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Dynamic behaviour of single piles under strong harmonic excitation


Fnculry of Engineering Scietfce, The Utliversity o f Wesrertl Otltario, Lot~rlotl,Otlf., C C I I I N C ~ ( ~5B9
Received October 15, 1987
Accepted March 17, 1988

Dynamic experiments were conducted on large-scale model piles in sand subjected to strong horizontal and vertical
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excitation. The theoretical response curves are calculated using DYNA2 and PILAY2 computer codes. and using also for the
vertical direction, the theory of nonlinear vibration. The theoretical curves are compared with the experimental results. The
dynamic behaviour of the pile is presented as frequency response curves for displacement, stiffness, dashpot constants, and
damping ratios. The influence of excitation intensity, repeated loading, and cap contact with soil on the dynamic behaviour of
single piles is investigated.
Key ~vorcls:dynamics, vibration, piles, foundations, nonlinear vibration, testing, deep foundations.

L'on a rCalisC des expCriences dynamiques sur des pieux rnodkles 2 grande Cchelle soumis B de fortes sollicitations
horizontales et verticales dans le sable. Les courbes des rkponscs thCoriques ont CtC calculCes au moyen des programmes
d'ordinateur DYNA2 et PILAY2 et en utilisant en plus, pour la direction verticale, la thCorie de vibration non IinCaire, et elles
ont it6 comparCes avec les risultats expirirnentaux. Le comportement dynamique du pieu est prksentd au moyen de courbes de
riponses pour le dkplacement, la rigidit6 et les constantes et rapports d'arnortissenient. L'on itudie ['influence, sur le
comportement de pieux simples, de I'intensitC de la sollicitation, et de la rCpCtition du chagenlent et du contact de capuchon
avec le sol.
Mots elks : dynan~ique,vibration, pieux, fondations, vibration non IinCaire, essais, fondations profondes.
For personal use only.

[Traduit par la revue]

Can. Geotech. 1. 25, 523-534 (1988)

Introduction due to Novak (1974) and Novak ef nl. (1978, 1981, 1983)
A number of solutions have been developed in the last 20 whose application is facilitated by an efficient computer pro-
years for dynamic analysis of single piles subjected to har- gramme, PILAY2 (Novak et 01. 198 1). The dynamic response
monic forces or moments. These solutions are based on dis- of the pile-supported foundation can be computed by a com-
crete models, continuum models, and finite element models. puter programme, DYNA2 (Novak et al. 1983), which incor-
However, they are usually formulated under the assumptions porates PILAY2.
that the soil behaviour is governed by the laws of linear elastic- Although there have been a large number of analytical
ity or viscoelsaticity and that the soil is perfectly bonded to the studies on the dynamic response, the published record of
piles. experimental data is rather scarce. Novak and Grigg (1976)
In fact, nonlinearity in the area with high strain levels and El-Sharnouby and Novak (1984) presented the results
and slippage, or even separation, in the contact area between obtained on small-scale pile groups. The dynamic response of
the soil and the piles often occur, especially for piles subjected vertically loaded small-scale piles was measured by Roesset
to strong excitation, as is the case for pile driving, offshore et al. (1986). Full-scale pile foundation field test results were
rigs, seismic environments, and other applications. A rigorous provided by Gle (198 1). A large-amplitude vertical vibration
approach to slippage and nonlinearity is extremely difficult and test of a full-scale group of piles was conducted by Blaney
therefore approximate theories have to be used. Lumped mass et al. (1987). Simulated earthquake loading tests were con-
models with nonlinear discrete springs, dashpots, and friction ducted by Finn and Gohl (1987) on a model pile foundation in
elements have been in use, particularly in the petroleum indus- sand. A few other experimental investigations are described in
try (see, e.g., Matlock et al. 1978). Although such models can Nogami (1987). Most of these dynamic tests of piles are lim-
reproduce strong nonlinear effects, it is difficult to relate the ited to small amplitudes of vibration or to small-scale piles.
properties of the discerte elements to standard geotechnical In this paper, dynamic experiments on large-scale model
parameters such as soil shear modulus and Poisson's ratio and piles with strong horizontal and vertical vibration are
to account for pile group effects. Another approximate described. The objective is to study the dynamic behaviour of
approach, which includes a weak cylindrical zone around the single piles under strong excitation and to determine whether
pile and is readily applicable to practice, was proposed by the basically linear theory can reproduce the behaviour of piles
Novak and Sheta (1980). In this approach, the stiffness -and under strong excitation if suitable adjustments of the input
damping of a single pile are computed on the basis of a method parameters are made. To this end, frequency response curves
and deflection curves of piles were experimentally established
'Presently at Faculty of Engineering Science, The University of in the field for different intensities of excitation and contact
Western Ontario, London, Ont., on leave from Institute of Engineer- conditions between the pile cap and the soil surface and were
ing Mechanics, Harbin, China. compared with those calculated using the computer pro-
524 CAN. GEOTECH. 1. VOL. 25, 1988

grammes DYNA2 and PILAY2. The influence of repeated

loading on dynamic behaviour of piles is investigated as well.
For vertical excitation, the nonlinear restoring force, effective
vibrating mass, and damping are also determined from the
measured response.

