement of significant benching
at one particular slope. Subsequent to this preloading,
little further change in pile movement and moment was
then recorded over the following two years in service.
Provided that the moment capacity of the pile is not
exceeded, this effect is not viewed as a design problem.
However, reinstatements using a reduced thickness for fill
layers and light compaction plant may be a sensible
precaution in some critical cases.
Where the piles are not preloaded in this way, some
slope movement is anticipated before pile resistance can be
mobilised. The development of further pile lateral
movements and bending moments may then be in response
to prolonged periods of heavy rainfall as the piles are
called on to provide more support to the slope (Carder and
Barker, 2005a).
4.7 Other issues
In some situations, it may be appropriate to consider the
use of a structural capping beam between the adjacent pile
heads. This capping beam could be used either as a
foundation for environmental barriers or possibly have the
added benefit of preventing the development of shallow
failures of the slope.
A further option is the installation of ground anchors to
support the capping beam which would be expected to
reduce pile bending moments and also provide more
support to the upper part of the piles. However, if using
anchors, it should be noted that (a) fixity of the toe of the
pile is still required to prevent rotational failure about the
anchor head (b) the fixed anchor length must be in firm
ground beyond the potential zone of any deepseated
failure.
These optional construction features were not the
subject of the TRL study, and recourse should be made to
BS8002 (1994) and Eurocode 7 (1994) for information on
their design.
5 Design procedures
In general the current design approaches involve three
main stages, these are:
! evaluating the restoring shear force needed to achieve
the required factor of safety for stability of the slope;
! evaluating the shear force that each pile can provide to
resist sliding;
! selecting the diameter, centre to centre spacing,
penetration and most suitable location on the slope for
the piles.
It does not necessarily follow that these stages need to
be considered in the above order, as they are interrelated.
In many cases, for site specific reasons, details of the pile
dimensions and layout may well be established first.
The alternative fundamental methods of design are now
considered in turn, although a hybrid of these methods
may prove convenient in many cases.
5.1 Methods based on rigidplastic behaviour
Various authors have developed methods, which are based
both on a yielding layer that is parallel to the slope and on
wedge type failures. Some of the better known methods
are now considered:
a The method reported by Wang and Yen (1974) is fairly
classical for an infinitely long slope and uses rigid
plastic theory to consider the forces on an element of
soil in a yielding layer which is parallel to the slope as
shown in Figure 1. As would be anticipated they found
more arching occurred as the strength of the soil
increased, ie. Ø'
and c' increased.
For a sandy soil (c'=0) and using the nomenclature as
defined in Figure 1, Wang and Yen found a critical
spacing (m
cr
= B/h) as follows:
( )
( )
1
1 tan
cos tan tan
cr
K K
m
i i
+ ∅
=
− ∅
where K is the coefficient of earth pressure at rest and
assumed to be equal to (1sin Ø'). At spacings greater
than m
cr
the piles are not likely to provide any
stabilisation. An optimum spacing (m
m
) was also derived
at which arching is likely to be most effective and the
variation of critical and optimum spacings with Ø' is
illustrated in Figure 2 for a 1 in 2 slope.
8
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i
o
n
A’
Pile
a’
P+dp
b’
b
(a)
(b)
(c)
d
Element
a
P
B
A
h
d
i
F
ir
m
la
y
e
r
a
d
x
x
y
d
x
P
R
1
R
2
P
+
d
P
W
2.0
Mm
Mcr
10
M
c
r
a
n
d
M
m
1.5
1.0
0.5
0
20 20 40 2:1
Figure 2 Relationship between pile spacing and soil properties for 2h:1v sandy slope (After Wang and Yen, 1974)
(By courtesy of ASCE)
Figure 1 Plan view of series of piles: (a) on slope; (b) crosssection; (c) generic element (After Wang and Yen, 1974)
(By courtesy of ASCE)
9
A similar relationship was developed for cohesive soil
(Ø'=0) and this is as follows:
( )
( )
2 / cos
cos sin /
cr
c h i
m
i i c h
γ
γ
=
−
This equation is plotted in Figure 3 for c equal to c
1
and a number of slope angles.
