Posted in Deep Foundations, STADYN

Shaft Friction for Driven Piles in Clay: Alpha or Beta Methods?

In a previous post we discussed beta methods for driven pile shaft friction in sands, which are pretty much accepted, although (as always) the values for \beta can vary from one formulation to the next.  With clays, also as always, things are more complicated.

Since the researches of Tomlinson in the 1950’s, the shaft friction of piles in clays has been thought to be a function of the undrained shear strength of the clay multiplied by an adhesion factor \alpha , thus

f_s = \alpha c_u

This was seriously challenged by Burland (1973) who noted the following:

Whereas the use of undrained shear strength for calculating the end bearing capacity of a pile appears justified there seems little fundamental justification for relating shaft adhesion to undrained strength for the following reasons:

  1. the major shear distortion is confined to a relatively thin zone around the pile shaft (Cooke and Price (1973)).  Drainage either to or from this narrow zone will therefore take place rapidly during loading;

  2. the installation of a pile, whether driven or cast-in situ, inevitably must disturb and remould the ground adjacent to the pile shaft;

  3. quite apart from the disturbance caused by the pile there is no simple relationship between the undrained strength and drained strength of the ground.

Burland buttressed his case by noting that

\beta = K tan \phi

and presenting a graph similar to the following:

Beta Image 1

where, as seen earlier,

  • K_o = 1 - sin \phi is in red.
  • tan \phi is in blue.
  • \beta is in green.

Since, for the ranges of drained friction angles for clay (20-25 deg.) the value for \beta was relatively constant, value of \beta were relatively invariant with friction angle, and thus could be estimated with relative accuracy.  His empirical correlation was very successful with soft clays, not as much with stiff ones.

The year after Burland made his proposal, McClelland (1974) noted the following:

It is not surprising that there is a growing dissatisfaction with attempts to solve this problem through correlations of \alpha with c_u .  This is accompanied by a growing conviction that pile support in clay is frictional in character–that load transfer is dependent upon the effective lateral pressure acting against the side of the pile after it is driven.

However, \beta methods–which would embody McClelland’s preferred idea–have never been universally accepted for pile shaft friction in clays.  A large part of the problem, as noted by Randolph, Carter and Wroth (1979) is that the lateral pressure itself is dependent upon the undrained shear strength of the soils.  It is thus impossible to completely discount the effect of undrained shear strength on the shaft friction, even with the remoulding Burland and others have noted.

This has led to the “hybrid” approach of considering both undrained shear strength and effective stress.  This is embodied in the American Petroleum Institute (2002) specification.  A more advanced version of this is given in Kolk and van der Velde (1996).  They give the \alpha factor as

\alpha = 0.9\left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right)^{-0.2} \left( \frac {c_u} {\sigma'_{vo}} \right)^{-0.3} \leq 1

The notation is the same as in this post except that we add c_u , which is the undrained shear strength.

In this case the unit shaft friction is given by the equation

f_s = 0.9\left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right)^{-0.2} \left( \frac {c_u} {\sigma'_{vo}} \right)^{-0.3} c_u

There are a couple of things worth noting about this.

The first is that we can transform this into a \beta method of the form

f_s = \beta \sigma'_{vo}

with the following multiplication

f_s = 0.9\left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right)^{-0.2} \left( \frac {c_u} {\sigma'_{vo}} \right)^{0.7} \sigma'_{vo}

(A similar operation appears in Randolph (2005).)

in which case

\beta = 0.9\left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right)^{-0.2} \left( \frac {c_u} {\sigma'_{vo}} \right)^{0.7}

The only thing we would have to do is to find a way to incorporate the limiting condition for \alpha , which we will discuss shortly.

The second thing is that the term \left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right) appears in both this formulation and that for sands in this post.  The difference is that, while Kolk and van der Velde (1996) use the term in a power relationship, Randolph (2005) uses it in an exponential way.  The basic concept in both is the same: the term is at a maximum at the pile toe and decays toward the mudline.