Before comparing the experimental results with the theory, it
may be useful to briefly expound on the assumptions used in
the theory and to introduce the soil and pile properties
employed in it. The main assumptions are that (1) the soil is
composed of independent horizontal layers that are linearly
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viscoelastic with material damping of the hysteretic type and

(2) the pile is divided into beam elements along with the soil 0 I I I
layers and the soil below the pile is an elastic half-space. 0 5 10 15
Soil stiffness for the horizontal and rocking directions is E
given by (Novak et al. 1978) FIG.1. Inverse value of sand Young's modulus vs. strain (1 psi =
6.895 kPa).
[ll Kus = G [ S " I ( ~ O , Y ,+
D )iSU2(ao,v,D)1

and the ratio Ep/G. The coupling impedances Ku4 and Cu4 are
in which G is the shear modulus of soil, a. is dinlensionless
similarly defined.
frequency (ao = Ro/Vs, where R is the pile radius, w is the cir-
With the stiffness and damping constants of the pile estab-
cular frequency, and I/, is the soil shear wave velocity), D =
lished, the response of a pile-supported footing to dynamic
tan 6 = 2/3 is the material damping (/3 = the material damping
ratio), v is the soils's Poisson's ratio, and i = m; finally,
loading can be predicted. This is done using the computer pro-
For personal use only.

gram DYNA2 allowing for the coupling between horizontal

S j l , Sj2 are the real and imaginary parts of the dimensionless
translation and rotation of the cap.
parameters, respectively. This approach to soil reactions is
obviously approximate but detailed con~parisonswith the finite
element solutions due to Kuhlemeyer (1976), Blaney et nl. Experimental setup
(1976), and others show that the approximate theery based on The field tests of the single pile subjected to strong harmonic
[ I ] and [2] gives very good results. The advantage of this excitation were conducted at the Institute of Engineering
approach is that nonhomogeneous soil profiles, that is, layer- Mechanics, Harbin, China, by Han et al. (1987).
ing, can be included, as well as the cylindrical weakened zone The pile was a steel pipe with a diameter of 133 mm and a
around the pile in which the soil properties differ from those of length of 3.38 m. The pile properties are given in Table 1. The
the outer region. The properties of both the weak zone (inner pile was first place in a pit approximately 3.6 m deep and 1.5 m
medium) and the outer region enter the soil stiffness expres- in diameter. The pile cap was a concrete block 200 mm thick,
sions. This makes it possible to account, in an approximate 770 mm long, and 690 mm wide with a mass of 250 kg. The
way, for the effects of soil nonlinearity, slippage, and lack of exciter was fixed on the cap; its mass was 120 kg. The centre
bond between the pile and soil that may lead to separation. The of gravity of the cap-exciter system was 3 mm below the cap
role of all these factors is quite essential, as will be seen. surface.
With harmonic motion, U(z,t) = U(z)efWr,the complete sol- The washed medium sand was then placed in the pit in
ution for the pile amplitude U(z) and pile impedances can be 200 mm lifts after the pile had been positioned in the centre of
obtained. From these, the stiffness and damping constants of the pit. The sand was compacted in place with a mechanical
the pile are, for the horizontal direction, vibrator. Density and water content measurements were taken
for each lift. In this way good contact between the pile and soil
was secured.
Soil properties that are basic in dynamic analysis are the bulk
for rotation, density and the shear wave velocity. Several types of static and
dynamic tests were run in the laboratory and in situ on the
washed medium sand and the undisturbed natural deposit
around the pit. The static tests included specific gravity, den-
sity, and water content, while the dynamic tests were triaxial
and for the vertical direction, and seismic crosshole tests. The samples of sand taken from
the pit were tested under dynamic triaxial conditions in the
laboratory. The Young's modulus variation with strain and
effective stress i~~ are shown in Fig. 1. At a dynamic strain of
In [3] - [5], V, is the shear wave velocity in the lowest layer of E = the shear modulus at the pile tip was G, =
soil at the pile tip; Ep is the Young's modulus of the pile, and I, 14.69 MPa. With the mass density of sand p, = 1700 kg/m3,
A are the pile's moment of inertia and cross-sectional area, the shear wave velocity was Vr = JG,/p, = 93 m/s.
respectively; dl,?are dimensionless functions depending pri- The density and water content of the medium sand were uni-
marily on the slenderness ratio e/R (where e is the pile length) form in every lift. The properties of the backfill soil are given

F.. Pi*'
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FIG.2. Properties of pile and soil used in analysis (1 psi = 6.895 kPa).

1. Pile properties (steel pipe) TABLE2. Properties of backfill soil
(medium sand)
Property Value
Property Value
For personal use only.

