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By James D. Murff, 1 and Jed M. Hamilton, 2 Members, ASCE

ABSTRACT: A three-dimensional collapse mechanism is described for analysis of

the ultimate strength of laterally loaded piles under undrained conditions. The
analysis is based on the upper-bound method of plasticity theory. The mechanism
combines a deforming conical soil wedge in the near surface with plane strain
deformation at depth. Four optimization parameters are employed, which define
the geometricalextent and spatial variation of the soil deformation. The mechanism
is capable of rationally accounting for many complexities such as strength non-
homogeneity, soil-pile adhesion, and suction on the back of the pile. Lateral force
and pile top moment loading can both be accommodated. Parameter studies show-
ing the effects of these features are presented along with comparisons of model
predictions with recent centrifuge test results. An empirical prediction equation is
fit to analyticalresults for typical soil conditions to provide a more convenient form
of the analysis method. The empirical fit is demonstrated for cases of linearly
increasing strength and for two-layered soil systems.


A key element in the analysis of laterally loaded piles is the ultimate unit
resistance that can be exerted by the soil against the pile. This peak resistance
is often incorporated in p-y curves (soil springs), which are employed in
beam-column analyses of piles.
The ultimate lateral resistance for various situations has often been de-
fined by a combination of inferences from experimental measurements,
simplified wedge analyses, and judgment. Values derived in this manner
have been used very successfully in engineering practice (Broms 1964; Mat-
lock 1970; Reese et al. 1975). These approaches come into question, how-
ever, when the effects of complex conditions are sought, such as soil layering
and varying strength with depth, soil-pile adhesion, suction, and pile-head
fixity. A more accurate model of the soil-pile system is needed for exploring
these various effects.
Because the problem of finding the ultimate soil resistance for a laterally
loaded pile is three dimensional and nonlinear, finding a rigorous analytical
solution is highly unlikely, and finding a rigorous numerical solution is
expensive. However, an efficient, approximate solution that consistently
accounts for the various parameter effects including nonhomogeneous strength
conditions can be developed.
In this paper, the upper-bound method of plasticity is used to estimate
the collapse load of a laterally loaded pile. These results are then used to
infer the ultimate unit soil resistance along the pile length. Using this ap-
proach, parameter studies can be carried out to achieve a better under-
standing of the mechanics of pile collapse under lateral loading.

1Res. Advisor, Exxon Production Res. Co., P.O. Box 2189, Houston, TX 77252-
2Sr. Res. Specialist, Exxon Production Res. Co., P.O. Box 2189, Houston, TX.
Note. Discussion open until June 1, 1993. To extend the closing date one month,
a written request must be filed with the ASCE Manager of Journals. The manuscript
for this paper was submitted for review and possible publication on March 22, 1989.
This paper is part of the Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, Vol. 119, No. 1,
January, 1993. 9 ISSN 0733-9410/93/0001-0091/$1.00 + $.15 per page. Paper
No. 27010.

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

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The upper-bound method has been described in detail by Drucker and

Prager (1952), Chen (1975), and Murff and Miller (1977), and only a brief
review is presented here. To apply the method, a mechanism of collapse is
assumed; that is, a complete velocity field that is consistent with the kine-
matic constraints. These constraints include displacement (or velocity)
boundary conditions and shear-volume change relationships implied by the
yield conditions and flow rule. For undrained analysis, the soil deforms
incompressibly. For the selected yield condition (e.g., yon Mises or Tresca),
a function relating the plastic strain rates to energy dissipation rates can be
derived. The external work done by the imposed loads, including the un-
known (collapse) load is then set equal to the total plastic energy dissipation.
The unknown load is solved for, and it is guaranteed to be an upper bound
to the exact solution. Generally, the collapse mechanism is defined in terms
of geometric parameters that are systematically varied to find the least upper
bound. If care is taken, good approximations to very complex problems can
be obtained at a fraction of the cost and time of more rigorous numerical

