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Evaluation of the coefficient of subgrade reaction for design of multipropped diaphragm walls from DMT moduli

P. Monaco & S. Marchetti
University of L'Aquila, Italy

Keywords: Diaphragm walls, Subgrade Reaction Method, Flat Dilatometer Test
ABSTRACT: This paper presents the preliminary results of a numerical study on multi-propped walls retaining deep
excavations. The study is based on the comparison between the results obtained by FEM (Plaxis) using the non linear
Hardening Soil model and by the Subgrade Reaction Method, considering different wall / soil stiffness, excavation depth
and prop spacing conditions. A tentative relation, "calibrated" vs FEM results, is proposed for deriving the coefficient
of subgrade reaction Kh for design of multi-propped diaphragm walls from the constrained modulus M from DMT.
Multi-propped or multi-anchored diaphragm walls are
widely used today for retaining deep open pit excavations
in urban areas (e.g. underground car parkings), often in
combination with the "top-down" construction technique,
in order to limit the deformations in the surrounding soil.
The design of multi-restrained retaining walls requires
the use of methods of analysis which take into account
the soil-structure interaction and permit to simulate the
staged construction sequence. Though the Finite Element
Method (FEM) approach is generally regarded today as
the "way to the future", in common practice the simple
and well-known Subgrade Reaction Method (SRM) or
"spring method" is still widely used and often preferred to
more sophisticated FEM analyses, particularly in the
early stage of design. The SRM permits to model even
relatively complex cases in a simple and quick way, providing in general sufficiently reliable values of stresses in
the wall and supports. On the other hand the SRM has
several drawbacks, deriving from the rough simplification
assumed in simulating the response of the soil to wall
movements. One critical shortcoming is the difficulty in
evaluating the coefficient of subgrade reaction Kh on a rational base. Kh is by no means an intrinsic property of the
soil. Its value depends not only on soil stiffness, but also
on various "geometric-mechanical" factors (e.g. geometry
and stiffness of wall / struts, excavation depth). Yet the influence of the above factors on Kh is not clearly understood. Hence indications for the selection of Kh values
dependable for design may be helpful to many engineers
who still rely on the "old" SRM for everyday practice.
This paper presents the preliminary results of a numerical study aimed at establishing tentative correlations
for deriving Kh for design of multi-propped diaphragm
walls from the constrained modulus MDMT obtained from
the flat dilatometer test (Marchetti 1980). Comparisons
both in terms of MDMT vs "reference" M and in terms of
predicted vs measured settlements (see reference list in
TC16 2001) have shown that, in general, MDMT is a reasonably accurate "operative" modulus.
The study is based on the comparison between FEM
and SRM results, according to the following procedure:
(1) Analysis of the behavior of a multi-propped wall for
various cases by FEM (Plaxis) using the non linear Hardening Soil model, with soil stiffness parameters estimated

from MDMT. (2) Analysis by SRM varying Kh until the results obtained by Plaxis for the same cases are appropriately reproduced. (3) Formulation of a tentative relation
between backcalculated "best fit" Kh values (matching
FEM results) and MDMT.
The study is purely numerical. Kh values are "calibrated" based on FEM results, assumed herein to represent the "true" wall / soil behavior. No comparisons are
shown between the behavior predicted by the models and
observed in real cases.
In the spring model the soil is schematized by a set of independent horizontal springs, generally characterized by a
bilinear elastic-plastic pressure-displacement relation
(Fig. 1). The coefficient of subgrade reaction Kh (spring
stiffness) is the initial slope of the curve until the limit
pressure, active or passive, is reached. Hence a purely 2D (plane strain) problem is converted into a 1-D problem.
The soil behavior is "captured" by only one parameter,
Kh. The simplest case of homogeneous isotropic linear
elastic continuum requires a minimum of two parameters
(E and ν, or G and K) to fully define it.
In general, it is not possible to establish a unique and
straightforward correlation between Kh and soil stiffness
E. Deriving Kh of the springs from E of the continuum involves trying to establish a link between parameters of
different models. Yet engineers are familiar with moduli
E, not with Kh, and many times even crude relations E to
Kh may prove useful.
Typical ranges of Kh can be found in the literature, but
great care is required owing to the problem-dependent nature of the parameter. For a given soil, values appropriate
for strips, rafts, laterally loaded piles and flexible walls
are all different (Clayton et al. 1993).
Various methods have been proposed for evaluating Kh
for retaining walls (e.g. Terzaghi 1955, Ménard et al.
