Partially Mobile Shallow Subsea Foundations: A Practical Analysis Framework

Jinbo Chen, David White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The geotechnical design of partially mobile subsea foundations (mudmats) for pipeline/flowline end terminals (PLETs) is presented in this paper. A partially mobile mudmat represents a fit-for-purpose engineering solution that has significant commercial competitiveness. The partially mobile design lies between that of a fully anchored mudmat (which is designed for negligible movements but may be too large, causing installation issues or requiring corner piles to anchor) and a fully mobile mudmat (which moves to fully accommodate the expansion of the connected pipeline, but may suffer excessive settlements that compromise the structural integrity). The partially mobile mudmat is suited to deepwater soft soil conditions. The aim of this work is to help mature this new concept and technology for practical design and to inspire future research to improve the accuracy of predictions. The objective of the paper is to present simple new analytical solutions to predict the long-term accumulated displacements and rotations of a partially mobile mudmat on soft clayey deposits subjected to cyclic loading. The proposed displacement prediction framework combines established elements of consolidation theory, plasticity theory, and critical-state soil mechanics (CSSM). Typical ranges of soil properties pertinent to a partially mobile mudmat are provided for deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GoM) soft clays, and a design analysis example is provided. For these conditions, it is concluded that the dominant displacements of a partially mobile mudmat are caused by primary consolidation and plastic failure. Recommendations for further improvement are provided to inspire further research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04021064
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


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