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The primary metric (SI) units used in civil and structural engineering are:

• meter (m)

• kilogram (kg)

• second (s)

• newton (N)

• Pascal (Pa = N/m 2 )


Shallow foundations principally distribute structural loads over large areas of near-surface soil or rock to
lower the intensity of the applied loads to levels tolerable for the foundation soils.

Allowable Bearing Capacity

When a load is transferred through a footing to the foundation soil/rock, the subsurface materials
experience settlement due to elastic (immediate) strains and long-term consolidation (elastic and/or
plastic deformation) of the ground. The footing will penetrate into the foundation soil/rock when the
intensity of applied loads is such that the load-carrying capacity of the foundation material is exceeded.
A foundation failure will occur when the footing penetrates excessively into the ground or experiences
excessive rotation (Figure 5-2). Excessive foundation movements such as penetration and rotation of the
foundation may cause structural damage or collapse. A failure caused by the vertical and lateral
displacement of foundation soils due to lack of sufficient strength is called a “bearing capacity failure.”
The load that develops this type of subsurface collapse is called the “ultimate bearing capacity” of the

Bearing Capacity Equation Formulation

Shear Strength

Shear strength is an internal resistance per unit area that the geomaterial can provide to resist
failure along a plane.

The static pile resistance from the sum of the soil/rock resistances along the pile shaft and
at the pile toe can be estimated from geotechnical engineering analysis using:
1. Laboratory determined shear strength parameters of the soil and rock surrounding the
2. In-situ test data (i.e., SPT, CPT).
3. Back analysis of geomaterial design parameters based on performance data.

Events During and After Pile Driving

Over the long term, scour, settlement, pore pressure fluctuations, seismic and other extreme
events may occur.

Cohesionless Soils

The resistance of piles driven into cohesionless soil depends primarily on the relative density of the
soil. During driving, the relative density of loose to medium dense cohesionless soil is increased
close to the pile due to vibrations and lateral displacement of soil. The increase in relative density
increases the resistance of single piles and pile groups.

The nominal resistance of a single pile is taken as the sum of shaft and toe resistances (𝑅𝑛=𝑅𝑠+𝑅𝑝).

The pile shaft resistance, 𝑅𝑠

pile toe resistance, 𝑅𝑝

7.2.2 Resistance of Pile Groups in Axial Compression

The previous sections dealt with design procedures for single piles. However piles for almost all
highway structures are installed in groups, due to the heavy foundation loads. The following
sections of this chapter will address foundation design procedures for evaluating the nominal
resistance in axial compression of pile groups.

The efficiency of a pile group in supporting the foundation load is defined as the ratio of the
nominal resistance of the group to the sum of the nominal resistance of the individual piles
comprising the group.

If piles are driven into relatively weak cohesive soil or in dense cohesionless material underlain by
weaker soil, then the nominal resistance in axial compression of a pile group may be less than that
of the sum of the nominal resistance in axial compression of the individual piles. In this case, the
pile group has a group efficiency of less than 1. In cohesionless soils, the nominal resistance in axial
compression of a pile group is generally greater than the sum of the nominal resistance in axial
compression of the individual piles comprising the group. In this case, the pile group has group
efficiency greater than 1.