Qualitative sketches of a lateral collapse mechanism are presented in Fig.
1. Near the soil surface, a deforming conical wedge forms and is pushed up
by the pile, which itself may translate, rotate, or both. If the pile is relatively
short, the bottom may "kick out" or, for long piles, a plastic hinge may
form in the pile. For the initial development, a gap is assumed at the back
of the pile, but this restriction can be easily removed, as discussed in a later
section. Below the wedge, the soil is assumed to flow horizontally around
the pile.
To accommodate this mechanism, the soil wedge must conform to the
pile at the pile-soil interface, and must move tangentially to the rigid soil

~ GA -•ote: Wedge Deforms
and Stips on Failure


FIG. 1. (a) and (b) Soil Deformation Mechanism


J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

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FIG. 1. Pile Deformation Mechanisms: (c) Rigid Pile; (d) Deforming Pile

A mechanism that conforms to the constraints is developed by first as-

suming a radial velocity, vr, in the soil wedge of the form

Vr = VO 1 - CZ cos 0 ................................. (1)

where r, z , and 0 = coordinates; R = pile radius; v0 = virtual lateral

velocity at the pile head; and z0 = depth of soil wedge. The parameters oL,
c, and z0 are optimization parameters along with the radial extent of the
wedge, ro. This is a generalization of a velocity field described by Ralston
and Taylor (1975) for an ice-indentation problem. Note that at the point of
intersection of the soil surface (z = 0), the pile radius (r = R), and the
plane of loading (0 = 0), Vr = VO, as is required. Further, note that the
radial velocity decays from a maximum on the centerline (0 = 0) to zero
at right angles to the pile motion, as one would intuitively expect.
It is further assumed here that the tangential velocity, vo, vanishes
throughout the field. The condition of incompressibility is then stated in
terms of particle velocities as
OV~ Vr OV~
~rr + ZOO + ~zz : ~ "]- --r + ~ = 0 .......................... (2)

Substituting (1) into (2), the resulting partial-differential equation can be

integrated directly for Vz. The soil motion just inside the wedge at the
boundary of the wedge and the rigid soil requires that the motion be tan-
gential along the conical surface, i.e.
v~ ro - R
- . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3)
"Oz Z0

which is a sufficient condition to complete the solution. Two examples of

deformation mechanisms are shown in Fig. 2. These examples depict com-
patible soil deformations for a translating and a rotating pile, respectively.
A detailed derivation of the velocity components is included in Appendix I.
Having derived the velocity field within the wedge, the strain rates, ~q,

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

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1 .O I

/ x 9


FIG. 2. Translation M e c h a n i s m (R = 1.0; ro = 7,0; zo = 8.0; ~ = 0.975; c = 0.0):

(a) Plan; (b) C r o s s Section

can be determined throughout the wedge by the strain-rate-velocity defi-

nitions. For the yon Mises yield criterion, the dissipation per unit volume
of material, E, is given by (3)
[~ = s , V ~ i j i ~ o .............................................. (4)
where s~ = shear strength; and repeated indices indicate summation. For
a Tresca material, the dissipation per unit volume is (2)
-- 2s, l~lmax . .............................................. (5)
where IEImax = largest absolute value among the principle strain components.
On slip surfaces, the dissipation per unit area for either material is
= sulvl ................................................... (6)
where v = relative velocity at the interface. With these equations, the total

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

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(c) ~'~

FIG. 2. Rotation Mechanism (R = 1.0; ro = 4.5; Zo = 6.0; a = 1.55; c = 1.0): (c)

