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Behavior of Axially Loaded Pile Groups Driven in Clayey Silt

Article  in  Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering · March 2006

DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)1090-0241(2006)132:3(401)

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2 authors:

Bryan A. McCabe Barry Michael Lehane

National University of Ireland, Galway University of Western Australia


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Behavior of Axially Loaded Pile Groups Driven in Clayey Silt
B. A. McCabe1 and B. M. Lehane2

Abstract: This paper presents a case history describing measurements made during the installation and load testing of groups of five,
closely spaced, precast concrete piles in a soft clay-silt. The test results extend the presently limited set of reported high-quality data for
pile groups at field scale and allow assessment of the reliability of existing numerical and analytical predictive approaches. Full scale
maintained compression and tension load tests on groups as well as tests on single 共reference兲 piles and an individual test on a pile within
a pile group enable the effects of multiple pile installations and interaction between piles under load to be assessed. The results are
compared with existing simple methods of pile group analysis and with other case histories reporting results on small pile groups. A
simple expression to evaluate pile group stiffness efficiency is proposed.
DOI: 10.1061/共ASCE兲1090-0241共2006兲132:3共401兲
CE Database subject headings: Pile groups; Static loads; Load tests; Stiffness; Driven piles; Axial loads.

Introduction lateral total stress changes on a group pile during and after instal-
lation. The load test data reported allow investigation of the
The process of installation of displacement piles is well known to influence of the loading magnitude and direction 共tension or com-
cause substantial changes to the in situ effective stress regime, pression兲 on the pile group response and on the effects of soil
which subsequently undergoes further significant changes as pore disturbance on interaction between piles. The field results are
pressures dissipate and total stresses equalize, e.g., Whittle and compared with other reported full scale tests on pile groups and
Baligh 共1988兲; Lehane and Jardine 共1994兲. The stress regime after with the pile group stiffnesses calculated using conventional
methods of pile group analysis.
equalization, which controls the long term pile performance, is
difficult to estimate with any degree of certainty because of its
dependence on a large variety of clay properties as well as on the
pile type and pile installation procedure 共Jardine et al. 1998兲. The Soil Conditions at Test Site
stress state surrounding a displacement pile group is even more
The program of pile tests was performed at a site on the shores
difficult to quantify due to additional changes that take place dur-
of Belfast Lough 共10 km north-east of Belfast city center兲 in
ing installation of closely spaced piles. Furthermore, the response
Northern Ireland. The general ground properties at the site are
of a pile group during loading is also influenced significantly by
described in more detail by Lehane 共2003兲 and are summarized in
the degree of interaction between piles of shear stresses acting on
Fig. 1; this figure includes profiles of water contents and Atter-
their shafts and normal stresses at their bases. berg limits 共w, w p, and wL兲, cone penetration test end resistance
There is, however, a dearth of available field data for displace- 共qc兲, in situ peak vane strength 共su vane兲, seismic cone shear wave
ment pile groups in clay to assist understanding of the relative velocities 共Vs兲, and cone pressuremeter limit pressures 共plim兲. The
importance of the range of factors that affect their performance. 6-m-long test piles employed were embedded primarily in a layer
This data shortage, coupled with the insights provided to single of soft, estuarine, lightly overconsolidated, organic clay-silt that
pile behavior by well controlled instrumented pile tests 共e.g., see extended from a depth of 1.7 to about 9 m. The stratigraphy close
Randolph 2003兲, prompted the program of full scale pile group to ground level comprised 1 m of top soil interbedded with gravel
load tests described in this paper. Results obtained during and fill overlying 0.7 m of medium dense fine organic silty sand. The
subsequent to the installation of three pile groups and correspond- groundwater level varied with both season and tides within the
ing single 共reference兲 piles are presented. These include measure- range 1.0 to 1.5 m below ground level. Average properties for the
ments of pore pressures in the soil in the vicinity of a group and estuarine clay-silt are summarized in Table 1.
Consolidated undrained triaxial tests on 54-mm-diameter thin-
1 walled piston samples of the in situ material incorporated a pre-
Lecturer, Dept. of Civil Engineering, National Univ. of Ireland,
Galway, Ireland; formerly, PhD Student, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. scribed anisotropic consolidation and swelling path. Observed
Associate Professor, School of Civil and Resource Engineering, undrained stress paths were typical of a lightly overconsolidated
Univ. of Western Australia; formerly, Senior Lecturer, Trinity College, clay and indicated peak undrained strength ratios 共sutc / ␴⬘v兲 of
Dublin, Ireland. ⬇0.4 at a low axial strain level 共⬇0.5% 兲. The shear stiffness
Note. Discussion open until August 1, 2006. Separate discussions measured in these tests showed a characteristic strong reduction
must be submitted for individual papers. To extend the closing date by
with increase in strain level above 0.001%. Further characteristics
one month, a written request must be filed with the ASCE Managing
Editor. The manuscript for this paper was submitted for review and pos- of the clay-silt relevant to the interpretation of the pile tests are
sible publication on July 1, 2004; approved on April 22, 2005. This paper summarized as follows:
is part of the Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineer- 1. Laboratory oedometer tests and piezocone dissipation tests
ing, Vol. 132, No. 3, March 1, 2006. ©ASCE, ISSN 1090-0241/2006/3- indicated that, despite the high silt content of the material, its
401–410/$25.00. clay fraction is sufficiently influential to lead to permeabili-


