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Deep Vibro Techniques

Brochure 10 - 02 E

Deep vibro techniques

present flexible solutions
for soil improvement.
They are mainly used
under foundations of
structures that are to be
constructed on soils of
low bearing capacity.
Keller developed the depth
vibrator (patented in 1934),
which was originally used
to compact granular soils
such as sand and gravel.
Today Keller improves a
variety of granular and
cohesive soils employing
a wide range of depth
vibrator models and


3 Overview of
deep vibro techniques
4 Vibro Compaction

6 Vibro Replacement

8 Structural Foundation
10 Special Applications

11 Quality Control

12 Keller Branches

Overview of deep vibro techniques

The subsoil The third technique creates structural The principle of

Usually the soil conditions are described in a foundation elements in the ground which the vibro process
soil investigation report. If the properties of will allow comparatively high loads to be
the existing soil cannot fulfil the requirements safely carried by soils where no adequate
set by the proposed loading conditions, deep lateral support for Vibro Replacement
vibro techniques offer an economical solution columns can be mobilized.
for the ground improvement. They can be The execution
carried out to almost any depth.
For all techniques the vibro process starts
The depth vibrator with the penetration of the oscillating depth
The cylindrical depth vibrator is typically be- vibrator into the ground to the required
tween 3 m and 5 m long and weighs approxi- improvement depth. Subsequently, the
mately 2 tons. The core element of the vibrator vibrator is then removed as required by the
is an electrically driven eccentric weight which employed technique to either compact the
induces the horizontal oscillation of the vibra- soil from the bottom up, to build a stone
tor. The vibrator string is assembled with the column or to construct a structural
vibrator and extension tubes to suit the im- foundation element.
provement depth and suspended from a crane The benefits
or mounted on a custom built base
The deep vibro techniques present a very
machine (i.e. the Keller vibrocat).
versatile ground improvement method that
The techniques can be adjusted to a wide variety of ground
The depth vibrator is used for 3 distinct tech- conditions and foundation requirements. Its
niques which differ both in their soil improve- execution is comparatively fast even if large
ment and in their load transfer mechanism. volumes of soil are to be improved and
The foundation design is therefore frequently subsequent structural works can follow very
developed in close cooperation between both quickly. The soil improvement enables the
the consultant’s geotechnical and structural contractor to utilise standard shallow
engineers and Keller. footings which, in turn, leads to additional
The Vibro Compaction technique compacts
granular soils with negligible fines content by Another advantage is the environmental
rearrangement of the soil particles into a friendliness of the deep vibro techniques,
denser state. as natural and in situ materials are used.
The Vibro Replacement technique builds load In addition, only a comparatively small
bearing columns made from gravel or crushed quantity of soil is removed in the process.
stones in cohesive soils and granular soils with
high fines content.
Limits of application for deep vibro techniques

Clay Silt Sand Transition zone Gravel Cobbles

100 100

80 80

60 Vibro Replacement 60
Sieve passing [% by weight]

Vibro Compaction
40 40

20 20

0 0
0,002 0,006 0,02 0,06 0,2 0,6 2,0 6,0 20 60
Grain size [mm]


The Vibro Compaction process

in granular soils

Equipment and execution

Extension The compaction of granular soils is most
tube economically attained with vibrators oscillat-
ing at a comparatively low frequency to
achieve optimum compaction of the soil
particles. The vibrator is typically suspended
from a crane. The penetration of the vibrator
and, to a certain extent also the compaction
process, is aided by water flushing with jets
of variable pressure. The pressure pipes and
Flexible jets form an integral part of the vibrator
coupling string.
The compaction is carried out from the
bottom of penetration upwards in predeter-
mined pull out steps and compaction inter-
Water vals. The compaction result is dependant on
or the effectiveness of the vibrator and the soil
air supply conditions.
Geotechnical aspects
Electric Under the influence of the induced vibration,
motor the soil particles within the zone of influence
are rearranged and compacted. The range of
this zone depends on the vibrator used, the
soil and the method employed. The volume
reduction of the compacted soil can reach
values in the order of 10% depending on
Nose the soil conditions and the intensity of the
Cone compaction effort. 1 Penetration

At full water pressure the oscillat-

ing vibrator penetrates to the
design depth and is surged up and
The process

Compaction below Density of the soil

down as necessary to agitate the
raft footings sand, remove fines and form an
before after annular gap around the vibrator.
h When at full depth the water flow
is reduced or stopped.

