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Well Foundations

Introduction

Well foundations are being used in India

from very early days. Taj Mahal was

built on such foundations. Wells are

classified as deep foundations. The

main difference between a well and a

pile foundation is that, while a pile is

flexible like a beam under horizontal

loads, the well undergoes rigid body

movement under such loads.

Types of Wells

Wells have different shapes and

accordingly they are named

as

1. Circular Wells

2. Dumb bell

3. Double-D Wells

4. Double Octagonal Wells

5. Single and Double

Rectangular Wells

6. Multiple Dredged Holed

Wells

Components of Well Foundation

The various component of

a well foundations are

1. Cutting Edge

2. Well Curb

3. Bottom Plug

4. Steining

5. Top Plug

6. Well Cap

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Design of Wells

2. Size of the well and

3. Design of the other components.

Depth of Scour

Well foundations are constructed in river beds, they

should be taken to a safe depth well below the

anticipated scour level. Scour around piers depends on

several factors like flood discharge, the angle of attack

of the flow, flow obstruction etc. The scour depth is

calculated as follows.

q 13

Ds 0.473

sf

where

Ds Scour depth (m)

q Design discharge (m 3 /s)

sf Silt factor 1.76 Dm

Dm Mean diameter of soil particle in river bed (mm)

Type of material Mean diameter (mm) sf

Fine sand

0.04

0.08

0.35

0.5

Silt Factor Fine sand 0.15 0.68

Medium sand 0.3 0.96

Medium sand 0.5 1.24

Grip Length for Wells

The foundation should be taken well below the scour level to protect it from

any movement due to the force of the stream and other external forces.

1

D .Ds

3

D Grip length of well

Size of Wells

The size of dredge hole of a well varies.

In small and shallow wells, the

minimum diameter of the dredge hole

should be 1.8 m. In larger wells, the

minimum size of the dredge hole

should be 3 m. The final size is

decided after satisfying the lateral

stability condition of the wells.

Bearing Capacity of Wells

IS 3955 recommends the following formula for allowable

bearing pressure for sands based on its N value for safety

against shear failure

[5.4N 2 B 16(100 N 2 )D]

qa

100

where

qa Safe bearing capacity (kN/m 2 )

N Corrected SPT value

B Smaller dimension of well

D Depth of well foundation below scour level

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Steining

This is subjected to

different types of

stresses. At the

sinking it is subjected

to water and earth

pressure. At dredging

stage, inside surface is

subjected to water

pressure while outside

surface to the earth

pressure. IRC

recommends some

rules of thumb for

fixing the thickness of

steining which are

given below.

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Cement concrete steining

1. For circular and dumbbell - shaped wells

T k (0.01DH 0.1De )

where

k 1.1 for sandy, silty and soft clay

1.25 for hard strata including

hard clay, boulders, kankar, shale etc.

DH Height of well

De External diameter of the well

2. For rectangular and double - D wells

T k (0.01DH 0.12)

where

k 1.0 for sandy strata

1.1 for soft clay

1.15 for clay

1.20 for boulders, kankar, shale etc.

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Brick Steining

De DH

T k

8 40

where

k 1.0 for sand

1.1 for soft clay

1.25 for hard clay

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Curb

The curb of a well transfers all the superimposed loads to the soil through the

cutting edge while sinking. The material used for curbs may be timber or RCC.

The forces acting on well curb are shown in Fig(b). The total horizontal force

on the well curb on both sides is

De Di

Wcot

2

where

Di Internal diameter of well

W Weight of well and curb

per unit length along the centre line of steining

Internal angle of the well

Cutting Edge

The cutting edge is provided at the bottom of the well below the curb to cut

through the soil during sinking. It is generally made of steel and welded to an

angle iron to fit the outer dimensions of the well steining. The height of the

cutting edge is given by

qu.t

he

fc.tan

where

qu Crushing strength of rock

t Thickness of cutting edge

fc Safe compressive stress of concrete

The value of is usually taken as 300. The choice of this angle has been proved to

be suitable for easy access to the cutting edge.

Bottom Plug

well to the required

foundation level, a

concrete plug is provided.

The bottom plug transfer

the entire load to the

ground. The bottom plug

functions as an inverted

dome supported along the

periphery of the steining.

As it is not feasible to

provide reinforcement at

the bottom, it is generally

made thick and a rich

concrete mix (M20) is

used.

Sand Filling

after curing, the well is filled with

sand in saturated condition. Sand

filling provides

2. Eliminate the tensile forces at the

base

3. Cancels hoop stresses induced in

steining

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Top Plug

after the filling is

completed. Top plug

helps in transferring the

load of the pier and

superstructure to the

steining. The thickness

of the top plug is

generally kept greater

than 50 % of the smaller

dimension of the dredge

hole. If sand filling is

used, the top plug is

simply constructed using

PCC of 1:2:4 otherwise

it is reinforced with steel

bars and lean concrete

of 1:3:6 is used.

