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Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

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Computers and Geotechnics


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Analysis of soil resistance on laterally loaded piles based on 3D soilpile interaction


Youngho Kim, Sangseom Jeong
Department of Civil Engineering, Yonsei University, Seoul 120-749, Republic of Korea

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 8 July 2010
Received in revised form 8 October 2010
Accepted 10 December 2010
Available online 7 January 2011
Keywords:
Lateral load transfer method
py curve
Three-dimensional nite element analysis
Soil continuity
Soil resistance
Soilpile interaction

a b s t r a c t
The load distribution and deection of large diameter piles are investigated by lateral load transfer
method (py curve). Special attention is given to the soil continuity and soil resistance using threedimensional nite element analysis. A framework for determining a py curve is calculated based on
the surrounding soil stress. The appropriate parametric studies needed for verifying the py characteristic
are presented in this paper. Through comparisons with results of eld load tests, the three-dimensional
numerical methodology in the present study is in good agreement with the general trend observed by
in situ measurements and thus, represents a realistic soilpile interaction for laterally loaded piles in clay
than that of existing py method. It can be said that a rigorous numerical analysis can overcome the limitations of existing py methods to some extent by considering the effect of realistic three-dimensional
combination of pilesoil forces.
2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
In South Korea, a number of large projects involving land reclamation for an international airport, high-speed railway and harbor
construction are being undertaken in both urban and coastal settings. Drilled shafts are used in these projects as a viable replacement for driven piles for two applications: deepwater offshore
foundations and foundations in urban areas where there are noise
and vibration issues associated with pile driving. Recently, the
large diameter pile and drilled shaft (1.0 m greater in diameter)
have been used as foundations for a long span bridge and a highrise building subjected to high winds and the need to resist large
lateral loads. Though axial loading is a major consideration in
designing such structures, large lateral loads necessitate the use
of large diameter piles.
Lateral force-resistance in a large diameter pile is complex and
derived from three-dimensional processes [6]. These processes include: (1) passive lateral soil resistance along the leading face of
the pile, and (2) shearing along the toe of the shaft and around
the shaft perimeter. In addition, axial forces can affect the lateral
behavior. A thorough analysis of such a force system requires
sophisticated three-dimensional numerical methods.
Much work has been done on a laterally loaded pile by many
researchers. Several empirical and numerical methods have been
proposed for analyzing the load-deformation behavior of piles subjected to a lateral load. However, the lateral load-transfer curve
method, often referred to as the py curve method, has been the
Corresponding author. Tel.: +82 2 2123 2807; fax: +82 2 364 5300.
E-mail address: soj9081@yonsei.ac.kr (S. Jeong).
0266-352X/$ - see front matter 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.compgeo.2010.12.001

most widely used to predict the load transfer characteristics of


piles subjected to lateral loads [2,1416,1921]. It consists of analyzing the pile as a structural beam on soil supports (springs). The
soil spring modulus is generally not a constant but is a nonlinear
function of the depth, soil stiffness, and pile deection. This method is based on a numerical solution of a physical model based on a
beam-on-elastic foundation. However, a rigorous analytical approach of the lateral pile response is difcult to achieve because
the soil resistance around laterally loaded piles is a very complex
nonlinear three-dimensional problem as mentioned above. It can
be explained that the prediction results for laterally loaded piles
appear to differ from their real behaviors, even though precise
analyses are performed to obtain the experimental py curve. For
optimum design of laterally loaded piles, three-dimensional soil
continuity as well as the nonlinearity of the soilpile system
should be considered. The advancement of computer technology
has made it possible to investigate this three-dimensional mechanism using more rigorous nite element (FE) analysis.
In the early stage of FE applications, Randolph [18] presented a
2D FE solution modeling soil as an elastic continuum and the pile
as an elastic beam. With the advance of FE computing techniques,
it is now possible to use 3D FE modeling techniques. For example,
Jeremic and Yang [11], and Fan and Long [8] presented a 3D FE
analysis of laterally loaded piles in soils by modeling soil as an
elasto-plastic material and the pile as a linear-elastic material. Recently, Chik et al. [7] and Taha et al. [22] presented a 3D FE analysis
to simulate a lateral load test using PLAXIS where soil is modeled
with a MohrCoulomb elasto plastic model. The numerical modeling techniques based on the FE provide versatile tools that are
capable of modeling soil continuity, soil nonlinearity, soilpile

