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Josiah Johnson

Predicting Pile settlement

Dr Goodey

Predicting pile settlement (BEng)

Simple methods for the estimation of pile settlement are useful for geotechnical engineers. Generally
piled foundations in the UK are designed on the basis of collapse considerations as opposed to
serviceability considerations. This project aims to investigate a simple mobilised strength design
(MSD) calculation for pile settlement in stiff clay. Predictions will be compared with reported values
for settlement or could be compared with a finite element model or experiment.


Give an overview of settlement, stiff clay soils and pile types

Investigate loading on foundations
Analyse a mobilised strength design (MSD) calculation for pile settlement

Perform an experiment and compare the results with results from MSD
Discuss Results

Michael Tomlinson and John Woodward (2008) Pile design and Construction
Bowles, JE. (1988) Foundation Analyses and Design. McGraw Hill Company. New
York. 4th Edition
W.G.K Fleming (1992) A new method for single pile prediction and analyses

Settlement Theory
Properties of stiff clay
Pile Foundation Analysis
- Axial Loading
- Effect of Pile Groups
Mobilised design method

Shortcomings of MSD
Overview of MSD methods
Calculations AND results

- Experimental Procedure and result or results from

case study
- Comparison of MSD results and Established data
- Analysis and Conclusions
In pile foundation design, the estimation of the settlement within a soil is of great
importance. One process of estimating the settlement of a soil under a pile foundation is
the Mobilised Design Method (MSD), which is based on the framework of plasticity theory.
The advantage of the MSD method, is that it provides a simple design methodology that
satisfies safety and serviceability criteria. Many MSD have been provided for estimating
settlement over the last 50 years, based various parameters and characteristics of soil
behaviour. Although all the MSD methods proposed provide a prediction of pile
settlement behaviour, the results are still an approximate. The aim of this project is to
assess the accuracy of three commonly used MSDs by comparing experimental results to
the MSD calculations.

When a soil is subjected to a change in volume due to an application of a stress
such as from a building the result is known as settlement. Settlement can be
defined as the downward movement of a soil subjected to a vertical load. The
application of a load on the soil results in a deformation which is unfavourable to
the stability of the foundation. The stress strain relationship can be summed up
by the formula t= o + where t is the final stress, o is the initial stress,
is the change in stress consequently the change in volume is expressed by this
formula Vt Vo V
Typically, a soil suffers deformation immediately on application of a load however
the severity of the deformation is based on many different factors such as the
magnitude of the load, type of soil and load, soil conditions such as water
content, type of foundation as well as the method of construction.
In general settlement occurs when the soils load resistance capacity has been
compromise. The main causes of a soil undergoing settlement are as follows;
1. Poor Compaction
2. Change in moisture content- Increases and decreases in moisture content
can result in deformation. When the moisture content of a soil increase, it
can become softer and weaker resulting in a lower bearing capacity.
Decreases in soil moisture content can cause shrinkage especially in
clayey soils. Shrinkage results in a reduction in soil volume and therefore
soil settlement.
3. Consolidation- Consolidation occurs when excess pore pressure leaves a
soil under an applied load resulting in empty voids left by the water
leaving. Thus, settlement occurs when the soil above collapses to fill the
vacated air filled voids.
4. Weak bearing soils- This usually occurs when a soil simply does not have
the bearing capacity to support the pressure coming from the foundation

Settlements can be calculated using both compaction theory and elastic theory.
The MSD methods are based of the two basic consolidation theories.
Many methods exist for investigating the settlement in pile groups, some
methods are based on simple empirical procedures and while others are based
on finite element analysis. The need for a deterministic framework based on
well defined, observable mechanism to produce more reliable results is what
has resulted in the derivation of MSD methods for pile settlements calculations.
The biggest advantage of MSD is the possibility generating results from simple
calculations based on sets of parameters which can be adapted to suit a specific
condition. This paper will be focused on settlements in pile groups.
Methods of Estimating Settlements in pile group
Many methods and approaches exist for estimation of settlement:

1. Application of group pile effects on a single pile curve or the settlement of

a single pile is adjusted using a group ratio.
2. The Polos and Davis method which incorporates the use of the principle of
superimposition and interaction factors
3. Representation of a group piles using a single pile raft
4. Representation of group using a single pier
5. FEM analysis
In this paper, I will be analysing the use of the interaction factor method,
Settlement Ratio Method, Equivalent Pier Method, Equivalent Raft Method