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SUPPORT OF EXCAVATION

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209.1. Types of Excavation

There are two basic types of excavations: (1) open excavations where stability

is achieved by providing stable side slopes and (2) braced excavations where

vertical or sloped sides are stabilized by structural systems that can be

restrained laterally by internal or external structural elements. Some

examples are skeleton shoring (excavation in most soils up to 20 ft depth),

box shoring (depths up to 40 ft), telescopic shoring (very deep trenches).

In selecting and designing the excavation system, the primary controlling

factors are (1) soil-type and soil-strength parameters, (2) groundwater

conditions, (3) slope protection, (4) side and bottom stability, and (5) vertical

and lateral movements of adjacent areas and eects on existing structures.

A trench shield is a rigid prefabricated steel unit which extends from the

bottom of the excavation to within a few feet of the top of the cut. Pipes are

laid within the shield, which is pulled ahead, as trenching proceeds. Typically,

this system is useful in loose granular or soft cohesive soils where the

excavation depth does not exceed 12 ft.

In trench timber shoring , braces and shoring of trench are carried along

with the excavation. Braces and diagonal shores of timber should not be

subjected to compressive stresses in excess of

(209.1)

axial = allowable compressive stress (psi)

The loads exerted on wall/soil system tend to produce a variety of potential

failure modes. These failure modes, the evaluation of the loads on the

system, and selection of certain system parameters to prevent failure are

discussed next.

A deep-seated failure causes rotational failure of an entire soil mass

containing an anchored or cantilever wall. This type of failure is independent

of the structural characteristics of the wall and/or anchor and cannot be

remedied by increasing the depth of penetration or by repositioning the

anchor. The best option to reduce the likelihood of this failure is to change

the geometry of retained material or improve the soil strengths.

rigid body rotation of a cantilever or anchored wall due to lateral soil and/or

water pressures. This type of failure is prevented by adequate penetration of

the piling in a cantilever wall or by a proper combination of penetration and

anchor position for an anchored wall.

avoided by designing these components to appropriate strength levels.

209.3. Stabilization

During the planning and design stage, if analyses indicate potential slope

instability, standard means for slope stabilization or retention should be

considered. On occasion, the complexity of a situation may dictate using very

specialized stabilization methods. These may include grouting and injection,

ground freezing, deep drainage, and stabilization, such as vacuum wells or

electro osmosis.

Figure 209.1(a ) shows a cut in clay braced with vertical sheet piles. Figure

209.1(b ) shows the same cut with the sheet piles driven to an added depth d

below the bottom of the cut. According to Bjerrum and Eide [1], the factor of

safety against heave at the bottom of a cut in clay is given by the Eq. (209.2).

Usually a safety factor of at least 1.5 is desired.

(209.2)

where c = cohesion of the clay

H = depth of cut

= unit weight of soil

N c = factor dependent on the H /B and B /L ratios (see Fig. 209.2)

B = width of trench

L = length of trench

heave in clay. (Based on Bjerrum and Eide's equation.)

The factor N c is shown in Fig. 209.2. If the factor of safety is inadequate,

then the sheet pile is driven deeper. The force P acting on the buried sheet

pile is given by

(209.3a )

(209.3b )

Figure 209.3 shows a typical schematic of a vertical cut supported by a

system of vertical and horizontal structural members. The earth is supported

by interlocking sheet piles, which in turn are supported by horizontal

the sheet pile is assumed to behave as if it is continuous over several wales,

the bending moment per unit width is given by

(209.4)

where p is the horizontal soil pressure. Alternatively, a conservative decision

may be to assume that the steel pile is pin-connected at the wales and use.

(209.5)

If the allowable bending stress in the sheet pile is F a , then the required

section modulus (per unit width) of the sheet pile is

(209.6)

The force per unit length of the wales can be approximately given by

(209.7)

The soil pressure existing behind structural elements such as sheet piles

supporting soil in an excavation can be very complex. One of the commonly

used empirical models is that due to Peck[2] which is shown in Fig. 209.4. For

a vertical cut of depth H , Peck proposed a lateral soil pressure which is a

function of the unit weight, angle of internal friction, and/or the cohesion of

the soil.