The two are compared in the figure below.

kandvdv-vs-randolph

Here the quantity \left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right) is at the x-axis and the following is at the y-axis:

  • Kolk and van der Velde Method for Clays, \left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right)^{-0.2} in red.
  • Randolph Method for Sands, e^{-\mu \left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right)} in blue, where \mu = 0.05 .
  • e^{-\mu \left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right)} in green, where \mu = 0.02 .

The graph illustrates the problem (from a computational standpoint) with the Kolk and van der Velde method: there is a singularity in their coefficient using the power relationship at the pile toe, while the exponential relationship yields a value of unity at this point.  The last correlation in green is approximately the best fit of the exponential relationship with the power relationship of Kolk and van der Velde, using either 1-norm or 2-norm methods.  It is not very good; it would be interesting, however, to see what kind of value for \mu might result if this had been in Kolk and van der Velde’s original statistical correlation equation.

In view of all this, perhaps the best way to enforce the limit is to do so as follows:

\left( \frac {L-z} {d} \right)\geq1

From all this, we can say that it is certainly possible to compute shaft friction for driven piles with a \beta method provided we include the effects of the undrained shear strength.

References

In addition to the original study and previous posts, the following references are noted:

Kolk, A.J., and van der Velde, A. (1996) “A Reliable Method to Determine Friction
Capacity of Piles Driven into Clays.” Proceedings of the 28th Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, TX, 6-9 May.  OTC 7993.

McClelland, B. (1974) “Design of Deep Penetration Piles for Ocean Structures.”  Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, ASCE, Vol. 111, July.

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Posted in Deep Foundations

Deep Foundations for Transportation Facilities: A Historic Perspective

This is a presentation slide show given by Mr. John G. Delphia, Texas Department of Transportation, Bridge Division, Geotechnical Branch Manager.  It’s a nice overview of deep foundations for transportation structures, including both drilled shafts (which TxDOT has excelled at since the days of O’Neill and Reese) and driven piles.

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In addition to our own terms and conditions, please note the terms and conditions of the slide show, which are contained in the last slide and which we agree with.  We should also note that this slide show contains content from our companion site vulcanhammer.info, especially from our pages on differential acting hammers, leaders and onshore hammers.

Posted in Uncategorized

An Important Announcement About vulcanhammer.info

After a summer of eclipses and hurricanes, we’re pleased to announce that vulcanhammer.info has finally moved to its new platform as of yesterday. Click here and check out what we have to offer. Most of the content has gone with the site; we’ve added many photographs and used the transition to correct many of the […]

via We’ve Moved At Last, But Took the Online Pile Routines Somewhere Else — vulcanhammer.info

Posted in Geotechnical Engineering, STADYN

Lateral Earth Pressure Coefficients for Beta Methods in Sands

In our last post we considered some basic concepts behind beta methods for determining beta coefficients for estimating shaft friction for piles in sands.  The idea is that the unit friction along the surface of the pile can be determined at any point by the relationship

f_s = \beta \sigma'_{vo}

where f_s is the unit shaft friction, \sigma'_{vo} is the vertical effective stress, and \beta is the ratio of the two, which can be further broken down as follows:

\beta = K tan \phi

where K is the lateral earth pressure coefficient and \phi is the internal friction angle of the soil.  Our last post showed that, when compared with empirically determined values of \beta , values of K determined from more conventional retaining wall considerations are not adequate to describe the interaction between the shaft of the pile and the soil.

Needless to say, there has been a good deal of research to refine our understanding of this relationship.  Also, needless to say, there is more than one way to express this relationship.  The formulation we will use here is that of Randolph, Dolwin and Beck (1994) and Randolph (2003), and was recently featured in Han, Salgado, Prezzi and Zaheer (2016).  The basic form of the lateral earth pressure equation is as follows:

K = K_{min} + (K_{max} - K_{min}) e^{-\mu \frac {L-z}{d}}

Let’s start on the right end of the equation; the exponential term is a way of representing the fact that the maximum shaft friction (with effective stress taken into account) is just above the pile toe and decays above that point to the surface of the soil.  This was first proposed by Edward Heerema (whose company was instrumental in the development of large steam and hydraulic impact hammers) in the early 1980’s.  (For another paper of his relating to the topic, click here.)

