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Lateral load on pile

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Mourad Karray, University of Sherbrook, Canada

Mounir Bouassida, University of Tunis El Manar, Tunisia

Mahmoued N. Hussien, University of Sherbrook, Canada

The ultimate lateral resistance of piles in cohesive soil is studied using the well-known finite difference code,

FLAC2D. The Modified Cam Clay (MCC) constitutive relation is adopted in the analyses to model the cohesive

soil behavior, whereas the structural pile model with three degree of freedoms, available in FLAC2D library, is

adopted to model the piles. The reliability of Borms's method, still used in the current design practice of piles

under lateral loads, is verified. Comparisons between the ultimate lateral resistances of piles and those

deduced from the graphs proposed by Broms (1964) are presented in graphs. Different factors thought to

affect the lateral resistance of piles in cohesive soil, not adequately consider in Borms's method, such as clay

stiffness, pile length, pile diameter and axial load are parametrically studied. A special concern is devoted to

elucidate the effects of over-consolidation ratio (OCR) on the ultimate lateral resistance of piles in cohesive

soil.

the appropriate method when designing laterally

Pile foundations have been used extensively for

loaded piles in cohesive soils. In this paper an

supporting both axial and lateral loads for a variety of

assessment of the most important method, Borms's

structures including heavy buildings, transmission

method, still used in the current design practice of

lines, power stations, and highway structures. In

piles under lateral loads, is done. A two-dimensional

some case, the lateral loads may be relatively light

(2D) finite difference code, FLAC2D (Version 6, Manual

and there is no need to account for in pile design,

[2008]) is used to this end. The Modified Cam Clay

however in other cases, lateral loads govern the

(MCC) constitutive relation is adopted in the

design of piles. A key element in the design of pile

analyses to model the cohesive soil behaviour,

foundation under lateral loads is the determination of

whereas the structural pile model with three degree

the ultimate lateral resistance that can be exerted by

of freedoms, available in FLAC2D elements library, is

the soil against the pile (Murff and Hamilton, 1993).

adopted to model the piles. Different factors thought

For example, the ultimate lateral resistance is

to affect the ultimate lateral resistance of piles in

required for calculating the p-y curves, which are

cohesive soil such as clay stiffness, pile length, pile

used extensively in recent years in piles design.

diameter and axial load are parametrically studied. A

Several methods have been published for predicting

special concern is devoted to elucidate the effects of

the ultimate lateral resistance of piles in cohesive

over-consolidation ratio (OCR) on the ultimate lateral

soils (Brinch Hansen, 1961; Broms, 1964; Poulos

resistance of piles in cohesive soil. The

and Davis, 1980; Fleming el al.,1992; Reese and

investigations were carried out for single piles in a

Van Impe, 2001). However, these methods often

type of clay which has been used by several studies

produce significantly quite different predictions of the

conducted at the University of Sherbrook, Quebec,

ultimate resistance. This makes it difficult for

Canada.

engineers to effectively select the appropriate

The existing method of predicting the ultimate lateral

method when designing laterally loaded piles in

resistance of pile foundations under lateral loads are

cohesive soils.

first reviewed, to be followed by the main part of the

Because the problem of determining the ultimate

study with respect to the effects of clay stiffness, pile

resistance of a laterally loaded pile is three

length, pile diameter, axial loads and OCR on the

dimensional (3D) and nonlinear problem, finding a

lateral ultimate resistance of pile foundations. The

rigorous solution is very unlikely. Thus existing

primary findings from this study were summarized as

solutions for the ultimate lateral resistance of the pile

conclusions.

are either of a semi empirical nature or employ

approximate analysis which often involves many

simplifications (Jamiolkowski and Garassino, 1977). Existing Methods of Prediction of Ultimate

These approximations may account for the Lateral Resistance

significantly different ultimate resistance values The existing methods used to estimate the lateral

obtained from the different methods. This makes it resistance of vertical piles can be divided into two

main categories: methods of ultimate lateral Broms's method is still used in the current design

resistance and methods of acceptable deflection at a practice of piles under lateral loads to calculate the

given working lateral load. First investigation by lateral bearing capacity of piles because of its

Terzaghi (1955) consisted in the use of variable simplicity. This method will be briefly reviewed in the

passive earth coefficient for modeling the lateral next paragraph.

reaction of soil as a function of its internal angle of Broms’ method (1964), proposed for the prediction of

friction. In 1960’s, ultimate lateral resistance lateral resistance of vertical piles, is similar to that

approaches for rigid piles by assuming that the full developed by Hansen without consideration of c-φ’

passive Rankine earth pressures were mobilized. soil parameters. In fact, Broms’s method is based on

