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Tracy Brettmann, P.E., John Wooley, P.E., Pete Bush, P.E.

By: Tracy Brettmann, P.E.1, John Wooley, P.E. 2 and Pete Bush, P.E. 3
ABSTRACT: The use of rock-socketed Augered Cast-ln-Place (ACIP) piles is new to the Austin
and central Texas region. This case history describes the design methodology, load test results,
quality control procedures and the rate of production pile installation for the first large commercial
project where ACIP piles were used in Austin. The piles were 24 inches in diameter and extended
through about 45 ft of alluvial materials to be socketed 6 ft into limestone. A full-scale
instrumented load test was performed on a test pile that was loaded to 452 tons and held for 24
hours. Telltales were installed in the middle and the tip of the test pile. As part of the overall
quality control procedures, singlehole sonic integrity logging was performed on the production
piles to verify structural integrity during pile installation. During pile production, an average of 14
piles per day were installed, which is approximately seven times faster than the original design
that consisted of drilled shaft foundations.


Project Description. Augered Cast-ln-Place Piles (also known as Auger Pressure Grouted
Piles) socketed in rock were used for the first time in Central Texas as the deep foundation system
for a new community college campus. ACIP piles were selected as an alternative to original design
consisting of cased drilled shafts due to lower costs, faster installation and higher capacity.
The project consists of three main buildings, which range from two to three stories of
approximately 20,000 to 50,000 square feet. The buildings are cast-in-place reinforced concrete
structures with column loads ranging from about 300 to 600 kips.
This design/build project was led by the general contractor, Hensel Phelps Construction.
Other members of the design/build team included Carter & Burgess as the Structural Engineer,
Fugro South as the Geotechnical Engineer, and Berkel & Company Contractors as the foundation
Foundation Options. The case history presented herein is noteworthy for several reasons,
the most prominent one being the fact that this was the first use of ACIP piles in the Austin area.
The predominant deep foundation of choice in Austin is the drilled shaft (pier, caisson, etc.). Much
of the credit for research and design advancements of drilled shaft technology has been centered at
the University of Texas at Austin through the work of Professor Lymon C. Reese and many of his
colleagues. The use of ACIP piles, and particularly rock-socketed ACIP piles in the Austin area,
was somewhat an unsuspected surprise to some of the participants in the project. The foundation
for the community college campus was originally envisioned as a drilled shaft foundation, until it was

Regional Manager, Berkel & Company Contractors, Richmond, Texas
Vice President, Fugro South, Austin, Texas
Director, Geotechnical Engineering, Fugro South, Austin, Texas

demonstrated that the ACIP pile foundation was a reasonable alternate to avoid costly steel casing.
The casing for the drilled shafts would be necessary due to a high water table and caving sands
above the rock.
The original design for this project consisted of cased drilled shafts that extended through
the alluvial clays and sands to the bedrock at about 45 ft. The drilled shafts were to have diameters
ranging from 24 inches to 42 inches, and were to extend from 3 to 6 ft into the rock. It was
estimated that an average of two drilled shafts could be installed per day. After reviewing the cost
and schedule impacts of the drilled shaft foundation on this fast track project, it was decided by the
design/build team to consider the alternate ACIP pile system.
New Equipment. Berkel & Company has recently developed a more powerful drill rig
capable of drilling into certain types of rock. Significant increases in the size, torque, weight and
horsepower of Berkel & Company's new drill rig has made socketing ACIP piles in rock more
feasible. This, in turn, allowed the design/build team to take advantage of the increased speed of
installation, lower cost, and higher capacity that the ACIP pile system offered this project.

The site of the community college campus was investigated by a total of 23 sample borings,
7 test pit excavations, and 4 large diameter augered shaft excavations. Generally, subsurface
conditions consist of about 10 ft of fill material comprised predominantly of clay and limestone
fragments, underlain by Lower Colorado River Terrace deposits, underlain by limestone and
pyroclastic rock of the Cretaceous age, Pflugerville Formation of the Austin Group. The pyroclastic
stratum probably represents extrusive low-cone volcanic flow onto the floor of the Upper Cretaceous
seas.1 Subsequently, the limestone of the Pflugerville was deposited onto and/or within the
pyroclastic flow under marine conditions.
Subsurface conditions at the test pile location were not developed based on a single boring
but were developed as a composite from at least six borings drilled in the vicinity of the test pile.
The generalized subsurface stratigraphy from those borings is presented in Table 1 below.

