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# 09 Breakwater Foundation Stability

## Ref: Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, Braja M. Das, 1994

Coastal Engineering Handbook, J.B. Herbich, 1991
Soil Mechanics, Pile Buck, 1992
Shore Protection Manual, USACE, 1984
EM 1110-1-1905, Bearing Capacity of Soils, USACE, 1992

Topics:
Procedure for Evaluating Foundation Stability in Breakwater Design
Primary Consolidation Settlement Summary
Bearing Capacity Summary
Slope Stability and Circular Failure

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## Procedure for Evaluating Foundation Stability in Breakwater Design (USACE)

1. Evaluate the ultimate bearing capacity pressure qu
2. Determine a reasonable factor of safety (FS) based on available subsurface surface
information, variability of the soil, soil layering and strengths, type and importance of the
structure and past experience. FS will typically be between 2 and 4. (marine applications
1.5-2.5)
3. Evaluate allowable bearing capacity qa by dividing qu by FS; i.e., qa = qu /FS
4. Perform settlement analysis when possible and adjust the bearing pressure until
settlements are within tolerable limits. The resulting design bearing pressure qd may be
less than qa . Settlement analysis is particularly needed when compressible layers are
present beneath the depth of the zone of a potential bearing failure. Settlement analysis
must be performed on important structures and those sensitive to settlement.

## Primary Consolidation Settlement Summary

Settlement is restricted to primary consolidation settlement. Generally, secondary
compression is insignificant and immediate settlement is negated by the
construction process and the nature of cohesive soils.

## Calculation of Primary Consolidation Settlement

∆ei
basic equation: S = ∑ Hi
1 + eo ( i )
Cc H i  po (i ) + ∆p(i ) 
Normally consolidated soil (pc = po + ∆p): S =∑ log 
1 + eo  p 
 o ( i ) 
CH  po (i ) + ∆p(i ) 
Overconsolidated soil (pc ≥ po + ∆p): S = ∑ s i log 
1 + eo  p 
 o ( i ) 
Underconsolidated soil (pc ≤ po + ∆p) is rare in marine applications
Compression index:
e1 − e2 ∆e
Cc = slope of the e-log p curve: Cc = =
p + ∆p 
log 2  log o
p
 p 1  po 
2.38
 1 + eo 
Empirically: Rendon-Herrero (1983) C c = 0.141G 
1.2
s

 Gs 
Terzaghi & Peck (1967) Cc = 0.009(LL% − 10)
 LL(% ) 
Nagaraj and Murty (1985)C c = 0.2343 Gs
 100 
Swell index: CS is the slope of the rebound curve: C S ≅ 101 CC to 15 CC

## Bearing Capacity Review

Bearing Capacity: the ability of the soil to safely carry the pressure placed on it by any
engineered structure without undergoing a shear failure with accompanying large
settlements. A safe bearing pressure with respect to failure does not ensure that
settlement will be within acceptable limits. Must conduct settlement analysis.

## Two stage approach to bearing capacity analysis:

1. Initial Phase - classical equations are used to judge the approximate safety
factor to confirm the feasibility of the sediments providing sufficient bearing
resistance
2. Detailed Analysis - perform using sophisticated methods based on upper
bound analysis or finite difference or finite element analyses
For saturated, submerged soils
qu = qc + qq + q γ = cN c ζ c + γ ′D f N q ζ q + 0.5γ ′BN γ ζ γ (1)
qc, qq, qγ = load contributions from cohesion, surcharge and the soil
Nc, Nq, Nγ = bearing capacity or soil strength factors for cohesion, soil weight in
the failure wedge and surcharge
c = cohesion strength of soil
G −1
γ ' = effective bulk density of soil (recall γ ′ = γ − γ w = γw)
1+ e
B = width of the foundation
Df = is the depth of penetration of the foundation (Df = 0 for rubble mound)
ζc, ζq, ζγ = dimensionless correction factors consider
foundation depth, foundation base on a slope, and a tilted
Df foundation base.