Adopting the method proposed by Brinch Hansen earth pressure for calculation of lateral resistance of

(1961), the pile is assumed to rotate with respect to vertical piles, but quite simple assumptions are made

centre of rotation, the ultimate lateral load is then for the distribution of ultimate soil resistance over the

estimated and the shearing force and bending length of the pile. These method studies two types of

moment diagrams are drawn. Broms (1964) piles, a short-rigid and long-flexible, embedded in

presented a method to determine the ultimate lateral mono layered half space. Broms (1969) elaborated

load in cohesive and cohesionless soils. Kasch charts for determination of the ultimate lateral load

(1977), state that using Rankine’s passive states will for each class as illustrated in Figures 1(a) and 1(b)

result in a very conservative solution. Reese (1977) respectively (FHWA, 1997). Figures 1(a) and 1(b)

developed a computer program that widely used to show also that the ultimate lateral resistance of the

predict the performance of piles subjected to lateral piles is affected by pile head conditions. The ultimate

loading. This program solves differential equation lateral resistance of fixed head pile is higher than that

derived on the assumption that the pile is linearly of free-head conditions for both cases of short and

elastic and that the soil reaction may be represented long piles.

as a line load. In recent years, extensive research In this method, the load-deflection relationships of

and developments have been undertaken to predict laterally loaded piles driven into cohesive soils are

theoretically the behavior of laterally loaded piles in similar to the stress-strain relationships as obtained

clayey soils (Poulos and Davis, 1980; Brown and from consolidated-undrained tests (Broms, 1964).

Shie, 1991; Fleming el al.,1992; Liang, 1998; Reese

and Van Impe, 2001).

[Fig. 1] Ultimate Lateral Ultimate Load of Piles in Cohesive Soils; (a) Short Pile, (b) Long Pile (Broms, 1964)

In fact, Broms method calls for some comments the vertical component of load as well. The

that be discussed later. Broms’ contribution does numerical modeling also aims to verify whether the

not consider the effect of axial loading on lateral OCR for clayey soil has a significant effect when

bearing capacity of piles. determining the lateral capacity at failure of the

In this study, the finite differences method is loaded pile. Note that the OCR has not been taken

implemented to examine how the lateral load into consideration in several previous

capacity of the pile is influenced by varying the investigations made about the ultimate lateral

length of the pile, its diameter and by considering capacity of piles. Elsewhere, as for Broms’ method,

the vertical load component was not considered in plane strain condition. This pile is modeled by

prior analyses, this study aims to clarify how the means of a plate element which is discretized as a

behavior of laterally loaded pile will be when set of beam elements having three degrees of

subjected to additional vertical load. freedom: horizontal and vertical displacements

Therefore, the main objective is to draw design and a rotation with respect to perpendicular axis of

charts making possible the design of laterally the plan in Figure 2.

loaded pile in cohesive soils and to compare the

numerical predictions by FLAC2D (Fast Lagrangian Material proprieties

Analyses of Continua in 2D) program with the The soil used is soft post-glacial clay, of marine

Broms’ solution. origin, sampled from the site of Grande Baleine

River (Demers, 1980). Two specimens (COE-01

Studied Model and COE-02) have been tested to identify the

geotechnical characteristics of this clay. Table1

Geometry of the model summarizes the recorded geotechnical

The two-dimensional finite differences code characteristics, including results of the oedometer

FLAC2D has been used to model single piles and undrained shear strength, of tested clays.

embedded in a clay layer in non-symmetric loading

(m) < 2 μm content, ω void index, Cc (-) coefficient unit shear

(%) (%) ratio, e0 Cs (-) weight: γ strength,

(-) (kN/m³) cu (kPa)

COE-01 4.8- 6.3 59.0 53.8 - 63.8 1.59 0.90 0.08 16.7 16.0-39.0

COE-02 10.7 - 45.0 35.2 - 51.7 1.57 0.88 0.06 16.7 43.0- 62.0

0.9

V

υ= (1)

Figure 3 presents the oedometer curve in the Vs

semi-logarithmic plot (υ, ln p) where p, is the effective Vs is the volume of solid particles, assumed

pressure and, υ, the specific volume of specimen incompressible, contained in a volume, V, of soil

defined as: specimen.