1964, Balay 1984, Becci & Nova 1987, Schmitt 1995,
Simon 1995). Most formulations assume that Kh [F⋅L-3] is
directly proportional to the soil modulus E [F⋅L-2]. In essence, almost all studies arrive to similar conversion

B lower. FEM studies on propped and cantilever walls by Potts & Fourie (1984. The half-width of the excavation is 20 m. Simon (1995) proposed: Kh = EM / [0. the triaxial modulus E50ref. the pressuremeter modulus EM is related to the oedometer modulus (in the same range of pressure) by the ratio Eoed = EM / α. displacement . Brown & Vinson 1998. with basement floor slabs used as struts.between PMT and DMT moduli in different soils). for a given soil modulus a stiff wall would have a lower Kh than a flexible wall. L (≈ width of soil zone involved by the wall movement) is assumed as an "average" width of the Rankine active and passive pressure wedges behind and in front of the wall (this leads to different Kh on the two sides). (1964) assumed a = 2/3 of the embedded wall length (≈ distance between bottom of excavation and center of rotation at the toe of the wall). (Similar indications were given by Terzaghi 1955). Eur = Eurref (σ'3 / pref) m. generally exhibit a very stiff "boxtype" behavior. The above range is remarkably similar to the range of MDMT values found for sands of similar density. 1.13 (4. multi-propped thick concrete diaphragm walls constructed by top-down technique. Ortigao et al. according to the expressions Eoed = Eoedref (σ'1 / pref) m. Kalteziotis et al. The soil behavior was simulated using the non linear Hardening Soil (HS) model of the Plaxis code.e. The props were simulated by Plaxis "fixed-end anchor" elements (elastic springs of given axial stiffness. Vesic 1961 found K inversely proportional to EI 1/12). where σ'1 and σ'3 are the major and minor principal effective stresses. car parking with 6 basement floors). Ménard et al. i. The earth pressure may remain close to K0 and multiple restraints permit only very small wall displacements.33 and Eoed = EM / α. (1964). based on the observation of different modes of deformation of stiff and flexible walls. Most existing methods give indications for evaluating B for the simple mechanism of cantilever wall.4 B) α + α ⋅ B / 6] (3) The method by Becci & Nova (1987) differs from other spring methods for taking into account the non linear soil behavior. since the earth pressure distribution and the mode of deformation of the wall are not known a priori. assuming a = H (free cantilever height) above excavation level. the unloadingreloading modulus Eurref.g. (1991). As first approximation. The finite element mesh used in Plaxis (plane strain analysis) is shown in Fig. assuming a ∼ (EI / Eoed) 0. The upper prop level is placed just at the top of the wall (ground surface). 1 or derived formulae in place of EM / α. where B is a dimension [L] which represents the width of the soil area "loaded" by the wall. MDMT (1-D modulus from DMT) can be used in Eq. The final depth of the excavation is 18 m. (Earlier studies on spread footings had indicated a lower influence of structure stiffness on K. 1996. The wall was schematized as a "beam" element. having one "movable" end connected to the wall and the other end "fixed" . assuming the soil modulus E varying with stress level and loading path direction. it can be used to estimate the triaxial . generally suggesting to assume B proportional to the free cantilever height or embedded length. thus obtaining: (2) Kh = 2. a is a non dimensional empirical factor (the Authors assume a = 1). than for cantilever walls. Six prop levels are equally spaced at 3 m intervals. e. Hence Kh (ratio pressure / displacement) is expected to be higher. This model requires to input three stiffness moduli at the reference pressure pref = 100 kPa: the tangent oedometer modulus Eoedref. 2) reproduces a typical configuration of common excavation works (e. (Various studies.g. Balay (1984) adapted the Ménard formulation for evaluating Kh over the entire wall length. Kh is evaluated as: Kh = a ⋅ E / L (4) E is assumed as the unloading-reloading modulus Eur where the present stress level is lower than the maximum past stress level.1 (Eoed 4/3 / EI 1/3) According to the above relation. Schmitt (1995). assuming that a foundation of width B causes deformations over a length L ≈ 1. e. 1991. In practice a = height over which the soil is loaded by passive pressure.5 to 1). while below the excavation a is related to the embedded length D and to the ratio D / H.generally ≈ 1/2 . The behavior of multirestrained walls is more complex and the estimate of B is uncertain. 4 FEM INPUT PARAMETERS The geometry of the multi-propped wall selected for this study (Fig. (Usually m ≈ 0.g. Simon (1995) extended the Ménard formulation adapted by Balay (1984) differentiating Kh for zones of "free" deformations (free height and embedded length of cantilever wall) and "restrained" deformations (zones between two props / anchors and behind a pretensioned anchor). As reported by Amar et al.13 (9 a) α] This formula contains a dimensional parameter a (in m) related to wall geometry and a non dimensional factor α related to soil type. 1986) and Fourie & Potts (1989) pointed out the enormous importance of the mode of deformation and displacement restraint on the earth pressure distribution and the resultant wall bending moments.g. E50 = E50ref (σ'3 / pref) m. as the virgin compression modulus when the maximum past stresses are exceeded.5 B. which derives Kh over the embedded length of a cantilever wall from the pressuremeter modulus EM : (1) Kh = EM / [α ⋅ a / 2 + 0. All moduli are stress-level given longitudinal distance from the wall). In principle. if one has data on the oedometer modulus. Schanz & Vermeer (1997) showed that E50ref is correlated to the 1-D modulus Eoedref. have quoted similar ratios . Various contributions on Kh given by French researchers are based on the original method by Ménard et al. An intensive literature survey by Schanz & Vermeer (1997) indicated for remolded quartz sands (from very loose silty sands to very dense gravelly sands) E50ref = 15 to 75 MPa. adapted the Ménard formulation to take into account the flexural inertia of the wall EI. The total length of the wall is 24 m (embedded length 6 m). For NC soils α varies between 1/3 in sands to 2/3 in clays (Ménard & Rousseau 1962). Typical pressure-displacement relation of the springs formulae Kh ∼ E / B. 3. E.Fig. For the zone between two props at distance L.