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Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

interface behavior, and 3D boundary conditions. In particular, FE


analysis is a continuum approach, so it can consider coupled
soilpile interaction automatically, which the traditional load
transfer method cannot.
This study presents a lateral load-transfer curve to take into account realistic soilpile interaction through a series of 3D FE analyses. In this study, the soil resistance for a pile subjected to lateral
loads was computed directly by integrating the stresses in the soil
elements around the circumference of the pile. The modeling techniques and analysis results were validated using eld measurements of lateral load tests performed at Incheon in South Korea.
In addition, the major parameters that inuence the lateral loadtransfer curve are discussed for different soilpile conditions.
2. 3D Finite element modeling procedure
2.1. FE mesh and boundary conditions
A 3D FE model to simulate the response of a single pile under
lateral loads in clay using PLAXIS 3D Foundation [17] is presented
here. To verify the FE model, the lateral load test results at Incheon
site employed to test the 3D FE model predictions.
The typical 3D FE mesh used to analyse a pile subjected to lateral loads is shown in Fig. 1. The overall dimensions of the model
boundaries comprise a width of 11 times the pile diameter (D)
from the pile center and a height equal to the pile length (L) plus
a further 0.7 L below the pile-toe level. These dimensions were
considered adequate to eliminate the inuence of boundary effects
on the pile performance [26]. The mesh consists of 15-node wedge
elements, with a total of 17,500 nodes. The outer boundary of the

mesh is xed against displacements. The pile and soil are modeled
with nite elements, which allow for rigorous treatment of soil
structure interaction. Here, the analysis of a laterally loaded pile
in clay is conducted under undrained conditions.
2.2. Material parameters and interface modeling
The pile is considered as linear-elastic material at all times,
while for the surrounding soil layer the MohrCoulomb non-associated ow rule is adopted. The interface element modeled by the
bilinear MohrCoulomb model is employed to simulate the pile
soil interface. The interface element is treated as a zone of virtual
thickness. It behaves as an element with the same material properties as the adjacent soil elements before slip occur. A decreased value of shear modulus is assigned to the interface element when a
slip mode occurs in the interface element. The decrease of strength
for the interface element is represented by a strength reduction
factor Rinter in PLAXIS. The interface properties are calculated from
following equation:

cinter Rinter csoil ;

tan /inter Rinter tan /soil

where cinter and /inter are the cohesion and friction angle of the
interface, and csoil and /soil are the cohesion and friction angle of
the soil mass.
In numerical analysis, the initial equilibrium state is of great
importance. The specied initial stress distributions should match
with a calculation based on the self-weight of the material. After
the initial step, the applied loading was simulated by the application of a lateral load at the top of the pile. The modeling of the pile
installation process is rather complicated, so that pile is assumed

Applied Load

Pile

Upper marine clay

Lower marine clay

Siltyclay

Residual soil

Weathered rock

0.7L

Soft rock

(a) 3-D view

11D

(b) Plan view

Fig. 1. Typical 3D model for FE analysis: (a) 3D view; (b) plan view.

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Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

is obtained by relating the soil resistances p to the corresponding


lateral deections y of the pile at that depth.

to be in a stress-free state at the beginning of the analysis, and the


effect of the pile installation is ignored.
2.3. Determination of soil response in FE analysis

3. Validation with eld lateral load tests

The soil resistance for a pile subjected to lateral loads is computed directly by integrating the stresses in the soil elements
around the circumference of the pile. Fan and Long [8] have reported that using soil element around the pile is an effective way
to predict the lateral soil resistance (p). Based on this concept,
the stresses in the soil elements at the Gauss points closest to
the pile are taken as the soil stresses between the pile and soil. A
cross-section of a pilesoil system with a lateral load applied in
the x-direction is shown in Fig. 2. The closest Gauss points to the
pile in the soil elements are on the dashed circumference. The soil
resistance per unit length along the pile is the x-component of the
total stress acting on the dashed circumference. The x-component
stresses at a point in a soil element can be represented by a traction vector, Tx, as follows:

