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Subject “Foundations on Rock“ Duncan C.Wyllie

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Date 14 July 2016
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There are two distinguishing features of foundations on rock. First, the ability of the rock to withstand much
higher loads than soil, and second, the presence of defects in the rock which result in the strength of the
rock mass being considerably less than that of the intact rock. The compressive strength of rock may range
from less than 5 MPa (725 p.s.i.) to more than 200 MPa (30 000 p.s.i.) and where the rock is strong,
substantial loads can be supported on small spread footings. However, a single, low strength discontinuity
oriented in a particular direction may cause sliding failure of the entire foundation.

Foundations on rock can be classified into three groups—spread footings, socketed piers and tension
foundations (depending on the magnitude and direction of loading, and the geotechnical conditions in the
bearing area).
a) spread footing foundation
b) Socketed piers (Rock socket) foundation
c) Tension foundations

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Rock socket

1.1 Spread footing foundation

Spread footings are the most common type of foundation and are the least expensive to construct. They can
be constructed on any surface which has adequate bearing capacity and settlement characteristics, and is
accessible for construction. The bearing surface may be inclined, in which case steel dowels or tensioned
anchors may be required to secure the footing to the rock. For footings located at the crest or onthe face of
steep slopes, the stability of the overall slopes, taking into account the loads imposed bythe structure, must
be considered.

1.2 Socketed pier (rock socket) foundation

Where the loads on individual footings are very high and/or the accessible bearing surface has inadequate
bearing capacity, it may be necessary to sink or drill a shaft into the underlying rock and construct a
socketed pier The support provided by socketed piers comprises the shear strength around the periphery of
the drill hole, and the end bearing on the bottom of the hole. Socketed piers can be designed to withstand
axial loads, both compressive and tensile, and lateral forces with minimal displacement

1.3 Tension foundation

For structures that produce either permanent or transient uplift loads, support can be provided by the
weight of the structure and, if necessary, tiedown anchors grouted into the underlying rock. The uplift
capacityof an anchor is determined by the shear strength of the rock-grout bond and the characteristics of
the rock cone that is developed by the anchor. The dimensions of this cone are defined by the developed
anchor length, and the apex angle of the cone. The position of the apex is usually assumed to be at mid-

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point of the anchor length, and the apex angle can vary from about 60° to 120°. An apex angle of about 60°
would be used where there are persistent discontinuities aligned parallel to the load direction, while an angle
of about 120° would be used in massive rock, or rock with persistent discontinuities at right angles to the
load direction. In calculating uplift capacity, a very conservative assumption can be made that the cone is
‘detached’ from the surrounding rock and that only the weight of the cone resists uplift. However, unless the
anchor is installed in a rock mass with a cone-shaped discontinuity pattern, significant uplift resistance will
be provided by the rock strength on the surface of the cone. The value of the rock strength depends on the
strength of the intact rock, and on the orientation of the geological structure with respect to the cone


In contrast to that of soil, the relatively high shear and tensile strengths of rock allows rock foundations to
support substantial tension (uplift) loads. These loads are transferred from the structure to the foundation
rock by steel anchors, comprising rigid bars or flexible strands. The anchors are secured with cement or
epoxy grout in a hole drilled into the foundation, and the head of the anchor is then embedded in, or bolted
to, the structure. In applications where movement of the structure must be limited, the anchors are
prestressed. This method of support, which mobilizes a mass of rock in the foundation to resist the uplift, is
often a more efficient support method for tensile loads than attaching the structure to a mass of concrete
with a weight equal to the applied load.

1. When a tensile load is applied to a rock anchor, this load is supported by the mass of rock in which
the anchor is embedded. The mechanism by which the load is transmitted from the steel bar, or
strand to the surrounding rock depends upon the following factors.
2. The applied load is transmitted from the steel anchor to the rock in the walls of the drill hole by the
shear stresses developed at the steelgrout and grout-rock interfaces.
3. Stresses are developed between the rock in the immediate vicinity of the anchor and the
surrounding rock. The capacity of the rock to withstand these stresses is significantly influenced by
the orientation of discontinuities in the rock

2.1 Mechanics of load transfer mechanism between anchor, grout and rock

When a tensile load is applied to a steel bar or cable that is anchored in rockwith a column of grout
(either cement or epoxy resin), shear stresses are developed at both the steel-grout and grout-rock
interfaces (Fig. 9.13). The distribution of these stresses along the length of the anchor has been studied in
laboratory model tests (Farmer, 1975), full-scale field tests (Golder Associates, 1983), and numerical analysis
(Russell, 1968; Coates and Yu, 1971; Wijk, 1978). All these results show that under elastic conditions, the
shear stress distribution is non-linear with high stresses concentrated at the top of the bond length which
diminish rapidly down the hole.