It must be noted that the diameter of the piles is not
directly involved in the above formula as the arching is
assumed to be related to the opening between piles and
Wang and Yen assumed that pile size would be sufficiently
large to enable the arching mechanism to develop.
b Typical of the wedge type methods is the approach
reported by Day (1999) for drilled piers used to stabilise
slopes. Figure 4 shows a planar rupture surface inclined
at an angle (a) to the horizontal. The factor of safety of
the slope can then be defined by considering restoring
and perturbing forces parallel to the rupture surface
using the equation:
i
Factor of safety =
{c'L + (Wcos  uL) tan ' + P }/ sin W α α ∅
where L is the length of the slip surface, W is the weight
of the failure wedge material, and u is the average pore
water pressure along the slip surface. For a particular
factor of safety, the inclined force on the pier (P
i
) can
then be calculated and the lateral design force (P
L
) for
each pier determined using:
cos
L i
P S P α =
where S is the spacing between pier centres.
5.2 Methods based on plastic deformation
Ito and Matsui (1975) and Ito et al. (1981) considered the
state of plastic deformation in the ground just around the
piles (Figure 5) assuming it satisfied the MohrCoulomb
yield criterion. When piles are placed at intervals along the
slope they have a preventive effect against plastic
deformation. A number of equations and design charts
were developed for different soil strengths which enabled
α
Proposed pier wall
P
i
H
Unstable
wedge
Slip surface
Figure 4 Design of pier wall for wedge slope failure (After Day, 1999)
(By courtesy of ASCE)
20
1:1
4:1
3:1
0
M
c
r
10
0
0.2 0.4
2:1
c
γh
cosi sini 
2 . cosi
c
γh
c
γh
Mcr =
Figure 3 Critical spacing of piles in clayey slopes (c
1
=c) (After Wang and Yen, 1974)
(By courtesy of ASCE)
10
the force acting on the pile to be determined. For example
the equation for the lateral force (p) acting on a pile per
unit thickness of layer is as follows:
1 2
2
1
exp tan tan
tan 8 4
D D
p cA N
N D
φ
φ
π φ
φ
φ
! " # $ − % ! &
= + '
( ) * ' +
'
,  % . / 0 ,
( )
( ) ( )
1/ 2 1/ 2
1/ 2
1/ 2
2tan 2
2 tan 1
tan 1
N N
N
N N
φ φ
φ
φ φ
φ
φ
φ
−
+ + &
1
− − + +
2
+
+ − 3

−
( ) ( )
( )
( )
1/ 2 1/ 2
1/ 2
1 2
1/ 2
2tan 2
2
tan 1
N N
c D D N
N N
φ φ
φ
φ
φ
φ φ
−
−
! &
+ +
' +
− −
' +
' +
+ −
, 
1 2
2
2
exp tan tan
8 4
D D z
A N D
N D
φ
φ
γ π φ
φ
" 1 # $ − % % ! &
+ + −
( 2 ) * ' +
,  % % . / 0 3
where the constants are A which is equal to D1(D1/D2)
b
with b=(N
Ø
½
tan Ø + N
Ø
1)
and N
Ø
=tan
2
[π/4+Ø/2]. The
soil strength parameters are c and Ø, γ is the unit weight
of soil, z is the depth, and D1 and D2 are as defined in
Figure 5.
An example chart is shown in Figure 6. In general, for a
constant diameter of pile, the lateral force increases as the
interval between piles becomes progressively narrower.
This is because the soil just around the piles finds it harder
to pass through the gap between them and more load is
therefore transferred to the piles. On this basis the factor of
safety of the slope would increase as the spacing between
piles decreases and more load is taken by the piles. For the
same reason, the lateral force on the piles increases as the
soil strength parameters c', Ø' increase. Popescu (1991),
Cantoni et al. (1989) and others have used the design
approach of Ito and Matsui (1975) with apparent success
and more recently the method has been further rationalised
by Hassiotis (1997).