T x r0xx nx r0xy ny r0xz nz

3.1. Load test program and setup


In this section, the comparison results with in situ measurements are discussed. Kim et al. [12] and Jeong et al. [10] carried
out a series of eld load tests in order to investigate the behavior
of large diameter piles in clay subject to lateral load.
The test site was located at the Incheon Bridge, Korea. The
mapped local geology is that of a marine deposit. The shallow
surface layers are of great interest for this study because laterally
loaded piles typically receive most of their support from the soil
in the upper 710 pile diameters [3]. Therefore, extensive in situ
and laboratory testing was performed to characterize the soil conditions of the upper layer. The soil prole near the surface consists of layers of silty clay and silty sand underlain by a marine
clay deposit. The water table was located near the natural ground
surface during the load tests. The cohesive surface soils consist of
low-plasticity silts and clays classied as ML or CL according to
the Unied Soil Classication System (USCS). The undrained shear
strength was typically 1842 kPa, although some layers had
strengths of 125 kPa. The strength increases with depth in a relatively linear manner from 0 to 15 m. Consolidation tests show
that the soils are normally to very slightly overconsolidated.
The summary of eld and laboratory test results is summarized
in Fig. 3.
To investigate the lateral load-transfer curves of piles placed in
clay, full-scale eld load tests were performed on 6 instrumented
piles under a free pile head condition. A schematic representation
of an instrumented pile subjected to a lateral loading test is shown

where nx, ny, and nz are the components of the unit normal along the
x-, y-, and z-direction at the gauss point, respectively. The component ny is zero because the unit normal is along horizontal plane.
To calculate the total soil resistance px per unit length along the pile,
the soil resistance is integrated over the dashed circumference, and
px is expressed as:

px

T x dL

where L is the circumference of the closest Gauss points in the soil


elements adjacent to the pile. The py relationship at a given depth

G(xg, yg)
z
z
x
y

Pile

Interface

Stress Point
Fig. 2. Cross-section of a pilesoil system in the horizontal-direction.

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Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

cu (kPa)

N value
0

10

20

30

40

50

40

Wn (%)

80 120 160 200 10

20

30

Liquidity Index, LI
40

50

-2

-1

20

30
W 107
W 108
W 117
E 36
E 39

Wn

cu from unconfined test

LL
PL

cu from undrained triaxial test

40
Fig. 3. Results from eld and laboratory test.

INCLNOMETER
PROBE
INCLNOMETER
TUBE

STRAIN
GAUGE

Upper
Marine Clay

Lower
Marine Clay

10 spaces at 2.0m=20.0m

Depth (m)

10

6.3 m

16.5 m

Silty Clay

STRAIN GAUGE

Upper
Marine Clay

13.7 m

Lower
Marine Clay

18.2 m

Silty Clay

20.5 m

22.0 m
Residual Soil

24.0 m
26.6 m

Residual Soil

Weathered Rock
30.0 m

Steel pile
1.0m
Weathered Rock

37.5 m

Soft Rock
44.3 m
Drilled Shaft
2.4m
Fig. 4. Test pile and soil stratigraphy: (a) steel pile; (b) drilled shaft.

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Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

Table 1
Material parameters used for this study (Incheon Bridge site).
Type

Model

Pile

Steel pile
Drilled shaft
Upper clay
Lower clay
Silty clay
Residual soil
Weathered rock
Soft rock

Soil

Rock
a

Elastic
M.C.

py curve

Pile and soil properties

ONeill, Matlock
Reese py curve

Elastic

csat (kN/m3)

cua (kPa)

ls

E (MPa)

e50

Rinter

78.0
25.0
17.5
17.5
17.8
18.0
20.2
20.5

34

1530
3050
70

0.20
0.20
0.49
0.49
0.49
0.49
0.25
0.25

200,000
36,400
315
1525
27
35
110
200

0.02
0.01
0.005

0.50
0.50
0.65
0.70

Note: M.C. is MohrCoulomb model. cu is linear increment as shown in Fig. 4. Dilatancy angle (w) used 0.01 value in clay soil.