NOTE: γ ' is used only for the portion of the soil that is
W + Ww
submerged, otherwise the bulk density ( γ = s ) is used
Vtotal
(neither is a dry weight!)
Bearing Capacity Factors
From Handbook of Coastal Engineering, vol 2, ch 7 (A. G. Young), 1991
For shallow foundations (Vesic, A.S., "Bearing Capacity of Shallow
Foundations", Foundation Engineering Handbook, 1975)

## N q = e π tan φ tan 2 (45 + φ 2 )

N γ = 2(N q + 1)tan φ
N c = (N q − 1)cot φ , φ > 0
N c = π + 2 = 5.14 , φ = 0, clay, strip foundation, N c = 6 for circular
for deep foundations Nc ≈ 9

## Allowable bearing capacity (qa)

q
q a = u , essentially the allowable load of the structure
FS
FS = safety factor, 1.5 - 2.0

## • Shape Factors: (one of the correction factors)

1
qu = cN c sc + qN q s q + γ ′BN γ s γ
2
Rectangular -
 B′  N q  B′  B′
sc = 1 +   ; s q = 1 +   tan φ ; s γ = 1 − 0.4
 L′  N c  L′  L′
Circular -
Nq
sc = 1 + ; s q = 1 + tan φ ; s γ = 0.6
Nc
• Compression will increase strength of clay soil Æ may decide to build structure in
stages, pausing to allow settlement between stages
• Depth of Analysis. The maximum depth of the soil profile analyzed need not be much
greater than the depth to the failure surface, which is approximately 2B for uniform
soil. A deeper depth may be required for settlement analyses (i.e. 4B for strip
foundations). If the soil immediately beneath the foundation is weaker than deeper
soil, the critical failure surface may be at a depth less than 2B. If the soil is weaker at
depths greater than 2B, then the critical failure surface may extend to depths greater
than 2B.
• Soil strength: Normally consolidated clay: cu po = 0.11 + 0.0037(LL − PL )

Special Cases (assumes both foundation base and seafloor are horizontal):
Cohesive Soils, φ = 0 is assumed Æ qu = cN c ζ c + γ ′D f Nγ = 0, Nq = 1
1
All sand, c = 0 Æ qu = γ ′BN γ , for strip foundations
2
qu = 0.3γ ′BN γ , for circular or square foundations
(note: assumes Df = 0)
Correction for Large Footings and Mats. Bearing capacity, obtained using Equation (1)
and the bearing capacity factors, gives capacities that are too large for widths B > 6 ft
(1.8 m). This is apparently because the 0.5γ ′BN γ ζ γ term becomes too large (DeBeer
1965; Vesic 1969).
structures because the foundation soil is stressed by the applied loads to deep
depths.
(2) Bearing capacity may be corrected for large footings or mats by multiplying
the surcharge term 0.5γ ′BN γ ζ γ by a reduction factor (Bowles 1988)

B
rγ = 1 − 0.25 log10   for B in feet and B > 6 ft
6
 B 
rγ = 1 − 0.25 log10   for B in meters and B > 1.8 m
 1.8 
Load eccentricity (e) decreases the ultimate bearing capacity
Compute e by dividing the overturning moment, M, by the vertical load, Q, then
calculate the effective dimensions, B' and L'.

e
M
M e=
Q Q Q

2
B
M1
e1 =
Q
M2
e2 =
Q
L
e1
L' 1
e
e2

B'

Rectangular Foundations:
B' = B - 2e1, effective width
L' = L - 2e2, effective length
A' = B'L' , effective area
Q 1
qu = u = cN c ζ c + γ ′D f N q ζ q + γ ′B′N γ ζ γ
A′ 2
for adequate safety against uplifting from the seafloor, e ≤ B/6

Circular Foundations:
A' = 2S = B'L'
0.5
  R + e  0.5 
L ′ = 2 S    , where R = radius
  R − e  
0.5
 R−e
B ′ = L′ 
 R+e
πR 2  2 2  e 
S=
2
(
− e R − e )0.5
+ R 2 sin −1  
  R 

## Multi-layer Soils. Foundations are often supported by multi-

layer soils. Multiple soil layers influence the depth of the failure
surface and the calculated bearing capacity. The use of more Df
than two soil layers to model the subsurface soils is usually not
necessary.