Outer diameter 133 mm

Inner diameter 121 mm Bulk density 16.7 kN/m3
Moment of inertia 4.84 x lo6 mm" Dry density 15.7 kN/m3
Area 2390 mm2 Void ratio 0.67
Length 3380 mm Moisture content 7%
Young's modulus 2.06 X lo5 MPa Shear wave velocity 93 m/s
Poisson's ratio 0.25 (at the tip of pile)
Damping rate 0.01
Specific weight 7.65 X N/mm3
An exciter with two counterrotating eccentric masses was
used to produce the harmonic excitation. The magnitude of the
in Table 2. It is assumed that the distribution of shear modulus exciting forces was changed by adjusting the angle of the
in sand is parabolic with depth. eccentric masses, 8. Several magnitudes of the exciting force
The soil profile around the pit was established from ground were selected in the experiment as shown in Table 4 (f in the
surface to a depth of 20 m. The soil is homogeneous sandy table is the frequency of the exciting force in hertz).
clay, with yellow and brown colouring. The shear wave veloc- In the experiments, two types of contact conditions between
ity of the undisturbed natural deposit was measured using seis- the pile cap and the soil surface were considered. In the first
mic crosshole tests. The properties of the natural deposit are case, the pile cap rested directly on the soil surface (connected
given in Table 3. situation) and two different excitation intensities were applied,
The shear wave velocity of the clay outside the pit is about 8 = 5 and 8" (the symbols 8 = 5, and 8, are used to identify
twice that of the sand backfill and therefore the effect of the this case later in the paper). In the second case, the pile cap
interface between the two soil media has to be assessed. To was situated 0.20 m above the soil surface (unconnected situa-
approximate this effect the PILAY2 programme was used to tion) and the excitation intensities were 8 = 5, 8, and 14".
evaluate the pile dynamic deflections for two cases: a horizon- Because of the nonlinearity of the soil-pile system, the
tally homogeneous medium comprising only the sand and a magnitude of exciting force and the sequence of loading would
composite medium comprising the inner zone of sand in the pit affect the dynamic characteristics of the system. The steady-
and the outer zone of clay. For low dimensionless frequencies state response of the pile to harmonic forces was measured
ao, typical of pile response, the differences in the deflections with increasing excitation intensities and different frequencies.
were quite small. However, it is possible that the geometric
damping of the piles tested was smaller than it would have
been in a horizontally homogenous medium. This question is Pile response under horizontal excitation
discussed in more detail in the last part of this paper. Experimental horizontal response
Displacement pickups, strain gauges, and compressive stress Using the equipment and technique described, response to
transducers were fixed along the pile shaft. Displacement and horizontal excitation was measured.
acceleration pickups were mounted on the pile cap. A diagram- Three frequency response curves obtained with 8 = 5, 8,
matic sketch of the pile and the arrangement of the instruments and 14" for the unconnected case are shown in Fig. 3 and
are shown in Fig. 2a. denoted by the angle 0 of the exciter. The horizontal displace-
526 C A N . GEOTECH. J. VOL. 2 5 , 1988

3. Properties of natural deposit (hon~ogeneoussandy clay)

Depth Unit weight Void rrltio Shear wave velocity

(m) (kN/m3) e (mls)

ments of the pile cap vary with frequency and indicate a sharp
resonance peak in all cases. The maximum displacement mea-
sured on top of the cap amounts to 2-3 mm, the maximum
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acceleration amounts to 0.8-0.9 g. For steady-state vibration

this represents very intense motion.
In a linear system the resonance peaks occur at one fre-
quency, no matter what the excitation intensity is. However,
Fig. 3 shows that with increasing excitation intensity, the mea-
sured resonance peak shifts from about 7.6 to about 4.7 Hz.
This indicates a reduction of stiffness-proportional to f2-to
almost one-third of the highest value associated with the lowest w

0 5 10 15
excitation intensity. Also, the vibration amplitudes are not pro- Frequency ( Hz )
portional to excitation intensity at all frequencies. These are
typical features of nonlinear vibrations. However, the inidvid- FIG.3. Theoretical and experimental horizontal response of pile cap
ual response curves observed intersect each other and are not for different excitation intensities (pile cap separated from soil).
centred around a joint backbone curve, Q, as is inherent to a
system whose properties are defined by one nonlinear charac- TABLE4. Magnitude of horizontal exciting force (frequency f
For personal use only.

teristic of the restoring force and one nonlinear characteristic in Hz)