Lateral displacement (mm)


-4

Lateral displacement (mm)


-50

50

100

150

12

16

5
200

5
-5
0

Depth (m)

-10

Depth (m)

-5
-10

-15
-20
-25
-30

-15

Lateral Load
425kN, 765kN

-35
-20

Lateral Load
200kN, 600kN
Measured
3D FEM
Existing (O'Neill)
Existing (Matlock)

-25

-45

(a) Depth-lateral displacement

-30

(a) Depth-lateral displacement

Bending moment (kN.m)


-2000

Bending moment (kN . m)


-1000

1000

2000

3000

Measured
3D FEM
Existing (Reese)
Existing (Matlock)

-40

2000

4000

6000

4000

0
-5

-10

Depth (m)

Depth (m)

-5
-10

-15
-20
-25

-15
-30
-20

-35
Lateral Load
200kN, 600kN

-25
-30

Measured
3D FEM
Existing (O'Neill)
Existing (Matlock)

(b) Depth-bending moment


Fig. 5. Computed and measured response of steel pile: (a) depth-lateral
displacement; (b) depth-bending moment.

-40

Lateral Load
425kN, 765kN
Measured
3D FEM
Existing (Reese)
Existing (Matlock)

-45

(b) Depth-bending moment


Fig. 6. Computed and measured response of drilled shaft: (a) depth-lateral
displacement; (b) depth-bending moment.

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Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

in Fig. 4. The lateral load was applied at a point 0.5 m above the
ground surface. The steel piles (LTP-1, LTP-2 and LTP-3) had an outer diameter of 1.016 m and a wall thickness of 16 mm. Each pile
was driven (using an oil pressure hammer) such that 1.0 m of the
pile remained above the ground surface. The nal depth of the driven piles was recorded as 25.6 m. The drilled shafts (LTP-4, LTP-5,
LTP-6) had a 2.4 m diameter, 45.0 m embedment length, and was
9.1 m above the ground surface. Excavation was performed by
the reverse circulation drilling (RCD) method. The reinforcing cage
consisted of 34 D41 longitudinal bars (41 mm) with a D19 (19 mm)
transverse spiral at an 11 cm pitch for the pile length. Normalweight ready-mix concrete was used to construct the shaft-column, with a target compressive strength of 30 MPa. For the lateral
load test, the load was increased substantially up and down for
60 min at each load level. This procedure was repeated until the
anticipated design load was reached and a total of seven load
increments were applied.

3.2. Experimental py curves


Experimental py curves (measured py curves) derived from
lateral load tests are important to the research for investigating
the lateral load transfer characteristics. Derivations of the experimental py curves using load test data from fully instrumented lateral load tests usually involve mathematical techniques. First of all,
the bending moment prole along the depth was plotted on the
graph using the cubic spline method. Next, soil resistance per unit
length (p) of a pile was derived using double differentiating technique on the moment-depth prole. Consequently, it can be expressed as
2

d M

where p is net soil resistance per unit length of a pile; M is the bending moment at depth z. The lateral pile displacement (y) along the

200

120

80

40

60

40

20

0.02

0.04

0.06

0.08

0.002

0.004

0.006

0.008

Lateral displacement, y (m)

Lateral displacement, y (m)

(a) 2D depth

(a) 2D depth

0.01

100

200
Measured
Pred. 3D FEM
Pred. O'Neill
Pred. Matlock

120

80

60

40

40

20

0.02

Measured
Pred. 3D FEM
Pred. Reese
Pred. O'Neill

80

Soil resistance, p (kN/m)

160

Soil resistance, p (kN/m)

Measured
Pred. 3D FEM
Pred. Reese
Pred. O'Neill

80

Soil resistance, p (kN/m)

Soil resistance, p (kN/m)

100

Measured
Pred. 3D FEM
Pred. O'Neill
Pred. Matlock

160

dz

0.04

0.06

0.08

0.002

0.004

Lateral displacement, y (m)

Lateral displacement, y (m)

(b) 4D depth

(b) 4D depth

Fig. 7. Comparison of py curves (steel pile): (a) 2D depth; (b) 4D depth.

0.006

Fig. 8. Comparison of py curves (drilled shaft): (a) 2D depth; (b) 4D depth.

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Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

depth used the measured value directly or the double integration of


the bending moments prole.

