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DOI:10.1139/t94-024 CITATIONS 39 2authors: BarryMichaelLehane UniversityofWesternAustralia 148




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Displacement-pile behaviour in a soft marine clay





Imperial College, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2BU, England

Received January 22, 1993 Accepted November 4, 1993

The paper presents the results of field experiments performed using the Imperial College instrumented displace- ment pile in a soft, sensitive marine clay at Bothkennar, Scotland. These results are compared with data from sim- ilar programmes of experiments performed in other clay types with this pile so that some of the major factors con- trolling displacement-pile performance may be identified. Key words: displacement pile, instrumentation, sensitive clay, effective stress design.

Cet article prCsente les rtsultats dlexpCriences rkalisCes en nature dans une argile marine molle sensible au remaniement, B Bothkennar, Ecosse, avec le pieu B dkplacement instrument6 de 1'Imperial College. Ces rksultats sont comparCs avec les donnkes de programmes semblables d'expkriences realiskes avec ce pieu dans d'autres types d'argile de sorte que certains des facteurs majeurs contrblant la performance en dkplacement du pieu peuvent &tre identifiks. Mots cle's : pieu de dkplacement, instrumentation, argile sensible, calcul en contraintes effectives. [Traduit par la rkdaction]

Can. Geotech. 1. 31, 181-191 (1994)


This paper presents the results from a programme of Imperial College (IC) instrumented pile tests performed in a soft clay deposit at Bothkennar, Scotland. Radial effective stresses and shear stresses were monitored at a number of locations along the pile shafts during installation, equalization, and load testing. The testing programme was designed to investigate factors affecting pile performance such as pile length, equalization period, loading direction, and drainage conditions during loading. The Bothkennar results are compared in the final part of the paper with those found in a parallel series of experi- ments performed in a glacial clay site at Cowden, north- east England (Lehane and Jardine 1994), and in an earlier IC test series in London clay (Bond and Jardine 1991).

Site conditions and test procedures

Site and soil description

The UK Science and Engineering Research Council have set up a soft clay test bed site at Bothkennar, Scotland, on the southern bank of the Forth estuary (see Fig. 1). The ground conditions have been investigated thoroughly using state of the art sampling, laboratory testing, and in situ test tech- niques. Details of these investigations are reported by Hawkins et al. (1989), Hight et al. (1992), Smith et al. (1992), and others. The Bothkennar clay was deposited in an estuarine or shallow-marine environment. The soil, within the depths penetrated by the instrumented piles (1-6 m), comprises a soft black silty mottled clay with some local silt laminae; this is overlain by a 1 m thick weathered firm crust. Plasticity indices (PI) increase from -25% at 1.5 m to -50% between 4 and 6 m. Paul et al. (1992) have shown that these indices are enhanced by the moderate proportion (-3%) of organic residues bound to the clay minerals and that the PI reduces to between 20 and 25% when the residues are extracted.

'present address: University of Dublin, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.

Printcd in Canada / Imprime nu Canada

FIG. 1. Site location.

The clay fraction increases from -15% at 2 m to -40% at 6 m and consists of rock flour, kaolinites, and illites; quartz is the principal mineral in the silt fraction (50-75%). Postdepositional chemical alterations have led to some local haematite bonding between silt particles (Paul et al. 1992). The soil has a typical vane sensitivity of 5 and a liquidity index between 0.5 and 0.9. The profiles obtained in piezocone tests and quick undrained triaxial compression tests are shown in Fig. 2. Below 2 m, both the piezocone end resistance (9,) and pore pressure (u,) increase slowly with depth in a way similar to that of the undrained shear strength (c,) profiles. The peak values of c, vary with the sample type; 200 mm diam- eter Lava1 samples (La Rochelle et al. 1981) gave strengths typically 40% greater than those of 100 mm diameter piston samples; Sherbrooke "block" samples (Lefebvre and Poulin

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CAN. GEOTECH. J. VOL. 31, 1994

Cu(kPa1,UU tests





r Peak,lOOmm

piston samples


> \

FIG.2. Bothkennar geotechnical profile.