5.3 Numerical analyses
Theories representing a Winkler beam on an elastic
foundation have been widely used in the design of laterally
loaded piles with empirically derived nonlinear springs to
represent the soil (py curves) or a model of the soil as a
linear elastic continuum (Matlock and Reese, 1960;
Broms, 1964; Poulos and Davis, 1980). However the
accuracy of such solutions depends upon the
characterisation of the interaction between the pile and the
surrounding ground. A particularly good representation of
the soilpile interaction yields a more realistic solution.
Generally the analysis of a row of piles is based on either
superposing the behaviour of a number of single piles or
on extrapolation of the solution to cover a row of piles
π
4
F
B
D
Pile
b
Direction of
deformation
D
1 D
2
F’
B’
D’
C’
E’
A’
O
A
E
Pile
C
α = ( + )
φ
2
( + )
π
4
( − )
φ
2
π
8
φ
4
X
Figure 5 Plastically deforming ground around stabilising pile (After Ito and Matsui, 1975)
(By courtesy of the authors)
11
using semiempirical interaction factors. Most of these
analyses also consider the soil to have a horizontal surface
and make no provision for the situation where a row of
piles is in a slope.
More sophisticated procedures in some cases involving
finite and boundary element analysis and more complex
soil models have been developed (Rowe and Poulos, 1979;
Chen and Poulos, 1993). These methods tend to
concentrate on the ultimate lateral resistance of the piles
rather than approaching spacing design via arching theory.
Chen and Poulos (1993) and Yegian and Wright (1973)
both concluded that for a single row of piles in a direction
perpendicular to the loading, the spacing is generally
greater than 2.5 pile diameters and therefore pile
interaction has only a small influence on their ultimate
lateral resistance.
More complex finite element analysis involving three
dimensions and a plasticity model for the soil which allows
gap formation have been undertaken by Brown and Shie
(1990 & 1991) and in addition to providing a better model
of arching between piles, these can give a better overall
view of likely performance. It is not practical to give
simple rules for the evaluation of the optimum spacing
between piles based on finite element analyses because of
the large number of variables, although three dimensional
models of this nature are expected to provide an effective
design method.
5.4 Overall stability analyses
The stability of the slope can be investigated by taking
account of the extra restoring force provided by the piles
during calculations which may be based on limit
equilibrium methods such as the friction circle method and
the method of slices (Bishop, 1955; Bishop and
Morgenstern, 1960; Morgenstern and Price, 1967). This
force can be calculated from the theory of ultimate
resistance described by Poulos and Davis (1980).
Figure 7 shows an idealised section through a slope
reinforced by a single row of piles where a circular failure
is being assumed. Poulos and Davis give the alternative
ways in which the maximum value of the restoring force
can be ascertained, these are:
i from the ultimate lateral resistance of a ‘short’ pile,
where full mobilisation of soil strength occurs over the
lower part of the pile (l
2
);
ii from the ultimate lateral resistance of a ‘long’ pile,
where lateral capacity is mainly dependent on the yield
moment of the pile;
iii from the ultimate load that can be developed if the soil
flows between the piles over the upper part (l
1
);
iv from the shear resistance of the pile section itself.
For stability the least of the above four forces is
appropriate. A sensitivity analysis of the stability of the
slope, taking account of the restoring force from the piles,
then enables decisions to be made on the pile penetration,
its location on the slope, and the pile diameter. It must be
noted that the critical failure surface changes when the
piles are installed in the slope and for this reason an
iterative procedure needs to be followed.
Viggiani (1981) studied the different failure modes that
can occur and derived expressions for the maximum shear
force exerted by the pile on the slip surface and of the
bending moments acting on the pile. These solutions were
for the ultimate limit state of purely cohesive soils and
their cohesion was assumed to be constant with depth in
both the unstable and stable zones. Poulos (1973)
developed a more rigorous approach with the restoring
force from the piles being calculated from numerical
analysis using boundary elements.