of nonlinear damping. An example of such theoretical response
curve is shown in Fig. 4. This response curve was calculated Angle of eccentric
for one softening characteristic of the restoring force and non- masses, 0 (deg) 5 8 14 28
linear damping proportional to the nth power of vibration Exciting force (N) 2.39 f' 3.79f' 6.75f' 10.23f"
velocity with n < 1, that is, with damping decreasing with
vibration amplitudes, using the technique described in Novak
(1971). Such nonlinear characteristics of the restoring force
and damping are, in general, indicated by Fig. 3. The ampli- ferent excitation intensities, the soil properties in the weakened
tude increments grow with excitation intensity, and are com- zone and at the top of the sand backfill are adjusted so that the
parable to the amplitude increments of the theoretical system theoretical response curves approach the measured data. The
(Fig. 4) at the frequency of the linear system, wo. The presence characteristics of the pile and soil used in the calculations are
of the response curve intersections in Fig. 3 and their absence given in Fig. 2. The material damping of the weak zone is of
in Fig. 4 suggest that the restoring forces of the real system do less importance than the thickness of the weak zone and its
not follow one nonlinear characteristic. Rather, it seems that shear modulus. The comparison of experimental results with
with increasing excitation intensity the restoring force charac- theoretical response curves is shown in Figs. 3 and 5 . The fit
teristic stabilizes after many cycles of load application and to a achieved is quite good.
high degree linearizes within a range of peak amplitudes, A ; From Fig. 2, it can be seen that the soil properties in the
with a further increase in excitation intensity the restoring weakened zone and at the top of the backfill varied with the
force again stabilizes but on a lower level of stiffness. These intensity of excitation and the change of the contact condition
notions are further supported by observations made with hori- between the pile cap and the soil surface. As the excitation
zontal repeated loading and by the analysis of the vertical intensity increases, the shear modulus ratio, G,,/G, is reduced,
response later herein. The features of the response observed whereas the thickness ratio, t,/R, and the material damping are
increased (G, and t,, are the shear modulus and thickness of
suggest that a linear theory might reproduce the main nonlinear
features of the steady-state response if the input parameters are the weak zone, respectively). For the connected situation (6 =
suitably adjusted. This possibility is explored in the next para- 5, and 8,), the soil shear modulus at the top of the backfill is
graphs. reduced with the increase in the excitation intensity. When the
connected situation changes to the unconnected situation (from
Comparison of e+xperirnental horizorztal response with theo- 6 = 8, to 6 = 8), G,/G decreases, t,/R increases, and material
retical predictions damping increases.
The theoretical response curves are calculated using the code Using the ratio G,,/G = 0 in the topmost layer, the separa-
DYNA2. The weak zone around the pile and free pile length tion between the pile and the soil is accounted for. For the
available in this code give the analysis considerable versatility. unconnected situation, the separation was caused by strong
The shear modulus distribution of the sand backfill is excitation. The depth of the anticipated separation, eo, ranges
assumed to be parabolic along the pile, which is consistent from 6.8d for 6 = 8" to 9.8d for 6 = 14", where d is pile
with the effect of confining pressure apparent in Fig. 1, and the diameter.
soil below the pile tip is assumed to be homogeneous. For dif- From Figs. 3 and 5 it can be seen that as the excitation inten-
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FIG. 4. Theoretical response curves of a system with nonlinear

restoring force and nonlinear damping (11 < 1) for increasing excita-
tion intensity ( p = excitation moment/mass = m,e/n2).

0 0
0 5 10 15 20 25
Frequency ( H z )
For personal use only.

FIG. 6. Pile horizontal stiffness and damping coefficient.

be applied with caution because the sand under the cap may
settle more than the piles, particularly with end bearing piles.
Unconnected Connected For embedded caps the soil reactions acting on the vertical
sides can generate a significant amount of damping and be
Measured Data quite beneficial.
Pile stifjizess arzd damping
The theoretical stiffness and damping coefficients of the pile
for the horizontal and rocking directions are shown in Figs. 6
and 7 , respectively. The subscript u indicates horizontal
translation while C$ stands for pile head rotation (rocking). The
stiffness is almost frequency independent, as would be
expected, because of low dimensionless frequencies the pile
dynamic stiffness is known to be close to the static one.
Figures 6 and 7 also show the pile damping coefficients. These
rapidly increase as frequency decreases. This is primarily due
to the conversion of frequency-independent soil material
damping to equivalent viscous damping coefficient c = 2610-1.
To provide a dimensionless measure of pile damping, the
damping ratios can be evaluated from the stiffness and damp-
Frequency ( Hz 1 ing coefficients as cwl(2k). These damping ratios are shown in
FIG. 5. Theoretical and experimental response curves with different Figs. 8 and 9. The damping ratios increase with frequency but
excitation intensity and contact between cap and soil (horizontal exci- the rate of increase is lowest for the strongest excitation. It can
tation). also be seen from Figs. 6-9 that the damping coefficients and
damping ratio mostly decrease with excitation intensity and
thus with vibration amplitudes for frequencies higher than the
sity increases, from 8 = 5 " to 8 = 14", the resonant frequency
lowest resonance frequency observed (4.7 Hz). This is further
of the pile decreases and the resonant displacement increases.
illustrated by Table 5. In soils, an increase in damping with
Meanwhile, for the same magnitude of exciting forces, the
strain is usually assumed. This apparent discrepancy suggests a
resonant frequency of the unconnected situation is markedly
growth in pile separation with vibration amplitudes and the
lower than that of the connected situation and its resonant dis-
weakening of the soil around the pile, as reflected in the
placement is larger than that of the connected situation. Appar-
necessary reduction in the shear modulus in the weak zone.
ently, for the single pile tested, the cap contributed to the
stiffness and damping of the pile, as was also found by Novak Pile deflections
and Grigg (1976); however, in practice this observation should The measured deflections of the pile varied with frequency
528 CAN. GEOTECH. J . VOL. 25. 1988
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0 5 10 15 20 25"
Frequency ( Hz
FIG.7. Pile rocking stiffness and damping coefficient.
0 5 10 15 20 25
5. Damping parameters of the pile
Frequency ( H z 1
Excitation test FIG.8. Pile horizontal damping ratio.
Parameter B=5, B=8, B=8 0=14
Resonance frequency (Hz) 12.2 8.5 5.6 4.7
Damping ratio
Horizontal, D,, 0.163 0.1 I0 0.090 0.090
For personal use only.