TABLE1. Primary load tests at Bothkennar
























Base pressure






q, (MPa)













0.35 at 6 mm






0.27 at 10 mm






0.51 at 13 mm





3.7 "

0.25 at 6 mm

NOTES:L, pile embedment; r,,,, equalization time prior to testing; d,,

displacement at peak shaft capacity; a,adhe-

sion factor based on c,

values from unconsolidated, undrained tests on 100 mm diameter piston samples.

1979) gave even higher strengths than Lava1 samples. This dependence on sample quality is typical of lightly over- consolidated clays. The apparent overconsolidation ratio (OCR) (or vertical yield stress ratio, YSR) at Bothkennar was estimated from oedometer tests, which followed the standard, 24 h, incre- mental load procedure (Fig. 2). These showed that the OCR reduces from -1.9 at 2 m to -1.5 at 6 m. In situ horizontal stress (KO)measurements using the self-boring pressure- meter and standard relationships between OCR and KOsug- gested that KOreduces from -0.65 at 2 m to -0.5 at 6 m. Comprehensive research into the stress-strain, yielding, and strength properties of Bothkennar clay was reported by Smith et al. (1992), Hight et al. (1992), and others. We note here that triaxial compression tests on the clay indicated large strain friction angles (+Lv) of between 35 and 38". Such high angles are thought to be primarily due to the pro- portions of rock flour and colloidal organic material found in the soil's clay fraction.

Behaviour in interjace shear Soil-soil and soil-steel interface ring shear tests have particular relevance to the behaviour of displacement piles. Lehane and Jardine (1992) describe experiments on Bothkennar clay which used interfaces of the same material and roughness as those of the instrumented piles. The tests also attempted to model the shearing history of soil elements adjacent to the shaft during installation and load testing. All samples were first subjected to fast preshearing (at 500 mmlmin) before being tested in slow (drained) shear. The peak drained resistances corresponded to friction angles of 32 & 2" in both soil on soil and soil to steel shear.

Postpeak reductions in friction angles were observed in about one third of all tests, whereas little or no loss of strength was recorded in the remainder. This unstable response led to ultimate residual angles that ranged from 25 to 32". Experiments in which rates of shearing were varied showed peak resistances increasing by -6% per log cycle for velocities up to -100 mmlmin. Above this limit, the rate effects were negative, giving a 50% reduction in shear resis- tance for a fivefold increase in velocity. This response con- trasts sharply with that seen in equivalent tests on Cowden till (Lehane and Jardine 1994).

Pile testing programme The pile instrumentation and site procedures employed at Bothkennar were generally the same as those described by Lehane and Jardine (1994) for the earlier tests at Cowden. The testing programme is summarized in Table 1, and the pile configurations are shown in Fig. 3. Four instrumented 102 mm diameter cone-ended steel, tubular piles were jacked at a typical rate of 500 mmlmin from the base of a 1 m deep cased hole to final depths of either 3.2 or 6 m. The piles were load tested after allowing an equalization period (t,,) of -4 days, with two exceptions:

(i) Pile BK3 was installed first to 3.2 m and load tested after just 2 h (BK3Cl1) to assess the short-term capacity. The pile was then jacked on to a final penetration of 6 m and retested after a period of 4 days (BK3Cl2). (ii) Pile BKlT experienced a minor leak and was load tested after a short- ened equalization period of 20 h. All piles, except BK3Cl2, were load tested to failure by applying 12 load increments over a period of about 1 h.

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Top load cell 8 displacement transducers

Steel tubular piles

R= 50.8mm

- r)- Pressuremeter pressure(PI ) limit


I Efl Lagging I







FIG.3. Pile configurations.

Avemge shaft shear stress Tav (kk)

FIG.4.Average shaft shear stresses during installation. Numbers denote pause period (min) before each jacking stage.

The excess pore pressures generated by loading did not decrease appreciably between application of the increments, indicating that the conditions at the pile shaft were essentially undrained. After attaining peak capacity, attempts were made to maintain the maximum load by pumping the loading ram continuously; this led to a maximum penetration rate of -5 mrnlmin. For the special case of pile BK3Cl2, loading was slowed down to ensure that all excess pore pressures dis- sipated between load increments; the maximum pile pene- tration rate measured in this test was 0.02 mmlmin. The instruments, which included radial-stress, shear-stress, pore-pressure, and axial-load sensors, were monitored con- tinuously during all stages of the experiments. Except for

FIG.5. Installation radial total stresses.

some damage caused by the leakage in pile BKlT, all remained completely stable throughout the field programme. Note that in the following instruments are referred to by their distance from the pile tip (h) normalized by the pile radius (R) (see Fig. 3).