Fig. 1. General classification and in situ data

ties and coefficients of consolidation that are more typical of Table 1. Average Soil Properties between 1.7 and 6.5 m
a clay than a silt. Property Value
2. The high organic content is responsible for the high plasticity Clay fraction 共primarily illite and chlorite兲 20± 10%
index of 35± 5% 共for a material with constant volume fric-
Fines content 90± 5%
tion angle ␾⬘cv = 33°兲, and reduces to ⬇20% upon removal of
Organic content 11± 1%
the organics. This reduced plasticity, according to Hight et al.
Plasticity index 35± 5%
共1992兲, provides a better indication of the mechanical char-
Water content 60± 10%
acteristics of the material.
Liquidity index 0.8± 0.1
3. ⬘ 兲 varies from ⬇30°
The material’s residual friction angle 共␾res
Vertical yield stress 55± 5 kPa
at shallow depths to between 19 and 25° below 3 m. These
Yield stress ratio 共YSR ⬅ OCR兲 1.1 to 2
⬘ values are likely to be closely comparable to the inter-
Peak vane strength 22± 2 kPa
face friction angles between the material and the 共rough兲
Friction angle in triaxial compression 33.5± 2°
concrete piles 共Ramsey et al. 1998兲.


piles subjected to tension, these cells were fixed to the pile head
by means of a nut screwed onto a 1-m-long high strength steel bar
that had been grouted into the top of each pile after driving. Plates
were bolted to the top of all loads cells on group piles and then
welded to a prefabricated steel cap. The steel cap comprised two
orthogonal layers of six 152-mm-high steel I sections between
1.8-m-square, 10-mm-thick steel plates.
The setup employed for tension testing of a pile group is
shown in Fig. 3. Vertical reaction was provided by slip-coated
driven precast concrete piles founded on the medium dense sand
layer at ⬇9 m depth. Concrete pile caps linked the reaction piles
on each side of the test group and these were cast in situ on a
50-mm-thick layer of polystyrene to avoid any possibility of load
transfer to the ground via these caps. A conventional kentledge
Fig. 2. Plan view of pile cap arrangement arrangement was employed for group compression testing.
The load was applied to the cap at the two locations shown in
Fig. 2, with direct use of two jacks for the compression tests,
Experimental Setup and Procedures while using an arrangement with high strength steel bars extend-
ing from the base of the cap to jacks sitting on the reaction beam
The experimental program, which was carried out in stages be- for the tension test 共see Fig. 3兲. Load cells in parallel with the
tween 1997 and 2000, included the installation and static load jacks provided a check on the total applied load inferred from a
testing of three pile groups and two single reference piles. All summation of the loads from the five individual pile head load
piles employed were 250 mm square precast concrete sections cells. Displacement transducers mounted on each pile combined
and were installed with very light driving to reach their final with the pile head load cells enabled the true load-displacement
penetration depth of 6 m. The piles were installed using a 5 tonne behavior of each pile to be measured and hence there was no
hydraulic hammer with a drop height of 0.45 m. However, apart requirement for assumptions to be made regarding the load trans-
from a single hammer blow through the upper fill, the weight of fer from the pile cap. The displacement transducers were sup-
the hammer itself was sufficient to push the pile to the required ported on one of the two stiff reference beams employed; these
final penetration of 6 m. Each group comprised five piles with the “beams” were tubular steel frames that were placed either side of
plan configuration consisting of a center pile with four equally the cap with end supports 4 m from the group center.
spaced corner piles 共Fig. 2兲; the center to corner spacing to pile The notation adopted for the single piles and pile groups tested
width ratio 共s / B兲 for all groups was 2.8± 0.1. The center pile, is provided in Table 2; S and G denote a single pile and pile
assigned as pile 3, was installed first and was subsequently group, respectively, the letters T and C signify tension and com-
pushed by a distance of about 5 mm following driving of the pression loading, respectively, and the individual group pile num-
corner piles 共i.e., piles 1, 2, 4, and 5兲. The total installation time bers are as shown in Fig. 2. An equalization period of at least 2
for each group was approximately 30 min. months for the single piles and 3 months for the pile groups was
Purpose-built load cells 共114 mm external diameter, 4 mm wall allowed prior to static load testing. The testing involved applica-
thickness兲 were fixed to the head of all single and group piles. For tion of load increments ranging from between 5 and 15% of the

