Uniaxial behaviour of suction caissons in soft deposits in deepwater

Wen Chen

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Suction caissons are a cost-effective alternative to traditional piles in deep to ultradeep waters. No design rule has been available on the axial capacity of suction caissons as part of the mooring system in soft sediments. In this research, a series of centrifuge tests were performed using instrumented model caissons, to investigate the axial capacity and radial stress changes around caissons during installation, consolidation and vertical pullout in normally consolidated, lightly overconsolidated and sensitive clays. Total pressure transducers instrumented on the caisson wall were calibrated for various conditions. The radial total stress acting on the external wall varied almost linearly during penetration and extraction of the caisson, with smaller gradients observed during post-consolidation pullout. Minimum difference was found in the penetration resistance and the radial total stress for caissons installed by jacking or by suction, suggesting that the mode of soil flow at the caisson tip is similar under these two types of installation. Observed soil heave showed that the soil particles at the caisson tip flow about evenly outside and inside the caisson during suction installation. Comparison was made between measurements and various theoretical predictions, on both the radial stress changes during caisson installation, and the radial effective stress after consolidation. Significant under-predictions on excess pore pressure changes, consolidation times and external shaft friction ratios were found for the NGI Method, based on the assumption that the caisson wall is accommodated entirely by inward motion of the clay during suction installation. Obvious over-predictions by the MTD approach were found in both stress changes and shaft capacity of the caissons. A simple form of cavity expansion method was found to give reasonable estimations of stress changes and post-consolidation external shaft friction. A model for predicting the penetration resistance of suction caissons in clay was evaluated. Upper and lower bound values of external shaft friction ratio during uplift loading after consolidation were derived. Uplift capacity of caissons under sustained loading and cyclic loading were investigated, revealing approximately 15 to 30% reduction of the capacity compared to that under monotonic loading. External shaft friction ratios and reverse end-bearing capacity factors were both found to be significantly lower than those under monotonic loading
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2005


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