1
5
0
30
3
0
9
0
1
2
0
D
2
/ D
1
F
o
r
c
e
a
c
t
i
n
g
o
n
p
i
l
e
(
t
/
m
)
20
10
0 0.5 1.0
D
1

D
2
=
6
0
c
m
γ
z
φ
c
2 t/m
3
5m
10
0.1kg/cm
2
Figure 6 Effect of pile diameter (D
1
D
2
) on plastic deformation (After Ito and Matsui, 1975)
(By courtesy of the authors)
12
Hassiotis et al. (1997), following the approach of Ito and
Matsui (1975), using integration of the formula for plastic
deformation of the soil between piles (see Section 5.2) to
determine the ultimate load over the upper part of the piles.
Their slope analyses based on determination of this force
showed that, with the piles in place in both cases, the
improvement in the factor of safety of the slope needed to
take account of the change in location of the critical failure
surface from its original position (see Figure 8). Although
the factors of safety generally increased with the horizontal
distance of the piles from the toe of the slope (S), it should
be noted that the optimum location to minimise risk of
failures above or below the pile line is likely to be if they are
installed about one third to one half of the way up the slope.
5.5 Retaining wall methods
An approximate check of the order of magnitude of the
bending moments derived using the other methods can be
carried out using retaining wall theory. The extra
perturbing force on the piles due to the slope can be
estimated using two alternative approaches as follows.
i The extra load from the clay slope is accounted for by
increasing the active pressure coefficient (K
a
) on the
retained side of the wall to a value of 1. This is the
maximum tabulated value for β/ϕ' of 1, where ϕ' is the
angle of internal friction of the soil and β is the slope
angle to the horizontal, beyond this the value for β/ϕ' of
greater than 1 is indeterminate (Eurocode 7, 1994).
ii The height of the clay slope above the tops of the piles
is represented by a uniform vertical surcharge equivalent
to 10kN/m
2
per metre height. This is about half of that
which would exist behind the crest of the slope.
L
1
L
2
Figure 7 Idealised section through a slope reinforced by a single row of piles
The geometry and parameters adopted when using the
two approaches are shown in Figure 9. In both cases, the
benefit of the support of the soil wedge in front of the pile
is ignored. The water table is assumed at the top of the pile
in the retained ground and at cutting level in front of the
wall. The conservative assumptions of no wall friction and
adhesion can also employed, so that the design looks at the
worst case scenario.
On this basis of a continuous wall, the factors of safety
on mobilised soil strength can then be calculated in the
normal way following the recommendations of BS8002
(1994). The results will be conservative because the
restoring force from the wedge of soil in front of the piled
wall has been ignored. If wished some allowance for the
stabilising effect of the berm (ie. the wedge in front of the
piled wall) can be made by applying a uniform vertical
surcharge equivalent to about one third of the berm height
(Fleming et al., 1991).
Wall bending moments can also be calculated using this
approach, although the results need to be factored up to take
account of the spacing between pile centres. This crude
evaluation generally gives bending moments of the same
order of magnitude as those predicted by other methods.
6 Site operations
Careful consideration needs to be given in the design to the
access availability for a piling rig and to the traffic
management aspects if appropriate. Installation of large
diameter bored piles generally requires a conventional
rotary piling rig, which needs to operate from a firm piling
platform. If, for example, a row of piles are required at
about threeeighths of the way up a 1v:2h slope, a piling
13
Figure 8 Effect of pile location on factor of safety (After Hassiotis et al., 1997)
(By courtesy of ASCE)
9 8 7
S
Critical surface after the
placement of the piles
(a) Shallow slope
Original critical surface that
does not change with the
presence of the piles
1.9
2.1
1.7
1.8
1.7
1.8
20 25 5 0 10 15
1.0
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.7
1.8
2.0
F
S
S (m)
Slope =30
φ = 10
c =23.94 kPa
γ =19.63
H =13.7m
=0.6
kN
m
3
D2
D1
S
(b) Steep slope
3.5
4.0
3.0
6 3 5 2 1 0 10 4
1.0
1.5
2.5
2.0
F
S
S (m)
Slope =49
φ = 10
c =23.94 kPa
γ =19.63
H =9.14m
=0.6
kN
m
3
D2
D1
14
Ignore benefit of this wedge
Load from soil wedge accounted for
by increasing K in underlying layer
(a) Increasing K to account for slope
Ignore benefit of this wedge
Load from soil wedge accounted for
by applying equivalent surcharge
(b) Adding in equivalent surcharge
Surcharge
Figure 9 Using retaining wall design approaches
15
platform will be needed between the pile line and the toe
of the slope. Generally, as a rule of thumb, piling rigs of
this type have a reach of about 4m and can drill into
ground that is no more than about 1m above platform
level. In cases where a carriageway is near the toe of the
slope, traffic management measures may therefore be
necessary to provide a safe working zone.