The "flexible wall" is supported by steel props of lower stiffness (EA = 657 MN/m). a soft to medium clay) having MDMT = 4 MPa and a "stiff soil" (e. Having a real MDMT profile from a specific site for a homogeneous soil. starting from the uppermost one. down to the next prop level (as in the top-down technique). due to the restraint provided by the upper props. The top of the wall does not move at all. a hard clay or a medium dense sand) having MDMT = 40 MPa (at pref = 100 kPa).5 and νur = 0. one could assume Eoedref = MDMT at σ'v = 100 kPa. in an attempt to investigate the effects of earth pressures alone on the wall behavior. For Case B EI / Eoedref = 521. The "flexible wall" is a steel sheetpile wall of similar structural capacity. A significant "fixity" moment at the toe of the wall is also observed in this case. (b) An "anomalous" earth pressure distribution results from the combination stiff soil / flexible wall (Case C). the following "typical" ratios between different moduli were adopted: E50ref = Eoedref. Note that the earth pressure distribution is quite similar for Cases A and D. but the relation E50 / Eoed / Eur is 1/1/4 for both soils. represent the variation of the earth pressure Table 1. The wall was assumed to be installed without altering the in situ conditions ("wished in place"). In general the full active condition behind the wall is not reached and σ'h is intermediate between the initial K0 and the Ka line. 5 FEM RESULTS FOR MULTI-PROPPED WALL The results of Plaxis analyses obtained for Cases A. The "rigid wall" is a 1 m thick rein- forced concrete diaphragm wall. The passive pressure Kp is mobilized over ≈ 1/3 of the embedded wall length. Two soil types were considered: a "soft soil" (e. Note that Case A and Case D have similar wall / soil stiffness ratios (EI / Eoedref = 58 and 52 respectively). while just above excavation level σ'h decreases even below the "theoretical" minimum Ka. The present study is restricted to fully drained conditions. 2. compared to the distributions of at-rest. and all moduli required by the Plaxis HS model were estimated assuming MDMT as the basic reference stiffness parameter. 4. axial stiffness EA = 7500 MN/m) are associated to the "rigid wall" scheme. (Similar results were obtained by Vermeer 2001 for a single-anchored wall of similar EI / Eoed ratio). B. and do not refer to any particular site.5 kPa. (d) The diagrams on the right in Fig. This "deep" mode of deformation is opposite to the cantilever-type. (c) The maximum horizontal displacements occur at ≈ 15-18 m depth. dilatancy angle ψ = 0. No prestress force was given to the props. Observations: (a) The horizontal effective stresses developed on the back and on the front of the wall resulting from Plaxis calculation are shown in Fig. The only difference between the "soft soil" and the "stiff soil" relates to stiffness. The initial stresses were calculated assuming K0 = 0. For Case C EI / Eoedref = 5.g. 3. Four different soil / wall stiffness combinations were considered (Table 1). near the bottom of the excavation. 4. with zero pore pressures everywhere. According to indications given by Plaxis researchers (Vermeer 2001).g. Based on the above considerations. active and passive earth pressures (Ka and Kp calculated according to Caquot & Kerisel 1948). having similar wall/ soil stiffness ratios. Also. the exponent m could be inferred from the rate of increase of MDMT with depth. Soil and wall stiffness parameters Soil stiffness Eoedref (MPa) Case A soft soil / flexible wall Case B soft soil / rigid wall Case C stiff soil / flexible wall Case D stiff soil / rigid wall Wall stiffness EI (MNm2/m) 4 232 4 2083 40 232 40 2083 . inferred from Plaxis results.Fig. wall / soil friction angle δ = 20°. cohesion c' = 0. The maximum bending moment is much smaller than in all other cases. Eurref = 4 Eoedref. Seepage pressures have been ignored at this stage of the study. less than 50 % of the value calculated for the same soil in combination with the "rigid wall". Finite element mesh for multi-propped wall study modulus. in particular shear strength. in this study it was assumed Eoed = MDMT. Hence the wall / soil stiffness relation between the various cases is ≈ 1/10/100. 4. C and D at the maximum excavation depth (18 m) are summarized in Fig. The excavation sequence was simulated assuming that each prop level. For both soils it was assumed m = 0. friction angle Φ' = 30°. The progressive deflections of the wall towards the excavation promote the redistribution of σ'h behind the wall in the embedded length and upper restrained zones (arching). is installed before excavating the 3 m soil layer immediately below. having Young's modulus E = 25000 MPa.2 (Poisson's ratio for unloading-reloading). Very stiff props (30 cm thick concrete slabs. The "stiff soil" is simply a factor 10 stiffer than the "soft soil". All other parameters. were conveniently assumed equal for both soils: bulk unit weight γ = 19 kN/m3.5. The above MDMT values were selected to generally characterize a wide category of soft and stiff soils.8. Geometry of multi-propped wall 100 m 20 m excavation 100 m wall Fig.