The foundation concept The layout of the compactions points can be

The range of compaction for an individual adjusted in such a manner that soil volumes
point is governed by several parameters. of any size are compacted.
Compaction below Keller is able to draw upon a wealth of
single footings The achieved degree of compaction can be
experience to propose a suitable foundation
easily and economically verified using a range
concept. The optimum arrangement of the
of different tests.
vibro compaction points is usually best
achieved by an on-site trial, where different
compaction grids and methods can be tested
and evaluated. After compaction, high loads
can be safely carried and can reach foun-
dation pressures of up to 1MN/m2.


Natural or man made deposits of sand and gravel are frequently not dense
enough or are too inhomogeneous to allow a proposed structure to be safely
and reliably founded. With Keller’s depth vibrators the soil density can be
increased and homogenized independently from the groundwater table.


A 0
B B -1









2 Compaction 3 Backfilling 4 Finishing

The compaction is carried out in Around the vibrator a crater After completion of the As early as 1939 a
steps from the maximum depth develops which is backfilled with compaction, the surface is compaction depth of
of penetration upwards. sand, which is either imported relevelled and, if required,
35 m was reached on
It encompasses a cylindrical soil (A) or taken from the existing compacted with a surface
a site in Berlin. Nowadays
body of up to 5m diameter. The soil (B). For this purpose a vibratory roller.
increase in density is indicated by volume of up to 10% of the maximum compaction
an increased power consumption treated soil volume is required. depths beyond 50 m
of the vibrator. have been achieved.






Special applications

With depth vibrators, slender elements

such as dolphins, soil anchors or steel
profiles can be sunk into sandy soils and -48
securely anchored.
A further field of application is the
densification of wall zones and excava-
Vibrator in a compaction crater tion bases to reduce their permeability.

Vibro Replacement in granular soils with

high fines content and in cohesive soils

Equipment and execution

For the construction of Vibro Replacement
columns the bottom feed process is frequently
employed, which feeds coarse granular material
to the tip of the vibrator with the aid of pres-
Air chamber surized air. To optimize the performance of this
and lock process and to accommodate the specialized
equipment, Keller has developed the vibrocat
base unit which guides the vibrator on its
leader and allows the exertion of an additional
pull-down pressure during penetration and
compaction. The Vibro Replacement process
Extension consists of alternating steps. During the retrac-
tube and tion step, gravel runs from the vibrator tip into
stone feeder
pipe (material the annular space created and is then com-
storage) pacted and pressed into the surrounding soil
during the following re-penetration step. In this
manner stone columns are created from the
Flexible bottom up, which act as a composite with the
coupling surrounding soil under load.
Geotechnical aspects
Insofar as any compaction can be achieved in
mixed or fine grained soils through horizontal
vibrations and soil displacement (which de-
pends mainly on their degree of saturation),
Electrical this improvement should be evaluated in the
motor same manner as for Vibro Compaction.
The pure Vibro Replacement process, however,
1 Preparation 2 Charging
Stone does not assume any compaction in the
feeder pipe surrounding soil. The improvement relies on The vibrocat positions The skip is lifted and
the higher stiffness and higher shear strength the vibrator over the empties its contents
of the stone column. required location of the into the air chamber.
The process

Eccentric compaction point and Once the air lock is

Design diagram for Vibro Replacement
Weight stabilises itself using closed, the material
hydraulic supports. flow towards the
Improvement factor