Plan; (d) Cross Section

dissipation can be found by integrating over the wedge volume and over
the area at the wedge-rigid-soil interface. Further dissipation can occur at
the pile-soil interface. For generality, one can specify the ratio of strength
mobilization at the pile wall ranging from zero adhesion to full adhesion.
The terms for this computation are derived in Appendix III. Because of the
complexity of the integrals, they are evaluated numerically in this study.
This further allows the strength to be modeled as nonhomogenous (as well
as anisotropic, but this is not pursued here).
As mentioned, the soil resistance below the wedge is assumed to be
developed as a purely lateral flow around the pile. Thus, the plane strain
solutions developed by Randolph and Houlsby (1984) can be used directly.
That is, the dissipation is taken as
d[~ =,rD dz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (7)
where N_ = a dimensionless lateral unit resistance factor; vp = local lateral
pile velocity (a linear function of the pile-head virtual velocity); D = pile
diameter; and dz = differential length along the pile. This function is then
integrated along the moving part of the pile (either direction) below the
wedge, again allowing a varying strength, s,. It should be mentioned that
the transition from wedge to plane-strain deformation, as defined here, does
not rigorously satisfy the upper-bound definition, since the mechanism for
plane strain is not explicitly incorporated. Furthermore, the plane-strain
solution is not strictly valid for a rotating pile or for a nonhomogeneous

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

soil. On the other hand, the approach described herein seems to be a
reasonable compromise, which incorporates essential features but avoids
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unnecessary complication.
The only remaining dissipation sources are plastic hinges in the pile (if
they occur). This dissipation is simply
E = MpCt .................................................. (8)
where M p = plastic moment; and [~ = pile rotational velocity about the
hinge location, which is also proportional to the virtual pile-head velocity.
For the immediate purposes here, dissipation due to soil shearing at the pile
tip is assumed small and neglected. However, this topic is mentioned again
in a later section.
The external work terms arise from pile-head loads translating and pile-
head moments rotating. The unknown pile-head load can be a single lateral
load or moment or a scale factor relating load and moment. Other known
loads or moments can be imposed. The remaining work term arises due to
the lifting of the soil weight in the wedge.
Finally, the governing equations can be written as

Fro = Dvo - Wvo ........................................... (9)

where F = a lateral load or scale factor (it can also be a moment); Dvo
represents the total internal dissipation rate; and Wvo represents the total
external work rate, except for the unknown load. The virtual velocity, v0,
can be cancelled, and F is then determined by evaluating the right-hand
side. The best solution is found by minimizing F with respect to the opti-
mization parameters. As previously noted, four parameters are used in this
formulation. The significance of these parameters is implied in Figs. 1 and
2 and in (1).

Several studies were carried out to investigate conditions of interest. In
the first study, the pile was constrained to translate rigidly through the soil
(no rotation). For the purposes here, the soil was taken as weightless;
however, the effect of weight can simply be added to the weightless solution.
The soil-pile adhesion was taken to be zero. The solution gives only an
estimate of the total collapse load. To estimate unit resistance as a function
of depth, a series of solutions was obtained, in which the pile embedment
was successively increased in each solution. Note that here, the word "so-
lution" refers to an optimized or least-upper-bound solution. It was as-
sumed that the increased resistance for a longer pile was due to the cor-
responding increment of pile length, i.e., the distribution of load in the
upper region of the pile was assumed unchanged by adding pile length.
Results of this study are shown plotted in Fig. 3 for two different profiles--
uniform strength and increasing strength with depth. It is interesting to note
that they have a distinctly different shape. Further, it is fair to point out
that this difference has generally not been addressed, except possibly em-
pirically, in assigning P, values t o p - y curves. The predictions using equations
proposed by Matlock (1970) and Reese et al. (1975) are also plotted. Reese
et al. (1975) equation is an empirical modification of the planar wedge model
based on laboratory and field tests in stiff clay. For the comparison here,
ultimate values of unit resistance were taken to be 9.0s,D, consistent with
Matlock's (1970) solution and with the Randolph-Houlsby (1984) solution

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

Np s,,DAL
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2.5 5.0 7.5 10.0 12,5

i r i

(J = y~) \
6 \

(1) Upper Bound Calculations for
smooth pile (no adhesion]
10 (2) Plane strain limit set to 9 0 for
Upper Bound
PRESENT A N A L Y S I S 13] Reese Criterion set equal to 9.O at
O U N I F O R M STRENGTH ]4) Yon Mises Criterion used for Upper