Rocking, D,> 0.080 0.070 0.063 0.060

and excitation intensity. A comparison of the measured data

with the theoretical curves calculated by the PILAY2 code is
shown in Figs. 10 and 1 1 for I9 = 8 and 14", respectively. The
theoretical characteristics of the pile and soil used in the
PILAY2 code are the same as those used in the response analy- I I I I
sis. It can be seen that the measured data agree well with the 0 5 10 15 20 25
theoretical deflection curves. FREQUENCY ( Hz 1
Comparing the dynamic deflection with the static deflection
of the pile, it appears that the effective pile length is about FIG.9. Pile rocking damping ratio
13.5d under strong horizontal excitation, and about 11.0d for
static loading. That is, the effective pile length for dynamic
well. The reduction in theoretical stiffness and damping with
loading is slightly longer than that for static loading, although
load repetition can be seen from Table 6. Because of the
the horizontal displacements along the pile length caused by
loosening of soil around the pile, soil nonlinearity, and pos-
dynamic loading may be larger than those due to static loading.
sibly slippage under the pile cap, the pile stiffness is reduced in
Effect of repeated loading the connected condition also.
The soil around the pile softens and separates under repeated The difficulty with the inclusion of the weak zone in the
loading. Accordingly, the stiffness, damping, and dynamic analysis is that its parameters are difficult to assess before-
response of the pile varies with repeated loading. To obtain hand. Thus the question arises of whether a correction for pile
data on these effects, dynamic experiments on a single pile separation in the form of a pile free length would not be suffi-
under repeated loading were also conducted. Another pile was cient to account for the reduction in pile stiffness and damping
embedded in another sand pit, with the properties of the pile observed in the experiments. The need for a free length was
and soil, as well as the test conditions, being the same as already observed by other investigators, for example, Novak
before. The contact condition between the pile cap and the soil and Aboul-Ella (1978a), Novak and El-Sharnouby (1984), and
surface was of the two types, that is, connected and uncon- Roesset et al. (1986).
nected. For each case, the pile was excited three times, from For the unconnected cap, the theoretical separation between
low to high frequency, with the excitation intensity kept the the pile and soil is eo = 3.8d for the first excitation, eo = 5.3d
same in all runs. The comparison of measured data with theo- for the second, and eo = 6.8d for the third. The separation
retical response curves for the connected and unconnected lengths required in the analysis to provide a good fit with the
cases is shown in Figs. 12 and 13, respectively. The measured experimental data for the different resonant amplitudes mea-
resonance peaks shift to lower frequencies and become sharper sured are plotted in Fig. 14. Analyses both with and without
with loading repetition, indicating reduction in both stiffness the weak zone were employed and gave satisfactory results,
and damping. With judicious choice of input data, the theoret- although the weak zone allows finer tuning. The separation
ical response curves agree with the experimental results quite lengths needed increase with displacement amplitude and are

0 ' 9'-' - I
/ -
0 '0
/ /
- o/
0 - /O
a3 C - /
I - - - Calculation I

o Measurement
w -
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FIG. 10. Comparison of theoretical curves and measured deflections along pile shaft (excitation 0 = 14).

0 0.5 1.0 1.5mm 0 0.25 0.5


' ' f7
For personal use only.

- - - Calculation
0 Measurement

f = 6Hz
(Fx = 136 IN
f = 8Hz
(Fx = 2 4 2 N )
FIG. 11. Comparison of theoretical and measured deflections along pile shaft (excitation 6 = 8).

greater if no weak zone is considered. 'The maximum separa- than it was under horizontal excitation.
tion is about 10 pile diameters. The separation is given in terms In the case of vertical excitation, the nonlinear features of
of diameter but: in general, the absolute depth must be a basic the measured response curves can be studied more easily
parameter because it controls the confining pressure. With the because this response can be treated in one degree of freedom
pile diameter of 133 mm the maximum separation length was (S. D.O.F.) and is, therefore, quite amenable to nonlinear
thus 1.33 m. analysis. Such analysis is employed in the next section.
Pile separation was indicated in full-scale offshore towers
Evaluation of the vertical response
where it was observed that piles loosen up during a storm,
Nonlinear S. D. 0.F. analysis
lowering the tower fundamental frequency for a period of time,
To identify the parameters of the soil -pile system from the
but recover the stiffness during a subsequent period of calm.
measured response displaying nonlinear features, the inverse
Pile response under vertical excitation problem of nonlinear vibration has to be approached. This
means that the system mass, stiffness, and damping have to be
Experimental vertical response established from the experimental response. To this end, the
After the testing of the pile under horizontal excitation, ver- methodology formulated in Novak (1971) is employed. This
tical excitation was applied, with all the other experimental procedure assumes that system stiffness is independent of fre-
conditions remaining the same. quency; this is also usually assumed for slender piles in
The excitation intensity was increased stepwise and three medium soil in practical applications.
frequency response curves, shown in Fig. 15, were obtained. Assuming that the restoring force is nonlinear but the damp-
Sharp intersecting resonance peaks are indicated like the ones ing force is linear (viscous), the backbone curve, which
shown in Fig. 5. The maximum displacement measured on the defines the undamped natural frequencies a,can be deter-
top of the cap is about 1.4 mm and the maximum acceleration mined to a given response curve using the simple relation
reaches about 1.3 g. Markedly nonlinear features are again (Novak 1971)
manifested particularly by the drop in the resonant frequency
with the increase in excitation intensity (O), but this drop is less
530 CAN. GEOTECH. J . VOL. 25, 1988

Measured Data
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Max. Amplitude,
Pile Diameter x
0 5 10 15
Frequency ( Hz FIG. 14. Theoretical pile separation vs. dimensionless anlplitude.