Fig. 3. Method of tension group loading 共inset: close-up of pile cap兲


Table 2. Pile Testing Program h = 0.75 m 共or h / B = 3兲 and 1.74 at h = 2.75 m 共or h / B = 11兲 are
Pile instrumentation typical of single piles driven in lightly overconsolidated clay,
Days between 共head load and falling within the bounds of an Hi database summarized by
Test installation displacement measured Lehane et al. 共1994兲.
number and load testing for each pile兲 The subsequent installation of each of the four corner piles
S1 / C 82
generates further smaller increases in ␴h on the shaft of G1关3兴.
However, unlike the center pile’s own installation, each of these
S2 / T 99
increases in ␴h is transient and stresses quickly return to values
G1 / C 101 Two horizontal stress sensors
that are similar to what one might expect after single pile instal-
共pressure cells兲 on center pile
at h = 0.75 and 2.75 m lation. A more detailed examination of the variation of ␴h on
G2 / T 378 Nine pneumatic piezometers
G1关3兴 is provided in Fig. 5共a兲 for the cases when piles G1关4兴
in soil surrounding group and G1关5兴 were installed. The sensor closer to ground level at
G3 / C 178 共Only corner pile load tested兲
h / B = 11 evidently records the increase in stress first and this
stress reduces as that measured at h / B = 3 reaches its 共temporary兲
peak value. The relatively rapid decay in ␴h as the tip of the pile
estimated total single pile or pile group capacity with each load passes beneath the instrument sensor may suggest that the ob-
increment being maintained until the pile creep rate had reduced served increases in ␴h are associated with concentrated increases
to less than 0.004 mm/ min. Piles were load tested to a displace- in total stress level near the bases of the corner piles during their
ment of at least 25 mm 共i.e., 10% of the pile width兲 or less if installation.
ultimate conditions had been clearly established. The peak values of Hi recorded over the period of group in-
All piles contained four No. 16 mm high-strength steel stallation 共denoted Hi,g兲 are 3.3 and 2.9 at h / B = 3 and 11, respec-
reinforcement bars and had a characteristic 28 day strength of tively. However, it appears from Fig. 4 that, when pile driving is
50 MPa. As summarized in Table 2, instrumentation included completed, the corner pile installations have not led to signifi-
200-mm-diameter pressure cells 共of the oil-filled flat jack variety兲 cantly higher ␴h values on the center pile shaft. Although the
located at the face of pile 3 in test G1 / C at distances from the pile driving order was not investigated directly, the short-lived ␴h
tip 共h兲 of 0.75 and 2.75 m and nine push-in pneumatic piezom- increases suggest that it is unlikely to significantly influence the
eters located in the ground surrounding the tension pile group value of ␴h upon completion of piling.
共G2 / T兲. The relative increases in ␴h during a given corner pile instal-
lation vary with the distance of the sensor from that location. This