In any case the variables in the exponential term are as follows:

  • \mu = rate of exponential decay, typically 0.05
  • L = embedded length of pile into the soil
  • z = distance from soil surface to a given point along the pile shaft.  At the pile toe, L = z and L-z = 0 , and the exponential term becomes unity.
  • d = “diameter” of the pile, more commonly designated as B in American textbooks.

K_{min} is the minimum lateral earth pressure coefficient.  It, according to Randolph, Dolwin and Beck (1994) “can be linked to the active earth pressure coefficient.” Randolph (2003) states that its value lies in the range 0.2-0.4. We stated in our previous post that

K_a = \frac {1 - sin \phi} {1 + sin \phi}

How do these two relate?  Although in the last post we produced extensive parametric studies on these, a simpler representation is to compare the active earth pressure coefficient with Jaky’s at-rest coefficient, which is done below.

Beta Image 4

The at-rest coefficient from Jaky is in blue and the active coefficient from Rankine is in red.  The range of 0.2 < K_a < 0.4 approximately translates into 25^\circ < \phi < 45^\circ , which is a wide range for granular soils but reasonable.

That leaves us K_{max}.  Randolph, Dolwin and Beck (1994) state that

K_{max} = S_t N_q

N_q , of course, is the bearing capacity factor at the toe.  It may seem odd to include a toe bearing capacity factor in a shaft equation, but keep in mind that cavity expansion during pile installation begins (literally) with an advancing toe.  Typically 8 < N_q < 40 depending upon whether the sand is loose (low end) or dense (high end.)  S_t “is the ratio of the radial effective stress acting in the vicinity of the pile tip at shaft failure to the end-bearing capacity.”  Values for S_t vary somewhat but generally centre around 0.02.  This in turn implies that 0.16 < K_{max} < 0.8 .  Inspection of the complete equation for K shows that, if L = z and the exponential term is at its maximum, K_{min} cancels out and the range of K_{max} is a range for K .

Comparing this result to the graph above, for larger values of \phi these values of K are greater than those given by Jaky’s Equation, which is what we were looking for to start with.  To compute \beta , we obviously will need to multiply this by tan \phi (or tan \delta ).  For, say, \delta = 35^\circ , this leads to \beta_{max} = 0.8 \times tan 35^\circ = 0.56 .  By way of comparison, using Jaky’s Equation for K, \beta = (1 - sin 35^\circ) tan 35^\circ = 0.30 .

From this we have “broken out” of Burland’s (1973) limitation on \beta , which was useful for him (and will be useful to us) for some soils but creates problems with higher values of \phi   Although some empirical methods indicate higher values for \beta , if we consider variations in S_t and other factors, this differential can be minimised, and in any case this is not a rigourous excercise but a qualitative one.

One thing we should further note–and this is important as we move forward–is that there is more than one way to compute K_{max} .  Randolph (2003) states that, when CPT data is available, it can be computed as follows for open-ended piles:

K_{max} = 0.01 \frac {q_c}{\sigma'_{vo}}

where q_c is the cone tip resistance.  Randolph (2003) recommends the coefficient be increased to 0.015 for closed-ended piles.  Making generalisations from this formulation is more difficult than the other, but the possibility of using this in conjunction with field data is attractive indeed.

At this point we have a reasonable method of computing \beta coefficients.  However, we still have the issue of clay soils to deal with, and this will be done in a subsequent post.