FIG. 12. Theoretical and experimental response curves for repeated

loading (0 = 5 , cap separated). types: A truly nonlinear characteristic that is followed for all
amplitudes A and a characteristic, F(A), that is nonlinear but
for every steady-state amplitude A linearizes to give the equiv-
Fx e i a t alent linear stiffness depending on amplitude A , that is,
0.7 -1-
For personal use only.

The latter assumption appears more suitable and is adopted

here. Then, for a restoring force expressed by a power series
[8] F ( A ) = k l + k 3 A 3 + k 5 A 5 + . . . +k,,A"
where ki are constants, the amplitude-dependent natural fre-
quency is given by

/ I Measured Data in which m is the system effective mass.

The effective mass and damping can be calculated exploiting
the geometric properties of the response curves (Novak 1971).
The mass and damping found are given in Table 7. The value
of the effective mass, m , is much greater than the total mass of
the pile, cap, and exciter, M. The apparent additional mass can
be expressed in terms of the coefficient
Frequency ( H z )
ill - M
FIG. 13. Theoretical and experimental response curves for repeated [ lo] { = ------
loading (0 = 5,, cap in contact with soil). M
which is also given in Table 7. The additional mass is very
In [6], ol and w2 are the frequencies corresponding to the substantial and decreases with increasing excitation intensity,
points of intersection between the response curve and a line suggesting that partial separation of the pile from soil might
passing through the origin of coordinates (Fig. 15). Intersect- have occurred with higher excitation intensity. It seems that
ing the response curve by a trace of such lines, the backbone the apparent mass increase results from the assumption that
curve a(A) can be constructed to each response curve. These pile stiffness is constant, that is, frequency independent. In the
backbone curves are plotted in Fig. 15. It can be seen that each continuum approaches, such as those of Novak (1974) and
response curve has its own backbone curve, unlike the theoret- Novak et al. (1981), no additional mass is needed because soil
ical response curves shown in Fig. 4. This indicates that the mass is automatically accounted for, making the pile stiffness
stiffness characteristic of the system varies with the overall frequency dependent. This effect can be quite strong, particu-
level of vibration intensity rather than being unique. This is larly for stiff piles vibrating vertically and will be demon-
confirmed by establishing the stiffness characteristics corre- strated in the last part of this paper.
sponding to the individual backbone curves. With the mass pertinent to each response curve the restoring
The stiffness characteristic can be assumed to be of two force characteristic follows from [7] and [9] as
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0 10 20 30
Frequency ( Hz
For personal use only.

FIG. 15. Vertical pile response measured and back-calculated for three levels of excitation intensity (w = 2af).

For the three response curves shown in Fig. 15 the correspond-

ing restoring force characteristics, calculated by [ l l ] , are
plotted in Fig. 16. A few observations emerge: each response
curve has its own characteristic, the overall stiffness markedly
decreases with increasing excitation intensity (8) but the non-
linearity of individual characteristics is much less pronounced
than the overall nonlinearity of the whole set of the response
curves. The latter observation is consistent with those made
with regard to the horizontal response and supports the
assumption of linearization implied in [7].
The damping ratio derived from the response curves is also
given in Table 7. The damping found is much smaller than
what would be expected for a lightly loaded fully embedded
pile and increases with excitation intensity. Under horizontal
excitation, the damping decreased with increasing amplitudes.
This indicates that the separation effect is somewhat less
severe in the vertical vibration than it is in the horizontal vibra-
tion and that slippage generating friction may contribute to the
increase in the vertical damping. 0
With the soil-pile system mass, damping, and restoring 0 0.5 1 .O 1.5
force characteristic derived, the nonlinear response curves Vertical Displacement ( rnrn 1
were back-calculated using the nonlinear theory (Novak 1971) FIG. 16. Pile restoring force characteristics vs. pile head displace-
and are plotted as solid lines in Fig. 15. The theoretical non- ments corresponding to response curves from Fig. 15.
linear response curves agree with the measured ones very well.
Thus, a very good theoretical prediction can be made assuming
a nonlinear restoring force characteristic and a linear, viscous of soil-pile interaction analysis and the properties of soil as
damping whose constant depends on the peak amplitude. well as the pile. This analysis was conducted using the code
DYNA2 (Novak et al. 1983), which incorporates the code
Linear soil -pile itzteractiotz analysis PILAY2. This interaction analysis confirms that extensive pile
The theoretical response curves shown in Fig. 15 were back- separation must have occurred. This can be seen from Fig. 17
calculated using the S.D.O.F. data derived from the experi- in which the large amplitude experimental response is com-
ments. Another task is to predict the pile response on the basis pared with the theoretical one calculated using DYNA2. When
532 CAN. GEOTECH. J . VOL. 25. 1988

6. Dynamic parameters of pile under repeated loading

Parameter Connected Unconnected
Order of excitation 1st 2nd 3rd I st 2nd 3rd
Resonance frequency (Hz) 13.8 12.6 12.2 7.6 6.5 5.7
Horizontal, K, (kN/mm) 7.43 6.50 5.89 3.04 2.15 1.78
Rocking, Kd ( 2.75 x 1 0 v . 6 4 x loh 2.59 x 1 0 N . 2 9 x loh 2.08 x lo6 1.96 x lo6
Damping ratio
Horizontal, D,,
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Rocking, D,

7. Nonlinear vibrational parameters of single pile in vertical direction

Effective mass
Mass coefficient Damping ratio k
Exciting force Mass 171 (kg) < P (kN/mm)
0 = 8" 1730 3.01 0.042 23.9
6 = 14" 1350 2.05 0.060 15.7
0 = 28" 993 1.24 0.075 7.39
For personal use only.

