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BEHAVIOR OF SINGLE PILE AND PILE GROUPS SUBJECTED TO ABRUPT

COLLAPSE OF A RETAINING WALL

Kranthikumar A., Research Scholar, IIT Roorkee, Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India, +91-9440664767,
kranthikumar0143@gmail.com
Ravi S. Jakka, Associate Professor, IIT Roorkee, Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India, +91-9458947076,
rsjakka@gmail.com
Rajesh P. Shukla, Research Scholar, IIT Roorkee, Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India, +91-9410987732,
rpshukla.2013@iitkalumi.org

ABSTRACT:

Retaining walls are often used to support the unstable backfill soil. In certain circumstances,
structures like high rise buildings, bridge and bridge abutments, transmission towers and offshore
platforms are constructed adjacent to retaining walls. Pile foundations are generally used to support
these type of structures. Retaining walls near these foundations may suddenly fails sometimes, and
they can affect the stability and safety of nearby structures and foundations. In this study,
experiments are done on small scale model piles to determine the settlement of pile foundations
exposed to the movement of soil induced from the abrupt collapse of a retaining wall. Various
factors affecting the behavior of single piles and pile groups are considered. Embedment ratio and
critical height of collapsed retaining structure are the two most important factors affecting the
settlement of piles. The settlement of piles increases with the increase in height of retaining wall
collapsed. In piles of embedment ratio 10, the settlement increases with increase in the spacing,
and increase in number of piles, while piles of embedment ratio 20 show behavior opposite to the
piles of embedment ratio 10. In general, settlement of piles decreases about 20 to 50 % with the
increase in embedment ratio of piles group. Piles group with small embedment ratio affected more
severely due to abrupt collapse of retaining wall than the piles of large embedment ratio. The
increase in the settlement with the increase in the height of collapsed retaining wall is relatively
more noticeable as compared to increase in lateral displacement.

Keywords: Retaining Wall, Soil Displacement, Pile Groups, Experimental Testing

INTRODUCTION

Pile foundation is a deep foundation, and commonly used in cases of large structural loading, unavailability
of good soil at shallow depth and under various other adverse conditions. Piles are subjected to variety of
loadings, such as vertical, lateral and combined loading. On the basis of mechanism of load transferring,
laterally loaded piles are considered into two categories; passive and active piles (De Beer and Wallays,
1972). Piles transferring the loads to the soil are active piles, and piles sustaining the loads coming from
the soil are passive piles. The loading on passive piles is induced from soil movement induced due to
underground construction, mining, landslides, tunnelling, liquefaction, embankment loading and various
other construction activities (Ong, 2004). In metropolitan cities, new structure frequently constructed near
to existing one, and a large excavation is required for carrying out new construction. Lateral loads generated
by the soil movement can induce additional deflections, settlement and bending moment in piles, which
may further reduce the structural integrity of the piles (Hannink and Van Tol, 1988). For the construction
of new buildings and other structures, excavations near existing structures is increased significantly in more
urbanized areas. These exccavations made significant effect on the foundaations of these existing buildings
(Lin et al., 2016; Liyanapathirana and Nishanthan, 2016; Zheng et al., 2012). To minimize the

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excavationinduced impact on the environment, protective measures must be taken to control wall
deformations and related soil movements. A number of field studies are reported in the literature, where
stability of pile foundations was degraded due to excavation of soil (Finno et al., 1991; Poulos, 1997; Kok
et al., 2009). Apart from these field studies, a good number of theoretical and experimental studies were
also carried out to determine the piles behaviour subjected to the soil movement introduced by excavation
and construction activities (Leung et al., 2000; Goh et al., 2003; Leung et al., 2003; Leung et al., 2006a;
2006b; Ong et al., 2006; 2009). A detailed review of work on passive piles is provided by Kok et al. (2009).
These studies determined the pile response in term of lateral displacement and induced bending moment.
Though, an excavation can induce both the lateral displacement and settlement in the pile foundation, only
a few studies considered the settlement of piles (Shukla and Patra, 2015; Korff et al., 2016). Shukla and
Patra (2015) measured the settlement of axially loaded pile groups, and found that the behaviour of piles is
depending significantly on the embedment ratio of pile groups. The results were presented in the respective
units, consequently the results cannot be used directly. Numerous protective measures have already been
extensively investigated; however, despite the frequent use of pile rows in practice, little is known about
the use of a pile row as a measure to protect the environment and the structures in close proximity to an
excavation. Literature review stipulates that the only a few studies determined the settlement of piles group
due to soil movement, and most of studies had considered only limited parameters. Furthermore, previous
studies considered the soil movement supported with stable retaining wall. However, it is also possible that
the retaining can fail itself which was constructed to support the piles foundation against various activities
inducing the soil movement. This condition can be easily arise in hilly region, mining regions and
metropolitan cities where, the retaining wall may fail itself due to failure of slopes, large volume excavation,
and due to other construction activities. Settlement of piles and pile groups induced due to abrupt collapse
of retaining wall is studied. A detailed testing is performed by varying critical parameters affecting the
settlement behavior of pile and pile groups near the vicinity of retaining wall.