[Fig. 3] Oedometer curves of tested clays (Demers, 1980)

The Modified Cam-Clay Model (CCM) was variable in order to investigate their influences on

adopted as quite appropriate, particularly for the lateral bearing capacity of pile. The ultimate

materials which behaviour is influenced by volume lateral load of pile, Qu, is represented by the

variation. In fact, the CCM may be used to dimensionless factor defined by “Qu/cu b2” for

represent materials when the influence of volume which the influence of several parameters will be

change on bulk property and resistance up to studied.

failure should be taken into consideration, as for

soft clays. Prediction of lateral resistance of pile

In this study, eight material parameters were The adopted modeling of beam element subjected

required to specify the soil model, including either to the lateral action/reaction of soil the behavior of

the elastic bulk modulus “K” or elastic shear pile is derived from the well-known equilibrium

modulus “G”, mass density “ρ”, Poisson’s ratio “μ”, equation of beams:

slope of the normal consolidation line “λ”, slope of

the elastic swelling line“κ”, frictional constant “M”, d4 y

EI + p(x) = 0 (2)

pressure of reference “p1” and the specific volume dx 4

at pressure of reference, p1, on the normal Figure 4 details how the horizontal resistance of

consolidation line “υλ”. soil p(x) can be determined by adopting the spring

The material properties adopted in the analyses equation:

for soft, medium and hard clay (referred to

p(x) = k(x) ⋅ y (3)

proprieties of specimens) are presented in Table

2. - k(x) : modulus of the horizontal reaction of soil

(kN/m²);

Pile properties - y :horizontal displacement of the pile at depth x

The pile is modeled as a structure element made (m);

up of concrete material characterised by a - E : young’s Modulus of the pile (kPa);

Poisson’s ratio of 0.2, a unit mass of 2500 kg/m3, - I : moment of Inertia of the cross section at x (m4);

and Young’s modulus equals to 25 GPa. - x: current depth along the length of pile.

[Table 2] Soft clay parameters according to CCM

3

Soil rigidity ρ (kg/m ) G (MPa) K (MPa) μ (-) λ (-) κ (-) M (-) p1 υλ (-)

(kPa)

Soft clay 1670 4.80 12.48 0.33 0.262 0.065 0.77 1 5.3

cu = 16.0 kPa

medium clay 1670 11.70 30.42 0.33 0.262 0.065 0.77 1 5.3

cu = 39.0 kPa

Stiff clay 1670 19.20 49.92 0.33 0.257 0.064 0.77 1 5.25

cu = 64.0 kPa

Resistance

The undrained shear strength has been varied in

order to study the effect of the stiffness of clayey

soils on the ultimate lateral resistance of pile.

For capped plasticity model, like the modified cam

clay here investigated, the undrained shear

strength, cu, is uniquely related to the specific

volume, υ, by the equation [2]:

Mp1 ⎛Γ−υ⎞

cu = exp ⎜ ⎟ (4)

2 ⎝ λ ⎠

line for p=p1, is given by:

Γ = υλ − ( λ − κ ) × ln ( 2 ) (5)

adopting zero free vertical distance from the head

[Fig. 4] Model of soil reaction by elastic springs

of pile to the soil surface (ec=0), and varied ratio

D/b, D is the embedment of pile in the clay layer.

Introducing the bending moment, M (kN.m) and

The comparison between numerical predictions

the shear force, V (kN) at depth x within a current

and Broms’ results (Figure 7). For this case, it can

cross section of pile, the equilibrium equation

be seen that Broms’ assumption greatly

provides relationships between the bending

overestimates the ultimate lateral resistance of pile

moment and shear force, and, then as illustrated in

in purely cohesive clays that was assumed equals

Figure 6, the lateral resistance of soil is derived

to 9bcu, but numerical predictions show that the

from Eq. (3). The complete solution is obtained

soil will collapse much earlier.

once the horizontal deflection of pile is determined.

Therefore, we concluded that the lateral soil

reaction p (x) can be determined as follows (see Effects of Vertical Load and Pile

figure 5): Diameter on its Lateral Resistance

The influence on pile diameter has been also

investigated. Figure 8 shows that the variation of

pile diameter, especially when D/b is less than 14,

does not significantly affect the normalized

ultimate lateral bearing capacity of pile.

The influence of vertical load on the ultimate lateral

bearing capacity is studied. At this stage, first, the

ultimate vertical bearing capacity is obtained, and

then by introducing a factor of safety equals to 3

[Fig. 5] Shear and lateral load

the allowable vertical load is deduced. The

For a pile of length D = 8.0 m and diameter b = 0.8 ultimate lateral bearing capacity of pile is finally

m. Figure 6 displays the diagrams for profiles of determined. Results of Figure 9 show up that the

pile behavior under a lateral load equal at 250 kN. ultimate lateral resistance will decrease when the

vertical load component increases. Therefore a

special care should be accorded when it comes to

the prediction of the ultimate lateral resistance of a

pile.