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Well Cap

are different, the well cap forms an

interim layer to accommodate the

pier. The well cap is so designed that

the base of the pier is provided with a

minimum all round offset. The centre

of the well cap is made to coincide

with that of the pier and not with that

of the well. Such positioning nullifies

the effect of the minor shifts which

might have occurred during well

sinking.

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Stability Analysis of Well Foundations

A well foundation supporting a bridge pier is subjected

to vertical and horizontal forces. The various forces

acting on the well are

1. Self weight of the well and its superstructure

2. Live loads

3. Water currents and buoyancy

4. Temperature, wind and earth quake

5. Breaking and tracking forces

6. Resistance of the well walls

7. Base and skin friction

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Terzaghi (1943) gave an

approximate solution

based on the analysis

of the free rigid bulk.

Resolve all forces in

vertical direction and

obtain the resultant

P V.

Resolve the forces in two

horizontal directions

i.e along and across

the pier and get the

values of PB and PL

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

The resultant vertical force PV

and the resultant

horizontal force PB are

considered for analysis.

The forces and earth pressure

distribution acting on the

well are shown in the

figure.

Pressure at any depth z below

the scour level is

p z ( Kp Ka ) zK '

z DPD DK '

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

The well is assumed to fail as

soon as the soil reaction at

the bottom is equal to PD.

For equilibrium at that

instant

( PB ) max resultant of total pressure per unit length

area of AEF - area of BCF

1 1

D 2 K ' 2DK ' D1

2 2

or

1

( PB ) max DK ' ( D 2 D1) (1)

2

Taking moment about E

1 D 1 D1

( PB ) max H 1 D 2 K ' 2DK ' D1 (2)

2 3 2 3

Solving for D1

2D1 3H 1 9 H 2 1 2 D (3H 1 D)

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Putting D1 in equation (1) and solving for D. This D is

the grip length required to sustain the maximum

horizontal force.

A safe depth can be obtained by reducing PD by a

factor of safety F. This theory is based on following

assumptions

1. The well is treated as a light bulk head

2. KP and Ka are Rankine' s earth pressure coefficients

3. There is no friction at the base and wall

Omision of these frictional forces yields a

conservative (PB)max.

If 1 and 2 are the horizontal displacements,

then the angular deflection of the centre line

of the well, is given as

1

tan ( 1 2)

D

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Stability Analysis of a Heavy Well

In the Terzaghi approximate

analysis, it is assumed that

the bulkhead tends to

rotate about some point O

above the lower edge and

tends to transfer the soil

from elastic to plastic

equilibrium. But in case of

heavy wells embedded in

cohesionless soil, the well is

assumed to rotate about its

base and the assumed

pressure distribution is

given in Fig(a). Taking the

moment about the base,

the value of (PB)max

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

1 D3

( PB ) max ' ( KP Ka )

6 H D

Normally around the well, scouring takes place.

Beyond the well surroundings, the uncovered

soil acts as a surcharge. The surcharge depth D2

is very difficult to assess and may be assumed to

be equal to half the normal depth of scour. The

pressure distribution is shown in Fig(b). The

equivlant maximum resistance force is then given as

1 D 2 ( D D 2)

( PB ) max ' K '

6 H D

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

If d is the diameter or length of the well, the total

resisting force after allowing a factor of safety, F

is given as

( PB ) max d

Pa

F

The factor of safety should not be less than 2.

The maximum pressure f at the base of the

well for the no overturning moment condition is

W

f

A

where

W is the net direct load on the well base

after making allowance for buoyancy

and skin friction

A Area of well base

z section modulus of the well base

The maximum foundation pressure

should be kept within the safe bearing capacity

of the soil assuming no tension occurs at the base.

The maximum moment on the steining occurs

where the resultant force is zero. If the shear

force is zero at a depth y below the maximum

level, then

' K' y 2 d

Pa

2F

or

2FPa

y

' K' d

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

IRC and IS Design Recommendations

The IRC and IS 3955 publications recommend

the following procedure for design of well

foundations in sand deposits (for clay the

expressions should be suitably modified)

loads, assuming elastic theory

2. Find the factor of safety of the well against

ultimate failure using ultimate load theory

CE- 471: Foundation Engineering

Causes of Tilts and Shifts

1. Nonuniform bearing capacity

2. Obstruction on one side of the well

3. Sand blowing in wells during sinking. It will cause

sudden sinking of well

4. Method of sinking: Material should be removed from

all sides equally otherwise the well may experience

tilt

5. Sudden sinking due to blasting may also cause tilting

of well

6. Irregular casting of steining will cause less friction on

one side leads to chances of tilting of well.

Rectification of Tilt

1. Eccentric grabbing

2. Eccentric loading

3. Water jetting

4. Arresting the cutting edge

5. Pulling the well

6. Strutting the well

7. Pushing the well by jacks

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