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International J ournal of Civil Engineering and Building Materials (ISSN 2223-487X) Vol. 2 No.

3 2012
2012 International Science and Engineering Research Center

101

Lateral Response of Pile Group
J asim M Abbas


Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, Diyala University, IRAQ
jasimalshamary@uodiyala.edu.iq, jasimalshamary@yahoo.com
Keywords: pile group, numerical analysis, lateral load, p-multiplier, group configuration

Abstract. The main objective for this study is to determine the relationship between pile spacing and
p-multipliers (f
m
- pile-to-pile modulus multiplier) for a laterally loaded pile-group. In addition, the
appropriate p-multipliers for a 3-pile group configuration at 2D, 4D, 6D and 8D pile spacing is also
determined. Therefore, a three-dimensional finite element approach was used to assess the lateral pile
and pile group response subjected to pure lateral load. Results of the influence of load intensities,
group configuration, pile spacing are discussed in terms of response of load vs. lateral displacement,
load vs. soil resistance and corresponding p-y curves. The improved plots can be used for laterally
loaded pile design and also to produce the group action design p-multiplier curves and equations. As
a result, design curves were developed and applied on the actual case studies and similar expected
cases for assessment of pile group behavior using improved p-multiplier. A design equation was
derived from predicted design curves to be used in the evaluation of the lateral pile group action. It
was found that the group interaction effect led to reduced lateral resistance for the pile in the group
relative to that for the single pile.

Intrudation
As reported by Rollins et al. [1, 2], one method of accounting for the shadowing or group action
effects is to reduce the modulus or the soil resistance, p for the pure laterally loaded pile group. This
module is named p-multiplier (f
m
) which is usually derived from a single isolated pile and pile within
group py curve which was earlier proposed by Brown et al.[3]. Although this simple approach has
provided relatively good estimates of measured pile group behavior [3, 4], p-multipliers are
extremely restricted in their application.
Several methods have been developed over the years for assessing the lateral performance of pile
within a closely spaced group. These methods are classified under five categories, as: (a) empirical
stiffness distribution method [5], (b) hybrid model [6], (c) characteristic load method [7], (d)
continuum methods [8], and (e) finite element method [9].The purpose of this paper is to determine
the relationship between pile spacing and p-multipliers (f
m
- pile-to-pile modulus multiplier) for a
laterally loaded pile-group in cohesionless soil. In addition, the appropriate p-multipliers for a 3-pile
group configuration at 2D, 4D, 6D and 8D pile spacing is also determined.

Methodology

The analysis consists of modeling of single pile and pile cap using linear-elastic model with
15-node wedge elements. The cross-section of the pile is circular with a diameter of 1.0m and length
of 15m. The baseline soil parameters used for the analysis of laterally loaded pile group are illustrated
in Table 1.
Finite element analyses were performed using the software PLAXIS 3D FOUNDATION [10]. In
the finite element method a continuum is divided into a number of (volume) elements. Each element
consists of a number of nodes. Each node has a number of degrees of freedom that correspond to
discrete values of the unknowns in the boundary value problem to be solved.
The outer boundaries of soil body of cubic shape are extended 10D on the sides and 5D to the
bottom of pile group. The 3D view of the finite element mesh of the pile groups and the surrounding
International J ournal of Civil Engineering and Building Materials (ISSN 2223-487X) Vol. 2 No.3 2012
2012 International Science and Engineering Research Center

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soil mass are shown in Figure1. The outer dimensions of pile cap depend on the pile group
arrangement. The pile cap extends of 0.5 m beyond the outside face of exterior piles.