6 K0 0.5 m 0. Normalized pressure–displacement curves on back of wall at 1.5 m ACTIVE SIDE 3 3 0.03 0. horizontal wall displacements and bending moments at 18 m excavation depth.1 σ'h /σ'v on back of wall 400 0.4 0.5 m 24 -250 3 0 FEM SRM best fit 24 2 0.10 0. 4.04 z = 1.5 m σ'h /σ'v on back of wall 200 z (m) 0 0.3 z = 1.00 0.5 0.3 0.5 0.6 0.5 m 0.1 0.5 m depth intervals.2 FEM ACTIVE SIDE 0.00 σ'h /σ'v on back of wall 0 z (m) FEM Bending moment M (kNm) Displacement y (cm) z (m) Depth z (m) Earth pressure σ'h (kPa) 0 Normalized wall displacement y/z (%) Fig.3 Bending moment M (kNm) 0 3 FEM 3 0 0. Earth pressure distribution. Results of FEM and SRM analyses for multi-propped wall.5 m Ka 21 21 24 24 -250 600 0 2 3 4 5 6 7 Displacement y (cm) z (m) 0 1 0 Kh = 2000 kN/m3 B=3m Kh = 2000 kN/m3 B=3m 9 9 9 12 12 12 15 15 15 21 21 24 24 -250 600 0 Earth pressure σ'h (kPa) 3 4 5 6 7 0 6 6 Kh = 10000 kN/m3 B=6m 9 9 9 12 12 12 15 15 15 18 18 18 21 21 21 24 24 -250 Ka Kp 0 200 400 600 0 Earth pressure σ'h (kPa) 2 3 4 5 6 0 7 9 9 9 12 12 12 15 15 15 4 5 6 250 500 750 0.5 m z = 16.4 Ka 0 250 500 750 0.3 z = 1.5 m 18 0 0.0 K0 18 0 0.1 FEM 1.4 0 6 Ka 0. .0 ACTIVE SIDE 21 0 STIFF SOIL / FLEXIBLE WALL K0 Ka 21 600 Normalized wall displacement y/z (%) 0.5 m z = 16.6 18 Kp 0.2 CASE B 6 6 Ka 750 FEM SRM best fit 6 K0 500 3 FEM SRM best fit 24 -400 -200 250 0.1 0.04 0.0 0.5 m z = 16.4 21 Kp SOFT SOIL / FLEXIBLE WALL K0 18 Ka CASE A 0.6 3 21 1 1.2 0.0 0.5 0.4 0.5 m 9 9 9 12 12 12 15 15 15 6 Kh = 800 kN/m3 B = 7.06 Bending moment M (kNm) Kh = 8000 kN/m3 B = 7.0 0.01 0.6 0.5 m Kp 0.FEM SRM best fit 6 6 Kh = 800 kN/m3 B = 7.0 0.02 0.2 CASE C Kh = 10000 kN/m3 B=6m 6 K0 750 6 FEM SRM best fit 24 -400 -200 500 FEM SRM best fit 3 FEM 3 250 3 Displacement y (cm) z (m) 0 1 z (m) K0 0 0 FEM SRM best fit 24 -400 -200 0.1 0.3 z = 1.2 18 200 0.02 1.2 FEM ACTIVE SIDE 0.4 18 200 0.6 18 Earth pressure σ'h (kPa) Depth z (m) FEM SRM best fit 18 K0 Depth z (m) 3 σ'h /σ'v on back of wall 3 3 24 -400 -200 Depth z (m) 0 STIFF SOIL / RIGID WALL 0.4 0.0 Normalized wall displacement y/z (%) 7 CASE D 6 Kh = 8000 kN/m3 B = 7.05 0.5 0.2 FEM z = 16.8 18 400 0.08 0.5 Bending moment M (kNm) z (m) FEM 2 Displacement y (cm) z (m) 0 1 SOFT SOIL / RIGID WALL Ka 21 400 Normalized wall displacement y/z (%) 0.