Field data from Bothkennar

The results of the field experiments are separated below into those obtained (i) during pile jacking, (ii) after instal- lation, as the stresses surrounding the pile equalized with the new boundary conditions and (iii) during loading to failure.

Pile installation The piles were jacked into the ground at 500 mmlmin in a series of 200 mm pushes that were separated by pause periods. A period of about 3 min was generally required to reset the jacks, but longer pauses of up to 30 min were required on occasions when extra sections of pile were added.

Shaft resistance The variations with penetration depth of the average shaft shear stress (T,,) recorded during a typical pile installation are shown in Fig. 4. The resistance is seen to reduce from a maximum at the start of a pile push to a minimum at the end of the stroke. This trend was also observed during fast shearing tests in the ring shear apparatus (Lehane and Jardine 1992). Although each peak value varied with the length of the preceding pause period, the minimum resistances, in all cases, tended towards a consistent lower bound envelope of -5 kPa. It appears that T,, would remain on this enve- lope if the piles were pushed continuously (i.e., with no pause in jacking) to their final penetration depth. Such a

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Pore pressure (kPa1


Pore pressure (kPd


> \

FIG.6. Installation pore pressures.

condition of steady penetration is assumed in strain path analyses of the installation process (Baligh 1985). Further tests at Bothkennar (see Lehane 1992) indicated that shaft resistances were relatively insensitive to the pile displacement rate at velocities up to 500 mmlmin: the neg- ative rate effect seen in ring shear tests was not evident in the field.

Radial total stress Envelopes to the radial total stresses (ori)recorded for all four pile installations are shown in Fig. 5. Values of ori are seen to lie between the initial undisturbed horizontal stress (uhO)and the limit pressure measured in self-boring pressuremeter tests (p,). The pressures recorded by instru- ments at eight radii from the pile tip (i.e., at hlR = 8) were typically -0.8~~but reduced, within a given soil horizon, to -0.6~~when the pile tip penetrated farther to hlR = 28. The tendency for uri (as measured at fixed depths) to reduce with hlR stabilized when hlR exceeded 28. Comparable reductions of stresses with hlR were shown by the local shear stress measurements (7,).

Pore pressure The installation pore pressures are summarized in Fig. 6. It is significant that pressures recorded while the piles were moving (u,) were always less than the stationary values (us) measured during the installation pause periods. The same phenomenon has been observed in other instrumented pile tests (e.g., see Coop and Wroth 1989 or Lehane and Jardine 1994) but occurs only at fast rates of displacement and when pore-pressure sensors are located within material that has been presheared in a previous jacking stage (Lehane


As with the orimeasurements, pore pressures (u,,, and us) increased with depth and reduced with hlR. At fixed depths, us values measured at hlR = 30 were only about 70% of those recorded at hlR = 5 and approximately 35% of pore pressures measured by piezocones with elements located at hlR = 1.

Radial effective stress (cr;) Whereas similar radial total stresses were measured in the moving and stationary conditions, the discrepancies

between 11, and us led to relatively large differences between

during jacking and

the radial effective stresses c: computed

in pause periods. Radial effective stress ui appeared to fall rapidly during the first minute after jacking (as pore pressures

rose), reaching values that were close to (but greater than)

Time (mid

Time (min)






Time (min)


FIG.7. Equalization measurements.

zero and well bel~wthe initial undisturbed horizontal effec- tive stress (o;,).

Interface friction angles (6) Interface friction angles (6) mobilized during jacking may be calculated as

This equation leads to 6 angles (12-18") that are consider- ably less than the ultimate residual angles (S,,,) measured during slow shear in pile-load and ring-shear tests. The anomaly is thought to be due to differences, at high pile velocities, between pore pressures acting on the pile shaft sen- sors (u,) and those acting on the principal displacement shear surface, which probably lies a short radial distance from the shaft. The pore pressures acting on this surface were assessed to lie between the recorded values of u, and us; this assessment was based on the evaluation of pore pressures from [I], assuming the slow shear 6 value (S,,,) and the local measurements of oriand T,,.