References

In addition to those previously given, we add the following:

  • Han, F., Prezzi, M., Salgado, R. and Zaheer, M., (2016), “Axial Resistance of Closed-Ended Steel-Pipe Piles Driven in Multilayered Soil“, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0001589.
  • Randolph, M., Dolwin, J., Beck, R. 1994, ‘Design of driven piles in sand’, GEOTECHNIQUE, 44, 3, pp. 427-448.
  • Randolph, M. 2003, ‘Science and empiricism in pile foundation design’, GEOTECHNIQUE, 53, 10, pp. 847-875.

 

Posted in Geotechnical Engineering, STADYN

A First Look at Estimating Beta Factors for Determining Pile Shaft Capacity of Driven Piles

In the last posting about STADYN, we put forth considerations for interface elements between the pile shaft and the soil.  Before we formally incorporate these into the model (or whether we will incorporate them or not) some consideration of how the interface actually works.  We will start those considerations by looking at methods by which the static capacity of driven piles is computed, and specifically the so-called “beta” methods which are used for cohesionless and sometimes cohesive soils.

Beta methods assume that the shaft resistance of the pile is a function of the effective stress of the soil along the pile shaft.  They assume that the horizontal stress that results from the vertical stress acts perpendicular to the surface of the pile.  The pile surface thus acts like a block on a surface with some kind of Coulombic friction acting against the downward settlement of the pile.  The beta coefficient is the ratio between the vertical effective stress and the horizontal friction on the pile, or

f_s = \beta \sigma'_o

\beta is in turn broken down into two components: the lateral earth pressure coefficient, which is the ratio between the horizontal and vertical stresses,

K = \frac {\sigma_h}{\sigma'_o}

and the coefficient of friction, or

\mu = tan \phi

We put these together to yield

\beta = K tan \phi

At this point let’s make two assumptions.  The first is that the lateral earth pressure coefficient is in fact the at-rest lateral earth pressure coefficient.  (For some discussion of this, you can view this slide presentation.)  The second is that the friction angle between the pile and the soil is in fact the same as the soil’s internal friction angle.  If we use Jaky’s formula for the at-rest condition, these assumptions yield

\beta = \left (1-\sin(\phi)\right )\tan\phi

The various components of this equation are plotted below.

Beta Image 1

The three lines are as follows:

  • K_o = 1 - sin \phi is in red.
  • tan \phi is in blue.
  • \beta is in green.

It’s interesting to note that, as K_o increases, tan \phi decreases, and so \beta is within a surprisingly narrow range of values.  This plot is similar to one shown in Burland (1973), which we will discuss later.

If this were the case in practice, estimating \beta would be a straightforward proposition.  We’ll take two examples to show that this is not the case.

Let’s start with the Dennis and Olson Method for cohesionless soils, which is described here.  To arrive at \beta they do the following:

  1. They add a depth factor, which we will not consider.  Depth factors and critical lengths are common in static methods, but they are not well documented in the field.
  2. They assume K_o = 0.8 if their values for friction angle are used.
  3. They vary the friction angle from 15-35 degrees depending upon the type of soil.

Leaving out the depth factor, for this method \beta ranges from 0.21 to 0.56.  This is a considerably wider variation than is indicated above.  Since the depth factor is frequently greater than unity, this range is even larger.

An easier way to see this is to consider the method of Fellenius.  His values for \beta are as follows:

  • 0.15-0.35 for clay
  • 0.25-0.50 for silt
  • 0.30-0.90 for sand
  • 0.35-0.80 for gravel

Again the range of values is greater than the figure above would indicate.  Why is this?

Although it’s tempting to use a straight empirical approach, let’s back up and consider the structure of the basic equation about and the assumptions behind it.  There are several ways we can alter these equations in an attempt to match field conditions better by considering these assumptions and seeing what changes might be made.

The Two Friction Angles Aren’t the Same

The first one is suggested by the notation in Dennis and Olson: the internal friction angle of the soil and that of the soil-pile interface are not the same.  Retaining wall theory (when it considers friction) routinely makes this assumption; in fact, the ratio \frac {\delta}{\phi} routinely appears in calculations.  Let us rewrite the equation for \beta as

\beta = (1 - sin \phi) tan \delta

and be defining the ratio

m = \frac {\delta}{\phi}

we have

\beta = (1 - sin \phi) tan (m \phi)

If we plot this in a three-dimensional way, we get the following result.

