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5th Young Indian Geotechnical Engineers Conference 2014

March 14-15, 2014, Vadodara, India

AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF VERTICALLY LOADED PILE GROUPS

Rajesh Prasad Shukla


Former Post Graduate Student, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Kanpur, Kanpur 247667.
shuklarajesh4687@gmail.com

Nihar Ranjan Patra


Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Kanpur, Kanpur 247667.
nrpatra@iitk.ac.in
ABSTRACT: Piles foundation is a deep foundation and are generally used in group and the behaviour of single pile is
different from a pile within a group. Interaction between piles within a pile group affects the piles response in a group.
Group interaction effects depends on type of material, spacing of piles within pile group, foundation media, embedment
depth. This paper present the results of a series of model tests conducted in the laboratory to determine the ultimate
capacity of single pile and pile group in a cohesionless soil. The model tests are conducted in a mild steel tank of size
1mx1mx0.75m. Model piles used in model tests are made of hollow aluminum circular tubes of diameter 32mm and
having variable embedment depth. Closed end capped model piles are used in experiment and uniformly graded Ennore
sand grade II is used as foundation medium. Effects of spacing, embedment depth and number of piles on ultimate
capacity of piles have been determined. The ultimate capacity of model piles have been increased with increase in
embedment depth, spacing and number of pile in group. Effect of embedment depth becomes more prominent as number
of piles in pile group increases. Influence of number of piles in pile group become prominent as spacing between piles
increase.

1. INTRODUCTION
Heavy and multi-story structures are generally supported
by deep foundations to transfer the structural loads to the
deeper strong subsurface strata, especially in areas where
soft soil is found in the upper soil layers (Cubrinovski and
Taylor, 2011). Pile foundation is a subgroup of deep
foundation. Pile foundations are consisting of a shaft, a
cap and a toe. The purpose of a pile is to transfer the
structural load to a hard and strong level in order to
minimize the chances of failure, excessive deflection and
settlement by resisting lateral, vertical and uplift loads.
Piles can be classified with respect to load transmission
and functional behaviour, based on type of material used,
based on installation method, based on effect of
installation and various other means (Bowles, 1988).
Loads on pile are shared by means of its tip (end bearing)
and in shaft friction around the perimeter (shaft friction).
Piles are generally used in group and behaviour of a single
pile is always different in a group and this difference is
due to interaction between piles within a group. But
conventionally, the design load of a pile is always
determined for a single pile (Poulos and Davis, 1980). To
avoid interference effect, piles spacing within pile group
kept more than or equal to 3 times the diameter of pile
shaft (Prakash and Sharma, 1980).

Various empirical and semi-empirical methods are


available in literature to determine the axial load capacity
of pile group but most of theory is not universally
accepted (Vesic, 1967). Generally, the bearing capacity of
pile group is calculated in consideration to block failure in
a similar way to that of single pile. The ultimate bearing
capacity of pile group may be less than, equal or more
than the summation of individual pile, depending upon the
method of installation, density of sand and pile material
(Prakash and Sharma, 1980). From last decades various
studies have been conducted on pile to evaluate the pile
performance and major contribution consist of Vesic
(1967), Mayerhof (1976), Poulos (1968), Randolph and
Wroth (1979), Mylonakis & Gazetas (1998), Poulos &
Mattes (1971), Southcott & Small (1996), Cao & Chen
(2008), Chen & Chen (2008), Chen et al. (2011).
Vesic (1967) reported that the efficiency of the pile group
increases with the increase of the pile diameter and
slightly decreases due to an increase in the pile spacing.
Meyerhof (1976) conducted full-scale load tests of pile
groups in sand up to failure and found that the ultimate
group load in the driven piles with center-center spacing
of about 2 to 4 pile diameters is greater than that of the
sum of the ultimate load of the single piles. Poulos (1968)
presented the integral equation method for the analysis of
pile groups subjected to vertical loading by considering
the soil as an elastic continuum and using the two-pile
interaction factor approach. Randolph and Wroth (1979)

