Observations during suction bucket installation in sand

Raffaele Ragni, Britta Bienen, Sam Stanier, Conleth O'Loughlin, Mark Cassidy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
143 Downloads (Pure)


Suction buckets represent a viable solution as foundations for offshore wind turbines. Installation in sand is relatively straightforward, albeit with limited understanding of the resulting changes in soil state. This paper describes an experimental methodology that allows for visualisation and quantification of changes in soil state during suction bucket installation, validated in sand. Insights obtained from particle image velocimetry (PIV) analyses, performed on images of a half-bucket installing against a Perspex window taken in a geotechnical centrifuge are discussed. Compared with the initial self-weight penetration, the deformation mechanism governing the suction-assisted phase shows a preference for the soil below the skirt tips to move inwards and upwards inside the bucket. The installation process is responsible for changes in relative density and permeability within the bucket. In these experiments, the majority of the soil plug heave can be attributed to the soil displaced inwards by the advancing skirts, with a minor contribution caused by dilation. The confidence in the experimental methodology provided through the results of suction bucket installation in sand discussed herein now enables suction bucket installation in more complex seabeds to be investigated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-149
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Modelling in Geotechnics
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


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