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The shear stress distribution curve shown in Fig. 9.13assumes no slippage at the interface and elastic
behavior over the full length of the anchorage. However, as the applied stress is increased, the shape of the
shear stress distribution curve becomes more linearand a greater portion of the load is carried at the distal
end of the anchor (Fig. 9.14). As the load is further increased, the bond at the proximal end of the bond
length will start to fail. Once the bond has been broken, the shear strength will be equal to the friction of the
surface. General design practice is to select a combination of applied load and anchorage dimensions such
that there is no slippage, and that the shear stress does not reach the distal end of the anchorage. That is,
the applied load for the conditions shown in Fig. 9.14, would be between Q1 and Q2

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The shear stresses developed at the steel-grout-rock interfaces along the bond length will result in a change
in the stress field in the material around the anchorage. Figure 9.15shows the results of model tests of a
tensioned anchor in sand where the bond length is at some distance below the ground surface (Hobst and
Zajic, 1977). The contours of vertical stress show that there is a zone of compression at the proximal end and
above the bond length, and a zone of dilation at the distal end and below the anchor. This stress distribution
shows the value of having the bond length embedded at some depth below the surface to contain the zone
of compressed rock. An anchor with the top of the bond length at the ground surface would have
diminished capacity because the compressed rock would not be confined. Also, the zone of dilated rock
shows how nearby structures may be influenced by a tensioned anchor

2.2 Prestressed and passive anchor

Where rock anchors are used to support tension loads, there are two different design methods that can be
used—prestressed or passive anchors (Fig. 9.17). The advantages of using prestressed anchors are that the
deflection of the head of the anchor is minimal on the application of the structural load, and they can have a
somewhat greater load capacity. This is of particular importance in the case of anchors subjected to cyclic
loads which could experience fatigue failure if not prestressed. Figure 9.17demonstrates the mechanism by
which tie-down anchors support tensile loads. In Fig. 9.17 (a), the anchor comprises two components: a bond
length l b and a free stressing length l f. Over the bond length, bond is developed between the steel and the
cement grout which secures the tie-down in the hole, while in the free stressing length, which is ungrouted
or encased in a smooth plastic sheath, no bond is developed. When a reaction plate is installed at the rock
surface and a tensile load is applied to the head of the anchor, a zone of rock between the reaction plate and
the bond length is compressed. This also develops shear stresses at the boundary between the compressed
zone and the surrounding rock. Under these conditions, the capacity of the anchor tosustain pull-out forces
depends on the shear stress in the bond length, as well as the shear strength of the rock at the boundaries

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of the zone of compressed rock (Fig. 9.17(a)). In the case of anchors installed below the horizontal, there is
additional uplift capacity in the weight of the rock mobilized between the bond length and the reaction
plate. Also, the capacity of the anchor is enhanced where the most highly stressed portion of the rock mass
at the upper end of the bond zone is below the ground surface and is confined by the surrounding rock.
Figure 9.17(b) shows an anchor which is bonded over its full length and no prestress is applied—this is
sometimes referred to as a passive anchor. In this case, the application of the structural load causes shear
stresses to be developed in the bond zone at the ground surface. Since this rock is unconfined, and may also
be weathered and/or fractured by blasting in the preparation of the foundation, its capacity to withstand the
concentrated stresses at the upper end of the anchor is less than that of the embedded anchor. The result is
likely to be partial debonding of the anchor and displacement as the load is applied.

2.3 Uplift capacity of rock anchors

Figure 9.20 illustrates two common uplift loading conditions for rock anchors—a pure tension load (a), and a
combination of tension and moment (b).

