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Deep Foundations on Bored and Auger Piles Van Impe & Van Impe (eds)

2009 Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-0-415-47556-3

Design and construction aspects of piled foundations

for Eureka Tower Project
Jim Slatter & Slav Tchepak
Vibropile (Aust) Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia

ABSTRACT: The Eureka Tower project involved the construction of a 300 m high 92-storey tower, the worlds
tallest apartment tower at the time, located in Melbournes Southbank area. An unusual feature of the building
is its slenderness, having a height to base ratio of 6 to 1. The construction of the foundations for the project
proved to be a challenging task.
The geological conditions at the site were complex, highly variable and posed significant construction and
technical difficulties, with two layers of high to very high strength basalt above high strength Silurian Siltstone
bedrock at a depth of approximately 35 m. The ground water table occurred at 2 m depth and the upper and
lower basalt layers were not continuous across the site. To add to the complexity, the loadings imposed on the
foundations by the structure were high. The lower basalt provided a suitable founding medium, provided that
sufficient thickness was available to ensure that settlements of underlying soils were within acceptable limits.
This was difficult to define because of the discontinuous nature of the lower basalt and the variable thickness
of that stratum.
The foundation solution that ultimately proved to be the most cost-effective was a combination of CFA piles
founded on the very high strength lower basalt flow and Bored piles constructed under bentonite drilling fluid
founded in the high strength Siltstone when there was insufficient thickness of the lower basalt. This paper discusses the design and construction aspects of the piled foundations for these challenging conditions, including
the additional site investigation required to define areas appropriate for each pile type; construction of the piles
and the special techniques required to ensure clean bases for the heavily loaded piles; and the testing regime that
comprised Statnamic and Dynamic pile loading tests.

The builder, Grocon, in conjunction with consulting structural engineers Connell Mott MacDonald and
geotechnical consultants Golder Associates, issued
documentation for the tower foundations comprising
bored piles socketed into the strong Silurian bedrock.
Initially the piling work was priced on the conforming solutions utilising bored methods, the equipment
and expertise for which needed to be imported due
to the requirement to penetrate up to 8 m of massive,
very high strength Basalt at up to 1.5 m diameter.
The costs of the conforming solutions considerably
exceeded budget expectations both in terms of cost
and program and the project was at significant risk of
not proceeding.


The site for the 92 storey apartment building was

originally an industrial area. Because of its proximity to the CBD of Melbourne and the Yarra River,
the area rapidly evolved to commercial and apartment usage. Extensive geotechnical work had been
carried out for previous developments on the site,
which were abandoned, partly because of the costs of
providing economical foundation solutions for multistorey developments in the challenging soil conditions.
Local builder Grocon proposed a 92 storey apartment
building which presented even greater challenges for
the structural, geotechnical and piling engineers to
provide an economical foundation system given the
high loadings that result from such tall structures. The
structure had a relatively small footprint, resulting in a
height to base ratio of 6 to 1. The top of the tower can
flex up to 600 mm in high winds with resulting oscillations being dampened by two 300 ML water tanks
on levels 90 and 91.


The geological conditions at the site are complex and

difficult. It is not possible to provide a simple tabulation of soil types with depth, nor will reproduction


Figure 1.

Section DD.

Figure 2.

Section FF.


Figure 3.

Final layout of CFA & bored piles.

loads, which would result in excessive settlement of

foundations due to the compressible soils underlying
the upper basalt.
By contrast the massive lower basalt provided a suitable founding medium, provided that sufficient thickness
was available to ensure that settlements of underlying
soils were within acceptable limits. This was difficult to
define because of the discontinuous nature of the lower
basalt and the variable thickness of that stratum. As a
consequence, an extensive geotechnical investigation
was performed by the geotechnical engineer to better
characterise the condition and extent of the lower basalt
with a view to revising the foundation solution.
The geotechnical design responsibility remained with
the geotechnical engineer, who determined that a minimum of 5 m of strong lower basalt would be required to
ensure satisfactory performance of piles founded in that
stratum. Where 5 m of basalt was not available, piles
would need to be bored through the basalt and socketed
into the underlying strong siltstone.
A variety of solutions were considered including:

of bore logs provide a realistic depiction of the

geotechnical conditions. The geological complexity
of the site was primarily due to two layers of basalt
occurring above the Silurian Siltstone bedrock that
occurs at a depth of about 35 to 37 m depth.
The upper basalt is sandwiched between layers
of clay that varied in consistency from soft to very
stiff. The upper basalt varied in thickness from zero
to about 8 m and was typically of high strength, 80
to 100 MPa and most commonly highly fractured,
with fracture spacings typically not greater than
300 mm
The lower layer of basalt was generally overlain by
dense sands and gravels, occasionally underlain by
the same sand and gravel strata or occasionally sitting
directly on the siltstone bedrock. The lower basalt
was of very high strength, indicated by testing to be
in excess of 200 MPa and tended to be massive. The
ground water table occurred at 2 m depth.
Neither the upper or lower basalts were continuous
across the site.
The siltstone bedrock was typically a strong
rock (up to 80 MPa), with the upper 1 to 2 m being
relatively highly jointed before becoming massive in
Cross sections from the relatively small site are
shown in Figs. 1 and 2 that highlight the variability
in soil conditions.

An initial proposal to utilise 76 No. 1500 m dia

piles socketed into siltstone
110 No. 1200 mm dia bored piles socketed into
Foundation solutions included construction utilising conventional and reverse circulation drilling
methods. Interestingly, because of the difficulties
of penetrating the very high strength basalts in particular, costs were found to be cheaper for a larger
number of 1200 mm dia piles compared to 1500 mm
solutions, especially when relatively high strength


Founding piles or pile groups on the upper, highly

fractured basalt was not an option because of the high

concrete (70 MPa) was used and piles loaded up to

the safe structural limits of the pile shafts for both
piletypes. A solution was then proposed by the piling
contractor to use high capacity CFA piles founded on
the lower basalts where possible, with 1200 mm dia
bored piles socketed into siltstone where the lower
basalts were less than 5 m thick. This solution was
found to be significantly cheaper than all-bored pile
solutions and offered considerable savings in construction programme. A final solution incorporating
the following was adopted:
243 No. CFA piles 750 mm dia founded on the
lower basalt, to a unit pile design (i.e. ultimate)
load of 9250 kN (corresponding to a working load
of approximately 6800 kN).
28 No.1200 mm dia bored piles socketed in siltstone for ultimate loads of up to 32 MN (working
load approximately 25 MN). An allowable stress
was adopted as 20 MPa in the basalt. The design of
bored piles in the siltstone was done using the program ROCKET to ensure that estimated settlements
of those piles would be compatible with bored piles
founded in the basalt. Consequently the settlement
at the top of the siltstone socket was restricted to
6 mm and resulted in sockets of 4.5 m length.

Figure 4. Site congestion was a major concern.

A number of issues had to be addressed, including:

Proving the performance of CFA piles would be in
accordance within specified criteria by load testing
those piles.
Confirming the constructability of the bored piles,
to enable confirmation of production rates and
pricing structure of those piles.
Confirming that construction procedures for bored
piles founded in either the basalt or the siltstone
will be satisfactory and that those procedures can
be implemented on a routine basis should the CFA
trials not meet expectations.

cement stabilised sand, ready for construction of CFA

piles. Predrilling of clustered piles was be sequenced
such that following casting of any pile in the cluster,
subsequent predrilling for the next pile would not take
place for at least three days.
CFA piles were drilled to effective refusal to found
on top of the lower basalt and constructed using concrete injection techniques. Due to the sloping surface and negligible weathering profile of the lower
basalt, specially designed rock drilling heads had to
be adopted to ensure that CFA piles were adequately
seated into the very high strength lower basalt. Every
aspect of pile construction was fully monitored by
on-board computers to ensure the highest quality

In addition to the above technical considerations,

the site was also extremely congested due to the
multiple concurrent activities which were had to be
scheduled in order to meet the extremely challenging
construction program. As a result, site management
was critically important and the movement of each
item of plant needed to be carefully co-ordinated in
order to prevent clashes (see Figure 4).


