Numerical Modeling of Piles in Collapsible Soil Subjected to Inundation

Collapsible soil exhibits considerable strength when it is dry, but when it is inundated, it loses its strength and experiences significant volume reduction. Foundations on collapsible soils subjected to inundation may experience sudden settlement without any increase in the in situ stress level. Pile foundations are often used to penetrate layers of collapsible soil to transfer the load to a lower, stronger soil layer. Nevertheless, because of indentation, these piles may experience negative skin friction, which may lead to significant reduction in the pile capacity, or perhaps separation of the pile from its cap. In the literature, although several theories can be found dealing with the design of pile foundations and the prediction of negative skin friction on these piles, little to none was found to estimate the negative skin friction because of the sudden collapse of the surrounding soils. This is mainly because of the difficulties associated in modeling collapsible soil experimentally or numerically. This paper presents a numerical model, which is capable of incorporating the effects of inundation of collapsible soil, and the negative skin friction on axially loaded vertical piles. The model uses the theories of the unsaturated soil and soil-water characteristic curve to estimate the effect of soil suction because of progressive inundation. The procedure takes place by estimating the change in the soil properties and the irrecoverable soil-volume change during inundation. The paper also presents the results of laboratory tests conducted on a single pile driven in collapsible soil subjected to inundation. The measured values of the negative skin friction compared well with the predicted values from the numerical model presented. The pile design guideline is also presented to assist designers in predicting negative skin friction because of inundation. Furthermore, the theory developed can be used to evaluate the condition of an existing pile foundation driven in collapsible soil and to establish the remedies needed to avoid catastrophic failure.


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  • Accession Number: 01494025
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ASCE
  • Created Date: Sep 18 2013 12:55PM