3.3. Comparison with eld measurements


All data of the eld load tests were adopted to construct a 3D
nite-element model. At the vertical boundaries, lateral displacements were restrained, whereas xed supports were applied to
the bottom boundaries. Based on the Coulombs frictional law,
interface elements were used to simulate soilpile interaction in
terms of slippage and gapping at soilpile interface. The soil
parameters used in the nite element analysis were obtained from
the eld soil investigation. In eld condition, the stiffness depends
signicantly on the stress level, which means that the stiffness
generally increases with depth. In order to account for the increase
of the stiffness with the depth the Eincrement value could be used,
based on the undrained shear strength prole. This concept is
based on the results of previous researches by USACE [24] and
Liang et al. [14]. Moreover, FE results are tested by comparing them
with existing py curves, i.e. the ONeill py curve [16] and the
Matlock py curve [15] for clay. For this, the generated py curves
and other soil properties are implemented in a nite difference
program (i.e. LPILE or FB-pier etc.) to compute the response of
the test pile under the applied lateral loads. Nonlinear pile stiffness
(EpIp) was used to take into account of the evolution of stiffness
degradation due to material cracking. Table 1 shows the material
properties used in FE and py analyses of eld load tests. In this
FE model, an isotropic linear elastic model was used for the pile
structures, a non-associated MohrCoulomb model for soil layers.

The material properties have accordingly been chosen from the


eld load tests.
Based on the constitutive model parameters described previously, the validation of the response of the laterally loaded pile is
presented in terms of the lateral deection, the bending moment
distribution, and the py curves at various depths. As shown in
Figs. 5 and 6, FE analysis closely predict the general trend of the
measured displacement and bending moment compared with the
existing py analyses. Although, a reasonably good agreement between the proposed and the existing py curves is obtained for the
initial loading step, the existing py curve analyses have a larger
displacement and bending moment than those of the proposed
py curves beyond the initial loading step. This demonstrates that
for the py curves there exist different shapes, which result from
different values of the magnitude of ultimate soil resistance (pu)
and the modulus of subgrade reaction (K), so that these curve
shapes have an inuence on the set of prediction results. This concept is in general agreement with the observations of Yang and
Liang [27] and Lam [13].
Figs. 7 and 8 show the computed py curves at various depths. It
is shown that the FE analysis at most points closely approach the
measured soil response, while the results from the ONeill and
Matlock models show signicantly lower magnitudes of the ultimate soil resistance per unit length (pu). It can be explained that
the existing method does not reect the appropriate combination
of soilpile forces which is required for three-dimensional soil continuity. This combination forces are considered automatic in FE
analysis. Therefore, set of prediction results provides reasonable
accordance of the inuence of force equilibrium due to the load
transfer during lateral loading.

Table 2
Summary of material properties (parametric studies).
Type

Model

L (m)

D (m)

Ip (m4)

E (MPa)

Pile

Elastic

M.C.
Elastic

25

1.0
2.0
3.0

0.049
0.785
3.976

2600
26,000
260,000
315
8000

Clay
Rock

ls

csat (kN/m3)

cu (kPa)

W ()

0.2

23

0.49
0.25

17.5
20.2

1525

0.01

Lateral Load
1.0m

1.0m
Clay
6.0m
7.0m

Clay or Rock
Clay

1.0m

2.0m

Rigid pile (Short pile)

23.0m
24.0m
Clay or Rock

1.0m

2.0m

3.0m

Flexible pile (Long pile)


Fig. 9. Subsurface prole and pile embedments (parametric studies).

3.0m

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Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

4. Parametric study

the Broms criterion is applied to the piles in clay. The value of pile
characteristic (b) can be assessed from the following equation:

To examine the inuencing factor of a lateral load transfer that


could not be specically identied in the eld load tests, a series of
FE analyses on drilled shafts in clay soil were performed based on
the major inuencing parameters, such as the pile diameters (D),
the pile length (L), the pile elastic modulus (Ep), the interface property (Rinter), and the bearing layer. Table 2 summarizes the conguration and material properties used in the analysis.