Bored Piles

Bored piles required drilling through up to two layers

of high to very high strength basalt to socket into the
high strength siltstone. Construction under bentonite
drilling fluid was adopted as the most economical
approach to the difficult conditions.
The sockets were formed using conventional
rotary drilling methods however extremely high

CFA piles

During the course of production piling approximately

75% of the piles required predrilling through the
upper basalt layer using crane mounted drilling rigs.
After predrilling, the excavation was backfilled with

powered machines were required. A 55 tm crane

mount drill was required to core through the very
high strength basalt (Fig. 5). To facilitate base
cleanliness, a series of purpose built tools were
developed. Firstly a pilot hole/sump was formed
centrally at the base of the 1200 mm diameter
socket, a second tool was then deployed to mill
a flat surface (or ledge) at the base of the pile
(Fig. 6) and finally a third tool was used to sweep
any debris on the milled ledge into the sump thus
providing a high degree of cleanliness on the load
bearing ledge at the pile toe (Fig. 7).
The sump, which was formed by coring and chiselling was 600 mm diameter and 600 mm length. The
purpose of the sump was to attract base debris during construction, ensuring the remaining 75% of base
area to fully utilise end-bearing. Socket walls were
grooved in accordance with the requirements of the
ROCKET analyses, namely, a minimum 5.5 mm deep
by 6 mm wide groove at 100 mm spacing.
Piles were concreted within 24 hours of completion of socket drilling, with socket grooving and
desanding (to ensure a maximum sand content of
1%) operations carried out on the same day as concreting. Socket inspections by underwater video

camera proved the efficacy of construction methods

in providing a clean pile base that would satisfactorily
support the high loadings.


An initial trial piling programme was instigated

to confirm the veracity of the proposed CFA construction technique and to confirm the estimated
construction programme. Two non-production CFA
piles were constructed and load tested to destruction. While it was understood that all production
CFA piles would be drilled to effective refusal, one

Figure 6. Ledge, milling & sump coring tool.

Figure 5.

Coring of basalt.

Figure 7. Ledge sweeping tool.


Pile No 6


Bored piles

Pile No 5





Pile Top Load (kN)

Pile Top Load (kN)

test pile was purposely terminated as soon as the

auger reached the lower basalt, while the other was
drilled to refusal. The purpose of the former was to
simulate the potential effects of partial contact with
the basalt.



DLT 128kJ




Statnamic UPM


Statnamic UPM

Load tests were not done on any bored piles, however

a remote socket inspection device (SID) was used on
two bored piles to verify the cleanliness of the milled
and swept ledge, and the pile sump. The results of
the SID inspections proved that unique construction procedure adopted for the pile toes had met the
design objectives and that the ledge had been cleaned
to satisfactorily high levels. On this basis the construction procedure for all future bore piles on the
project was approved and strict QA procedures were
implemented to ensure that these procedures were
adhered to.







Displacem ent (m m )

Figure 8.






Displacem ent (m m )

Comparative statnamic and dynamic load tests.

During routine piling an additional 5% of the piles

were tested dynamically, with all results between the
bounds of the DLT results indicated in Fig. 8. All parties were satisfied that the load testing regime was
satisfactory given the level of QA available from the
computerised monitoring of every CFA pile.



CFA piles


A cost-effective and innovative solution for the foundations for the Eureka Tower project was brought
about by co-operation between consulting structural
and geotechnical engineers and piling contractors
in what were extremely difficult geotechnical conditions. The application of different pile types and
construction techniques was novel and innovative
and resulted in the final cost of the foundations being
reduced by over 30% and the program reduced by
approximately 3 months. The construction was performed in difficult circumstances compounded by the
restricted space available on site. In this manner, the
skills of all parties were utilised, to the benefit of
the project.

The two trial CFA piles were subjected to load testing

by Statnamic and dynamic methods. Dynamic tests
were carried out using a drop hammer of 20 tonne
mass after completion the Statnamic tests. The costs
of doing Statnamic testing precluded testing of a large
number of piles on the project, so the purpose of the
subsequent dynamic tests on the trial piles was to gain
a correlation with Statnamic and provide confidence
in dynamic methods for future routine testing of production piles. The results of the loading tests on the
trial piles are shown in Fig. 8.
The results of the comparative tests indicated a
slightly less stiff response from the dynamic tests
compared to the Statnamic tests. However the performance of the piles for both tests was satisfactory.
The magnitude of the mobilised loads during the tests
was not sufficient to conclusively prove the difference
in drilling methods. Although the piles were to be
tested to destruction, it was not possible to impart sufficient energy during the tests to damage the piles.

Seidel, J.P. 2000. Rocket 3.0 Manual. Monash University.
Golder Associates. 2001. Report on geotechnical investigation. Eureka Tower. South Bank. No 01615054.