Equalization Radial total stress The changes in radial total stress (or) which took place during equalization are summarized in Fig. 7. Here the data

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from all instrument levels are expressed using the nondi- mensional ratio


where ariis the measurement made at the end of installa- tion, and u, is the hydrostatic (ambient) water pressure. A consistent pattern is seen: HIH, remained constant for the first few minutes, but then reduced steadily, reaching an ultimate value of less than 0.5. If the material adjacent to the pile was elastic (and isotropic) throughout the equalization process, no such reduction would occur (Sills 1975). The observed behaviour reflects the interaction of a yielding zone close to the pile with the surrounding zone of (unyield- ing) high stiffness clay.

Pore pressure As witnessed during installation pause periods, pore pres- sures rose rapidly to reach maxima (urnax)approximately 1 min after the end of installation. The subsequent varia- tion of pore pressures (u) is shown in Fig. 7 in terms of the pore-pressure dissipation factor U,, where

The typical times for 50 and 85% excess pressure dissipation are 12 h and 4 days, respectively. A clear trend was found within the data spread for pressures to dissipate more rapidly near the pile tip (due to the more three-dimensional drainage conditions). Dissipation at hlR = 53 was consistently twice as slow as that at hlR = 5, and about seven times slower than rates inferred from piezocone dissipation measurements in which the sensor was located at hlR = 1. Dissipation curves obtained for the same hlR ratio, but at different soil depths, were closely comparable, showing that local variations in soil parameters were not important. Two- dimensional uncoupled consolidation analyses of the dissi- pation process indicated a mean radial coefficient of con- solidation (c,) of -1 mm2/s.

Radial effective stress (a:) The variations of a: during equalization are summarized in Fig. 7 by normalising the a: values recorded at each instrument position by their respective final equilibrium value (a:,). After about 2 min, a: values increased rapidly with time, reaching 85% of fully equalized values after 1000 min; near equilibrium was attained after 4 days. The rate of a: equalization exceeded that for pore-pressure decay because pore-pressure and radial-stress changes were prac- tically equal during the latter stages of dissipation. The final a:, values were between three and five times the minima measured shortly after installation. Summary profiles of a:, for the two pile lengths inves- tigated are shown in Fig. 8. In both cases, a:, increases with depth and falls between 0.8 and 1.4 times the free field vertical effective stress (a:,). However, the magnitudes of stresses acting on the shorter pile are about 50% greater than those developed at the same depths by the longer piles, proving that, as for the records, a:, reduces as the rela- tive depth of the pile tip (hlR) increases. This feature has been observed in all soils tested with the IC instrumented pile (e.g., see Lehane and Jardine 1994).

FIG.8. Equalized radial effective stress profiles.

Load testing Overall pile response The overall pile response obseryed in first-time load tests at Bothkennar is summarized in Ta6le 1 and described below. (1) Excluding the short-term test (BK3C/1), the peak aver- age shaft resistances (T,,,) fall within 10% of the mean value of 16.8 kPa. a values (=T,,~C,) depend on the c, value selected for their computation. For example, an average a of -0.7 is calculated using the peak triaxial compression undrained strengths of (high quality) 200 mm diameter Laval samples, whereas a value of -1.0 is obtained if c, is taken as the equivalent strength shown by (conventional) 100 mm diameter Laval samples. (2) The length of the equalization period has little effect on capacity after 1 day has elapsed. It has, however, a crit- ical influence over the first few hours, when capacities increase to about three times those measured during com- pletion of installation (see Fig. 4). (3) The shaft load displacement curves showed nonlinear characteristics from the earliest stages of loading. All com- pression piles followed similar curves until they had mobi- lized -85% of their peak capacity. However, the tension pile (BKlT) exhibited only half the stiffness of the com- pression piles. (4) The ultimate base capacities (q,) measured in load tests were comparable to the base resistances recorded dur- ing the final stages of installation. However, the base loads were -15% short of their ultimate values when the peak overall capacity was attained. Both the short- and long-term values of q, were similar to the cone resistances (q,) mea- sured at similar depths in piezocone tests.