5th Young Indian Geotechnical Engineers Conference 2014


March 14-15, 2014, Vadodara, India

used an approximate method to evaluate deformation of


pile group on the basis of displacement superposition.
Mylonakis & Gazetas (1998) extentended same method
but in more realistic way by considering interaction
between soil displacement and pile. Stiffness of pile was
considered as well. Poulos (1968), Poulos & Mattes
(1971), Poulos & Davis (1980) considered the group
interaction in the form of interaction factor and
determination of these factors are easy and most popular
in this method compared to other methods. Southcott &
Small (1996) presented a limited parametric study based
on a finite element method for single pile and pile group
and observed that at critical thickness, stiff layer causes
considerable reduction in the settlement of stiff piles. Cao
& Chen (2008) considered soil as a semi-infinite medium
im analysis and method was modified by Chen & Chen
2008, and Chen et al. (2011) for infinite case.
It may not be economical to conduct large-scale
instrumentation test on pile and pile group to study the
response of pile and experimental analysis can be
considered as a very good alternative to full scale test,
under a well-controlled environment. These experiments
provide the flexibility and repeatability that cannot be
achieved in field tests. In present analysis only vertical
piles have been considered to analyses the group
interaction effect. Different embedment depth, different
spacing and number of piles have been considered in
analysis.
2. MATERIAL USED IN ANALYSIS AND
EXPERIMENTAL SETUP
Foundation Material
For foundation material Indian standard sand of grade-II
(Ennore sand) has been used. Ennore sand is taken for
foundation material as its behaviour is considered free
from time effect. This sand is bought from Chennai. And
effect of environment factors are very less on this sand.
The laboratory test results are shown in in table 1.0.
Results of direct shear test and sieve analysis test is shown
in figure 1 and figure 2 respectively.

100
80
60
Percentage finer (%)

40
20
0
0.01

0.1

10

Particle size (mm)


Fig. 2 Grain size distribution of soil

Table-1 Results of laboratory test

Property

Value

Maximum void ratio (emax)


minimum void ratio (emin)
Maximum dry density
Minimum dry density
Minimum dry density
Unit weight of sand (d)
Coefficient of curvature (Cc)
Uniformity coefficient (Cu)
Relative density (Dr )
Angle of internal friction ()
Pile soil friction ()

0.78
0.58
16.8 kN/m3
14.4 kN/m3
14.4 kN/m3
15.60 kN/m3
0.97
1.70
54.3
34.210
20.500

Model Piles and piles cap


The model piles are fabricated from a hollow circular
aluminum tube with an outer dimension of 32 mm wall
thickness of 1 mm and length varies with L/d ratio.
Embedment lengths of 320 mm and 640 mm were adopted
for all the tests. The cross section of model piles was kept
constant throughout the investigation. The aluminum pile
can be spitted longitudinally into two pieces. Pile cap are
made of 13 mm thick aluminum plate on which the
working vertical load is applied. The top portion of the
pile was threaded to connect it to pile cap.

Fig. 3 Model Piles and piles cap


Fig. 1 Direct shear test result of soil

5th Young Indian Geotechnical Engineers Conference 2014


March 14-15, 2014, Vadodara, India

tilting of piles cap and to keep pile vertical, so that loads


were placed truly horizontally at the center of pile cap.

Tank and Experimental Setup


A mild steel of thickness 6 mm and size 980mm x 980
mm x 750 mm and stiffened at different levels to avoid
volume change during testing has been used in analysis.
A complete setup is shown in figure 3.0
Accessories
To measure the settlement of the pile and pile group two
dial gauges of 0.01mm sensitivity and 50.mm capacity
have been used. Dial gauges are placed on the top surface
of aluminum strips at equidistant from the center of the
pile cap and aluminum strip is attached to pile caps using
four nut-bolts.
Different types of fastenings were used to connect piles to
pile caps. C-clamps have been used to fasten the pile
groups to the model tank during sand filling to avoid any
disturbance to the piles and sand in near pile zone. There
is plenty of other ancillary equipment used for proper
functioning of experimental program. These include
aluminium strips, pliers and wrenches, measuring tape etc.

Dial Gauge
Loadings
Aluminum strip

Tank

Pile cap

Model pile

Filling was started again and continued until the half of


the pile length is embedded in the sand, and then mild
steel plates are removed carefully. Sand pouring was again
started till the required embedment depth is reached. The
sand surface is levelled carefully. The method of sand
pouring gives a dry density of 15.60 kN/m3 Rainfall
technique has been already used by researcher to get the
desirable density (Pise (1977), Chattopadhyay & Pise
(1986), Patra & Pise (2001)). Dial gauges with magnetic
base plate are then placed in position using two mild
plates which is fixed in tank. Four aluminum metal strips
have been connected to piles cap by using nut and bolt to
provide support to the dial gauges, by means of which
vertical settlement of pile cap was measured. The vertical
loads are applied in incremental order. Measurement of
vertical settlement was done directly by noting down the
reading of dial gauges. Two dial gauges attached to
magnetic bases are used to measure the displacement and
then measured displacement averaged to get the final
displacement. The ultimate compressive capacity of single
and group of piles were determined from load
displacement responses. At the end of experiments the
density of sand is checked by a dynamic penetrometer.
The number of blow required to penetrate the
penetrometer for same depth is recorded near the edge
portions of tank to avoid disturbance to setup.
4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Compression tests have been conducted to find out the
ultimate compression capacity of pile & pile group in
sand. Tests were carried out on single piles and pile
groups (2x1, 3x1 and 2x2) at varying spacing of 3d, 4d
and 6d to study the effect of group interaction on capacity
of pile group. To avoid interference effect, piles spacing
within pile group kept more than or equal to 3 times the
diameter of pile shaft and present study used spacing
equal to and greater than 3 times diameters.