Beta Image 2.png

\beta is the vertical axis; m is varied from 0.25 to 1.75.  The results show that, for a given \phi , if we increase m we will increase \beta , and this increase is much more pronounced at higher values of \phi .

Although it’s certainly possible to have very high values of \delta = m \phi , as a practical matter in most cases m < 1.  Nordlund’s Method, for example indicates that m > 1 only with tapered piles, where a tapered pile face induces some compression in the soil in addition to shear.  In any case is m < 1 this will tend to depress values of \beta .  We should also note that using a ratio m does not mean that it will be a constant for any given soil.  This is especially true if \phi = 0 , where a multiplier is meaningless and we should have recourse to an additive term as well.

Jaky’s Equation Doesn’t Apply, or At-Rest Earth Pressure Conditions Are Not Present

Another assumption that can be challenged is that Jaky’s Equation doesn’t apply, or we don’t have at-rest earth pressure conditions.  Although Jaky’s Equation has done well, it is certainly not the last word on the subject, especially for overconsolidated soils (which we will discuss below.)  To try to “cover our bases” on this, let’s consider a range of lateral earth pressure coefficients by assuming that Jaky’s Equation is valid for the at-rest condition and that we need to somehow vary between some kind of active state and passive state.  The simplest way to do this is to assume Rankine’s conditions with level backfill, which just happens to be identical to Mohr-Coulomb relationships between confining and driving stresses.  (OK, it’s not all luck here…)  Thus,

K_a = \frac {1-sin\phi}{1+sin\phi}

and

K_p = \frac {1+sin\phi}{1-sin\phi}

Let us also define an active-passive factor called actpas, where actpas = -1 for the active state, 0 for the at-rest state and 1 for the passive state.  We then plot this equation

\beta = K(\phi,actpas) tan \phi

below.  Since we only have K values for three values of actpas, we’ll use a little Lagrangian interpolation in an attempt to achieve a smooth transition between the states.

Beta Image 3

We note from this the following:

  1. The dip in \beta for the high values of \phi and  -1 < actpas < 0 (states tending towards the active) may be more a function of the interpolation than the physics.  OTOH, if we look at NAVFAC DM 7.02, Chapter 3, Figure 1, we see a dip between the at-rest and active states for dense sands, which is what we would expect at higher values of \phi .
  2. Values of \beta for the active case show little variation.  Given that driven piles are subject to cavity expansion during installation, one would expect some passivity in earth pressures.  Drilled shafts are another story; however, if we look, for example, at O’Neill and Reese, values for \beta can certainly range higher than one sees with the active states above.  Bored piles, however, are beyond the scope of this discussion.
  3. For low values of \phi , there is little variation between the three states.
  4. If we compare these values with, say, those of Fellenius or Dennis and Olson, we cannot say that the fully passive state applies for most reasonable values of \phi , undrained or drained.  (Values in Nordlund, however, indicate higher values of K for larger displacements, approaching full passivity for large displacement piles.  Another look at this issue is here.)

Conclusion

If we compare the results we obtain above with empirical methods for determining \beta , we see that none of the variations shown above really allows us to match the theory we’ve presented with the empirical methods we’ve described (and others as well.)  As a general rule, \delta < \phi or m < 1 , so it’s safe to conclude that our assumption that the K can be determined using Jaky’s Equation only results in values of \beta that are too low.

It’s tempting to simply fall back on an empirical value for \beta , but for finite element analysis a more refined approach seems appropriate.  In subsequent posts we’ll look at such an approach, along with the issue of applying \beta methods to cohesive soils as well as cohesionless ones.

References

In addition to those in the original study, the following reference is mentioned here:

  • Burland, J.B. (1973) “Shaft friction of piles in clay – A simple fundamental approach.” Ground Engineering 6(3):30-42, January.