Loading effective stress paths The variations of local stresses during the load tests are described most concisely by plotting T,, against a: at each instrument position. These "stress paths" are shown in Fig. 9 and indicate that, as at Cowden (see Lehane and Jardine 1994), the peak local shear stress (7,) can be described by the simple Coulomb equation T, = a:, tan a,, or alternatively as


where a:, is the preloading radial effective stress; a:, and 6, are the radial effective stress and obliquity at local shaft

T, = f, a:, tan 6,

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FIG.9. T,, VS.u: variations during load tests.

failure, respectively; and fL is the load test coefficient (= u:~/u:,). In all cases, radial effective stresses reduce during pile loading, giving f, values of -0.85 when peak local shear stresses are developed. The peak obliquities (6,) lie within the narrow range of 25-30", and have a mean value of 28.5". These relatively constant values of 6, and fL suggest that both parameters are insensitive to the rate and direction of loading and to the length of the equalization period: differ- ences in capacity are associated primarily with variations in the preloading radial effective stresses. The shaft shear stresses derived from the axial load distributions (f,) were in excellent agreement with the direct measurements made by the shear-stress sensors (T,,) showing that, unlike the glacial till at Cowden (see Lehane and Jardine 1994), 6, values were insensitive to minor variations in the surface properties of the pile. The postpeak data from standard "undrained" pile tests are not shown in Fig. 9. In these tests, the piles accelerated from -0.2 mm/min to -5 mm/min as attempts were made to maintain the maximum applied load after the shaft had failed. Anomalously low postpeak pore pressures were recorded (as during installation) which led to apparent ulti- mate obliquities of only -15". However, these low pore pressures (and 6 values) disappeared when the displacement rate was reduced to below -1 mmlmin. Furthermore, when a pile was reloaded, the 6, value recovered to match that seen in the first test, proving that no permanent change in soil fabric had taken place adjacent to the pile. A similar phe- nomenon was observed in the IC pile tests at Cowden (Lehane and Jardine 1994). The slow (drained) pile test (BK3Cl2) was performed to

FIG. 10. Comparison of DSS and pile test data.

investigate the postpeak behaviour more fully. The com- plete, pre- and post-peak, stress paths are given in Fig. 9 (up to a postpeak displacement of 8 mm). Note that the pre- failure portions resemble closely those of the undrained pile tests: reductions in radial total stress (a,) occurred in the drained experiment which compensated almost exactly for the pore-pressure increases seen under undrained conditions, when a, remained virtually const3nt. It may be surmised from this that the soil adjacent to'the pile is sheared under nearly constant volume condit.ions in both drained and undrained tests. Postpeak, the drained test showed only a slight reduction in 6 and little variation in a:.

Comparison of load test dnta with laboratory tests The kinematic boundary constraints associated with an

incompressible pile undergoing undrained loading impose

a constant-volume, simple shear mode of deformation on

the soil elements close to the shaft. With this in mind, and through numerical analyses of the complex consolidation stress histories experienced by these elements, Azzouz et al. (1990) proposed that undrained (constant volume) direct simple shear (DSS) tests performed on samples KOconsol- idated at OCR ~1.2should provide a reasonable model for pile loading in all lightly overconsolidated clays. Figure 10 shows the typical normalized constant-volume DSS stress paths for Bothkennar clay at OCRs of 1 and 1.2. The mean trend stress path established for the drained and undrained pile tests is plotted in the same diagram. It is apparent that (i) the pile tests show smaller reductions in a: up to peak than would DSS tests on soil at OCR S 1.2; (ii) the peak obliquity (710:) coincides with the peak shear

stress in the pile tests (this is not true in DSS tests); and (iii) the dramatic postpeak reductions in shear and normal effective stresses seen in DSS tests were not evident in the pile experiments. It thus seems that, although pile loading involves a sim- ple shear mode of deformation up to peak shear stress, DSS tests on KOconsolidated samples (at OCR I 1.2) overestimate the changes in a: and underestimate 6. There appears to be

a departure from continuum behaviour when peak local

shear stresses are mobilized. Under these conditions, ring shear interface tests yield 6 values (30 rt 2") that agree well with the typical peak angle recorded in all pile tests, and also match the ultimate angle measured under drained load- ing conditions.