FIG. 3. Predicted Soil Resistance versus Depth

for a smooth pile. Reese et al. (1975) actually recommended an ultimate

value of ll.0s,D. Perhaps the correspondence is fortuitous, but the solutions
are quite consistent with their more-empirical counterparts.
A similar study was done, in which the pile was kinematically constrained
to rotate about its tip. Again, the pile was incremented in length a number
of times, and the total collapse load was determined at each length. In this
case, there is an implicit resisting force at the pile tip that is not known.
Therefore, moments were summed about the tip (where the moment is
assumed to be zero) to infer soil resistance. Here again, the soil resistance
at a point on the pile is assumed to be unaffected by the increased pile
length. Here, the increment in moment is attributed to the soil resistance
on the added length plus, of course, the increased moment arm due to the
added length. This analysis showed that the unit resistance versus depth
was virtually identical to that for the translating pile. That is, the lateral
resistance is independent of pile rotation. This is consistent with findings
made by Matlock (1970) in his analysis.
Another important consideration is the effect of pile-soil adhesion, both
in front of and behind the pile. Here, we consider only adhesion along the
front of the pile. Fig. 4 shows a comparison of unit resistance along the pile
for full adhesion and for no adhesion. This effect is quite significant, adding
some 20-30% to the unit resistance. This component of resistance would
seem to be particularly susceptible to degradation due to cyclic loading,
and, thus, it may not be prudent to count on it for design. However, the
model does provide a means for explicitly accounting for this effect, in-
cluding degradation due to cyclic loading on this or other specific compo-
nents of resistance.

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

Np = SuDAL
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2.5 5.0 7.5 10.O 12.5

, I I I




10 9 Limitingvaluesatdeptharetakento
be Np = 9 Smooth
Np 12 Rough
Consistent with Randolph and
Houlsby's exact sO~tiO~S (S. 14
and 11.94)

FIG. 4. Effect of Soil-Pile Adhesion on Lateral Resistance

A final consideration here is the yield condition. Studies were carried out
comparing the unit resistance for both a Tresca and von Mises yield con-
dition. Stated in terms of the strength parameter, s,, the results are quite
comparable, with Tresca giving about 5 % higher values. Of course, one has
to be consistent in how the strength parameter is determined when applying
these results. In the writers' view, undrained analysis is sufficiently ap-
proximate, that there is little evidence to favor one criterion over the other.


The aforementioned results should be applied with a full understanding

of the underlying assumptions, particularly with respect to: (1) Suction on
the back of the pile; and (2) tip-rotational resistance. In some cases, the
model proposed can significantly underestimate resistance because these
two components are neglected. Modest modifications can be made to ac-
commodate variations in these assumptions.
In sudden, monotonic loading, it is quite possible that suction can develop
on the back side of the pile, and the soil in that region can deform in an
"active" failure mode. This can be idealized in the present model by an
identical active wedge (with velocities reversed) on the backside of the pile.
This has the effect of doubling the unit resistance for a given failure wedge
depth. When this backside wedge is included, the optimum solution has a
much shallower wedge. This significantly increases the rate of increase of
unit resistance near the surface and causes the plane strain value to be
achieved at shallower depths.
For short, stubby cylinders, the resistance on the tip may also be signif-

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

icant. This can be accommodated in the model by adding a spherical segment
on the tip, having a center at the center of rotation of the mechanism.
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Derivations for this mechanism are included in Appendix I. This provides

the opportunity to model short, stubby piles; caissons; suction anchors; and
the like under lateral load with the mechanism described herein. More
extensive discussion of this topic is deferred for a separate treatment.