209.6.1. Sand

For an excavation in cohesionless soil (sand) the active earth pressure is

given by

(209.8)

The resultant active force (per unit length of the cut) is equal to p a H and

may be assumed to act at midheight (y = 0.5H from the bottom of the

excavation).

For a soft to medium clay, for which the undrained cohesion (c u ) is less than

H /4, the active earth pressure is assumed to grow linearly to the maximum

value over a depth of 0.25H and then remain constant (see Fig. 209.4). The

maximum value of the active pressure is given by

(209.9)

The resultant active force (per unit length of the cut) is equal to 0.88 p a H and

may be assumed to act at a height y = 0.44H from the bottom of the

excavation.

209.6.3. Sti Clay

For sti clays (unconned cohesion greater than H /4), the active earth

pressure is assumed to grow linearly to the maximum value over a depth of

0.25H , remain constant over the middle of the depth H and then decay to

zero at the bottom of the cut (see Fig. 209.4).

(209.10)

The resultant active force (per unit length) is equal to 0.75p a H and may be

assumed to act at midheight (y = 0.5H from the bottom of the excavation).

Example 209.1

A 20-ft-deep, 10-ft-wide, and 60-ft-long trench in a silty clay is braced as

shown. Struts are placed every 15 ft (longitudinally). The soil has unconned

compression strength S uc = 1000 psf and angle of internal friction = 0. The

unit weight of the soil is = 115 pcf. Assume that the sheeting is driven 5 ft

below the bottom of the cut. Calculate

1. The factor of safety against bottom heave

2. The maximum pressure on the sheet pile from the soil

3. The axial force in the bottom strut

Solution

1. Factor of safety against bottom heave is given by

H = depth of cut = 20 ft

= unit weight of soil = 115 pcf

N c = factor dependent on the H/B and L/B ratios

Using the parameters H/B = 20/10 = 2.0 and L/B = 60/10 = 6.0, Fig. 209.3

yields Nc = 7.3

2. Maximum lateral pressure: Since the cohesion is less than H /4 = 575 psf,

the soil may be classied as a soft-to-medium clay. The soil pressure (Peck)

is therefore as shown on the gure below. The maximum pressure is

calculated as

3. Using a tributary area concept, the bottom strut carries load from 4 ft

above and 3 ft below the strut. The pressure diagram is uniform (p = 690

psf). The resultant load on strut no. 3 is therefore

Sheet pile wall is a row of interlocking, vertical pile segments driven to form

an essentially straight wall whose longitudinal dimension is suciently large

such that its behavior may be based on a typical vertical slice of unit width

(usually 1 ft).

Cantilever wall is a sheet pile wall which derives its support solely through

interaction with the surrounding soil into which it is embedded. Cantilever

walls are usually used as oodwall or as earth retaining walls with low wall

heights (10 ft to 15 ft or less). Because cantilever walls derive their support

solely from the foundation soils, they may be installed in relatively close

proximity (but not less than 1.5 times the overall length of the piling) to

existing structures.

Anchored wall is a sheet pile wall which derives its support from a

combination of interaction with the surrounding soil and one (or more)

mechanical devices which inhibit motion at isolated point(s). An anchored

wall is required when the height of the wall exceeds the height suitable for a

cantilever or when lateral deections are a consideration. The proximity of

an anchored wall to an existing structure is governed by the horizontal

distance required for installation of the anchor.

dierence in soil surface elevation from one side to the other. The change in

soil surface elevations may be produced by excavation, dredging, backlling,

or a combination.

Dredge side refers to the side of a retaining wall with the lower soil surface

elevation. For a oodwall, it refers to the side with the lower water elevation.