General trends

This third section summarizes and compares the results from the Imperial College (IC) displacement pile tests in Bothkennar clay and Cowden till (Lehane and Jardine 1994).

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\ \



FIG.11. Normalized installation radial total stresses.

Results are also presented from the IC pile test programme in London clay, described by Bond and Jardine (1991), so that some of the main factors controlling pile performance in clay soils may be identified. Lehane et al. (1994) synthe- size these data with other high-quality instrumented pile test data and propose a general effective stress approach for the design of displacement piles in clay soils.

Installation Radial total stress The radial total stresses developed on a displacement pile during installation (a,,) in clay depend primarily on (i) the initial stresses in the ground, (ii) the clay's genesis and stress history (which determine its consistency and state), and (iii) the complex series of strain paths imposed on the clay as the pile advances (including the load cycling asso- ciated with driving or jacking). These effects are illustrated in Fig. 11, which plots the mean ratios of urito the pile end bearing capacity (qb) mea- sured at all depths against the relative depth of the pile tip (hlR) at which these ratios were recorded (q, values were, in all cases, closely comparable to the piezocone end resis- tance 9,). During steady penetration, conditions at the pile tip are comparable to those near an expanding spherical cav- ity and, to a first approximation, a, = q,. As the tip advances below any given soil horizon (and the relative tip depth IzlR increases), the stress concentration focused at the tip becomes more remote and the soil unloads radially. The radial total stress uri reduces to match the limit pressure for a cylin- drical cavity (or pressuremeter test p, value) when IzlR = 3, and by the time the pile has penetrated farther to give a hlR value of 50, uri has fallen to between 10 and 30% of its maximum value (9,). Lehane (1992) showed that, in addition to soil type, the rate of reduction of ariwith hlR is also affected by the number and type of load cycles imparted to the soil during installation.

Pore pressure The pore pressures measured during installation showed a comparable dependence on soil consistency and hlR. Three further common features were observed:

(1) Pressures reduced at the beginning of a jacking stage and remained at lower values (u,) as the pile penetrated the ground. This reduction suggests that there is a tendency for the presheared, partially equalized material adjacent to the pile shaft to dilate when sheared. Values of u,,, were always positive in the low-OCR Bothkennar clay, but were nega- tive close to the pile tip at Cowden and negative along the entire shaft in the very heavily overconsolidated London clay (OCR = 30). (2) On the completion of a jacking stage, pressures rose to relatively steady large positive values (LL,),suggesting that higher positive excess pore pressures existed farther away from the shaft and a small volume of water flowed radially towards the pile when it came to rest. (3) Local measurements of shear and radial stresses sug- gested that the pore pressures on the principal displacement shear surface, which probably existed a short distance from the pile, were roughly midway between u, and the station- ary maxima us.

Radial effective stress The large shear strains imposed by pile installation caused significant destructuration of the sensitive Bothkennar Clay, leading to large reductions in the radial effective stresses

from the initial undisturbed values (a;,).

In contrast, instal-

lation in the insensitive Cowden till and London clay caused the radial effective stresses to increase to values far greater than ubo.

Equalization Radial total stress The radial stress changes observed during equalization at each site are compared in Fig. 12 by plotting the mean

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Time (mid


FIG. 12. Relative reductions in radial total stresses during equalization.





Time (mid

FIG. 13. Normalized variations of cr: during


variations of HIH, (defined in eq. [2]) with time. It is evident that HIH, generally reduced at all instrument positions, with the greatest relative reductions taking place in the low-OCR, sensitive Bothkennar clay. A wider ranging review by Lehane (1992) showed that equalized values of HIH, decrease with

increasing clay sensitivity and reducing OCR. sipation curves showed that, when they were modelled using

Pore pressures rose immediately after installation, giving pronounced short-term maxima before pressures decayed towards hydrostatic values. Drainage was clearly more rapid and three-dimensional near the pile tip. Analyses of the dis-


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linear consolidation theory, the best fitting radial coeffi- cients of consolidation (c,,) fell between 0.5 and 1.5 mm2/s. This range is compatible with coefficients measured in small- strain swelling or recompression laboratory tests.