Experimental investigations of the ultimate soil resistance on laterally

loaded piles in clay, reported by Hamilton et al. (1991), confirm the pre-
dicted effects of soil adhesion (including suction on the backside of the pile)
and the shallow depth of the wedge failure mechanism implied (due to the
double-wedge and plane-strain limit). The tests, which were conducted in
the Cambridge University geotechnical centrifuge, were designed to deter-
mine ultimate soil-resistance values for depths ranging from the mud line
to over 10 diameters below the mud line (well below the lowest extent of
a wedge mechanism). The soil used was a sedimented kaolin clay ( L L =
69; P I -- 31), which had a shear strength of 9 kPa at the surface, increasing
at a rate of 1.4 kPa/m with depth.
In the experiments, rigid model piles were subjected to static, monotonic,
fixed-head displacements of 0.5 pile diameters, such that the ultimate soil
resistance was developed along the entire length of the piles. In the high
gravity-acceleration field of the centrifuge, prototype pile diameters up to
2.45 m were modeled. Careful measurements of bending moments and pile-
head force were used to derive soil resistances using double differentiation
of the bending-moment profiles.
As is shown in Fig. 5, ultimate values of unit soil resistance were found




9 "2 ---2::'-'-2--
9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

~ ~ ~ " . ~ ~ ~ ~MATLOCK, J = 1/2 9


N 4
O Note: Theoreticalcurvesand datapointsshownfor
Z diametersof 1,24mand 2.45m

0 , r , I r I ,
0 2 4 6 8 10

FIG. 5. Predicted versus Experimental Soil Resistance


J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

to average about l l S , D for all depths from very near the mud line to over
10 pile diameters below the surface. Note that the Matlock curves shown
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include the effect of unit weight, as no suction is accounted for. Unfortu-

nately, there is considerable scatter in the derived soil resistances from the
mud line to a depth of about one pile diameter. The scatter is due to both
the low shear strength near the mud line and the inherent scatter in the
soil-resistance derivation methodology, which requires double differentia-
tion of experimental data. However, the derived soil-resistance profiles
strongly suggest that limiting values of ultimate soil resistance were obtained
as shallow as two diameters depth, as is predicted by the proposed mech-
anism including adhesion and suction. A limiting soil resistance of l l S , D
is consistent with the recommendations of Reese et al. (1975) and those of
Randolph and Houlsby (1984). Visual examination of the test piles during
loading and after test completion showed almost full soil adhesion around
the pile.

Implementation of the upper-bound model requires several numerical
integrations, and, hence, a computer code is needed. Furthermore, because
of the optimization required, some automated, nonlinear optimization pro-
gram is highly desirable. This obviously is not always convenient, and, hence,
an approximate (and limited) empirical solution based on the model is
developed herein.
The ultimate unit resistance on the pile can be written as

Pmax = N j , + ~t'z ......................................... (10)

where Np = a nondimensional lateral bearing factor. For a soil profile with
a strength of s,0 at the surface and a linear rate of strength increase of s,1
with depth, dimensional analysis shows that

Np = f
, 0t ..........................................
' s, I D /

For a uniform strength soil or a linearly increasing soil with zero surface
strength, N e is clearly a function of z / D alone.
Considering the variations of Np with depth as suggested in Figs. 3 and
4, a trial empirical function of the form

was selected. In this case, N1 is the limiting value at depth (e.g., 9.0 for the
smooth pile), and (N1 - Nz) is the intercept at the soil surface (e.g., N2 =
7 for the smooth pile). The parameter { is taken to be a linear function of
h, where h = Suo/s,~D.
A combination of formal least-squares curve fitting using a nonlinear
optimization program and trail and error were used to define the function
= 0.25 + 0.05h )t < 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (13a)
= 0.55 h -> 6 ........................................ (13b)

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

A suite of analyses were conducted using the empirical equations de-
scribed herein, along with comparison studies using the formal limit analysis.
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The total force required to fail a pile under lateral loading (pure translation)
was determined by both methods and compared.
Fig. 6 shows these results for five different increasing strength with depth
profiles for smooth piles constrained against rotation. The agreement is
clearly excellent. Thus, for the relatively simple, but important, strength-
profile type considered here, (12) and (13) give an accurate prediction of
the limit-analysis results.