A wheel loader fills the vibrator tip is assisted
ϕS = 45.0˚
skip with aggregate. by pressurized air.
6 ϕS = 42.5˚ µB = 1/3
5 ϕS = 40.0˚
4 ϕS = 37.5˚
3 ϕS = 35.0˚
The allowable bearing pressure that is achieved
after the improvement is typically in the range
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
of 150 to 400 kPa.
Area ratio A / A S

Settlement evaluation for single footings

The foundation concept
Settlement ratio s/s ∞ *

While the compaction of the surrounding soil
can be easily verified by soundings, the im- 0,8
No. of stone columns

provement effect of the Vibro Replacement
0,6 400
can only be checked by in situ load tests. 225
Keller has developed a reliable design method 0,4 64
which uses the geometry of the columns and 0,2
the friction angle of the column material as 1

input parameters. 0 4 8 12 16 20 24 28
Depth ratio t/d
For the foundation design, the improved
* s ∞ = settlement of a theoretical infinite load area
ground is treated like normal subsoil.

Mixed grained and fine grained soils frequently do not possess a sufficient
bearing capacity. For fines content in excess of 10% to 15% a sufficient
compaction result without imported material cannot be expected. For these
cases the Vibro Replacement technique is a viable option. This technique is
also suitable for the treatment of coarse fills such as rubble, building debris
and slag heaps.











3 Penetration 4 Compaction 5 Finishing

The vibrator displaces the After reaching the maximum The stone column is built up
soil and is lowered to the depth the vibrator is pulled up in alternating steps up to the The Vibro Replacement
designed depth, aided by slightly, causing the aggregate designed level. During the final technique was developed
the compressed air and by to fill the cavity so created. levelling, the surface requires to in the late 1950s.
the vibrocat’s pull-down. During re-penetration the be re-compacted or a blinding Without any special
aggregate is compacted and layer is required as an modifications the bottom
pressed into the surrounding alternative.
feed setup the vibrocat
can install columns up
to 20 m depth.


Benefits of working with the
bottom feed vibrator: -16
• The aggregate is always fed directly -17
to the tip of the vibrator, creating a
continuous column. -18
• Only a single penetration is required. -19
• The collapse of the hole is not
possible even in critical soils. -20
• The leader ensures the verticality
of the columns.
• No water is required, eliminating the
necessity to dispose of any mud
View of the cut off level after Vibro Replacement otherwise created.

Structural Foundation Elements

Grouted Stone Columns (VSS) and

Premixed Grouted Stone Columns (FSS)
Equipment and execution
These foundation elements are built in the
same manner as described for the Vibro
Replacement process.
For the grouted stone columns (VSS), the
gravel is fed into the ground and during the
same process mixed in-situ with cement
grout. This creates a solid column once the
grout has set.
For premixed grouted stone columns, a
special coarse grained concrete mix typically
Installation of grouted ranging between strengths C15 and C20 is
stone columns with installed. It behaves identically to the stone
in-situ grouting using material, allowing the same compaction and
cement slurr y displacement effects in the surrounding soil.
Geotechnical aspects
The load bearing behaviour of the structural
foundation elements is largely identical to the
behaviour of piles.
The foundation concept
For Grouted Stone Columns and Premixed
Grouted Stone Columns Keller has the
approval of the German supervisory board
for construction.
Excavated grouted stone column
The external load bearing mechanism that is
used for the design of the soil improvement
is very well supported by a large number of
load test results as per DIN 1054. Depending Replacement method by eliminating the use
on the soil conditions and the materials used, of grout in the upper or lower section of the
working loads of up to 600 kN can be rou- column as required, thus creating a buffer for
tinely achieved. Grouted stone columns can the rigid grouted columns. These columns are
be easily combined with the normal Vibro called Partially Grouted Stone Columns.