Table 1 Soil parameters for analysis of pile group
Parameter Unit Cohesionless soil
Unit weight, kN/m
3
20.0
Youngs modulus, E MPa 1.3 x10
4

Poissons ratio, - 0.3
Cohesion intercept, c - 0.0
Angle of internal friction, - 30


Figure 1 Three-dimensional view of the finite element mesh of the single pile and 2,4 and 6-
pile groups and surrounding soil mass

Results and Discussions

The influence of group interaction on the three pile groups (i.e. 2x1, 2x2 and 3x2)on predicted p-y
design curves at four different pile spacing (i.e. s=2D,4D,6D and 8D) are shown in Figure 2. The
predicted p-y curve was evaluated at a depth of 3m, because this is the depth with maximum ultimate
lateral soil pressure. It can be observed that there are significant difference on the p-y curve of close
pile group (i.e. s=2D). This is due to increase of lateral pile displacement and loss on the lateral soil
pressure. The pile within leading row has significantly close values with that obtained from single
isolated pile. This is due to the reduction on the group action on the leading row unlike the piles
20D
20D+2s
Group of 6-piles
15-nodes wedge
element
Soil mass Soil mass
20D
20D+s
Group of 4-piles
15-nodes wedge
element
Soil mass Soil mass
20D
20D+s
Group of 2-piles
15-nodes wedge
element
Soil mass Soil mass
20D
20D
Single pile
15-nodes wedge
element
Soil mass Soil mass
z
x
y
International J ournal of Civil Engineering and Building Materials (ISSN 2223-487X) Vol. 2 No.3 2012
2012 International Science and Engineering Research Center

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within other rows (i.e. trailing row). This is also reported by Brown et al. [3] and Rollins et al. [1, 2,
4]. Same discussion obtained from predicted p-y curve of group 2x1 can be applied for both pile
group 2x2 and 3x2.

0
100
0 0. 004 0. 008 0. 012 0. 016 0. 02
y/ D
Single isolated pile s=2D, trialing row s=4D, trialing row s=6D, trialing row
s=8D, trialing row s=2D, 2nd trialing row s=4D, 2nd trialing row s=6D, 2nd trialing row
s=8D, 2nd trialing row s=2D, leading row s=4D, leading row s=6D, leading row
s=8D, leading row

0
30
60
90
120
0 0.005 0.01
y/D
L
a
t
e
r
a
l

s
o
i
l

p
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

(









)
k
N
/
m
2

0
30
60
90
120
0 0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016 0.02
y/D
L
a
t
e
r
a
l

s
o
i
l

p
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

(









)
k
N
/
m
2


0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
0 0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016 0.02
y/D
L
a
t
e
r
a
l

s
o
i
l

p
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

(









)
k
N
/
m
2

(a)

Figure 2 Influence of pile spacing on the predicted of p-y curve of group piles (2x1, 2x2 and
3x2),

This section provides the development of the f
m
with respect to pile spacing for pure lateral loaded
pile groups in cohesionless and cohesive soils. The improvement includes:

1. Proposed design curve show p-multiplier values as a function of pile spacing.
2. Proposed design equation to compute the amount of p-multiplier (f
m
) as a function of both pile
spacing (c-c) and pile diameter (D).

Proposed design curve

The pile-to-pile modulus multiplier (f
m
or p-multipliers) was evaluated by dividing the ultimate soil
pressure of pile within group by the values obtained from single isolated pile at the given depth [2, 3].
Predicted p-y curve for pile within group can be obtained by multiplying the values of lateral soil
pressure p by the value of (f
m
) while keeping lateral pile displacement constant. The results of the
predicted p-multipliers represents of purely lateral loaded pile groups is illustrated in Figures 3.
Pile group 2x1
Pile group 3x2
Pile group 2x2
International J ournal of Civil Engineering and Building Materials (ISSN 2223-487X) Vol. 2 No.3 2012
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It can be observed that the values of the f
m
of leading pile is always greater that those measured for
first and second trailing pile which was also observed previously by Brown et al. [3], Rollins et al.
[2]. Therefore the piles in the leading row carry load magnitude similar to that carried by single
isolated pile. This is due to the less effect of group action on the leading pile compared with other
piles.
The piles in first and second trailing row also carry similar magnitudes of loads. It seems that pile
spacing between (s=2D-5D) also give small values of f
m
. This means large effect of group action
occurred in the case of small pile spacing compared with the pile group of wide pile spacing (i.e. s is
more than 5D). This indicate that the pile within the group for the case of wide spacing pile group can
be designed according to the results obtained from single isolated pile.