trend is depicted on Fig. 5共b兲 which plots the maximum recorded
Installation Data increase in ␴h 共=⌬␴hmax兲 following each corner pile installation
against the distance 共in plan兲 of the sensor from the axis of the
corner pile 共r兲. The values of ⌬␴hmax are normalized by the cor-
Lateral Stress Measurements
rected cone penetration test 共CPT兲 end resistance 共qt ⬇ 250 kPa兲
Variations in lateral total stress 共␴h兲 measured by sensors on the and the radial distances from the sensor are normalized by the
centre pile of G1, i.e., G1关3兴 during its own installation and dur- equivalent radius of the piles 共Req = B / 冑␲兲. The observed reduc-
ing the subsequent installations of G1关1兴, G1关4兴, G1关5兴, and tion in ⌬␴hmax with log r is comparable to the radial distribution
G1关2兴 are shown on Fig. 4. The greatest individual increases in of excess pore pressures obtained during cavity expansion.
␴h occur as a result of the center pile’s own installation. To
facilitate comparison with other case history data, these ␴h data
may be written in the form of a total stress ratio, defined as Pore Pressure Measurements
H关=共␴h − u0兲 / ␴⬘v0兴, where u0 is the ambient 共hydrostatic兲 pore The maximum excess pore pressure ratios 共⌬umax / ␴⬘v0兲 recorded
pressure and ␴⬘v0 is the free field vertical effective stress. The by pneumatic piezometers located at depths of between 2 and
Hi ratios 共the maximum values of H during installation兲 calcu- 5.5 m immediately after installation of group G2 are plotted in
lated in this way for G1关3兴’s own installation are 2.13 at Fig. 6 against their relative distance from the group center
共r / Req兲. Temporary increases in pore pressure, such as those seen
for ␴h values in Fig. 5共a兲, could not be monitored accurately
because of the manual 共and hence slow兲 nature of the pore
pressure recording system employed.
It is evident that ⌬umax / ␴⬘v0 reduces approximately linearly
with the logarithm of r / Req. Although no piezometers were
located within the group perimeter, the value of ⌬umax / ␴⬘v0 at
r = Req 共i.e., at the shaft of the center pile兲 may be estimated by
assuming that the horizontal effective stress acting during instal-
lation on G2关3兴 is no larger than ⬇0.2␴⬘v0 共e.g., Lehane et al.
1994兲. The value of ⌬umax / ␴⬘v0 is therefore expected to be
approximately Hi,g less 0.2, which gives ⬇2.7 at h / B = 11.
The radial variation of ⌬umax / ␴⬘v0 for installation of group G2
is compared with values recorded during single driven pile instal-
lation in St. Alban Clay with a yield stress ratio 共YSR兲 of ⬇2.2
Fig. 4. Lateral stress variations at center group pile during 共Roy et al. 1981兲 and Young Bay Mud with YSR ⬇ 1.3 共Pestana
installation et al. 2002兲. Bearing in mind that ⌬umax / ␴⬘v0 varies approximately
as YSR0.36 共Lehane et al. 1994兲, it may be inferred from


Fig. 5. 共a兲 Lateral stress changes on G1关3兴 during installation of G1关4兴 and G1关5兴, and 共b兲 Normalized maximum lateral stress changes associated
with corner pile installations.