Another important soil-profile type is one consisting of layers of uniform
strength. This type profile can be used to approximate very complicated
stratigraphies. Here, a two-layer system is considered. The concept can be
readily extended to several layers; however, as the number of layers in-
creases, it quickly looses its advantage of simplicity.
Consider a two-layer system with top-layer thickness ll and strengths s,1
and Su2 (subscript 1 being the top layer). Using the suggestion made by
Georgiadis (1983), we attempt to determine an equivalent thickness, le, of
the top layer of a material with the strength of the bottom layer. The bottom
layer can then be analyzed as if it were a uniform layer. Its thickness is
augmented on top by an amount, le, of a material with strength Su: that
would provide the same total lateral resistance as the top layer. This is
intuitively appealing, but it is not a rigorous criterion. For the purposes of
illustration, consider a smooth, translating pile. The force that can be de-
veloped by a laterally loaded pile embedded fully in layer 1 is

f =
f: DSulN p dz .......................................... (14)

e D Suo
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35



FIG. 6. Empirical Model Comparisons--Increasing Strength with Depth


J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

Substituting (12) and (13), and carrying out the integration gives
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F=D2s,I[9~+ 12.72(e -~176 - 1.0)] ..................... (15)

The force that can be developed for an equivalent thickness le of a layer

with strength s,z is

F = DZs,e [ 19-~
~ 1 2 +. 7 2 ( e - ~ 1 7 6 - . .................... (16)

The right-hand sides of (15) and (16) are equated, and, after simplification,
we obtain

9~+l" 12.72e_O.55t,/o = 9s,r-~ + 12.72s,re -~176 - 12.72(s,r - 1)

.......................................................... (17)
where s,, = s,1/s,e. This equation is solved by trial and error for the equiv-
alent thickness, l,.
To find the value of N_ in layer 1, (12) is applied directly: To find Np in
layer 2, (12) is also use~ but the value of z used is the actual depth less
the quantity (11 - l,).
A comparison of lateral resistance calculated by the empirical method
described previously with the formal limit analysis results is shown in Fig.
7. Different ratios of s,1/s,,2 and different thicknesses of the top layer were
examined. The empirical method appears to work quite well in most cases.
The largest errors occur for the greatest contrasts in shear strength. In most
cases, the empirical equation slightly overpredicts the upper-bound results.
Of course, the fact that the empirical equation predicts the limit analysis
is merely a convenience. It clearly does not validate the method. Because
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


', " -"--2"'---_"--.--

4 b.

Su~ I IT Ie" "~..
13- ' ~ .

UNIFORM STRENGTH [3 '~, N \ '~ \

..... ~ ~ = 0n, ~2 5
~ul/Su2 \?.v
" .\, \ ~, \
oNo o s
.,. ,.. \\, \

FIG. 7. Empirical Model C o m p a r i s o n s - - T w o - L a y e r Strength Profile


J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

it is an upper-bound method, caution should be exercised in applying it
outside the range of parameters for which it has been tested.
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An approximate, but general, three-dimensional model has been devel-
oped using the upper-bound method of the theory of plasticity. The model
can incorporate m a n y of the complex features of the physical problem,
including n o n h o m o g e n e o u s soil strength, pile-deformation mechanism
(translation to rotation, including plastic yielding of the pile), soil-pile adhe-
sion and suction, and tip rotational resistance. The predicted effects of these
features are examined in p a r a m e t e r studies. The model predictions compare
favorably with recent centrifuge test results. The method is applicable to
other related problems, such as laterally loaded caissons. An empirical
equation is fit to analysis results to allow quick estimates for commonly
occurring soil profiles.

First, consider the collapse mechanism as shown in Fig. 1. The radial
velocity in the wedge is assumed to be

vr = Vo 1 - cz cos 0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (18)

where v0 = virtual velocity at the pile head; R = pile radius; Zo = wedge

depth; c and e~ = optimization constants; and r, z, and 0 = coordinates.
This field satisfies the kinematic boundary conditions for a variety of con-
ditions such as lateral translation (c = 0), and rotation about a point at any
depth Zr = zo/c.
A purely cohesive material deforms incompressibly so that
~rr + ~00 + gzz = 0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (19)
or from the strain-rate-velocity relationships (assuming vo = 0)
Ovr + v~ + Ovz
0--; r ~ = O ......................................... (20)

substituting (18) into (20) and integrating gives

vz = g ( r , O ) ( z- 2Zo] + h ( r , O ) ............................. (21)