Fig. 4 schematic diagram of setup used in testing

3. EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE

The ultimate compressive capacity

First pile cap was fixed with pile and pile group at the
outside of tank. To fill the tank at particular required
density sand is dropped from a fixed height to achieve a
fix density. Tank is filled up to base level of pile, and then
piles were place in tank. After filling sand in tank up to
approximately tip of pile, filling was stopped and piles
were placed on tank with the help of two flat mild steel
plate and C-claps. Proper care has been taken while
placing the pile and pile group in tank. The setup is then
checked by visual observation & by sprit leveler to avoid

The ultimate compressive capacity of single and group of


piles were determined from load displacement responses.
The criterion for establishing the gross ultimate load from
load-displacement diagrams are well stabilized in
literature (Poulos & Davis, (1980), Vesic (1967),
Berezentzav (1965)). The point where the loaddisplacement curve exhibits a peak or maintains a
continuous displacement increase with no further increase
in load is considered as a failure point. The general trend
of all load-displacement diagrams is more or less same.
The load displacement curves for single and group of piles
in compression are shown in figure 4.0 and 5.0.

5th Young Indian Geotechnical Engineers Conference 2014


March 14-15, 2014, Vadodara, India

Fig. 5 Load-settlement curve for singe pile

Fig. 8 Effect of spacing on ultimate capacity of pile (L/d=10)


Effect of embedment ratio
Ultimate load capacity of single pile and pile group
increases with increase in embedment ratio from L/d=10
to 20, for different spacing and various configuration.
From figure 7.0 it can be observed that effect of
embedment depth becomes more prominent when number
of piles in pile group increased. Effect of embedment
depth is less in case of single pile and 2x1 pile compared
to 3x1 and 2x2 pile group.

Fig. 6 Load-settlement curve for 3x1 pile group


Effect of Spacing
Ultimate capacity of pile group is increased with increase
in spacing between piles for a given configuration. At
lower spacing, the ultimate capacity is less due to
overlapping of pressure bulb of piles within pile group.
With increase in spacing, capacity of pile groups are
increased and are shown in figure 6.0. Influence of
spacing on ultimate capacity is higher at lower spacing
and on this basis, it can be assumed that after certain
spacing group interaction may become negligible.

Fig. 7 Effect of spacing on ultimate capacity of pile (L/d=20)

Fig. 9 Effect of embedment depth on pile capacity (2x1)

Fig. 10 Effect of embedment depth on pile capacity


(3x1)

5th Young Indian Geotechnical Engineers Conference 2014


March 14-15, 2014, Vadodara, India

CONCLUSION
Compression tests have been conducted to find out the
ultimate compression capacity of pile & pile group in
sand. Tests are carried out on single piles and pile groups
(2x1, 3x1 and 2x2) at varying spacing of 3d, 4d and 6d to
study the effect of group interaction on capacity of pile
group. The trend of all load-displacement diagrams is
more or less same for all pile group and configuration.
Fig. 11 Effect of embedment depth on pile capacity
(2x2)

Effect of number of pile


Capacity of pile group increased with increase in number
of piles within pile group. From figure 8.0, it is observed
that the influence of number of piles in a pile group
becomes more prominent as spacing between piles
increase. Influence of number of piles is more prominent
at spacing 6d compared to spacing 4d similarly effect of
number of piles is more at spacing 4d compared to 3d.

Ultimate capacity of pile group is increased with increase


in spacing between piles for a given configuration.
Influence of spacing on ultimate capacity higher at lower
spacing. Ultimate load capacity of single pile and pile
group increases with increase in embedment ratio.
Embedment depth becomes more prominent as number of
piles in pile group increased. Capacity of pile group
increased with increase in number of piles within pile
group. Influence of number of piles in pile group becomes
more prominent as spacing between piles increase.
Ultimate capacity of a pile group in cohesionless soils is
always greater than the sum of individual pile for a
spacing equal to more than 4d. For spacing between piles
3d, sometimes efficiency of pile is found more than one
and sometime it becomes less than one so in practical use
it is better to keep pile spacing always more than or equal
to 4d in cohesionless soil.
ACKNOWLEDGE
First Author is very thankful to the Head of Department of
Civil Engineering, IIT Kanpur for providing laboratory
facilities for performing the tests in department laboratory.
This work is a part of M.Tech dissertation.

Fig. 12 Effect of number of piles on ultimate capacity of pile (L/d=20)

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March 14-15, 2014, Vadodara, India

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