Fig. 6 that only slightly higher excess pore pressure ratios Equalization Data
surround the pile group and that these extend to a larger radial
distance. This trend is in keeping with that inferred by Bozozuk et Excess pore pressures recorded by piezometers in the vicinity of
al. 共1978兲 who presented data for a group containing 116 piles the tension pile group 共G2 / T兲 indicated that 50% dissipation took
共with s / Req = 10兲 and report a relatively constant and significant about 1 week and that a period of 3 months was required to
excess pore pressure ratio extending from the group edge to a ensure that at least 90% of the excess pressures had dissipated.
distance of 30Reqbeyond this edge. It therefore appears that ex- Therefore, as may be seen from the times allowed for equalization
cess pore pressures generated in the vicinity of a given pile in a listed in Table 2, all static load tests on group piles were con-
group due to a neighboring installation are restricted by the fact ducted at or very close to full equalization. The estimated re-
that the soil is at the critical state condition 共constant mean effec- quired time for 90% dissipation of 25 days for the single piles
tive stress兲 and that the installation of an additional group results 共which was inferred from reported case history data in similar
only in an accumulation of excess pore pressures beyond the soils, e.g., Lehane and Jardine 1994兲 is significantly less than the
“plastic zone.” minimum allowed equalization time of 82 days.

Fig. 6. Radial variation of maximum excess pore pressures Fig. 7. Comparison of performance of corner piles in test G2 / T


The ␴h variation with time plotted on Fig. 4 for G1 suggests Initial Load-Displacement Response
that equalization of the soil at the center pile shaft was almost
completed after three months 共⬇2,000 h兲. The horizontal stress The pile head load-displacement responses observed at relatively
coefficients at this time, Hc, of 0.81 共at h / B = 3兲 and 0.57 共at low displacements in static group and single pile tests are shown
h / B = 11兲 may be compared with the estimated initial stress coef- in Fig. 8共a兲. It is clear that the single piles 共S1 / C and S2 / T兲 are
ficient 共i.e., K0兲 of between 0.5 and 0.6. Using equalization data up to twice as stiff as either the center or corner piles of the
for a single pile driven in Bothkennar clay 共Lehane and Jardine groups. However, the relative measured performances of center
1994兲 as a basis of comparison, the equalized lateral effective and corner group piles differ between the tension and compres-
stresses on the center pile are likely to be very similar to those on sion group tests. During tension group test G2 / T, center and
a comparable isolated pile 共McCabe 2002兲. The effects of driving corner piles showed similar responses, while the corner piles in
adjacent piles at s / B = 2.8± 0.1 on a pile’s performance in Belfast compression test G1 / C appeared much stiffer than the center pile.
lightly overconsolidated silt are thus seen not to be very signifi- This apparent inconsistency arose because the pile cap behaved in
cant. The lateral stresses measured during subsequent pile loading a fully rigid manner in the group compression test 共i.e., displace-
varied by less than 3 kPa from the equalized values. ment transducers indicated that all piles settled uniformly with
increasing applied group load兲 but was flexible under tension
loading 共pile head load cells showed that all piles carried similar
Static Load Tests loads兲.
A better representation of relative pile stiffness values is pro-
The configuration of the pile group employed was selected so that vided in Fig. 9, which uncouples the pile cap’s influence by plot-
the response of a single isolated pile could be compared with that ting the pile axial stiffness kg 共i.e., pile head load divided by pile
of a typical group pile 共i.e., pile 3 surrounded by four corner piles; head displacement= P / w兲 as a function of the mean pile group
see Fig. 2兲. The static load test data are therefore presented so that displacements 共wg avg兲. Plotted in this format, it is evident that the
the load resistance offered by pile 3 can be compared with that of stiffness of the center pile under tension and compression loading
a single reference pile and of a typical corner pile. Differences is closely comparable and that of the corner piles is also not
between the average and individual corner pile responses were affected significantly by the direction of applied axial load. In
typically small although, as indicated by the example for the ten- addition, Fig. 9 indicates that pile head stiffness values for both
sion test G2 / T in Fig. 7, load resistances could differ by ⬇10%. single and group piles are strongly dependent on the level of the
The load-displacement curve presented in the following for a cor- applied load and reduce by a factor of about 2.5 for each loga-
ner pile is taken to be the average of that measured for the four rithmic cycle increase in pile displacement 共w兲 above
corner piles. w / B = 0.001.