Stratum 1 Stiff to hard clay and limestone fill (pocket penetrometer 0.5 - 4.5) 0-12.5 ft
Stratum 2 Stiff to hard clay (CH to CL) (pocket penetrometer 2.0 - 3.0). 12.5-35 ft
Groundwater at 25 to 30 ft depth.
Stratum 3 Medium to dense poorly graded sand (SP). SPT blow counts 8 to 35 - 45 ft
50/5", average - 34
Stratum 4 Moderately hard to hard limestone and pyroclastic rock. Below 45 ft
Unconfined strength 20 tsf to 111 tsf, average strength 67 tsf.
Table 1. Generalized Subsurface Stratigraphy

Original Design. Because the magnitude of anticipated column loads was on the order of
300 to 600 kips, our foundation design gravitated towards a deep foundation system. Fugro South
recommended a drilled shaft design based on end bearing and skin friction for that portion of the
shaft penetrating the limestone and pyroclastic rock because of the relative strength of the
Cretaceous aged Austin Formation Limestone and Pyroclastic rock compared to the strength of
overburden alluvial soils. Based upon rock strengths previously discussed, an allowable tip end
bearing value of 60 ksf and an allowable side friction value of 4.0 ksf were recommended for design.
Accordingly, a 30-inch diameter drilled shaft penetrating the rock contact a depth of 10 ft was
calculated to have an allowable axial capacity of 530 kips including a factor of safety of 3.0 and
neglecting the first shaft diameter friction contribution. Friction in all overburden soils was also
Value Engineering. Although the design methodology described above is common in the
area (for these soil and rock conditions), it resulted in an expensive foundation system. The cost of
the foundation was further complicated by the presence of significant groundwater quantities in the
alluvial soil that would require the use of temporary steel casing. After pricing the original
foundation system, Hensel Phelps underwent a value engineering analysis with Berkel & Company
to evaluate the feasibility of using ACIP piles. The results of the value engineering analysis
indicated that significant cost and time savings could be realized by using ACIP piles, even with the
requirement that a full-scale load test be performed. After some discussion between Berkel and
Fugro as to the procedures and details of the load test, as well as criteria for passing and for failing
the load test, it was decided to proceed with the test in order to validate the ACIP pile system for this
ACIP Pile Design. After careful review of the geotechnical information for this site, Berkel &
Company engineers proposed a rock-socketed ACIP pile design similar to methods used in other
regions of the country2. For many projects, the capacity of ACIP piles socketed into competent rock
is restricted to the Uniform Building Code axial compressive stress limitation of 0.25 f'c. Berkel &
Company's experience installing and load testing ACIP piles socketed into rock in other regions
indicated this site was well suited to fully develop the structural compressive capacity of the piles.
The Structural Engineer had established a deflection criteria of no more than 3/8-inch (0.375 inch)
movement for the top of the foundation under design loads.
The pile diameter selected for this project was 24 inches, which provided 452 square inches
in cross-sectional area. The proposed grout mix had a 28 day design compressive strength (f'c) of
4,000 psi. Thus, the allowable compressive stress on the pile was 1,000 psi, which resulted in an
allowable design capacity of 452 kips. A factor of safety of 2.0 was used for design since a full-
scale load test would be performed. The test pile would be loaded to twice the design capacity of
904 kips (452 tons) and held for 24 hours.

Fugro South was concerned that the ACIP pile installation equipment would not have
enough torque and/or crowd (down force) to penetrate the rock. Therefore, a minimum penetration
of 3 ft or a minimum augering time of 5 minutes (refusal criteria) in the rock was established.


Installation. ACIP piles are constructed by rotating a continuous flight auger into the
ground to a depth as required by project design or performance requirements. When the required
depth is reached, a high strength flowable cement based grout is pumped under pressure through
the hollow stem auger exiting below the cutting teeth of the auger tip. The grout is forced into the
opening formed by the auger and around the auger flights, creating a head of grout on the outside
of the auger.
As the pumping continues, the auger is withdrawn in a manner to maintain the head of grout
to avoid intrusion of soil or water into the grout column. After the auger is fully withdrawn from the
ground, the pumping is discontinued. The upper portion of the pile is screened of any debris that
may have fallen into the grout during auger removal and spoil cleanup. Reinforcing steel and
access pipes for sonic logging may then be placed into the grout while it is still fluid.
Equipment. The main pieces of equipment on an ACIP pile rig include a crawler crane,
hollow stem auger, drill bits, leads, torque arm/spotter, gearbox, power unit, and grout pump. All of
these various components need to be sized correctly so that they are not only capable of safely
performing their specific function, but that all the components work well together.
For this project, a 100 ton crawler crane was used with a new, more powerful drill rig built by
Berkel & Company. This new drill rig includes a 750 horsepower hydraulic power unit coupled with
a 10,000 lb gearbox producing a torque of 88,400 ft-lbs; roughly doubling the horsepower, weight
and torque of conventional drilling equipment. This rig is capable of generating an output rotation of
44 rpm at full torque.
In addition to developing a rig powerful enough to drill into rock, special modifications to the
drill bits were also required. Several rock bits were used that were specially designed for this rig
and rock conditions. During production, an average of 14 piles per day was installed. The most
piles installed in a single day were 18.
A schematic of a typical ACIP pile rig is shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Typical ACIP Pile Rig Set-Up (Courtesy of DFI)
Grout Mix Design. The grout used in ACIP piles generally consists of Portland cement,
flyash, sand, water and an approved grouting aid. These materials are usually batched at a local
ready mix operation to produce a homogenous fluid mixture that can be pumped without difficulty
and yet stay in suspension. The mix design for the grout used on this project consisted of the
proportions shown in Table 2 below.
Material Proportion
(Ib/cu yd)
Portland Cement 752
Flyash 225
Sand 2,400
Fluidifier 3
Water 375
(45 gal/cu yd)
Table 2. Grout Mix Design