(~ - 1)R ~
g(r, 0) = vo rl+~ cos 0 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (22)

and h(r, 0) = an unknown function determined by boundary conditions at

the interface between the wedge and the nondeforming soil, where the
velocity is parallel to the slip surface

7fir - - (r0 - R) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (23)

"Oz Z 0


J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

on the failure surface defined by
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= (r~
z0 \r0_--(7-X!
r'~ ........................................... (24)

Thus, from (18), (21), and (23), it can be shown that

ro - r 1 + c
h ( r , O) = VoZo cos 0 \ro - R] -ro---7-- r

+ - - ............................... (25)

completing the velocity field.

The strain rates can be determined from the strain-rate-velocity rela-
tionships. In this case, all six independent components are nonzero.
The unit energy dissipation for yon Mises and Tresca materials are, re-

E 1 = Su'V/~ijEi] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (26a)
where repeated indices indicate summation, and

E1 = 2Sul~lmax 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (26b)
where I~1 = the largest absolute principle strain rate. The dissipation rate
within the wedge is then
ff=ro ~z=zo[(ro--r)/(ro-R,]fj:=~r/2)
D, = 2 =n az=o E,rdOdzdr .............. (27)

Second, the tangential velocity at the wedge-rigid-soil interface is

Iv,I = x/577-~
--- v r ~ / 1 -}- ~
( / (28)

and vr at this interface can be determined from (18) by substituting the

equation for the wedge surface
r ---(ro- R) + ro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (29)

The unit dissipation on the surface

& = SulVt[ ................................................. (30)
and the total dissipation is the surface integral

be = I E2 d A ............................................ (31)

or, after simplifying

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107
] t,o
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/32 = 2 v 0 1 + \ ~ ] 1 + \ Zo /

R~ 1-c
t ~zo
9J s. ,~-1 dz .............................. (32)

r~ -- z~

Third, if the soil is totally or partially adhered to the pile at the pile-soil
interface, then dissipation occurs at a rate
E~ = ns.[v, I ................................................ (33)
where ~q = 0 for no adhesion; and ~q = 1 for full adhesion. The velocity,
v,, is the resultant of vertical and circumferential slip, i.e.
v, = X/v~ + v 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (34)
The vertical slip is given by (21), (22), and (25). The circumferential slip
is due strictly to pile m o v e m e n t and is
vc = Vo sin O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (35)
The total dissipation is then

D3 = 2 f[=~~
=0 (~
J0=0 " q s , ~ R dO dz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (36)

Fourth, for soil below the wedge, the velocity is assumed to be in a horizontal
plane. The dissipation rate along a unit pile length is then
E4 = D ' s u ' N p ' v ........................................... (37)
where N e is determined from the Randolph-Houlsby plane-strain solution.
The dissipation above the center of rotation of the mechanism is then

04 = 2VoZ' s , N p R dz' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (38)


for (Zo/C) <- l, or

= fz'=(zo/~)-zo ( C ) s , N p R dz ' (39)

D4 .Iz'=(zo/c)-I 2VoZ' ~ .........................

for (Zo/C) > l. In this case z' = (Zo/C) - z.

Fifth, the dissipation below the center of rotation only occurs for (Zo/C)
< I and is

D5 = 2VoZ' s , N p R dz' . ........................... (40)


where z' = z - (Zo/C).

Sixth, if the work done in rotating through a plastic m o m e n t at the center

J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107

of rotation is less than the dissipation in the soil below the center of rotation,
then the plastic moment is critical and its dissipation is
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/])5 = M20 = [M21v~0~ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (41)


Seventh, the work done by the soil weight in a gravitational field is

WI= 2 =R Jz=0 ~o=0 Vz~fr dO dz dr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (42)

where Vz is given by (21).