Fig. 8. Measured load-displacement responses for single and group piles: 共a兲 initial 5 mm displacement; and 共b兲 up to 25 mm displacement


Prediction of Pile Group Stiffness
While ␩capacity values of less than unity need to be acknowledged
for ultimate limit state calculations, most pile group designs are
dominated by the serviceability limit state, for which the stiffness
efficiency 共␩g兲 is of more interest. The value of ␩g, defined as
follows by Butterfield and Douglas 共1981兲, is a popular index
quantifying the relative stiffness of a pile group with that of a
single pile:

␩g = kg/关n ks兴 共1兲

where kg⫽axial stiffness 共load per unit displacement兲 of the pile
group; and ks⫽axial stiffness of a single pile. Values of ␩g for
both tests G1 / C and G2 / T 共which may be evaluated from the
data presented in Fig. 8兲 varied between 0.4 and 0.5 for pile head
loads up to 80% of the single pile capacity. For the pile group
Fig. 9. Interaction effects uncoupled from influence of pile cap with a rigid cap 共i.e., G1 / C兲, this ␩g range is equivalent to the
flexibility ratio of the single pile settlement under a load of P to the group
settlement under a load of nP.
It may be appreciated on inspection of Fig. 9 that application
of Eq. 共1兲 requires interpretation of equivalent linear elastic val-
ues at typical pile working loads. Despite such evidence of non-
Group and Single Pile Capacity linearity, three-dimensional 共3D兲 finite element analyses for pile
The variations of the pile head loads up to a displacement of 25 groups incorporating a realistic soil model are rarely performed
mm are shown for the single and group tests in Fig. 8共b兲 and pile and practitioners commonly use the single pile stiffness 共ks兲 as the
capacities, defined nominally at a pile head displacement of basis for design and an estimate of ␩g using either a linear elastic
25 mm 共=0.1B兲, are summarized in Table 3. pile group analysis program 关e.g., DEFPIG and PIGLET de-
The ultimate pile head load for the single pile in compression scribed by Poulos 共1980兲 and Randolph 共2002兲, respectively兴 or
is evidently a little less than that in tension. This apparent incon- charts such as those of Fleming et al. 共1992兲. It is therefore in-
sistency arises because of the submerged unit weight of the pile structive to compare the predictive performance of a typical linear
共=6 kN兲 is not included in the tabulated capacities. The measured elastic pile group program with that of the Belfast pile groups.
ultimate pile head loads equate to an average ultimate shaft fric- A prediction for test G1 / C using the PIGLET computer pro-
tion of 10± 0.5 kPa for both compression and tension loading gram 共Randolph 2002兲 is presented in Fig. 10 and compared with
when allowance is made for the pile weight and assuming that the the measured data. The pile cap was modeled as fully rigid, which
end bearing stress at pile base in compression is equivalent to the is consistent with the uniform settlement observed by all of this
CPT qt value 共250 kPa兲. It should also be noted that the capacities group’s piles. Under a typical pile working load of ⬇30 kN, the
for the compression group piles presented in Table 3 are 2 kN per single pile head displacement is predicted correctly by
pile greater than those shown in Fig. 8, which did not include the PIGLET when a constant shear stiffness G of 3.5 MPa is assigned
weight of the 10 kN pile cap. to the soil. At the same pile head load of 30 kN and when the
Pile group capacity efficiency ␩capacity is defined as the ratio of same value of G is adopted to model the soil within the group, it
the pile group failure load to the number of piles 共5兲 times the is seen in Fig. 10 that PIGLET overpredicts the settlement of the
single pile capacity. This capacity is also tabulated in Table 3 for center pile by 75% and the settlement of the corner piles by 33%.
the compression and tension pile groups. Despite the differences These overestimates lead to a predicted group stiffness efficiency
in the load sharing that arose due to the pile cap 共as discussed 共␩g兲 of 0.25 compared to the measured efficiency of 0.45± 0.05.
with reference to Fig. 9兲, it is apparent that the overall ␩capacity Such an underestimate of stiffness is a consequence of the as-
value is a little less than unity. The shortfall is small and may be sumption of a linear elastic soil stiffness in PIGLET, which leads
due to site variability and the assumed definition of ultimate ca- to overestimates of the extent to which piles interact with each
pacity for the pile group. It is also noteworthy that a ␩capacity of other under load.
about 1 is consistent with the anticipated similarity 共discussed Castelli and Maugeri 共2002兲 recognized the importance of soil
previously兲 between the equalized lateral effective stresses sur- stiffness nonlinearity and proposed the following expression for
rounding the center group pile and that estimated for a single pile. the stiffness efficiency:

␩g = 关D/Dg兴␧ = 关D/Dg兴0.15 共2兲

where D⫽diameter 共or equivalent diameter of a square pile兲;
Dg⫽equivalent diameter of the plan area of the pile group; and
Table 3. Ultimate Pile Capacities 共kN兲 and Efficiencies
␧⫽empirical constant with a recommended value of 0.15; this ␧
Sample Capacity Sample Capacity value was derived from back analyses of a number of pile group
S1 / C 66 S2 / T 69 load tests. Application of Eq. 共2兲 leads, however, to a predicted
G1 / C 共total兲 326 G2 / T 共total兲 304
共and unconservative兲 ␩g value of 0.79 compared to the measured
␩g value of 0.45± 0.05.
G1 / C 共center兲 50.0 G2 / T 共center兲 59.5
The foregoing clearly illustrates the difficulties associated with
G1 / C 共corner兲 69.0 G2 / T 共corner兲 61.2
obtaining a realistic prediction of pile group settlement and points
␩capacity 共total兲 0.98 ␩capacity 0.88
to the need for more sophisticated analyses, which are outside the


corner pile response observed during the group load test on G1.
The evident agreement between the load-displacement responses
of the corner pile of G3 and S1 suggests that, for the pile spacing
employed, adjacent pile installations do not cause an appreciable
change to the operational shear stiffness of the ground in the
vicinity of the corner pile shaft. The much lower stiffness of a
corner pile in test G1 / C is further confirmation of the influence of
load interaction on ␩g.
Displacements at the heads of the nonloaded piles of G3 were
recorded during the load test and enabled interaction factors 共␣兲
to be determined as

␣ = w/wc 共3兲

where, at any stage of loading, wc is the head displacement of the

loaded corner pile and w is the head displacement of the other
Fig. 10. PIGLET predictions for G1 / C
piles. The ranges of ␣ values determined in this way are plotted in
Fig. 12 as a function of the normalized distance from the loaded
scope of the present paper. These include the 3D finite element corner pile for mobilized pile head loads up to ⬇65% of the
共FE兲 modeling or the hybrid approach suggested by O’Neill et al. corner pile capacity. In keeping with the observation from Fig. 11
共1977兲, and others, in which the nonlinear stiffness of single piles that installation effects were not significant, these data are seen to
is combined with linear elastic interaction factors between piles. be comparable to ␣ values derived from bored pile tests reported
The added effects of disturbance to the in situ stress state caused by Caputo and Viggiani 共1984兲, which are also plotted in Fig. 12.
by displacement pile group installation cannot easily be incorpo- There is evidently a marked reduction in ␣ from the pile shaft
rated in any predictive method. 共where ␣ = 1, by definition兲 to values less than 0.2 at s / Deq 艌 2.
This trend is captured 共although overpredicted兲 by nonlinear finite
element analyses reported by Jardine et al. 共1986兲, but is in clear
Investigation of Soil Disturbance on Pile Interaction contrast to the slow radial decay of the interaction factor pre-
A test designed specifically to examine the effects of pile driving dicted in linear elastic 共PIGLET兲 analyses.
on the interaction between piles was conducted on a third pile
group 共G3兲. This involved static load testing of one corner pile
and simultaneous monitoring of the pile head movements of the Stiffness Efficiency from Case Histories
four other 共nonloaded兲 piles. Any difference between the response
of the loaded corner pile and that of a single pile would, in the There is evidently a pressing need for a simple, yet relatively
absence of significant site variability, be a measure of the changes accurate, means for assessing pile group stiffness using stiffness
to the ground stiffness induced by installation of the four neigh- data obtained from tests on single piles. To this end, McCabe
boring piles. 共2002兲 compiled a database of group and single pile tests for
The observed pile head load-displacement curve of this corner driven piles. Features of these group foundations are summarized
pile is compared in Fig. 11 with pile head load-displacement in Table 4, which all 共with one exception兲 involve low permeabil-
curves obtained for 共1兲 single pile S1 and 共2兲 with the average ity soils. The tabulated values of stiffness efficiency 共␩g兲 corre-
spond to ␩g at 40% of the single pile ultimate capacity 共although
␩g values at Belfast were found to be relatively independent of
the mobilized load level兲.