Radial effective stress The radial total stress and pore-pressure changes observed during equalization led to the variations of the radial effec- tive stress (ui) with time shown in Fig. 13. In this figure, the o: values recorded at all instrument levels are normalized by the corresponding a: values measured after full equal- ization (u:,); the installation values of u:, plotted at t = 1 min, have been corrected for the anomalous pore pres- sures recorded at high velocities (to values between u, and us, as discussed earlier) so that this plot might be consid- ered as representative of u: conditions on the principal dis- placement shear surface. Two important features to note are (i) the pronounced short-term minimum of u: in the dila- tant Cowden till; (ii) the large overall increases in u: during equalization at Bothkennar, the relatively neutral effect at Cowden, and the net reduction of a: in the London clay. Taken together, these data show that the degree of setup decreases with increasing OCR.

Equalized radial effective stress The radial effective stress after full equalization (IT:,) is a critical parameter affecting displacement-pile capacity in clays. The data presented in this paper and a detailed review of other high-quality instrumented pile tests in clays (Lehane et al. 1994) indicate the following:

(1) The equalized lateral effective stress ratio (Kc), defined as U:~/U~,,increases systematically with OCR, e.g., at an hlR value of 8, Kc values increased from 1.35 at Bothkennar (OCR = 1.5) to 4 at Cowden (OCR = 6) and to 12 in the London clay (OCR = 30). (2) Kc reduces significantly as the relative depth of the pile tip (hlR) increases, but the rate of reduction depends on the soil type and the installation method; most pro- nounced reductions occur close to the pile tip (hlR < 20). (3) Clay sensitivity is an important parameter. The Kc val- ues expected in a sensitive, low-OCR clay are less than half those expected in a comparable, but insensitive, soil. (4) Piles installed in low-plasticity clay-silts (PI < 20%), such as those reported by Karlsrud et al. (1993), mobilize far lower Kc values than "typical" clays and are more comparable to the values recorded by Lehane et al. (1993) in loose to medium-dense sand. These trends are broadly compatible with predictions made using the strain path method and the MIT-E3 soil model (Baligh 1985; Whittle et al. 1988). However, this approach may underpredict Kc and the rates of reduction of Kc with hlR under some circumstances (see Lehane 1992). The cylindrical cavity expansion method (Wroth et al. 1979) overpredicts Kc values greatly at hlR values in excess of 5.

Load testing Shaft shear stress - displacement behaviour The most striking feature of the load-displacement curves obtained from pile tests at Cowden and Bothkennar was the distinctly softer response seen in tension; this feature was also evident in the IC sand tests reported by Lehane et al. (1993). Notably, tension and compression tests gave practically the same curves in the London clay, indicating that directional dependence is not a general feature of displacement piles.

Fast-jacked p~les



Depth =5.5m

















Displacement (mrn)

FIG. 14. Normalized T,, variations with displacement during load tests.

The test piles generally tended to fail progressively from the top downwards. Comparisons are made in Fig. 14 between curves of normalized local shtar stresses [T,/(T,)~,,~] against local2 displacement (d) for<fast-jackedpiles tested in compression. It is apparent that (1) The Bothkennar tests showed a greater degree of pre- peak nonlinearity than did the piles at Cowden or in the London clay. (2) The value of d at which local shear stresses reach their peak clearly varies with soil type (and loading direction). (3) Very significant postpeak losses in local shaft capac- ity were seen in the London clay, with 8 reducing as the soil fabric reordered. Such reductions have a marked influ- ence on the overall peak capacity of long, compressible piles. Only minor postpeak reductions in 6 were seen at Cowden and Bothkennar.

Loading effective stress paths Typical loading effective stress paths for the three soil types are presented in normalized form on Fig. 15. These and other data show that the load test coefficient, f, = $,/oic, is only weakly dependent on the soil type and d~rect~onof loading, falling between about 0.8 and 1.0 in all cases. However, the obliquities at peak shear stress (8,) are much more sensitive to the soil and pile types, varying from between -13" (reducing to 8" postpeak) for London clay to a constant angle of -28" for Bothkennar clay. The shapes of the stress paths, and studies of the fabric developed adja- cent to piles (e.g., see Bond and Jardine 1991), suggest that these obliquities are controlled by the residual sliding char- acteristics of the soil-interface system. "Pile-modelling" ring shear tests appear to provide the best means of assess- ing such characteristics: it is suggested that they should become standard tests for guiding the design of displace- ment piles.