Penetration Formation of the toe Installation of the

grouted stone column

Vibrocat Pull down

grout from
Vibrator with stone Material charging
feeding tube and
separate grout pipe

weak strata Nozzle

competent strata Gravel toe


These methods are employed if the fine grained subsoil does not mobilize
sufficient lateral support for the columns or when high organic contents are
found which decompose and cause soil shrinkage. Another field of application
is the founding of structures with high loads.

Vibro Concrete Columns (BRS)

Equipment and Execution

Vibro Concrete Columns consist typically of
pumpable concrete, grade C 25. The toe of
the column is enlarged by repeated retraction
and repenetration of the vibrator, however
the shaft is built in a single pull due to the
high internal strength of the concrete.
Geotechnical aspects
During the installation of Vibro Concrete
Columns no particular effort is taken to
densify any specific soil layer. As with other
Installation of
structural foundation elements, a high degree
Vibro Concrete Columns
of improvement can be achieved at the toe of
the column, thus attaining a particularly high
capacity and low deformations under load.
The foundation concept
For Vibro Concrete Columns Keller also has
the approval of the German supervisory
board for construction.
Vibro Concrete Columns are generally more
slender compared to other structural founda-
tion elements. Typical shaft diameters range
between 40 cm and 60 cm. The capacity under
Excavated Vibro Concrete Columns working load reaches up to 800 kN depend-
ing on the ground conditions and on the
possibility to enlarge the toe.

Cross Section of a
Vibro Concrete Column

Preparation Penetration and Installation of

toe formation the shaft

Pull down

Concrete Pump
Vibrator with Readymixed concrete

weak strata Concrete nozzle

competent strata Toe


Special Applications

Multiple Vibrators and

Offshore Compaction
Vibro Compaction of large areas both
onshore and offshore can be carried out
with multiple vibrator assemblies.

dredged and replaced

by sand clay, silt

For Vibro Replacement offshore, such as for

quay walls and bridge pillars, a gravel blanket
can be placed which is then installed into the
ground. Bottom feed
systems are also



Vibro Replacement –
Top Feed Method
In suitable ground conditions the Vibro
Replacement process can be performed
using crane hung vibrators similar to the
Vibro Compaction setup. In this case water
or air flushing is used. The flushing medium
assists rapid penetration into the ground and
stabilizes the annular around the vibrator.
It also can be used to increase the column
diameter by flushing.


Quality Control

For all vibro techniques, electronic measuring

devices can be employed to ensure and
Display unit and CPU
record constant high quality workmanship.
of the M4 measuring
The measuring device
To control the process, monitor the quality
and for production records, the relevant
construction parameters for each compaction
probe can be measured, saved and printed as
proof of production and quantities.

The measurement device consists of

• The display unit in the operator's cabin,
• The CPU with data storage,
• PC with printer at the site office,
• Dot-matrix printer mounted on the base
unit for real time printout (optional).

Process: Vibration Process (3.0.0)

Inventory: 9130517 Site: 1234173
Lot: 0 Point: 241 Ref. No.: 15
1.5 kN/m³
Time: 05:10:47 Interval: 4 sek
Dep.: Consulting Load tests are a
Legend: and Development
suitable option to
Time Depth Penetration Rate Thrust Power
[sec] [m ] [m/min] [bar] [A] verify the improve-





ment of the soil






2000 2

Event Time Depth Electrical Susp. Net Total Inclination Inclination

Energy Point Weight Weight Right/Left For/Back
No. Type Description hh:mm:ss [m] [kVAh] [cbm] [Ton] [Ton] [Deg] [Deg]
01 09 Point Start 05:10:47 0.1 0.00 0.00 2.98 2.98 -0.2 +0.3
02 10 Point End 05:45:08 0.1 21.03 0.00 2.79 5.77 -0.4 +0.2

Total Time: 34.33 min Max. depth: 10.00 m Rel. weight: 0.58 Ton/m

The measurement results

During compaction a number of different site
and production parameters are automatically
recorded. Values such as time, depth, penetra-
tion/pullout speed, pull-down force and cur-
rent can be graphically displayed and printed.
If required, the energy consumption can be

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