0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Pile spacing [s (c-c)/D]
p
-
m
u
l
t
i
p
l
i
e
r
Gr.2x1, sand, Trailing row Gr.2x1, sand, Leading row
Gr.2x2, sand, Trailing row Gr.2x2, sand, Leading row
Gr.3x2, sand, Trailing row Gr.3x2, sand, 2nd Trailing row
Gr.3x2, sand, Leading row
Cohesionless soil

Figure 3 Predicted p-multiplier for purely lateral loaded pile group (groups 2x1, 2x2 and
3x2)

Proposed design equation

A design equation has also been developed according to the design p-multiplier curves to compute the
amount of p-multiplier (f
m
) as a function of both pile spacing (c-c) and pile diameter (D). The
equation applied for both cohesionless and cohesive soils is:
f
m
= A Ln(s/D) + B 1.0

(1)
where A and B are constant which can directly obtained from Table 2.

Table 2 is limited for three pile group configuration (i.e. 2x1, 2x2 and 3x2) and four pile spacing
(i.e. s=2D, 4D, 6D and 8D). The values of these constants can extrapolate to other pile group
configurations.

Table 2 Values of A & B constants for both cohesionless and cohesive soil
Group
configuration
Trailing row 2
nd
Trailing row Leading row
A B A B A B
2x1 0.2031 0.2806 - - 0.1154 0.5686
2x2 0.2075 0.2575 - - 0.1867 0.4018
3x2 0.2272 0.1445 0.2014 0.2403 0.1612 0.4052
International J ournal of Civil Engineering and Building Materials (ISSN 2223-487X) Vol. 2 No.3 2012
2012 International Science and Engineering Research Center

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Example calculation of the pile group

The total lateral load resistance of a 2 x 2 pile group configuration is to be determining according to
the assumed single pile response reported by Karthigeyan et al. [11]. This group has spacing of 3.53D
center to center in the direction of lateral load. This value of pile spacing was also used by Rollins et
al. [2]. For this example, the piles are 1.2m and 10.0m diameter and length, respectively. The
predicted f
m
magnitudes for this specific example are calculated using equation 1 and the results are
shown below.

Trailing row, spacing, f
m
= 0.2075 Ln(3.53) + 0.2575=0.52
Leading row, spacing, f
m
= 0.1867 Ln(3.53) + 0.4018=0.64

The computed load vs. deflection for single isolated pile with f
m
values in case of cohesionless soil is
shown in Figure 4.

0
100
200
300
400
500
600
700
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140
Lateral displacement (mm)
L
a
t
e
r
a
l

l
o
a
d

o
n

p
i
l
e

(
k
N
)
Used equation 1
Used equation 2
Single isolated pile
Leading row
Trailing row
Cohesionless soil


Figure 4 Load-deflection curves obtained from the example of pile group with predicted
computed from improved p-multiplier equations

Conclusions

Significantly large difference on the p-y curve of closed spacing pile group (i.e. s=2D). The behavior
of the pile group 2x2 is close but not the same as with the behavior of pile group 2x1. In the case of
group 3x2, the lateral pile displacement and lateral soil resistance gave similar values for first and
second trailing row. The values of the p-multiplier (f
m
) of leading pile are always greater that those
obtained for first and second trailing pile. pile spacing of (s=2D-5D) provides low f
m
which means
that the large effect of group action occurred in this case and the pile within group have no similar
behavior compared with behavior of single isolated pile. The calculated results which were obtained
from equations 1 is more similar in case of trailing row and significantly similar in case of leading
row.

References

International J ournal of Civil Engineering and Building Materials (ISSN 2223-487X) Vol. 2 No.3 2012
2012 International Science and Engineering Research Center

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