EXPERIMENTAL SETUP

All model tests were conducted in a 1-g environment. Initially, the load carrying capacity of piles and pile
groups were evaluated by compression testing. Based on the compression test results, safe load was
determined for single piles and pile groups. Rain fall method was used to pour the sand into the tank at a
desirable density. The model piles were made of hollow circular aluminum tubes of 1 mm thickness and 30
mm internal diameter is used for testing. The diameter of piles was maintained constant throughout the
testing. Piles of length of 320 mm and 640 mm were used in the testing to consider the effect of embedment
depth of piles on the settlement of piles group. Piles were marked to the two third of embedment ratio, and
piles group was assembled to the pile cap at the outside of tank. Marks were made on the tank walls also to
identify the tip level of piles during the sand filling. Sand was filled just below the marked level on tank
walls, and piles were suspended at the prerequisite level into the tank using the two flat steel plates and
number of C-clamps. This step requires utmost care so as to retain the pile cap perfectly horizontal. The
level of pile cap was tested using a sprit leveler to avoid the tilting. Perfectly horizontal pile cap helps to
apply the loads vertically on pile before collapse of retaining wall. Sand filling was again started and
continued till it filled the tank up to the marks on the piles. As piles are adequately embedded in the sand,
both flat plate were detached cautiously from the pile cap by releasing the C clamps. To make sure that pile
cap remains perfectly horizontal during the filling process, level of pile cap was checked intermittently and
sand filling was again continued up to just below the pile cap. Four dial gauges were attached at the pre-
determined location using steel columns and two steel plates. A plate was attached to the pile cap of row
piles in order to support the loading. Level of pile cap was checked once again before the application of
loading. Safe load determined from the compression test was applied directly on piles cap. To verify that
the loading stage has not changed the density of sand, density of sand was checked before and after loading
stage. The density of sand was checked using a dynamic penetrometer. Before heading to simulate the
collapse of retaining wall, the whole setup was maintained idle for a sufficient time to allow the settlement

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of piles induced due to application of loading on pile. The parts of wooden shutter were released to simulate
the abrupt collapse of retaining structure. Dial gauge readings were recorded after the collapse of retaining
structure. Displaced soil profile was also recorded by means of vertical lines drawn on the tank wall. These
vertical lines were marked to measure the distance from the wooden shutter. Fig. 1 shows the basic outlet
of model testing setup and pile group configurations used in the testing. A few tests are repeated to check
the validity of the results and then detailed testing is carried out by varying different parameters. Table 1
shows the properties of the surrounding soil used in the testing.

(a) (b)
Fig. 1. (a) Basic model used in the testing; (b) Pile configurations used in testing

Table 1. Material properties of the pile and surrounding soil


Properties of Sand Value Units
Maximum density 16.80 kN/m3
Minimum density 14.40 kN/m3
Unit weight 15.61 kN/m3
Relative density of sand 54.30 %
0
Angle of internal friction 34.00
Uniformity coefficient 1.70 -
Coefficient of curvature 0.97 -

RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

Lateral displacement of piles is represented in dimensionless form as a ratio of pile displacement to the
height of retaining structure failed. Similarly, the distance between piles and retaining structure was also
expressed in terms of height of the retaining structure. Figure 2 shows the instrumental setup for an unloaded
single pile before and after collapse of retaining structure. Testing is carried out by varying different
parameters which effect the settlement behavior of piles. Parameters considered in the testing are mentioned
in Table 2. The vertical and lateral displacement response of pile foundation subjected to collapse of
retaining wall was determined and presented in dimensionless form. The effect of various parameters on
settlement response of pile is discussed below:

Effect of distance between retaining wall and pile group:


Figure 3 shows that the settlement of pile group decreases nonlinearly with increase in distance of piles
from the retaining wall. Earlier studies also found that the settlement and lateral displacement decreases
with increase in the distance of piles from excavation surface and retaining wall. The confining pressure
and skin friction increases with increase in the distance of piles from retaining wall, consequently it
decreases the settlement of piles. Velocity of soil movement near to the collapsed retaining wall is high and

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it impart higher force and moment on the piles, and consequently it causes higher settlement in case of piles
group resting near to the retaining wall. From Figures 3 (a) and (b), it is perceived that in piles of small
embedment ratio, the increase in settlement is relatively higher when distance between piles and retaining
wall is decreasing.