Berkel & Company proposed to take the test load up to a magnitude equal to twice the
design load of the pile. Accordingly, a maximum test load of 452 tons was proposed. Fugro South
was a bit skeptical and decided that they would wait until the test had been completed and the load
settlement behavior had been determined prior to establishing a capacity for a 24 inch pile. Fugro
South also required the 452 ton load be held in place for 24 hours, and that tell-tales be installed at
mid-height and at the top so the creep behavior of the pile tip could be monitored and so frictional
load transfer of the shaft could be calculated.
The test pile was 24-inches in diameter and 51-ft-long. The alluvial soils were 45-ft-thick at
this location; thus the test pile was socketed 6 ft into the underlying bedrock. The load test was
performed 7 days after the pile was installed. The average compressive strength of the grout cubes
taken from the test pile was 6,042 psi at 7 days. The test pile was loaded at 50 ton increments
every 15 minutes up to the maximum load of 452 tons. This load was then held for 24 hours, after
which the load was rebounded in four decrements. The results of the pile load test are shown in
Figure 2 below.

Figure 2. Results of Pile Load Test

Pile Top Movement. The average deflection of the top of the pile is plotted versus applied
load in Figure 2 above. The top of the pile had moved an average of 0.245 inches after the 452 ton
load was applied, and had moved 0.275 inches after the load was held for 24 hours. The movement
under the design load of 226 tons was about 0.10 inch.
Also plotted in Figure 2 are the elastic compression line and a calculated deflection curve.
The calculated deflection was estimated using the method by Randolph and Wroth (1978)3, that
matched the measured values quite well. The properties of the grout, soil and rock used in this
analysis are summarized in Table 3 below.
Material Avg. Compr. Assumed Shear
Type Strength Young's Modulus Modulus
Grout 6,042 psi 3,600 ksi
Soil 3.0 ksf 1,500 ksf 3.5 ksi
Rock 930 psi 100 ksi 40 ksi
Table 3. Assumed Material Properties
Pile Tip Movement. The tell-tale at the pile tip indicated a movement of 0.017 inches at the
maximum load of 452 tons (904 kips). The load transmitted to the base of the pile was estimated
using methods presented by Reese and O'Neill4 utilizing the material properties in Table 3. The
estimated load at the tip was calculated to be approximately 107 kips to correspond with the
measured deflection of 0.017 inches.
The analysis of the tip movement would indicate that about 800 kips was transferred in skin
friction to both the alluvial soils and the rock socket. A static capacity analysis of the pile assuming
reasonable skin friction values of 1.0 ksf, 1.5 ksf, 2.0 ksf and 10.0 ksf for Strata I through IV,
respectively, was performed. The calculated total skin friction load for these assumed properties is
about 793 kips. Thus, the total calculated or theoretical load with both the skin friction and end
bearing components is 900 kips. This correlates well with the actual load applied to the test pile.

Monitoring ACIP Pile Installation. Observation of the installation of the test pile, reaction
piles and production piles was performed on a full time basis by Fugro South representing the
Owner. Because the load test was to be used to validate the ACIP pile system, it was essential for
Fugro South to document the test pile installation procedures that would then be used as nearly as
possible for production pile installation. Detailed records of pile installation were kept in general
accordance with the guidelines5 of the Deep Foundation Institute (DFI).
Specifically, the Fugro South representative was on site to:

* Calibrate the grout pump with a 55 gallon drum to determine volume of grout pumped
with a single stroke of the pump;
* Verify adequate auger penetration into the limestone/pyroclastic bearing stratum;
* Verify the contractor produced a minimum grout head of 5 ft prior to the beginning of
withdrawal of the auger;
* Verify that a minimum of 115% of the theoretical volume of grout was pumped during
withdrawal of the auger by counting the number of pump strokes during each 5 ft
withdrawal interval;
* Monitor grout pump gage pressure;
* Verify grout return at ground surface at time of auger removal;
* Observe screening of the top of pile for removal of potential contamination that could
occur at the point of removal of the auger from the pile excavation;
* Record time of start and finish of auger excavation, auger withdrawal and reinforcement
* Record grout truck (ready-mix) number, volume of grout delivered, mix design
identification, batch time and amount of water added on site; and
* Observe proper installation of the pile reinforcement and dowels through the still viscous
grout, including specified number, size and length of bars.
While none occurred during installations, delays during auger withdrawal would also be
noted and documented for consideration by the engineer.
Sonic Logging. A total of 25 piles (about 20% of the piles) were
selected for sonic integrity logging tests. Sonic integrity logging is a non-
destructive test method that provides an indication of the homogeneity
and quality of the grout forming the pile shaft. Schedule 40 PVC access
pipes were tied to and installed with the pile reinforcing steel to facilitate
the logging to be performed after the grout set up. The singlehole sonic
logging (SSL) technique was used for testing the piles in which the
transmitter and receiver are inserted into a common, single access pipe6.
A typical set-up for SSL is shown in Figure 3. Crosshole sonic logging
(CSL), where two or more access pipes are utilized, is more commonly
used for larger diameter foundation elements.

Figure 3. SSL Set-Up

Logging was generally performed within 4 days of pile installation, and showed uniform
signal arrival times and signal strengths for 19 of the 25 piles logged. Indications of slight
anomalies were obtained in 6 of the 25 piles tested between 8 and 13 days after installation. The
cause of the variant readings was attributed to de-bonding of the grout to the access pipe over time
and not the presence of a pile defect. All 19 of the piles that were logged within four days after
installation showed no anomalies. The de-bonding had apparently occurred about one week after
installation. The results of the sonic logging provided additional confirmation that the ACIP piles
were uniformly constructed.
Grout Testing. Fugro South randomly selected grout trucks twice a day from which
flowcone tests and 2-inch grout cubes were made. A -inch diameter flowcone was used to check
uniformity and consistency of the grout and were used to adjust the grout flow times to between 10
and 25 seconds.
Nine 2-inch grout cubes were made twice a day in general accordance with ASTM C 109 for
subsequent compressive strength determination. Three specimens were tested at 3, 7 and 28 days.
The highest individual 28-day compressive strength achieved was 8,530 psi, while the lowest was
4,200 psi. The overall average of the 28 day strengths was 6,110 psi.

1) New, more powerful ACIP pile drill rigs have recently been developed that make
socketing piles into certain types of rock more feasible.
2) ACIP piles socketed into rock can be a faster, more cost effective deep foundation than
drilled shafts for many projects, particularly where steel casing would be required to
stabilize drilled shaft excavations.
3) The axial capacity of ACIP piles socketed into competent rock should be limited to the
compressive stress on the pile (0.25 f'c).
4) The deflection of the test pile socketed into rock was well within the structural tolerances
5) Design assumptions for ACIP piles should be verified by performing a pile load test,
which will also establish installation procedures for the production piling.
6) The quality of the ACIP pile is enhanced by having a well-written specification tailored for
the site and subsurface conditions anticipated.
7) Perform sonic logging on a percentage of completed piles within four days of installation
to verify pile integrity and as an aid in adjusting installation procedures, if necessary.
8) The owner should employ an independent geotechnical/materials engineering firm to
perform construction surveillance during installation of the ACIP piles in accordance with
DFI guidelines.


Sellards, Adkins, and Plummer (1954), The Geology of Texas, The University of Texas Bulletin 3232,
p. 573.
Mcintosh (1997), "Overview of Augered Cast-in Place Piles in Florida", Proceedings. DFI Augered Cast-in-
Place Pile Specialty Seminar, Orlando, FL.
Randolph and Wroth (1978), "Analysis of Deformation of Vertically Loaded Piles," Journal of the
Geotechnical Engineering Division, ASCE, Vol. 104, No. GT12, pp. 1465-1489.
Reese and O'Neill (1988), Drilled Shafts: Construction Procedures and Design Methods. FHWA
Publication No. FHWA-HI-88-042, pp. 265-276.
DFI (1994), Inspector's Guide to Augered Cast-in-Place Piles, First Edition, Deep Foundations Institute,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Brettmann and Frank (1996), "Comparison of Crosshole and Singlehole Sonic Integrity Logging Methods,"
Proceedings, Fifth International Conference on the Application of Stress Wave Theory to Piles, Orlando,
FL, pp. 698-707.