Only in the case H = 12 m and s = 3 m (a nearly "zero displacement" restraint condition) Kh is significantly higher. e. (A better estimate would involve Kh varying with depth and calculation sequence. The dashed horizontal lines represent the at-rest (initial) K0 and the active Ka pressure coefficients. as expected. after an initial decrease. Besides the "soft" and the "stiff" soil (Eoedref = 4 and 40 MPa respectively). In essence.g. 4. 4 by Becci & Nova (1987). The "best fit" backcalculated values are Kh = 2000 kN/m3 for Case B. This result is presumably a consequence of the limited ability of the spring model to simulate the soil behavior in particular conditions (e. the Kh values for which SRM results "match" FEM results (assuming the bending moment as "target" parameter). C and D. 6 SPRING ANALYSIS RESULTS In order to investigate the influence of the excavation depth on Kh. confirming Kh proportional to soil stiffness. is similar to the "best fit" Kh. correspond to average values of the constrained modulus MDMT over the entire wall length equal to MDMT ≈ 5-7 MPa for the "soft" soil. assuming E = virgin compression modulus (not varying with stress. Fig. as first approximation). this suggests that adopting Kh constant with depth in spring calculations should not involve a large error. Kh decreasing as excavation depth increases. In both cases the embedded wall length was assumed equal to 6 m. The figures show that. Kh decreases significantly as the excavation depth increases from 12 to 18 m. Only in Case C the SRM largely underestimates (− 40-60 %) the forces in the upper prop levels. The above values of Eoedref. These curves correspond to the "active side" of the spring pressuredisplacement curve in Fig. 5 shows that. the SRM is not able to reproduce Plaxis results with the same accuracy. even adopting different distributions of Kh with depth. i. considering the same four cases analyzed by FEM. (The "best fit" Kh for matching horizontal displacements may differ slightly). more significant than the "passive side" for multi-propped walls. For each excavation depth (H = 12. The axial forces in the props calculated for the "best fit" Kh are generally in good agreement (± 10-20 %) with the values calculated by Plaxis. σ'h behind the wall varies differently from one case to another. Also the Kh obtained according to Balay (1984) are not so far from the "best fit" Kh. H = 12 m and H = 24 m. (b) For Cases B and C. Observations: (a) The SRM reproduces well Plaxis results in Cases A and D. at 1. relative to a reference pressure pref = 100 kPa. The "best fit" Kh backcalculated from Plaxis results were compared to the values determined by various existing Kh formulations. Kh were assumed constant with depth and through all calculation steps. Kh decreases as excavation depth and prop spacing increase. 2. the slope of the "normalized" curves obtained at various depths for each case is similar. In general. and equal on both sides of the wall. 18 and 24 m) the calculation was repeated assuming two different values of prop spacing. a soil of "intermediate" stiffness (Eoedref = 16 MPa) was also considered. 1. the values of Kh vary over a relative narrow range. MDMT ≈ 20-30 MPa for the "intermediate" soil and MDMT ≈ 50-70 MPa for the "stiff" soil. of "high" and "low" wall / soil stiffness respectively. This analysis was carried out only for the "rigid wall" (1 m thick concrete diaphragm wall). s = 3 m and s = 6 m. In general Ka is not reached. for the examined cases. Only in Case B σ'h decreases continuously. For given MDMT and excavation depth. The range of Kh obtained according to Eq. In Cases A. and possibly different on the active and passive side). the curves obtained for Cases A and D are quite similar). (The attention is focused here on the "active side".e. Kh decreases as prop spacing increases from 3 to 6 m. Kh = 10000 kN/m3 for Case C. The "best fit" Kh resulting from SRM-FEM comparison for the examined cases are shown in Figs. except for Case C. in Case C arching cannot be simulated. FEM and SRM calculations for the multipropped wall were repeated considering two different excavation depths. σ'h tends even to increase (well beyond K0 in Case C) with wall displacement. The formulation by Schmitt (1995) overestimates Kh. but remains practically unchanged from 18 to 24 m. of "intermediate" wall / soil stiffness. are shown in Fig. as in the 18 m excavation previously considered. To compare curves obtained at different depths. The Subgrade Reaction Method was used to simulate the behavior of the multi-propped wall in Fig. in contrast with the results of SRM-FEM comparison. As first approximation. In most cases.σ'h on the back of the wall vs the horizontal wall displacement y at various depths (each curve refers to a given depth z. Since the slope of these curves is equal to Kh of the springs (Kh = ∆σ'h / ∆y) divided by the unit weight γ (assumed constant). 6 shows the variation of Kh with MDMT (average over total wall length) for different values of excavation depth and prop spacing. Kh increases with MDMT. superimposed to the Plaxis results. for a given value of MDMT. 5 and 6. existing Kh formulations taking into account wall / soil stiffness and restraint conditions do not reproduce the FEM-calculated behavior better than methods which do not take into account the above factors.5 m intervals). Hence. Fig. For each case SRM calculations were repeated varying Kh until the bending moments and the horizontal displacements of the wall were nearly equal to the values calculated by Plaxis. giving Kh for the "rigid wall" less than 50 % of Kh for the "flexible wall". since the spring would yield plastically as soon as Ka is reached and the earth pressure will never reach smaller values). however. since their embedded length is generally small compared to the retained height). but the influence of both factors on Kh is smaller at higher excavation depths. at least as first approximation.g. σ'h is normalized to the vertical stress (earth pressure coefficient K = σ'h / σ'v) and the horizontal displacement y is normalized to depth z (ratio y / z). but such reduction is more pronounced for the lower depth (H = 12 m). The Kh obtained according to the formula by Simon (1995) for the inter-prop zone are also overestimated. The ratio between the "best fit" Kh calculated for the above two cases (Kh = 800 and 8000 kN/m3 respectively) is equal to the ratio between the corresponding soft / stiff soil moduli (1/10). for given soil stiffness MDMT (average over total wall length) and prop spacing. as the wall moves towards the excavation. 7 INFLUENCE OF EXCAVATION DEPTH AND PROP SPACING ON Kh . (Again. The profiles of the horizontal displacements and bending moments calculated by SRM for the "best fit" Kh.