- Pure tension load

There are several possible failure modes for anchors loaded in pure tension (Fig. 9.20(a)). Failure may
occur in the steel, or in the bond at either the rockgrout or the grout-steel interfaces, or a cone of rock
with its apex near the mid-point of the anchor zone may be pulled out. Design against failure of the
anchor at the grout interfaces requires that the length of the bond zone, and the diameters of the bar

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and drill hole are proportioned such that the average shear stress is less than the working bond shear

- Combined moment and tension loading

The load condition shown in Fig. 9.20(b) comprises a combination of a moment M,and an vertical force
Qapplied to the tower structure which is anchored with a group of bolts arranged in a circular pattern
around the base

The moment applied to the structure is resisted by a force couple composed of tension T and compression C
forces. The tensile force is mobilized by the rock anchors and the compression force is mobilized by the rock
on which the tower is founded. The distance between these forces is defined by a lever arm amwhich
depends upon the load distribution in the foundation and the geometry of the anchor layout. Where the
bolts are laid out in a circular pattern and the distribution of the stresses across the base of the tower is
triangular, the lever arm is found to be about 0.7 times the diameter of the anchor bolt circle. This value for
the lever arm is in agreement with the theoretical value for the case of a triangular stress distribution in a
steel ring subjected to bending. The stability of the structure is calculated from the weight of the truncated
cone of rock mobilized in the foundation, and the strength of the rock on a portion of the cone surface that
is subjected to uplift. Assume that the apex angle of the rock cone is 90° so that the truncated cone has the
dimensions shown in the lower diagram on Fig. 9.23

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2.4 Micropile foundation

Micropiles, also known as minipiles and pin piles, are used in almost any type of ground to transfer structural
load to competent bearing strata (Figure 12.17). Micropiles were originally small diameter (2 to 4 in., or 5 to
10 cm), low-capacity piles. However, advances in drilling equipment have resulted in design load capacities
in excess of 300 tons (2.7 MN) and diameters in excess of 10 in. (25 cm). Micropiles are often installed in
restricted access and limited headroom situations. Micropiles can be used for a wide range of applications;
however, the most common applications are underpinning existing foundations or new foundations in
limited headroom and tight access locations.

Applicable soil types:Since micropiles can be installed with drilling equipment and can be combined with
different grouting techniques to create the bearing element, they can be used in nearly any subsurface soil
or rock. Their capacity will depend on the bearing soil or rock.

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Equipment:The micropile shaft is usually driven or drilled into place. Therefore, a drill rig or small pile driving
hammer on a base unit is required. The pipe is filled with a cement grout so the appropriate grout mixing
and pumping equipment is required. If the bearing element is to be created with compaction grout or jet
grout, the appropriate grouting equipment is also required.

Procedure:The micropile shaft is usually either driven or drilled into place. Unless the desired pile capacity
can be achieved in end bearing and side friction along the pipe, some type of bearing element must be
created (Figure 12.18). If the tip is underlain by rock, this could consist of drilling a rock socket, filling the
socket with grout and placing a fulllength, high-strength threaded bar. If the lower portion of the pipe is
surrounded or underlain by soil, compaction grouting or jet grouting can be performed below the bottom of
the pipe. Also, the pipe can be filled with grout which is pressurized as the pipe is partially extracted to
create a bond zone. The connection of the pipe to the existing or planned foundation must then be

Materials:The micropile typically consists of a steel rod or pipe. Portland cement grout is often used to create
the bond zone and fill the pipe. A full length steel threaded bar is also common, composed of grade 40 to
150 ksi steel. In some instances, the micropile only consists of a reinforced, grout column.

Design:The design of the micropile is divided into three components: the connection with the existing or
planned structure, the pile shaft which transfers the load to the bearing zone, and the bearing element which
transfers the load to the soil or rock bearing layer.

A standard structural analysis is used to design the pile section. If a grouted friction socket is planned, Table
12.5 can be used to estimate the sockets diameter and length. Bond lengths in excess of 30 ft (9.2 m) do not
increase the piles capacity.

Quality control and quality assurance:During the construction of the micropile, the drilling penetration rate
can be monitored as an indication of the stratum being drilled. Grout should be sampled for subsequent
compressive strength testing. The piles verticality and length should also be monitored and documented. A
test pile is constructed at the beginning of the work and load tested to 200% of the design load in
accordance with the standard specification ASTM D 1143 (Figure 12.19).

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3a) grouted root micropile execution over original foundations;
3b) creation of braced space piers and its activation to existing ceiling construction;
3c) pulling down of original bearing construction within space piers;
3d) building up of new bearing construction and subsequent pulling down of auxiliary micropile space piers;
lower grouted part of micropile is used as a permanent part of foundation.

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