The most conclusive trends to emerge from the IC instru- mented pile tests at Bothkennar and Cowden are listed below. These features have been found to be compatible with data from the earlier IC London clay pile tests.

'with corrections being made for compression of the pile.

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VOL. 3 1, 1994




FIG.15. Mean effective stress paths followed during load tests. (Note T,, =f,for Bothkenner and London clay).

(1) The radial total stresses (a,,) and shear stresses (T,,) developed on the shaft of a displacement pile during installa- tion (at fixed distances from the tip) reflect directly the initial consistency of the soil. Their profiles follow a similar trend with depth to the piezocone test end resistance q,. (2) The uriand T,, values acting at fixed depths reduce as the pile penetrates to deeper levels (and the distance from the pile tip, h, increases). The rates of stress reduction depend on the soil type and the installation method. (3) The rate dependence of shaft installation resistances varies significantly between clay types. Fast shearing ring shear soil-interface experiments predict these rate effects with at least partial success. (4) Pore pressures rise to reach maxima shortly after installation, and then reduce monotonically to ambient val- ues. The pore-pressure dissipation process can be modelled approximately using linear radial consolidation theory. (5) Radial total stresses reduce throughout equalization. The greatest relative reductions take place in soft, sensitive clays such as those found at Bothkennar. (6) The radial effective stresses (a:) show temporary min- ima shortly after installation. These were most pronounced in the stiff, dilatant till at Cowden. (7) The degree of setup depends on the OCR of the clay. At Bothkennar, a: values after equalization (a:,) were three times those measured just after installation (a:,). However,

at Cowden, a:, was comparable to and, in the London clay, u:, was less than (8) The equalized lateral stress ratios Kc (= u~,/cr:,) depend primarily on the OCR and sensitivity of the clay and reduce as the relative depth of the pile tip increases. (9) In most cases, local shaft failure appears to be con- trolled by the simple Coulomb criterion: T~ = @:, tan s,, where a:, and 6, are the radial effective stress and obliq- uity at peak local shear stress (T,),respectively; a:, is typi- cally about 90% of c:, in first-time load tests performed after full equalization. (10) The angles of friction, 6,, are very sensitive to the soil and pile type, but may be predicted accurately by appro- priate ring shear interface experiments.


The research reported in this paper was funded by the UK Science and Engineering Research Council (through MTD Ltd.), AMOCO (UK) Exploration Co., Building Research Establishment, CONOCO (UK) Ltd., Exxon Production Research Co., Health and Safety Executive, Mobil Research and Development Corp., and Shell (UK) Ltd. The support of the sponsors and the efforts of all the staff at Imperial College, especially Mr. Alan Bolsher, are gratefully acknowledged.

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3. pp. 97-112.


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List of symbols

shear stress derived from axial load distribution distance from pile tip (h) normalized by the pile radius (R) . , pile embedment horizontal coefficient of consolidation undrained shear strength pile head displacement at peak pile capacity pile-soil relative displacement at instrument level load test coefficient (= u:,/u:,) (ur - uo)4uri - L~J in situ lateral stress coefficient (= u~o/u:o) equalized lateral effective stress ratio (= U~~IU~~) axial pile load limit pressure measured in self-boring pressuremeter test piezocone end resistance pile end bearing stress equalization period allowed before first time load test pore pressure pore pressure measured in"piezocone test with sen- sor at cone face pore-pressure dissipation factor (= (u,,, - u)l(u,,, - ~0) pore pressure measured during a jacking stage maximum pore pressure ambient (hydrostatic) pore pressure pore pressure measured at the end of a jacking stage adhesion factor (~,,,lc,,) interface friction angle peak soil-steel friction angle ultimate soil-interface friction angle ultimate soil-soil friction angle radial total stress radial total stress measured during installation in situ undisturbed horizontal stress in situ undisturbed horizontal effective stress in situ undisturbed vertical effective stress radial effective stress equalized radial effective stress radial effective stress just prior to load testing radial effective stress at peak local shear stress peak value of T,, shear stress applied in DSS test average total shaft shear stress peak value of T,, shear stress measured directly by shear stress sensors vertical effective stress in DSS test vertical consolidation stress in DSS test