having the form (similar to existing Kh formulations): Kh = MDMT / B (5) The values of the "characteristic length" B obtained from Eq. 8). Fig. unlike for cantilever walls.4 for MDMT = 20-30 MPa and 0. 5 for the "best fit" Kh are plotted in Fig.for design of multi-propped diaphragm walls in cases of similar wall geometry / stiffness and prop spacing for different ranges of MDMT. the width B of the soil zone involved by the wall movement increases. 0. For a "typical" wall configuration. C and D (Fig. FEM and SRM analyses were carried out for Cases A. not to the total or embedded length of the wall. MDMT = 5-7 MPa MDMT = 20-30 MPa MDMT = 50-70 MPa 1 m thick concrete diaphragm wall 15000 s=3m s=6m 10000 9 COMPARISON WITH CANTILEVER WALL 5000 0 0 6 12 18 24 30 Excavation depth H (m) Kh (kN/m3) Fig. B increases with MDMT.6 for MDMT = 50-70 MPa. to investigate in detail the initial part of the pressure-displacement curves. the embedded length has a minor influence on the wall behavior and its value is not strictly dependent on wall equilibrium considerations. (The B values calculated for H = 18 m for Cases A. This earth pressure distribution is consistent with the presence of a point of rotation at ≈ 66. 4). For multi-propped walls it appears logical to link B to the retained excavation height H.Kh (kN/m3) 20000 5-7 MPa. For given excavation depth and prop spacing. say excavation depth H = 18 m and prop spacing s = 3 m. as expected.1-0. 7 vs excavation depth. 5. "Best fit" Kh vs excavation depth H for different values of constrained soil modulus MDMT and prop spacing s 20000 H = 12 m H = 18 m H = 24 m 1 m thick concrete diaphragm wall 15000 s=3m s=6m 10000 To investigate the influence of restraints on Kh.5 m for MDMT = 50-70 MPa. B = 3 m for MDMT = 5-7 MPa. B. Characteristic length B (MDMT /Kh) vs excavation depth H for different values of MDMT (average over total wall length) and prop spacing s . each one corresponding to a 1 m excavation. The embedded wall length (8 m) was established based on a conventional limit equilibrium analysis.2-0. The excavation was simulated by 8 steps. An attempt was made to interpret the above results based on a simple relation between Kh and the constrained soil modulus MDMT. assuming a factor of safety Fs = 1. while σ'h increases rapidly near the toe. "Best fit" Kh vs constrained soil modulus MDMT for different values of excavation depth H and prop spacing s B (m) 0 1 m thick concrete diaphragm wall 10 8 6 4 8 TENTATIVE CORRELATION Kh − MDMT s=6m s=3m s = prop spacing 2 MDMT = 5-7 MPa 0 0 6 12 18 24 30 B (m) Excavation depth H (m) 12 1 m thick concrete diaphragm wall 10 s=6m 8 6 s=3m s = prop spacing 4 2 MDMT = 20-30 MPa 0 0 6 12 18 24 30 Excavation depth H (m) B (m) The results obtained for the examined cases indicate that Kh tends to decrease when the wall is subject to larger deformations as a consequence of deeper excavation or lower restraint degree. B = 7. C and D are indicated in Fig. 6.5 on Kp. B = 6 m for MDMT = 20-30 MPa.3-0. the behavior of the "highly-restrained" multi-propped wall was compared to the behavior of a "fully-unrestrained" cantilever wall. In the examined cases the ratio B / H was found ≈ 0.5 m depth below excavation level. B.hence Kh . for three different ranges of MDMT (average over total wall length) and two values of prop spacing (s = 3 m and s = 6 m).e. considering an excavation of 8 m depth. 5000 B values in the formula Kh = MDMT / B 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 MDMT (MPa) Fig. For a given MDMT. In fact in this case. 7 may be used as a broad indication for selecting the values of B . i.2 for MDMT = 12 12 s=6m 1 m thick concrete diaphragm wall 10 s=3m 8 6 s = prop spacing 4 2 MDMT = 50-70 MPa 0 0 6 12 18 24 30 Excavation depth H (m) Fig. Observations: (a) The full Ka condition is reached behind a large part of the wall in all cases. Kp is mobilized over ≈ 1/4 of the embedded length. B increases as excavation depth and prop spacing increase. 7.

