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Braced Cut:

Deep excavation with vertical sides require lateral supports to prevent cave in of the earth and to
protect the adjacent areas against ground subsidence and lateral movement of the subsoil. When
excavations are shallow and ample space is available, the sides of the excavation can be sloped at
a safe angle to ensure stability. However, in deep excavations, especially in built up areas, there
may not be adequate space for providing safe slope. Moreover, it becomes uneconomical to
provide safe slopes because of large quantities the earth involved. Excavation which are laterally
supported are called ‘Braced Cuts’.
Cross Section of a Braced Cut:
Type I use of soldier beams

•Soldier beam is driven into the ground before excavation and is a vertical steel or timber beam.
•Laggings, which are horizontal timber planks, are placed between soldier beams as the
excavation proceeds.
•When the excavation reaches the desired depth, wales and struts (horizontal steel beams) are
installed. The struts are horizontal compression members.

Type II: Use of Sheet Piles

•Interlocking sheet piles are driven in to the soil before excavation.
•Wales and struts are inserted immediately after excavation reaches the appropriate depth.


 Vertical Timber Sheeting: Vertical timber sheeting consisting of planks about 8 to 10
cm thick are driven around the boundary of the proposed excavation to some depth below
the base of the excavation. The soil between the sheeting is then excavated. The sheeting
is held in place by a system of wales and struts. The wales are horizontal beams running
parallel to the excavation wall. The wales are supported by horizontal struts which extend
from side to side of the excavation. However, if the excavations are relatively wide, it
becomes economical to support the wales by inclined struts, known as rakers. For
inclined struts to be successful, it is essential that the soil at the base of the excavation be
strong enough to provide adequate reaction. If the soil can be temporarily support itself
an excavation of limited depth without an external support, the timber sheeting can be
installed in the open or in a partially completed excavation. Vertical timber sheeting is
economical up to a depth of 4 to 6 m.

 Steel Sheet Pile: In this method, the steel sheet piles are driven along the sides of the
proposed excavation. As the soil is excavated from the enclosure, wales and struts are
placed. The wales are made of steel. The struts may be of steel or wood. As the
excavation progresses, another set of wales and struts is inserted. The process is
continued till the excavation is complete. It is recommended that the sheet piles should be
driven several meters below the bottom of excavation to prevent local heaves. If the width of a
deep excavation is large, inclined bracing may be used.

Tie Backs: In this method, no bracing in the form of struts or inclined rakers is provided.
Therefore, there is no hindrance to the construction activity to be carried out inside the excavated
area. The tie back is a rod or a cable connected to the sheeting or lagging on one side and
anchored into soil (or rock) outside the excavation area.
Inclined holes are drilled into the soil (or rock), and the hole is concreted. An enlargement or a
bell is usually formed at the end of the hole. Each tie back is generally prestressed the depth of
excavation is increased further to cope with the increased tension

Use of Slurry Trenches: An alternative to use of sheeting and bracing system, which is being
increasingly used these days, is the construction of slurry trenches around the area to be
excavated and is kept filled with heavy, viscous slurry of a bentonite clay-water mixture.
The slurry stabilizes the walls of the trench, and thus the excavation can be done without
sheeting and bracing. Concrete is then placed through a tremie. Concrete displaces the slurry.
Reinforcement can also be placed before concreting, if required. Generally, the exterior walls of
the excavation are constructed in a slurry trench.

Lateral Earth Pressure Distribution:

Lateral earth pressure is the pressure that soil exerts against a structure in a sideways, mainly
horizontal direction. Since most open cuts are excavated in stages within the boundaries of sheet
pile walls or walls consisting of soldier piles and laggings and since struts are inserted
progressively as the excavation proceeds, the walls are likely to deform (as shown in figure
below). Little inward movement can occur at the top of the cut after the first strut is inserted

Typical pattern of deformation of vertical wall (Braced cuts)

Earth Pressure Distribution
• In Sand
• In Clay
In Sand
Following figures shows various recommendations for earth pressure distribution behind
sheeting This pressure, pa may be expressed as

Terzaghi and Peck’s earth

pressure distribution for loose
Terzaghi and Peck’s earth pressure
distribution for dense sand

Tschebotarioff’s Peck’s earth

Cuts in Clay
The given figures represent the different earth pressure distribution recommendations for clay. In
clay braced cuts becomes unstable due to bottom heave .To ensure the stability of braced system
γH/cb must be kept less than 6,where γH/cb is the undrained shearstrength of soil below base or
excavation level.

a) Soft to Medium Clay: φ = 0 and

Whichever is higher.

b) Soft to Medium Clay: φ = 0 and

With an average of 0.3 γ H

Loads on Braces:
Tributary Area Method
Equivalent Beam Method

Tributary Area Method

The load on a strut is equal to the load resulting from pressure distribution over the tributary area
over that strut. For e.g Strut load PB in the fig. is the load on the tributary area 1-2-3-4.

Equivalent Beam Method:

In this method entire depth is split into segments of simply supported beams and reactions can
then be determined by standard process.
Check for Bottom Heave (in clays):
Multi-Layered Soil Stratum:
An excavation is shown in figure with braced supporting system.Find the forces in each strut.

 = 18 KN/m3
C = 25 KN /m2
H = 8m
𝛾𝐻 18 𝑋 8
Now, = = 5.76> 4
𝐶 25
So, the earth pressure diagram will be:

4 𝑥 25
Pa = 18 x 8 [1-( )]
18 𝑥 8
= 44 KN
Or, Pa = 0.3 H
= 0.3 x 18 x 8
= 43.2 KN
So, Pa = 43.2 KN
The pressure distribution is shown in figure.

For calculating the strut force, each strut is assumed to carry the corresponding load based on a simple span.

Now calculating the earth pressures at each zone:

P1 = (0.5) x (43.2) x (2) = 43.5 KN
P2 = (0.5) x (43.2) = 21.6 KN
P3 = (1.5) x (43.2) = 64.8 KN
P4 = P3 = 64.8 KN
P5 =(2. 5) x (43.2) = 108 KN

Now from the first zone, taking moment at left bottom point,
∑𝑀 = 0
 (R1 x 1.5) – (P1 x 1.833) – (P2 x 0.25) = 0
 (R1 x 1.5) – (43.5 x 1.833) – (21.6 x 0.25) = 0
 R1 = 56.757 KN
∑ 𝐹𝑥 = 0
 R1 + R2’ – P1 – P2 = 0
 56.757 + R2’– 43.5 – 21.6 = 0
 R2’ = 8.343 KN

From the second zone,

𝑃 64.8
R2’’ = 3 = = 32.4 KN
2 2
So, R2 = R2’ + R2’’ = 8.343 + 32.4 = 40.743 KN
Now, R3’ = R3’’ = R2’’ = 32.4 KN
So, R3 = 32.4 + 32.4 = 64.8 KN
R4’=R3’= 32.4 KN

From the last part of the section, taking moment at left upper side,
(R5x1.5) - (P5x 1.25) = 0
(R5x1.5) - (108x 1.25) = 0
R5 = 90 KN

∑Fx = 0
R5+ R4’’-P5 = 0
90 + R4’-108 = 0
R4’= 108-90 = 18 KN
So R4 = 32.4+18 = 50.4 KN

R1 = 56.757 KN
R2 = 40.743 KN
R3 = 64.8 KN
R4 = 50.4 KN
R5 = 90 KN