## Consider three layered conditions: γ1

(1) Layered Sand - Dense over Loose, H φ1
c1
(2) Layered Sand - Loose over Dense and
(3) Layered Clay -Stronger over Weaker.
(4) Granular Stratum (Sand/Gravel) over Soft Clay
γ2
φ2
c2

## For Strip Foundations

(1) Layered Sand, Dense over Loose (Das, 1994)
1
qu ( t ) = c1 N c (1) + γ1′ D f N q (1) + γ 1′ BN γ (1)
2
qu ( b ) = c2 N c (2 ) + γ1′ (D f + H )N q ( 2 ) + γ ′2 BN γ ( 2)
1
2
γ′ H  2D f 
2
qu = qu ( b ) + 1 1 +  K s tan φ − γ 1′ H or qu ≤ qu (t )
B  H 
(2) Layered Sand, Loose over Dense (from Das, 1994)
1
qu ( b′) = c2 N c ( 2 ) + γ ′2 D f N q ( 2) + γ ′2 BN γ ( 2 )
2
2
 
[
qu = qu (t ) + qu (b′) − qu ( t ) ]
1 − H
 H
 ,

Hf = depth of failure surface ~ 2B
 f 
(3) Layered Clay - Stronger over Weaker (φ = 0), (Das, 1994)
 2c H 
qu = cu ( 2) N c +  a  + γ 1′ D f or qu ≤ qu (t )
 B 
qu ( t '') = cu (1) N c + γ 1′ D f
(4) Granular Stratum over Soft Clay (Herbich, 1991)
2 γ 1′ H 2  2 D f 
q u = cu ( 2 ) N c + 1 +  K s tan φ1 + γ 1′ D f or qu ≤ qu (t )
B  H 
Note: Eqn. (1) reduces to (4) when φ2 = 0 Æ Nq(2) = 1.

## From Das, 1994

Slope Stability and Circular Failure
Sliding failure of rubble mound structures is usually referred to as "macro-stability" to
differentiate it from armor layer failure which include armor layer sliding failure. Macro-
instability can also involve foundation failure. Slope instability is usually a cumulative
effect, but may be triggered by a critical event such as heavy rain fall or storm waves.
Symptoms prior to a major failure include:
• Sudden structural settlement
• Foundation bulging at the toe
• Large lateral deformation
• Propagating longitudinal cracks on the slope followed by lateral cracks
• Excessive local seepage

R
wi

αi
τ
li

Mr
Stability coefficient K =
Ms
Use strip theory to calculate values for a series of finite elements for each R Æ sum strips
Moment of shear resistance M r = (∑ ci li + ∑ Wi cos α i tan φ i )R
Moment of sliding force M s = (∑ Wi sin α i )R
l = arc length
W = net weight
c = soil cohesion strength
φ = soil internal friction angle
α = angle between tangent of arc and horizontal

## Critical failure surface is determined by trial and error.

• Construct contour lines of constant stability coefficient (K) (calculated K for
multiple R Æ K1, K2, K3 …)
• Extrapolate to obtain the critical failure surface
• Ensure all K are within safety limits (i.e. K ~ 1.0 - 1.2)

** Generally, commercial computer programs are used to perform the critical failure
surface calculations.

1. Surcharge on top of breakwater

fH

2. Earthquake and Dynamic Motion. Cyclic or repeated motion caused by seismic forces
or earthquakes, vibrating machinery, and other disturbances such as vehicular traffic,
blasting and pile driving may cause pore pressures to increase in foundation soil. As a
result, bearing capacity will be reduced from the decreased soil strength. The
foundation soil can liquify when pore pressures equal or exceed the soil confining
stress reducing effective stress to zero and causes gross differential settlement of
structures and loss of bearing capacity. Structures supported by shallow foundations
can tilt and exhibit large differential movement and structural damage. Deep
foundations lose lateral support as a result of liquefaction and horizontal shear forces
lead to buckling and failure. The potential for soil liquefaction and structural damage
may be reduced by various soil improvement methods.
Corps of Engineer Method. Methods of estimating bearing capacity of soil subject to
dynamic action depend on methods of correcting for the change in soil shear strength
caused by changes in pore pressure. Differential movements increase with increasing
vibration and can cause substantial damage to structures. Department of the Navy
(1983), "Soil Dynamics, Deep Stabilization, and Special Geotechnical Construction",
describes evaluation of vibration induced settlement.
3. Subsurface Voids. A subsurface void influences and decreases bearing capacity when
located within a critical depth Dc beneath the foundation. The critical depth is that
depth below which the influence of pressure in the soil from the foundation is
negligible.
a. Voids. Voids located beneath strip foundations at depth ratios Dc /B >4 cause little
influence on bearing capacity for strip footings. B is the foundation width. The
critical depth ratio for square footings is about 2.
b. Bearing Capacity. The bearing capacity of a strip footing underlain by a centrally
located void at ratios Dc /B < 4 decreases with increasing load eccentricity similar
to that for footings without voids, but the void reduces the effect of load
eccentricity. Although voids may not influence bearing capacity initially, these
voids can gradually migrate upward with time in karst regions.