5 z=8m 14 z (m) 0 0 K0 12 16 0 0.9 m 6 16 -500 -250 0.0 0.6 14 Displacement y (cm) z (m) 0 0 SOFT SOIL / RIGID WALL 12 16 0 Normalized wall displacement y/z (%) z=1m Kh = 10000 kN/m3 B = 4.4 Bending moment M (kNm) 0 4 16 -500 -250 0.1 FEM ACTIVE SIDE 0.1 FEM ACTIVE SIDE 2 6 0 0.5 0.2 -750 -500 -250 0 1.6 0.4 0.3 Bending moment M (kNm) 0 4 K0 Ka 0.4 0.2 0 10 8 0.2 0.0 Normalized wall displacement y/z (%) CASE D STIFF SOIL / RIGID WALL 0.5 ACTIVE SIDE 16 -1000 z (m) FEM 2 20 0.1 FEM ACTIVE SIDE 14 16 -1000 0. 8.0 0 Ka FEM SRM best fit 4 14 2 z=8m 2 4 14 4 CASE B 0 4 12 6 Bending moment M (kNm) 0 12 8 K0 16 -1000 z (m) FEM 2 20 0 14 Displacement y (cm) z (m) 0 0 -250 10 12 16 750 -500 Kh = 900 kN/m3 B = 5.2 z=1m 0 4 Kp 0.z (m) 2 6 6 6 8 8 8 10 10 10 14 14 K0 Ka Kp 250 500 750 Kh = 800 kN/m3 B = 6.2 z=1m 1.6 K0 0.3 Ka 0.2 m 4 Earth pressure σ'h (kPa) Depth z (m) FEM SRM best fit 4 FEM SRM best fit CASE A 2 4 16 -500 -250 Depth z (m) 0 0.2 m -20 0 20 40 60 0.4 z=8m 0.2 z=1m 80 1.5 0.2 0.3 Ka 0. Normalized pressure–displacement curves on back of wall at 1 m depth intervals.0 Normalized wall displacement y/z (%) Fig.0 0 Normalized wall displacement y/z (%) CASE C STIFF SOIL / FLEXIBLE WALL 0. Results of FEM and SRM analyses for cantilever wall.4 Ka 16 -1000 4 16 -500 -250 0.8 0.2 m -20 FEM 2 20 40 60 80 Displacement y (cm) 2 8 8 8 10 10 10 12 12 14 14 FEM SRM best fit Kh = 900 kN/m3 B = 5.3 0.0 0.6 0. horizontal wall displacements and bending moments at 8 m excavation depth. Earth pressure distribution.8 0.5 m -20 Earth pressure σ'h (kPa) 40 60 80 2 6 6 8 8 8 10 10 10 K0 Ka Kp FEM SRM best fit 250 500 750 Kh = 10000 kN/m3 B = 4.9 m -20 Earth pressure σ'h (kPa) 40 60 80 2 6 8 8 8 10 10 10 12 12 14 14 FEM SRM best fit 750 Kh = 8000 kN/m3 B = 6.1 FEM 6 4 2 0.0 σ'h /σ'v on back of wall FEM 2 Bending moment M (kNm) 0 σ'h /σ'v on back of wall Displacement y (cm) z (m) Depth z (m) Earth pressure σ'h (kPa) 0 0.5 m 6 500 -750 FEM SRM best fit 6 250 12 0.2 m 6 250 -500 FEM SRM best fit 6 0 -750 2 4 Kp 12 0 4 K0 Ka 0. .0 0.6 K0 0.2 -750 -500 -250 0 1.4 z=8m 12 16 500 -250 Kh = 8000 kN/m3 B = 6.6 σ'h /σ'v on back of wall 12 SOFT SOIL / FLEXIBLE WALL σ'h /σ'v on back of wall 12 z (m) Depth z (m) Kh = 800 kN/m3 B = 6.

1989. J.g.. P. 8) is remarkably non linear.e.I. 1: 263-272. This behavior could be more closely simulated assuming for the springs a non linear pressuredisplacement relation (e. Revue Française de Géotechnique 71: 11-19. Rivista Italiana di Geotecnica 21. 1: 125-128.S. 2: 1229-1234. 1995. tendances nouvelles. & Fourie. and all moduli required by the HS model were estimated assuming MDMT as the basic reference stiffness parameter. 1984. 10 CONCLUSIONS The Subgrade Reaction Method is widely used in current practice for design of multi-propped walls. On single anchored retaining walls. A.R. B. . 1996. Geot. Bourdon. P-y curves from DMT data for piles driven in clay. The results presented in this paper. Conf. but its value tends to remain constant after a certain excavation depth is exceeded. σ'h behind the wall decreases as wall displacement increases.P. Ménard. A. On the Stiffness of Sands. prop spacing 3 m) are similar to the values (B ≈ 5-6 m) found for a cantilever wall for excavation depth 8 m. prop spacing). Tables for the Calculation of Passive Pressure. K. The wall / soil stiffness largely influences the earth pressure distribution on the wall. Calabrese.. & Woods.A. A state-of-the-art report by the ISSMFE European Technical Committee on Pressuremeters. (1997). 1: 30-38. 1980. but has a lower influence on Kh. and remains constant after Ka is reached.A.D. For cantilever walls. L. In situ tests in Brasilia porous clay. 1998. Bending of beams resting on isotropic elastic solid. Fig. (c) The Kh obtained for the cantilever wall for an excavation of 8 m depth are similar to the Kh found for the multi-propped wall for an excavation of 18-24 m depth. The possible Kh-DMT relationship is "calibrated" based on the results of FEM analyses carried out using the non linear Plaxis Hardening Soil model. P. Sols Soils 9. H. for very loose to very dense sands. & Kerisel. 1962. Part 1: Predrilled pressuremeters and self-boring pressuremeters. 7 may be used as a broad indication for selecting the values of B .L.G. similar to existing DMT-based formulations of P–y curves for laterally loaded piles by Robertson et al. 87. Fourie. and Analytical Methods in Geomech.K. Davies. 4th DFI Int.. In this study it was assumed Eoed = MDMT. & Monaco. Ortigao. The behaviour of a propped retaining wall: results of a numerical experiment. A.(b) The "best fit" backcalculated values (Kh = 800-900 kN/m3 for the "soft soil". P. Proc. 1987. 1991). London: 383-387. 2: 175-188.F. however. 1964). a range of values of the triaxial modulus E50ref (basic input parameter of Plaxis HS model. Géotechnique 34. Div.. For cantilever walls.A. Totani. Kalteziotis. Jnl for Num. Paris. 