Eighth, the aforementioned development provides the terms necessary
to carry out the upper-bound assessment. For piles or caissons with relatively
small depth to diameter ratios, it may be desirable to include terms to
account for dissipation over the pile or caisson tip. In this case, the failure
surface is idealized as a spherical segment fixed to the pile tip with a center
at the point of rotation.
Using a spherical coordinate system with origin at the intersection of the
center of rotation of the mechanism and the centerline of the pile, the
dissipation is integrated over the spherical surface limited by its intersection
with the pile wall. After simplification, this gives

D6 - v~ f+=2~ (o~=sin-l(R/RX/~)Su.~V/COS20)
-}- sin2to sin2tb sin r dr dtb
Z0 J+=O J~=0
.......................................................... (43)
w h ~ = distance from the center of rotation to the pile tip, R2 =
~/R~ + R 2 (radius of the spherical surface); + = angular coordinate about
the pile centedine (in horizontal plane); and o~ = angular measure from
the pile centerline (in vertical plane).


Broms, B. B. (1964). "Lateral resistance of piles in cohesive soil." J. Soil Mech. and
Found. Div., ASCE, 90(2).
Chen, W. F. (1975). Limit analysis and soil plasticity. Elsevier Publishing Co., Am-
sterdam, The Netherlands.
Drucker, D. C., and Prager, W. (1952). "Soil mechanics and plastic analysis or limit
design." Quarterly of Appl. Math., 10(2), 157-165.
Georgiadis, M. (1983). "Development of P-y curves for layered soils." Proc., Conf.
on Geotech. Practice in Offshore Engrg., ASCE, Apr., 536-575.
Hamilton, J. M., Phillips, R., Dunnavant, T. W., and Murff, J. D. (1991). "Cen-
trifuge study of laterally loaded pile behavior in clay." Proc., Int. Conf. Centrifuge
1991, ISSMFE.
Matlock, H. (1970). "Correlations for design of laterally loaded piles in soft clay."
Proc., Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Tex.
Murff, J. D., and Miller, T. W. (1977). "Foundation stability on non homogeneous
clays." J. Geotech. Engrg. Div., ASCE, 103(10), 1083-1095.
Ralston, T. D., and Taylor, T. P. (1975). "Crushing pressure of ice." Report by
Exxon Production Research Company for Alaska Oil and Gas Association Project
No. 31, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Cold Regions Res. and Engrg. Lab.
(CRREL), Hanover, N.H.
Randolph, M. F., and Houlsby, G. T. (1984). "The limiting pressure on a circular

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pile loaded laterally in cohesive soil." Geotechnique, London, England, 34(4),
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Reese, L. C., Cox, W. R., and Koop, F. D. (1975). "Field testing and analysis of
laterally loaded piles in stiff clay." Proc., Offshore Technology Conference, Hous-
ton, Tex.


The following symbols are used in this paper:

c= optimization parameter;
D = pile diameter;
/~,/~1 . . . . . /~4= local energy dissipation rates;
F = force;
h(r, 0) = function of r, 0;
le = equivalent layer thickness;
l1 = top layer thickness in two layer system;
Mp = plastic moment;
Np = nondimensional bearing capacity factor;
N1, N2 = constants;
p -- lateral soil pressure on pile;
Pmax = maximum lateral soil pressure;
R = pile radius;
Rt, R2 = radii used in derivation of end restraint;
r, z, 0 = cylindrical coordinates;
ro = radius of deforming wedge, optimization parameter;
su = undrained shear strength;
v = velocity;
vc, Vr, Vt, Vz = velocity components;
vp = pile velocity;
v0 = virtual velocity;
W, Wa = external work rates;
y = lateral pile displacement;
z0 = depth of wedge, optimization parameter;
= exponent, optimization parameter;
[3 = pile rotation rate;
= soil effective unit weight;
g, ~ij = strain rates;
-q = soil-pile adhesion factor;
h = empirical exponent;
= empirical constant; and
dO, m = spherical coordinates.


J. Geotech. Engrg., 1993, 119(1): 91-107