Fig. 11. Load test on corner pile of G3 Fig. 12. Interaction factors: Measurements and predictions


Table 4. Case History Database
L Deq Dg
Reference Soil conditions n 共m兲 共mm兲 s / Deq 共m兲 ␩g meas

55 27 282 7.1 16.7 0.15

Thorburn et al. 共1983兲 Soft very silty clay
97 27 282 7.1 22.2 0.24

4 6 150 2.5 0.59 0.6

Brand et al. 共1972兲 Soft sensitive marine clay
4 6 150 4 0.93 1.0

Koizumi and Ito 共1967兲 Organic silty clay 9 5.55 300 3 2.4 0.42

4 13.1 273 3 1.2 0.78

O’Neill et al. 共1982兲 Stiff clay
9 13.1 273 3 2.2 0.62

Briaud et al. 共1989兲 Medium dense sand 5 9.15 273 3 1.5 0.6

This paper Soft organic clayey silt 5 6 282 2.6 1.4 0.48

The best-fit correlation to the database was found to be a 0.45 was observed in both tension and compression loading
modified form of Eq. 共2兲, which incorporates the number of piles for applied loads up to 80% of the ultimate capacity.
共n兲 2. This ␩g value is, however, almost double the value deter-
mined from a linear elastic calculation approach, due to the
␩g = 共Dg/D兲0.66/n 共4兲 overprediction by elastic approaches of interaction factors.
Eq. 共4兲 is seen in Fig. 13 to provide an excellent representation of 3. A load test on a single pile in a group revealed no evidence
the database, which incorporates a relatively wide range of pile of a significant change in the stiffness of the in situ soil,
group types 共and also one driven pile group in sand兲. The relative suggesting that, for the typical pile group spacing installed,
success of this expression, over other empirical expressions such the response of driven and bored pile groups are comparable.
as Eq. 共2兲, is believed to be because its form captures the reduced 4. The sharp decrease in interaction factors with distance from a
operational stiffness of the soil for pile groups compared to single pile cannot be predicted using linear elasticity and therefore
piles. Clearly further data on group performance are required to any realistic prediction of pile group response needs to
validate the form of Eq. 共4兲. incorporate the influence of soil stiffness linearity.
5. The paper presents an alternative expression to evaluate ␩g
based on available case history data. This expression is seen
to be a substantial improvement on existing empirical ex-
pressions and on efficiencies derived from linear elastic
A new case history reporting the performance of small displace-
ment pile groups in lightly overconsolidated clay-silt has been
presented, showing the following.
1. Although the capacity efficiency for a group of five piles Acknowledgments
with s / B = 2.8 was a little less than unity, the measured stiff-
ness efficiency 共␩g兲 is significantly less. A mean ␩g value of The writers would like to acknowledge the support provided by
Lowry Piling 共Lagan Group兲 and the ICE R&D Enabling Fund.
The immense contribution of all technical staff at Trinity College
Dublin is also gratefully acknowledged.


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