10: 383-405. Proc. Chapman & Hall. Potts. Stresa. Evaluation of coefficients of subgrade reaction. TC16.S. Active Pressure and Bearing Capacity of Foundations. EM2: 35-53. Méthode empirique d'évaluation du coefficient de réaction du sol vis-à-vis des ouvrages de soutènement souples. REFERENCES Amar. The initial part of the curves (shown in Fig. Schanz & Vermeer (1997) indicated. Commentaires sur le choix des coefficients de réaction pour le calcul des écrans de soutènement. seepage pore pressures). T. 1955. 106. Revue Française de Géotechnique 71: 3-10. Marchetti et al. 1964. Int. S. D. M. for a cantilever wall the bending moments are practically not influenced by Kh). The numerical study illustrated in this paper investigates the influence of various factors on Kh (soil and wall stiffness. Ménard. Comparison of finite element and limiting equilibrium analyses for an embedded cantilever retaining wall.A. Balay. Vesic. D.g. 1984. B.A. Canad. J. instead of the classical bilinear relation in Fig. Clayton. Schanz. Comparison of strength and stiffness parameters for a Piedmont residual soil. P.g. & Fourie. D. 1st Int. in general. & Nova. Géotechnique 4: 297-326. Design of Laterally Loaded Driven Piles Using the Flat Dilatometer.B. Gautiers-Villars. & Orr. Milititsky. N. G. The Flat Dilatometer Test (DMT) in Soil Investigations A Report by the ISSMGE Committee TC16. & Campanella. A. i. correlated to the 1-D modulus Eoedref) very similar to the range of MDMT found for sands of similar density. 1991. S. 5 is B ≈ 5-6 m.R.B. the constrained modulus M from DMT is a reasonably accurate "operative" modulus. Recommandations pour le choix des paramètres de calcul des écrans de soutènement par la méthode aux modules de réaction. Pre-failure Deformation Behaviour of Geomaterials.B. 1. 2001. 1: 33-47. Several comparisons of DMT moduli vs "reference" moduli and DMT-predicted vs measured settlements (see e. Caquot. It is questionable.I.. Marchetti.A. Florence. Testing Jnl. Proc. Jnl. Geot. Schmitt. Piling and Deep Foundations. & Zervogiannis. in order to obtain indications for the selection of Kh in the general case. Proc. since.. J. Robertson. Géotechnique 39. Balkema. Ménard et al. TC16 2001) have shown that. (In this case the "target" parameter of the SRM-FEM comparison was the wall displacement. ICE.M. Un metodo di calcolo automatico per il progetto di paratie. GT3: 299-321. 2001.g. R. Plaxis Bulletin 10. B. Note d'Information Technique. & Vinson. Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées. Kh = 8000-10000 kN/m3 for the "stiff soil") confirm the linear relation between Kh and soil modulus. 1986. M. Earth pressure and Earth-retaining Structures. A tentative correlation between Kh and MDMT is proposed. In Situ Tests by Flat Dilatometer. 1987. A numerical study of the effects of wall deformation on earth pressures. The application of pressuremeter test results to foundation design in Europe. R..for design of multi-propped diaphragm walls in cases of similar wall geometry / stiffness and prop spacing for different ranges of MDMT. ASCE Jnl Engineering Mech. S. 12. A. 1991. as well known. D. on Site Characterization ISC'98. Brown. Marchetti. Clarke. Of course the crucial step is the selection of an appropriate value of the coefficient of subgrade reaction Kh. Applications of the Flat Dilatometer Test (DMT) in Cohesive Soils. Symp. L. & Rousseau. Étude expérimentale de l'encastrement d'un rideau en fonction des caractéristiques pressiométriques du sol de fondation. R. 3: 383-404. J. 1987.P. L'évaluation des tassements. 1948. Gambin. X ECSMFE.P. 1993. A. L. Becci. The B values (B ≈ 3 to 8 m) obtained for "typical" multi-propped wall configurations (excavation depth 1824 m. & Alves.M. G. Simon. having the form Kh = MDMT / B. M. & Houy. 1991. Of course the results of this numerical study need to be validated based on field data from real cases.hence Kh . 1: 189-198. 1995. 33.. (e) The "normalized" pressure–displacement curves behind the wall at various depths (at 1 m intervals) calculated by Plaxis for the cantilever wall are significantly different from those obtained for the multi-propped wall (Fig. Conf. Vermeer.L. that this would lead to a substantially more accurate prediction of wall behavior. the wall / soil stiffness has a minor influence on Kh. ASCE Jnl GED. ≈ 2/3-3/4 of the embedded length. Terzaghi. 1961. C. very close to the values indicated by earlier Kh methods (e. Atlanta.G. A.B. & Potts. (d) The "characteristic length" calculated based on Eq. though relative to a limited number of cases. P. J. Further investigations are needed to take into account different conditions and additional factors which may influence Kh (e. Pachakis. R. Potts. 4).. J. M. Cunha. indicate that Kh is proportional to soil stiffness and decreases as excavation depth and prop spacing increase.M. it appears appropriate to link B to the embedded wall length. & Vermeer. excavation depth. T. Sols Soils 1. in view of the intrinsic approximation involved by the spring approach.