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Vibro vs Pile
Pile, where the load transfer into the ground is by toe

resistance and friction at the pile perimeter.

Stone columns transmit their load into the soil by
stimulating its horizontal earth pressure without relative
displacement between column and soil
The stone column, which is characterised by high density and

stiffness, will ultimately fail by bulging as a result of the high column

load and the minimal supporting capacity of the surrounding soil.

Vibro vs Pile
Horizontal load carrying layers consisting of a combination

of coarse granular material and special geotextiles are

used, particularly below embankments and similar
structures, where horizontal forces need to be controlled.

Vibro Stone Columns

Vibro stone columns improve the foundation ground

because they are stiffer and of higher strength than the

soil which they have replaced.
They are generally installed with centre spacing of 1.53.5
m, in rows below strip footings and in triangular or square
patterns below single footings and widespread loaded
The upper 0.30.5 m of a stone column are generally less
well compacted as a result of vibrator shape and missing
lateral support from the surrounding soil.

Vibro Stone Columns

Because the column material is considerably more

permeable than the soil, stone columns act as drains

when constructed and loaded in water-bearing soils,
reducing consolidation time substantially. The fill material
also has a much higher shear strength compared to the
original soil therefore also increasing its bearing capacity.

Vibro Stone Columns

In saturated soils, the existence of stone columns reduces

the liquefaction potential of silt and sand deposits during

dynamic loading or earthquakes.

Special Equipment
When working in cohesive soils, the water management

and sludge handling on site requires special attention.

Silt and clay particles in suspension cannot be completely or easily

removed from the water before it is released into natural or artificial


Very often when soil conditions prevail where layers of

sand alternate with cohesive soils, the use of highamplitude, low-frequency vibrators is advisable

Deep Vibro Technique

Two Methods:
Wet method
Dry displacement method

Wet Method

Dry Displacement

Employed in water bearing soft soils

(Cu 10-30kN/m2)

In more stable insensitive cohesive

soils (cu = 3050 kN/m2)

Sinks by its own weight

penetrates by vibratory impact and

by its own weight and always
helped by compressed air
emanating through the bottom jets
of the machine

Collapsing soil from the side walls

of the hole is transported in the
water flow to the surface

The compressed air is used

primarily to prevent the bore from
collapsing as a result of the suction
developing when the vibrator is
withdrawn, as it is generally in a
tight fit in the ground.

When the design depth is reached,

it is always necessary to extract the
vibrator completely from the ground
to allow coarse backfill material to
be introduced in small quantities
into the bore.

On reaching the desired depth,

the vibrator is often completely
withdrawn from the bore before
it is allowed to re-penetrate
allowing the bore to be
cleaned from loosened
soil material and its
diameter to increase

Wet Method

Dry Displacement

Slight up-and downward motion with

amplitude of generally not more than a
metre, cause the backfill to be compacted
and rammed into the sides of the bore.

coarse backfill is compacted and displaced

laterally and downwards forming in this way
a tightly compacted stone column of about
0.50.6 m diameter which is well
interlocked with the surrounding sheared

Stone (12-75mm)

Stone (2-45mm)

The resulting shear stresses may cause the

soil to collapse leading to a further
increased bore diameter as the continuing
water flow, movement of the vibrator and of
the backfill transports this fine material to
the surface.

wet system primarily replaces native soil by

coarse backfill with relatively little lateral

Dry system is, in contrast, in the first place

a displacement method

Rising resistance indicated by slowing down the sinking

rate of the machine, accompanied by increased power

consumption of the vibrator motor, is a sign that column
building is completed at this level and that repetition of
this procedure should start at the next higher level.

Dry Method 1
Hydraulic power pack on the rear of the crawler crane,

produces a moderate airflow, just strong enough to avoid

suction developing when the vibrator is withdrawn from
the ground.
Too strong an airflow at too high pressure should be
avoided as it often does more damage to the fabric of soft
soils than helping to remove the vibrator from the bore
Pull down force up to 200kN

Dry Method 2
Equipped with a gravel hopper which is filled with stone

backfill at ground level and which slides up the vertical

leader to the top of the extension/ gravel container pipe.
The hopper is emptied via an airlock into the gravel
container with a capacity of approximately 0.1 m3 /m of
extension tube, allowing the stone column construction to
continue, usually without any interruption.

Dry Method Open Water

For stone columns deeper than 20 m, and for columns to

be constructed over open waters, the crane-hung bottom

feed method can be used.
For such applications special pneumatic or hydraulic
transport systems for the gravel were developed which
replace mechanical stone delivery by hoppers.

Vibrocats and develop considerable pull-down forces to

compensate the increased depth vibrator cross-section

A continuous column is formed by pulling the vibrator in
steps of 0.51.0 m within the ground, in this way allowing
the backfill to flow into the bore hole, helped by a
moderate flow of compressed air.

The material itself should be of sufficient hardness and

strength to resist the strong abrasive forces resulting from

the vibratory action of the depth vibrator. It should not
contain any organic and other deleterious material.
chemically inert and should resist in cases of aggressive

groundwater conditions any potential ion attack during the

lifetime of the foundations

The special rigs are generally equipped with vertical

leaders providing excellent guidance to the vibrator in all

working phases.
Varying soil strengths during penetration, and
obstructions, may cause the vibrator to depart from its
vertical position.

Foundation stresses acting on the improved soil lead to a

stress concentration in the material of higher stiffness, i.e.

in the stone columns, which results in a stress relief of the
soft surrounding soil.

Failure: Bulging
Bulging of the column is the main load-carrying

mechanism of a stone column, which will fail when the

surrounding soil cannot lend any further lateral support.
In homogeneous soil conditions, bulging is concentrated
within a region between the column head and a depth of
about four times the column diameter.

Short columns with lengths below four column diameters

may fail by sinking into the soil.

Design Parameters
Stone column diameter
Diameter is usually from 800-1500mm
Pattern arrangement
Installed in equilateral triangle which gives the densest packing

Replacement ratio
Quantify the amount of soil to be replaced y the stone
as=0.907 (D/S^2)
Stress concentration factor


Design Parameters
The equivalent diameter of the circular unit cell de as a

function of the column distance b can be calculated as

de = C b
C = 1.05 for the triangular pattern
C = 1.13 for the square pattern.