s
4 K av e
b
4Ep Ip

4.1. Effect of soilpile rigidity


Based on the soilpile rigidity criterion [4,18], the soilpile
rigidity is a direct function of the pile characteristic (b) and pile
length (L). In order to verify the effect of lateral soilpile rigidity,

where Kave is the average value of the modulus of subgrade reaction


(K) and EpIp is the exural rigidity of the pile. To obtain detailed
information on the pile behaviors based on soilpile rigidity, piles
with the same elastic modulus, (Ep) but different pile diameters
(D) and embedment lengths (L) were employed as shown in Fig. 9.
The effects of pile diameter and embedment length at a 2 m and
4 m depth are shown in Fig. 10, respectively. There are so many researches about the effect of the pile diameter and the pile length on
the modulus of subgrade reaction (K, Initial slope of py curve).
Terzaghi [23] and Vesic [25] concluded that the diameter and
length of piles have no effect on the modulus of subgrade reaction.

F.E.M.: Depth=2.0m
F.E.M.: Depth=4.0m

500
Rigid Pile,

20000

15000

10000

5000

0
0

0.5

1.5

2.5

3.5

Rigid Pile,

Embedded in clay soil

Flexible Pile, Embedded in rock mass

400

300

200

100

4
0

Pile Diameter, D (m)

(a) Rigid pile

Pile Diameter, D (m)


Fig. 11. Ultimate soil resistance of py curves for various pile diameter.

25000
F.E.M.: Depth=2.0m
F.E.M.: Depth=4.0m

160

20000

Soil resistance, p (kN/m)

Modulus of subgrade reaction, K (kN/m2)

Embedded in clay soil

Flexible Pile, Embedded in rock mass

Ultimate Soil Resistance, p u (kN/m)

Modulus of subgrade reaction, K (kN/m2)

25000

15000

10000

5000

120

80

Depth : 2.0m
6

Ep : 2.65E kPa
7

Ep : 2.65E kPa
8

Ep : 2.65E kPa

40
Depth: 4.0m
6

Ep : 2.65E kPa
7

0.5

1.5

2.5

3.5

Ep : 2.65E kPa

Pile Diameter, D (m)

(b) Flexible pile


Fig. 10. Initial slope of py curves for various pile diameter: (a) rigid pile; (b)
exible pile.

Ep : 2.65E kPa

0
0

0.005

0.01

0.015

0.02

Lateral displacement, y (m)


Fig. 12. Initial slope of py curves for various elastic moduli of pile.

Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

Additionally, Ashford and Juirnarongrit [1] indirectly veried that


the modulus of subgrade reaction is independent of pile diameter
when examining full-scale vibration tests results on drilled shaft
in a sand deposit. However, Carter [5] found from his own eld test
data that the diameter and the length of piles exerted signicant
effect on modulus of subgrade reaction. From the present studies,
it is found that the lateral load transfer was highly inuenced by
the pile diameter as the characteristic length increased (belong
to exible pile category). Similar results concerning the effect of
soilpile rigidity on K were found previously by Guo [9] in his
numerical study. Therefore, the initial slope of py curve increases
linearly with the increase of the pile diameter when the pile is designed to be exible pile.
The relationship between the ultimate soil resistance (pu) and
the characteristic length (bL) is also investigated using the same
set of py curves, as shown in Fig. 11. It can be seen that the ultimate soil resistance has a linear relationship with pile diameter,
regardless of the characteristic length. Because the ultimate soil
resistance is generally characterized by undrained shear strength
(cu), supposedly the characteristic length (bL) has no effect on the
pu values.
4.2. Effect of pile elastic modulus
The effect of the elastic modulus of the pile (Ep) is studied. The
modulus ranged from 2.65e6 to 2.65e8 kPa in clay soil. The soil condition studied is a single layer, the upper clay in eld load test. Except for the elastic modulus of the pile and subsurface prole, all
other conditions such as load, pile diameter and pile length are
the same as that of the eld load test (D = 2.0 m, L = 25 m,
v = 0.49). The py curve is generated at a depth of 2 m and 4 m.
Based on the results, it is found that the elastic modulus of the pile
has a small inuence on the resulting initial modulus of subgrade
reaction (K), as shown in Fig. 12.