0 Measured
Real Mass = 433 kg
Separation != 1.8rn
Weak Zone G m / G = 0.1
1.0- \ Dm=0.25tm/R=2.0
0 0
n 0
- O 0
0.5 - o

0 Calculated i-
No Separation
Gm/G = 0.5
0-5 10 15 -,!La-
2 25
Frequency ( Hz
FIG. 17. Experimental pile response in vertical vibration vs. theoretical prediction calculated using DYNA2 (0 = 28).

no separation is assumed (curve A) the theoretical response is frequency range. Additional data on the vertical response
heavily damped and the stiffness is very high, bringing the analysis can be found in Han and Novak (1988).
resonance peak beyond the experimental frequency range. A
large separation of 1.80 m, a weakened zone around the pile,
and a true mass of the system yielded curve B and a reasonable Effect of limited size of test pit
agreement with the measured data. The discrepancy in the Finally, it is of interest to examine the effect of the limited
descendent branches of the response curves is due to the linear extent of the pit in which the tests were conducted. The pit was
theory employed in this case, which cannot give a perfect filled with sand whose properties differed from those of the
agreement with the actual nonlinear response over the whole surrounding soil. Consequently, an interface occurs between
Can. Geotech. J. Downloaded from by Duke University on 07/18/13

0 100 200 300
FIG.20. Pile damping parameter fw2for different test pit dimensions
FIG. 18. Notations and geometry for pile in test pit. (Gm/G = 0.25, Dm = D = 0.10, p, = p , v = 0.4).

are shown in Fig. 18. The subscript m denotes the soil in

For personal use only.

the pit.
The dimensionless stiffness and damping parametersfwl and
fw2 defined by [5] are plotted in Figs. 19 and 20. The results
are shown for three pit dimensions characterized by the ratio of
the zone thickness, t,, to pile radius, R, and the actual soil
properties of the site. Shown as solid lines for comparison are
the pile parameters corresponding to homogeneous soil
medium, that is, t, - co. The site t,/R ratio is close to 10.
The presence of the interface can be seen to have only a small
effect on pile stiffness (Fig. 19) but has a profound effect on
radiation damping. At low frequencies the damping is slightly
increased but at higher frequencies it is dramatically decreased
compared with that of the horizontally homogeneous medium.
This effect of the interface on pile damping is marked but is
much less significant than pile separation, as the response
curves plotted in Fig. 17 demonstrate.
The strong variation in the stiffness parameter fwl with fre-
quency (Fig. 19) is also of interest. It is close to parabolic and
can be interpreted as k,, - where k,, is the pile static stiff-
0 100 200 300 ness and p is the effective mass. Because the pile stiffness, like
FREQUENCY 0 = 2 7T f k,,, is assumed to be frequency independent in the S.D.O.F.
nonlinear analysis, the frequency variation of the actual stiff-
FIG. 19.Pile stiffness parameter f,, for different test pit dimensions ness calls for the inertia term, ~ w " and hence for additional
(Gn,/G=0.25,Dm = D = O.lO,pm = p, v = 0.4).
mass as found in Table 7.

the two media from which waves may reflect back into the pit, Conclusions
complicating the wave pattern within the pit and creating what Dynamic experiments with large-scale model piles subjected
is known in analysis as the "box effect." To examine this to strong harmonic excitation in the field were conducted. The
effect, the vertical pile stiffness and damping were reanalyzed measured response curves are compared with the theoretical
using the theory of Novak and Sheta (1980) in which an annu- curves calculated using DYNA2 and PILAY2 codes. The com-
lar zone is allowed for around the pile with soil properties dif- parison suggests the following conclusions:
ferent from those of the outer soil. Because of the large extent 1. Pile response at large amplitudes exhibits typical nonlinear
of the pit the mass of the inner zone (sand) was accounted for, features.
whereas it is neglected in PILAY2. (A similar analysis was 2. Consideration of a weakened zone around the pile and pile
presented by Lakshmanan and Minai (1981) and Veletsos and separation is necessary for piles subjected to strong vibration.
Dotson (1986).) The geometry and notations for this analysis 3. Good agreement can be achieved between the experimental
534 CAN. GEOTECH. J . VOL. 25. 1988