The dredge line is the soil surface on the dredge side of a retaining or

oodwall. The wall height is measured from the dredge line. The retained

side refers to the side of a retaining wall with the higher soil surface

elevation or the higher water elevation. The backll is the material on the

retained side of the wall.

and anchors which supplement soil support for an anchored wall (Fig. 209.5).

For a singly anchored wall, anchors are attached to the wall at only one

elevation, whereas for a multiply anchored wall, anchors are attached to the

wall at more than one elevation. The anchor force is the reaction force

(usually expressed per foot of wall) which the anchor must provide to the

wall.

Figure 209.5. Sheet pile wall anchored by tie rod and deadman.

Wale is a horizontal beam attached to the wall to transfer the anchor force

from the tie rods to the sheet piling (Fig. 209.6).

Tie rods refer to parallel bars or tendons which transfer the anchor force

from the anchor to the wales.

209.7.1. Stability Design for Cantilever Walls

It is assumed that a cantilever wall rotates as a rigid body about some point

in its embedded length. This assumption implies that the wall is subjected to

the net active pressure distribution from the top of the wall down to a point

(subsequently called the "transition point") near the point of zero

displacement. The design pressure distribution is then assumed to vary

linearly from the net active pressure at the transition point to the full net

passive pressure at the bottom of the wall. Equilibrium of the wall requires

that both the sum of horizontal forces and the sum of moments about any

point must be equal to zero. The two equilibrium equations may be solved for

the location of the transition point (i.e., the distance z in Fig. 209.7) and the

required depth of penetration (distance d ). Because the simultaneous

equations are nonlinear in z and d , a trial and error solution is required.

The ultimate resistance of tiebacks in sand is given by

(209.11)

where d = diameter of the grout plug

= average eective vertical stress for the grout plug

= angle of friction of soil

In clays, the ultimate resistance of tiebacks can be taken as

(209.12)

where c a = adhesion of the clay

A brief summary of OSHA regulations [3] on excavations is presented in this

section.

repose where a danger of slides or cave-ins exists as a result of

excavation.

Sides of trenches in unstable or soft material, 4 ft or more in depth,

shall be shored, sheeted, braced, sloped, or otherwise supported

by means of sucient strength to protect the employee working

within them.

Sides of trenches in hard or compact soil, including embankments,

shall be shored or otherwise supported when the trench is more

than 4 ft in depth and 8 ft or more in length. In lieu of shoring, the

sides of the trench above the 4-ft level may be sloped to preclude

collapse, but shall not be steeper than 2V :1H .

Additional precautions by way of shoring and bracing shall be

taken to prevent slides or cave-ins when (a) excavations or trenches

are made in locations adjacent to backlled excavations or (b)

where excavations are subjected to vibrations from railroad or

highway trac, operation of machinery, or any other source.

Employees entering bell-bottom pier holes shall be protected by the

installation of a removable-type casing of sucient strength to

resist shifting of the surrounding earth. Such temporary protection

shall be provided for the full depth of that part of each pier hole

which is above the bell. A lifeline, suitable for instant rescue and

securely fastened to the shafts, shall be provided. This lifeline shall

be individually manned and separate from any line used to remove

materials excavated from the bell footing.

Where employees are required to be in trenches 3 ft deep or more,

ladders shall be provided which extend from the oor of the trench

excavation to at least 3 ft above the top of the excavation. They

shall be located to provide means of exit without more than 25 ft of

lateral travel.

Cross braces or trench jacks shall be placed in true horizontal

position, spaced vertically, and secured to prevent sliding, falling,

or kickouts.

[1]Bjerrum

[2]Peck,

Foundation Engineering, Mexico City.

[3]OSHA

Citation

EXPORT

Indranil Goswami: Civil Engineering All-In-One PE Exam Guide: Breadth and Depth,

Second Edition. Support of Excavation, Chapter (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2012),

AccessEngineering

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