[Fig. 7] Effect of soil stiffness on lateral load capacity compared with Broms method

[Fig. 9] Effect of vertical load, ec/b = 0

Effect of Over-Consolidation Ratio lateral capacity of pile. When the OCR increases

The over-consolidation ratio, OCR, is defined as from 2 to 10, the increase in the ultimate lateral

the ratio of initial pre-consolidation pressure to the load is of about 20%. Thus, it is concluded that the

in situ overburden effective stress. The influence role of pre-consolidation pressure cannot be

of OCR on the behaviour of assumed Cam-clay neglected for the design of piles.

soil is studied numerically.

Conclusion suggested by Broms has adopted. From obtained

results the conclusions below are drawn.

The main objective of this study is to investigate

- The soil collapse is expected earlier than that

numerically ultimate resistance of single pile in

predicted by Broms method that is

cohesive soil subjected to lateral loading. For this

overestimated.

work, the two-dimensional (2D) finite difference code

- The effect of pile diameter was studied; it

FLAC2D was employed to simulate a single pile

would not have significant effect on

embedded in a clay layer that has known many

normalized ultimate bearing capacity.

investigations. The study primarily aimed at

- The effect of pile stiffness, the ultimate lateral

presentation of the design which cover a variety of

resistance of pile increase and the curves go 12. Murff, J.D. and Hamilton, J.M. P-Ultimate for

toward Broms curve. Undrained Analysis of Laterally Loaded Piles. J.

- Vertical allowable load applied on pile and Geotech. Eng., Vol. 119(1), 1993, pp. 91-107.

presented more general graphs. It is shown 13. Poulos, H.G. and Davis, E.H. Pile Foundation

that the axial load increase ultimate bearing Analysis and Design. Wiley, New York, 1980.

capacity and a special care to choose the 14. Reese, L.C. Laterally Loaded Piles: Program

ultimate bearing capacity of pile should be Documentation. J. Geotech. Eng. Div., ASCE.

taken. Vol. 103(GT4), 1977, pp. 287-305.

- The CCM is a suitable model to describe 15. Reese, L.C. and Van Impe, W.F. Single Piles and

Piles Groups Under Lateral Loading. A. A.,

sensitive clays, and it is necessary to take

Balkema, Rotterdam, 2001.

care of the value of OCR or pre-consolidation

16. Terzaghi, K. Evaluation of Coefficients of

pressure in the design of piles embedded in

Subgrade Reaction. Géotechnique. Vol. 5(4),

cohesive soils. 1955, pp. 297-236.

References

1. Broms, B.B. Lateral Resistance of Piles in

Cohesive Soils. J. Soil Mech. Found. Div., Vol.

90(2), 1964, pp. 27-64.

2. Britto, A. M., and Gunn, M.J. Critical State Soil

Mechanics via Finite Elements. Chichester U.K.:

Ellis Horwood Ltd, 1987.

3. Brinch Hansen, J. The Ultimate Resistance of

Rigid Piles Against Transversal Forces.

Geoteknish Institute Bulletin No.12, Danish

Geotechnical Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark,

1961, pp. 5-9.

4. Brown, D.A., and Shie, C.F. Evaluation of the

Relative Influence of Major Parameters for

Laterally Loaded Piles in three Dimensional

Finite Element Models. Civil Engineering

Department, Harbert Engineering Center.

Auburn University, Alabama, 1991.

5. Demers, B. Résistance Cyclique d’une Argile

Extra-Sensible. Thesis M.Sc., University of

Sherbrook, Quebec, Canada, 1980.

6. Fleming, W.G.K., Weltman, A.J., Randolph, M.F.

and Elson, W.K. Piling Engineering. Surrey

University Press, London, 1992.

7. Federal Highway Administration. Design and

Construction of Driven Pile Foundations.

Workshop Manual – Vol. I, 1997, Publication

n°13. Washington, D.C.

8. Itasca Consulting Group (2008). FLAC: Fast

Lagrangian Analysis of Continua User’s and

Theory Manuals, Version 6.0, Minneapolis, USA.

9. Jamiolkowski, M. and Garassino, A. Soil

Modulus for Laterally Loaded Piles. Proc., 9th Int.

Conf. Soil Mechanics Foundation Engineering.

Tokyo, 1977, pp. 87-92.

10. Kasch, V.R. Lateral Load test of Drilled Shaft in

Clay. Research report 211-1. Texas

Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University,

1977.

11. Liang, R. Development and Implementation of

New Driven Piles Technology. The Ohio

Department of Transportation and the US

Department of Transportation, Federal Highway

Administration, 1998.

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