reaction and interface property is also investigated using the same


set of soil properties as discussed in previous case. The range of the
strength reduction factor was ranged from 0 to 1.0 in this case. The
computational results shown in Fig. 13 clearly indicate that the
interface properties exert no signicant inuence on the initial
modulus of subgrade reaction.
4.4. Effect of bearing layer
In order to investigate the effect of bearing layer, additional FE
analyses are conducted in single clay soil. Both the rigid and exible piles have the toe embedded in the same clay layer as used in
the previous parametric cases. Again, the py curve is generated for
a depth of 1 m. The comparison results according to existence of
bearing layer are shown in Fig. 14. Based on the results, it is fount
that the ultimate soil resistance of rigid pile only has increased by
approximately 5%, while the py characteristics of the exible pile

400

Soil resistance, p (kN/m)

256

300

200

100
Embedded in clay

Embedded in rock
D=1.0m
D=2.0m
D=3.0m

D=1.0m
D=3.0m
D=3.0m

4.3. Effect of interface property

0
As mentioned above, the interface between pile and soil was
modeled by a surface based interface technique in the PLAXIS 3D
Foundation software. The strength reduction factor (Rinter) of the
interface is the main controlling parameter of the soilpile
interface. The relationship between initial modulus of subgrade

0.04

0.08

0.12

0.16

0.2

Lateral displacement, y (m)

(a) Rigid pile


400

Soil resistance, p (kN/m)

Modulus of subgrade reaction, K (kN/m 2)

12000

8000

4000

300

200

100
Embedded in clay

Embedded in rock
D=1.0m
D=2.0m
D=3.0m

D=1.0m
D=3.0m
D=3.0m

Depth: 2.0m, Diameter: 1.0m

Depth: 2.0m, Diameter: 2.0m

0.04

0.08

0.12

0.16

0.2

Lateral displacement, y (m)


0

0.5

Interface Reduction Factor, R inter


Fig. 13. Initial slope of py curves for various interface properties.

(b) Flexible pile


Fig. 14. Comparison of py curves for various bearing conditions: (a) rigid pile; (b)
exible pile.

Y. Kim, S. Jeong / Computers and Geotechnics 38 (2011) 248257

have no effect on bearing conditions. However, this increasing rate


in rigid pile does not seem to be having much effect on the nonlinear pile analysis. Ashour and Norris [2] and Kim et al. [11] have reported comprehensive studies of pilesoil interaction. They
conclude that the magnitude and distribution of the py curves
are hardly inuenced by the shear resistance at the base of the
shaft when the pile is rigid.
5. Concluding remarks
The main objective of this study is to investigate numerically
lateral load-transfer curve with respect to steel pile and drilled
shaft, which are constructed on soil proles encountered in Korean
offshore deposits. For this work, the nonlinear 3D nite element
modeling has been presented and discussed by taking into account
the soilpile continuity. The simulation techniques and analysis results were favorably validated in the full scaled eld load test in
marine clay in terms of pile deection, bending moment, and py
curves along the length of the pile. Additionally, to examine the
inuencing factor of a lateral load transfer, a series of parametric
studies were performed. Based on the ndings of this study, the
following conclusions can be drawn:
1. By taking into account the three-dimensional soilpile interaction, the py function derived directly by integrating the stresses in the soil elements around the pile is an appropriate and
realistic representation of the lateral load transfer characteristics of large diameter piles in clay soil. It provides results that
are in good agreement with the eld test results.
2. The analysis by the existing methods produces a considerably
larger pile deection than the results obtained by the 3D FE
results. Compared to the results of the eld load tests, it is
shown that the py curve from the 3D FE analysis is capable
of predicting the behavior of a large diameter pile under lateral
loading. As a result, it can be said that a rigorous 3D FE analysis
can overcome the limitations of existing py methods to some
extent by considering the effect of realistic three-dimensional
combination forces.
3. Additionally, parametric studies have shown that the modulus
of subgrade reaction (K) and the ultimate soil resistance (pu)
increase with diameter linearly, while pile elastic modulus
(Ep), interface property (Rinter) and pile-toe condition exert no
signicant inuence on the py characteristics. Specially, it
can be explained by noting that for exible piles (bL > 2.3) the
effect of pile diameter on K is more signicant than for rigid
piles (bL < 2.3).

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the grant (10CCTI-A052531-03000000) from the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime of Korean government through the Core Research Institute.

257

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