At sites where access is not available for a conventional
piling rig either because of lack of space or because the
lower section of the slope is not stable enough to support
its weight, consideration can be given to using a more
lightweight tripod mounted rotary drilling rig. Tripod rigs
are available which will enable bored piles of up to about
700mm diameter to be constructed. Although progress will
be slower than with larger machines, the construction work
is then more confined to the slope area. Traffic
management measurements, which can be a significant
cost implication, may then not need to be so extensive
although consideration may need to be given to screening
to prevent driver distraction.
7 Summary
A programme of research has been carried out on the
technique of installing a single row of spaced bored piles
to provide additional support to clay highway slopes. The
main findings and factors studied were as follows:
i Piles spaced at intervals along a clay slope provide an
effective remedial measure and improve the stability of
slopes that have either failed or are showing incipient
signs of failure.
ii The technique can also be used to steepen slopes so that
highway corridors can be widened within existing
boundaries to accommodate extra vehicular lanes or
other modes of transport. In this instance the technique
may need to be used in conjunction with other
techniques to prevent shallow instabilities developing.
iii Guidance on the nature of the site investigation
(including an assessment of environmental impacts and
site specific details relevant to plant operations) are
given in the report. For the geotechnical design it is
essential to identify the potential or active failure plane
or zone, any waterbearing or weak strata, and a stiff
founding stratum for the piles.
iv The main factors for consideration in the design include
the spacing and diameter of piles, their lateral
resistance, the optimum penetration and location of the
piles, and overall stability. The depth of penetration and
required lateral resistance of stabilising piles in a
cutting are likely to be greater than in an embankment
situation.
v Current design approaches are aimed at evaluating the
restoring force required to stabilise the slope, the
required shear and bending moment capacities of the
piles, and pile dimensions and layout. The currently
available design methods are discussed in the report.
Approximate methods of using retaining wall theory
also proved a useful guide to performance.
vi The recommendations within the report are generally
applicable for clay highway slopes which are typically
up to about 10m in height. For higher slopes more than
one row of piles or anchoring of the pile heads may be
considered necessary for stability.
8 Acknowledgements
The work described in this report forms part of the
research programme of the Infrastructure Division of TRL
and was funded by SSR Geotechnics Operations Support
Division of the Highways Agency. The HA Project
Sponsor for the study was Mr R K W Lung.
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16
Cantoni R, Collotta T, Ghionna V N and Moretti P C
(1989). A design method for reticulated micropile
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17
Rowe R K and Poulos H G (1979). A method for
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Viggiani C (1981). Ultimate lateral load on piles used to
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th
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vol. 2, pp. 663676.
18
Abstract
A single row of bored piles spaced at intervals along a clay slope provides an effective remedial measure to
improve the stability of slopes that have either failed or are showing incipient signs of failure. The technique can
also be used to steepen slopes so that highway corridors can be widened within existing boundaries to
accommodate extra vehicular lanes or other modes of transport. Although the piling technique is now becoming
more frequently used on the highway network, further design guidance is needed to ensure economy of design and
safe practice. This report provides additional guidance based on a programme of research which has included a
review of current practice, centrifuge and analytical modelling, and a full scale instrumented trial on the network.
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TRL627 The performance of a single row of spaced bored piles to stabilise a Gault Clay slope on the M25
by D R Carder and K J Barker. 2005 (price £30, code EX)
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W McMahon. 2004 (price £55, code LX)
TRL555 Field measurement of pore water pressures by A Ridley, K C Brady and P R Vaughan.
2003 (price £40, code HX)
TRL515 Vegetation for slope stability by D J MacNeil, D P Steele, W McMahon and D R Carder.
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Prices current at March 2005
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