and theoretical response curves when the characteristics of soil KUHLEMEYER, R. L. 1976. Static and dynamic laterally loaded piles.
are suitably chosen, without resort to truly nonlinear analysis. Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Calgary,
The excitation intensity and contact conditions between the Calgary, Alta., Research Report CE76-9, p. 48.
pile and soil and between the cap and soil change the stiffness LAKSHMANAN, N., and MINAI,R. 1981. Dynamic soil reactions in
and damping of piles. radially nonhomogeneous soil media. Disaster Prevention Research
Institute, Kyoto University, Bulletin 31, pp. 79- 114.
4. Under repeated loading, the stiffness and damping of single
MATLOCK, H., FOO,H. C., and BRYANT, L. M. 1978. Simulation of
piles decrease, so that the resonant frequency decreases and lateral pile behavior under earthquake motion. Proceedings, ASCE
resonant displacement increases. Specialty Conference on Earthquake Engineering and Soil
5. The weak zone around the pile considered in the computer Dynamics, Pasadena, CA, Vol. 11, pp. 600-619.
codes yields lower damping of the pile-soil system than that NOGAMI, T., editor. 1987. Dynamic response of pile foundations-
evaluated without a weak zone. T h e damping values calculated experiment, analysis and observation. In Dynamic response
in this way are closer to the experimental results. of pile foundations. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication 11,
6. Under dynamic horizontal deflections the effective pile p. 186.
Can. Geotech. J. Downloaded from by Duke University on 07/18/13

length is slightly longer than it is under static loading. NOVAK,M. 1971. Data reduction from nonlinear response curves.
7. Dynamic experiments conducted in a test pit may be affected ASCE Journal of the Engineering Mechanics Division, 97(EM4):
by wave reflections from the interface between the soil in the 1974. Dynamic stiffness and damping of piles. Canadian
pit and the soil outside it. Damping of the test body can be Geotechnical Journal, 11: 574 -598.
more affected than its stiffness. NOVAK,M., and ABOUL-ELLA, F. 1978n. Impedance functions for
8. Further research is needed to develop criteria for pile separa- piles embedded in layered media. ASCE Journal of Engineering
tion prediction and pile nonlinear dynamic analysis. Mechanics, 104(EM3): 643 -661.
1978b. Stiffness and damping of piles in layered media. Pro-
Acknowledgements ceedings of the ASCE Specialty Conference on Earthquake Engi-
neering and Soil Dynamics, Pasadena, CA, Vol. 11, pp. 704-719.
The experiments were done in China and the theoretical NOVAK,M. and EL-SHAKNOUBY, B. 1984. Evaluation of dynamic
analysis was done at T h e University of Western Ontario, experiments on pile group. ASCE Journal of Geotechnical Engi-
London, Canada. The first author would like to express his neering, 110: 738-750.
appreciation to Canadian International Development Agency - NOVAK,M., and GRIGG,R. F. 1976. Dynamic experiments with
For personal use only.

WUSC China Programme for the support that made his stay at small pile foundations. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 13:
The University of Western Ontario possible. 372 - 385.
NOVAK, M., and SHETA,M. 1980. Approximate approach to contact
BLANEY, G. W., KAUSEL, E., and ROESSET, J. M. 1976. Dynamic effects of piles. Proceedings, Dynamic Response of Pile Founda-
stiffness of piles. 2nd International Conference on Numerical tions: Analytical Aspects, ASCE, Florida, pp. 53-79.
Methods in Geomechanics, ASCE, New York, pp. 1001 - 1009. NOVAK, M., NOGAMI, T., and ABOUL-ELLA, F. 1978. Dynamic soil
BLANEY, G. W., MUSTER, G. L., and O'NEILL,M. W. 1987. Verti- reactions for plane strain case. ASCE Journal of Engineering
cal vibration test of a full-scale pile group. It1 Dynamic response of Mechanics, 104(EM4): 953 -959.
pile foundations. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication 1I , pp. NOVAK,M., ABOUL-ELLA, F., and SHETA,M. 1981. PILAY2, a
149- 165. computer program for calculation of stiffness and damping of piles
EL-SHARNOUBY, B., and NOVAK,M. 1984. Dynamic experiments in layered media. Systems Analysis Control and Design Activity,
with a group of piles. ASCE Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Science, University of Western Ontario,
110: 719-737. London, Ont.
FINN,W. D., and GOHL,B. 1987. Centrifuge model studies of piles NOVAK, M., SHETA,M . , EL-SHARNOUBY, B., and EL-HIFNAWY, L.
under simulated earthquake later loading. In Dynamic response of 1983. DYNA, a computer program for calculation of response of
pile foundations. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication 11, pp. rigid foundation to dynamic loads. Systems Analysis Control and
21 -38. Design Activity, Faculty of Engineering Science, University of
GLE, D. R. 1981. The dynamic lateral response of deep foundation. Western Ontario, London, Ont.
Ph.D. thesis, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. ROESSET, J. M., STOKOE, K. H., BAKA,J. E., and KWOK,S. T. 1986.
HAN,Y. C., and NOVAK,M. 1988. Nonlinear vibration of single pile Dynamic response of vertically loaded small-scale piles in sand.
under vertical harmonic excitation. Proceedings of the 3rd Interna- Proceedings of the 8th European Conference on Earthquake Engi-
tional Conference on the Application of Stress-Wave 'Theory to neering, Lisbon, Vol. 2, pp. 5.6165-5.6172,
Piles, Ottawa, Vol. 1. VELETSOS, A. S., and DOTSON,K. W. 1986. Impedance of soil layer
HAN,Y. C., SHOU,P. X., and LIU,D. 1987. Research in vibration with disturbed boundary zone. ASCE Journal of Geotechnical
tests of single piles. Journal of the Mechanics of Soil and Rock. Engineering, 112: 363-368.
(To be published in Chinese.)