You are on page 1of 6

Introducing Settle3D. . .

Rocscience will soon be releasing Settle3D, a totally new software package for
analysis of consolidation and settlement under foundations,
embankments and surface excavations.

For the geotechnical professional who has The engineering

been doing settlement calculations ‘on the philosophy of Settle3D
back of an envelope’, Settle3D is our new pro-
Traditionally, a one-dimensional analysis
gram to quickly and accurately help you solve
method is used to solve consolidation and
your settlement problems in three dimen-
settlement problems. Vertical stresses due to
three-dimensional loads are estimated us-
ing charts, ad-hoc methods (such as the 2:1
method) or at best, elastic analyses such as
Many civil engineering projects include plac- the Boussinesq method. Calculating differen-
ing loads on the ground. Estimating time- tial settlements requires multiple one-dimen-
dependent settlements due to these loads is sional analyses at different locations; a tedious
an important part of any project. In the case and error prone approach. Our solution? A
of high-cost structures such as buildings, new program to simultaneously compute
bridges, towers and power plants, an accu- settlements at hundreds of locations around
rate estimation of settlement is crucial. Yet, your foundation, embankment or excavation.
most consulting engineers do not have the Combined with the usual intuitive Rocscience
resources to perform rigorous three-dimen- interface, the result is a powerful analysis tool
sional analyses, so ad-hoc one-dimensional for calculating and visualizing time-depend-
approaches and rules-of-thumb are prevalent. ent settlements in three-dimensions.

Settle3D has been developed to combine the Fast techniques for calculating 3D stresses,
simplicity of one-dimensional analysis with excess pore pressures and non-linear displace-
the power and visualization capabilities of ments in layered soils allow for near real-time
much more sophisticated three-dimensional visualization of results with changing loads,
programs. geometries or material properties, allowing
the engineer to quickly and easily probe the
uncertainties in input data.
Key features of Settle3D  Immediate settlement gives the initial dis-
placement under undrained conditions
The following subsections describe the ca-
pabilities of Settle3D and why the practicing
 Consolidation settlement is the time-de-
pendent displacement that occurs as
geotechnical engineer should have a copy in
water is squeezed out of the soil
their toolbox.
 Secondary consolidation or creep occurs
Settlement Calculations after excess pore pressures have dissi-

Obviously, the most important part of a set- pated.

tlement program is the calculation of vertical Three types of material may be used in
displacements! In Settle3D, an array of points Settle3D: linear elastic, non-linear and Janbu.
on the surface is automatically generated and The user has the flexibility to specify multiple
settlement is calculated at each point. Three horizontal layers, all with different mechanical
components are computed: and hydrological properties.

Settle3D screen capture showing surface settlement in plan view (left) and 3D view (right).
Settlement is exaggerated in 3D view.
Sophisticated 3D stress

The first step in the process of computing the method of images1. Because it is mesh-
settlements is the determination of the stress less, it is faster and easier than the finite
distribution as a result of surface or sub-sur- element approach and requires little from the
face loadings. Elastic stresses used in settle- user. However it can accurately simulate the
ment calculations are routinely obtained from effects of non-homogeneous soil profiles as
classical solutions such as those of Boussinesq shown below.
and Westergaard. The problem with this is
Of course the Boussinesq method and the 2:1
that these solutions make simplifying assump-
method are included in Settle3D too.
tions, which can distort results. For example,
they assume the half-space of soil material to
be homogeneous.

Solving these problems using 3D finite ele-

ment approaches will stretch the resources
of most practicing geotechnical engineers.
Therefore a new stress calculation method,
developed at the University of Toronto, has
been incorporated by Rocscience into Settle3D.
Problem of uniform load applied over a square area
Similar to the boundary element method, the
on the surface. A sand layer (shown in green) is five
new technique is based on what is known as times stiffer than the surrounding clay.

Contours of the vertical stress distribution on the vertical plane through A-A’ calculated
using Boussinesq method (left) and by the method of images (right).

1 Curran, J.H., and Hammah, R.E. 2006. “Keynote Lecture: Seven Lessons of Geomechanics Software Development,”
Proceedings of the 41st U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium, Golden Rocks 2006, June 17-21, 2006, Colorado School of
Mines, Golden, Colorado. Editors: David P. Yale, Sarah C. Holtz, Chris Breeds, and Ugur Ozbay.
Flexible loading options An embankment designer wizard is also
included. This enables the engineer to eas-
The easy to use CAD interface allows for
ily generate embankments of complicated
simple specification of surface loads. Circu-
geometry built in several stages.
lar, rectangular and polygonal loads can be
quickly generated. A different load mag- Other loading capabilities include:
nitude can be applied to each vertex and
 Lowering or raising of groundwater
the load across the shape will be calculated table
by interpolation. In addition, loads may be
 Fill of infinite extent
applied at any depth to simulate piles or raft
foundations. Loads may also be staged for
 Excavations of any shape

time-dependent analysis of construction.

Embankment designer window in Settle3D

Time-dependent consolidation

When a saturated soil is loaded, there is an solved implicitly meaning that the solution is
initial increase in pore water pressure that obtained extremely quickly, even for models
gradually dissipates. Settlement will continue with layers of high permeability contrast. This
as long as water continues to flow from the enables easy parametric studies for probing
soil, a process that could take years for low uncertainties and worst case scenarios.
permeability clays. Knowledge of the time-de-
Other features contributing to time-depend-
pendent settlement may be crucial for many
ent consolidation included in Settle3D are:
engineering projects.
 Specification of Skempton pore pressure
Settle3D uses Terzaghi’s one-dimensional con- coefficients for simulation of partially
solidation equation to compute excess pore saturated soil
water pressure with time. The equation is
 Inclusion of wick drains to speed up
solved using a finite difference technique that
allows for different permeabilities in differ-
ent layers. The finite difference equations are
 Consideration of secondary consolida-
tion (creep)

Excess pore water pressure

under a circular load after
1 month. The green layer
represents a sand layer that
is ten times more permeable
than the surrounding clay.
Powerful user interface

The easy-to-use CAD tools found in other

Rocscience products are also included in
Settle3D. Load geometries can be easily
entered using the keyboard, mouse, tables
or file import facilities. Right mouse clicks
Concluding remarks
present relevant menus for easy editing
and data entry. Sophisticated contouring Settle3D incorporates well-known settlement
and graphing capabilities are included, or analysis procedures and a new stress
the engineer can easily export data to a calculation method, into a fast, flexible
spreadsheet for further analysis. and easy-to-use package for solving a
broad range of engineering problems. The
Three-dimensional visualization of geometries
intuitive interface and sophisticated results
and results is easy with a combination of 2D
visualization capabilities allow the engineer
and 3D viewing windows. You can rotate, pan
to go from zero to solution in a matter of
and zoom with a click of the mouse. Data is
minutes. The broad feature set and extensive
presented in contour plots projected onto any
flexibility enable much more detailed
horizontal or vertical slice, and settlement is
investigations if required. We are confident
easily visualized by observing the deformed
that once you have a copy of Settle3D you will
surface in 3D.
wonder what you did without it.
Also new in Settle3D is easy report generation
capabilities that allow consistent presentation
of results including a company logo and other
project specific information.