Predicting the resistance profile of a spudcan penetrating sand overlying clay

Pan Hu, Dong Wang, Mark Cassidy, Sam Stanier

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    © 2014 National Research Council of Canada. All rights reserved. Assessment of the risk of punch-through failure of spudcan foundations on sand overlying clay requires prediction of the full penetration resistance profile, from touchdown and through punch-through to equilibrium of the vertical resistance at depth in the underlying clay layer. This study uses the Coupled Eulerian–Lagrangian approach, a large deformation finite element analysis method, to model the complete penetration resistance profile of a spudcan on sand overlying clay. The sand is modeled using the Mohr–Coulomb model, while the clay is modeled using a modified Tresca model to account for strain softening. The numerical method is then used to simulate a series of spudcan penetration tests, performed in a geotechnical centrifuge, on medium dense sand overlying clay. The punch-through behavior observed in the experiments is replicated, and the penetration resistance profiles from numerical analyses are generally a reasonable match to the experimental measurements. The influences of the sand layer height to foundation diameter ratio, sand–clay interface shear strength, and strength gradient in clay on the penetration resistance profiles are explored in a complementary parametric study. The penetration resistance in the underlying clay layer is well predicted using a simple linear expression for the bearing capacity factor for the spudcan and underlying sand plug. This expression is combined with an existing failure stress dependent model for predicting peak resistance to form a simplified method for prediction of the full penetration resistance profile. This new method provides estimates of the vertical penetration that the spudcan will run during the punch-through event. It is validated against both medium dense and dense sand centrifuge tests.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1151-1164
    Number of pages14
    JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
    Issue number10
    Early online date9 May 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


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