Fig. 2. Instrumented setup for a pile before collapse of retaining wall

Table 2. Nominal height of retaining wall used in the analysis


Length of pile, Number of wooden Height of retaining Nominal height of retaining
L (cm) planks to be loosen wall, Hc (cm) wall (Hc/L)
32 0 0 0
1 10 0.312
2 22 0.687
64 0 0 0
1 10 0.156
2 22 0.344
3 34 0.532

4.5 2
2x1, S/d=3 2x1, S/d=3
2x1, S/4=4 1.6 2x1, S/d=4
2x1, S/d=6 2x1, S/d=6
3
3x1, S/d=3 1.2
St/Hc (%)

3x1, S/d=3
St/Hc (%)

3x1, S/d=4 3x1, S/d=4


3x1, S/d=6 0.8 3x1, S/d=6
1.5
2x2, S/d=3 2x2, S/d=3
2x2, S/d=4 0.4
2x2, S/d=4
0 2x2, S/d=6 2x2, S/d=6
0
0 0.3 0.6 0.9 1.2 1.5 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
X/Hc X/Hc
(a) (b)
Fig. 3. Effect of distance between retaining wall and pile groups; (a) L/d=10; (b) L/d=20

Effect of critical height of retaining wall:


Effect of critical height of retaining wall is shown in Figure 4. Induced force due to abrupt collapse of
retaining wall increases with increase in the height of retaining structure collapsed, and it leads to increase
in the settlement of piles. The increase in the depth of soil movement increases the plastic flow of soil over

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the piles. The plastic flow over the soil also increases with increase in the height of retaining wall and it
further increases the magnitude of piles settlement. It can be also observed that the piles group with small
embedment ratio (L/d=10) more severely affected from soil movement than longer piles (L/d=20).
For a small height of collapsed retaining wall, the developed initial strains are within elastic limit. Increasing
the height of retaining wall collapsed causes to deformation of soil mass plastically with a large rate of
stains. At this stage, the pressure reduces to smaller value, and thereby the rate of increase in the settlement
is also reduced. It can be easily seen from the Fig. 4 this stage is reached at the nominal height (Hc/L) of
0.16 and 0.32, respectively for piles of embedment ratio 20 and 10 respectively.

1.5 2

1.5
1

St/Hc (%)
St/Hc (%)

0.5
S=3d, X=9.70d S=4d, X=9.70d
S/d=3, X/Hc=0.95 S/d=4, X/Hc=0.95 0.5
S/d=6, X/Hc=0.95 S/d=3, X/Hc=0.60 S=6d, X=9.70d S=3d, X=6.25d
S/d=4, X/Hc=0.60 S/d=6, X/Hc=0.60 S=4d, X=6.25d S=6d, X=6.25d
0 0
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8
Hc/L Hc/L
(a) (b)
Fig. 4. Effect of critical height of retaining wall; (a) 2×1 pile group, L/d=20; (b) 2×1, L/d=10

The effect of increase in the height of collapsed retaining wall on piles settlement becomes nominal after a
particular height in case of piles group of large embedment ratio. However, in piles group of small
embedment depth, the piles generally show the continuous increase in the settlement. The magnitude of
settlement is also relatively large in piles of embedment ratio of 10 as compared to piles of embedment ratio
20. The end bearing of piles group of longer length affected relatively less as compared to piles of small
embedment depth. Even the magnitude of shaft friction leftover after collapse of wall is more in case of
longer piles than the shorter piles. Because of these facts the piles of small embedment affected more
severely due to soil movement induced from collapse of retaining wall than longer piles group.

CONCLUSIONS

A small scale laboratory testing is performed to determine the critical parameters affecting the behavior of
piles under sudden collapse of retaining wall near pile foundations. It is found that height of collapse of
retaining wall and embedment depth of pile are two critical parameters those mainly affect the settlement
of piles and pile group. Vertical and lateral displacements of piles increased with increasing the height of
collapsed retaining wall. The settlement behavior of piles of embedment ratio 10 is dissimilar to the piles
group of embedment ratio of 20. In case of longer piles, the settlement is decreased with increase in the
spacing and piles number. On the other hand, the settlement of pile groups of smaller length increases with
increase in these parameters.
Settlement of piles decreases with increase in the distance of piles from excavation surface and retaining
wall for a constant embedded depth ratio. For a L/D = 10, settlement decreased from 50 to 33 % with
increase in effect of distance between pile and retaining wall (X/Hc) from 0.6 to 1.5, respectively. Settlement
decreases 50 % with increase in embedded depth of pile in pile group.
The effect of pile spacing on the piles group settlement decreases with increasing in the piles number in a
piles group. The settlement is relatively large for the small distance between retaining wall and piles and it
reducing with increase in this distance. In a piles group, the influence of distance between retaining wall
and piles is reduced with increasing piles number.

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