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Braced Deep Excavation in Soft Ground

- 02-05 Chap Gere
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1

Introduction

Halim and Wong presented a paper in a publication called Underground Singapore 2005. The title of the

paper is Evaluation of Modified Cam Clay Parameters for Deep Excavation Analysis.

In this paper they present six case histories where deflections of the shoring walls were measured during

construction. Each of the cases was re-analyzed with the software SAGE CRISP. Their prime interest

was to determine if the Cam Clay constitutive model could be used to numerically model the behavior of

the excavation shoring walls.

The SAGE-CRISP computed deflections and field measurements presented in the paper are a useful

source of information which can be used to verifying the performance and capability of GeoStudio for

cases like this.

Each one of the six case histories is briefly described here together with comparative graphs of the wall

deflections.

Included as well are comments pertinent to the GeoStudio modeling procedures and techniques.

The included GeoStudio data file Braced deep excavation in soft ground.gsz presents only the analysis of the

Lavender MRT Station. Data files for the other five analyses are available upon request if necessary.

This section presents some general thoughts on the modeling techniques and procedures used in analyzing

the six cases histories. The details are different for each case. They can be examined by opening each of

the related GeoStudio data files and stepping though each of the stages.

2.1

Excavation forces

In a finite element analysis, the excavation process is simulated with the application of boundary stresses

on the excavation. Before excavation there are stresses on a future excavation face. Once the soil has

been removed, the stress on the excavation face is zero. The changes in the stresses on the excavation

face are applied as a boundary condition.

The change in stress on the excavation face is a total stress change (unless the excavation is done below

water). Physically this means that removing the material removes both the soil and the water. The

implication is that we need to know the total stress distribution in the ground before the excavation

construction begins.

A typical distribution of the total x- and y-stress distribution with depth at the wall location is presented in

Figure 1.

Over the wall length (14 m) the horizontal stress accumulates at an average rate of 12.5 kPa per metre.

This value can be used as a Hydraulic Pressure boundary condition. In this illustrative case the specified

elevation would be 100 m and the unit weight per depth would be -12.5. The negative sign means the

computed equivalent nodal forces pull on the wall as illustrated in Figure 2. Note how the three

horizontal arrows point away from the wall meaning the forces are pulling on the wall.

SIGMA Example File: Braced deep excavations in soft ground (pdf)

Page 1 of 14

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100

98

96

Y (m)

Total y : 1 days

94

92

90

Total x : 1 days

88

86

0

50

100

150

200

250

kPa

The total vertical stress in fig increases at a rate of 16.8 kPa. This means that removing 1 m of soil is

equivalent to an upward applied stress of 16.8 kPa; removing 2 m of soil is equivalent to an upward

applied stress of 33.6 kPa and so forth. Separate boundary conditions are consequently required for each

excavation layer of a specific thickness. The resulting uplift pressure on the base of the excavation is

illustrated in Figure 2.

The area under the x-stress profile in Figure 1 represents the total force that will be acting on the wall

once the excavation is complete. Or stated another way, the structural shoring system will have to pick

up the equivalent force. In this illustrative example, the total lateral force would be approximately,

Fh

H2

2

With gamma equal to 12.5 and H equal to 14 m, the total lateral force is 1,225 kN. The struts and the

wall will have to pick up this force by the time all the soil is excavated.

Due the soil structure interaction, the 1,225 kN is not necessarily the exact amount of force the shoring

system will have to pick up but it is a reasonable approximation useful for spot checking the results of the

GeoStudio analysis.

SIGMA Example File: Braced deep excavations in soft ground (pdf)

Page 2 of 14

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As is clearly evident from this discussion, the excavation forces are directly related to the stress state that

exists in the ground before the excavation process begins. This is why it is absolutely mandatory to

establish the correct starting insitu stress conditions.

It is also vitally important to understand that the groundwater conditions affect the insitu horizontal total

stresses. The presence of a watertable significantly increases the total horizontal stress, and this is how

the ground water comes in play in the analysis. Water pressures are not dealt with separately - they are

included indirectly in the total insitu stresses.

SIGMA/W will automatically compute the excavation boundary forces if a boundary condition is not

specified on the excavation face.

The insitu stress profiles such as illustrated in Figure 1 are unique to each site specific case. This type of

graph was created for each of the case histories discussed in this document. The boundary condition

values used to represent the excavation forces can be examined in each of the related GeoStudio data

files.

2.2

Structural wall

The flexural stiffness of the wall is included in the analysis as a beam element which requires the

specification of the moment of inertia (I) and the cross-sectional area per metre of wall, and the elastic

Youngs modulus.

For a diaphragm wall the moment of inertia I about the bending axis is,

l * t 3 1* t 3

12

12

For sheet piling I and the area are generally available from the steel manufacture.

The Youngs modulii are generally representative of values for concrete and steel or some combination of

these.

The properties of the sheet piling used in two of the cases are approximations. The Halim and Wong

paper does not provide details on these values.

2.3

Struts or braces are best modeled as bar elements which have only axial forces and no resistance to

bending. The connection between the wall and the strut is consequently analogous to a pin connection.

Pre-loads are specified as part of the strut definition.

2.4

Constitutive models

The soft clay is modeled using the Modified Cam-Clay (MCC) constitutive relationship. The sandier and

more competent layers are modeled as linear-elastic or elastic-plastic materials.

The watertable for all six cases is just below the ground surface. Consequently to correctly model the

pore-pressures changes resulting from the construction of the excavations and in turn the correct effective

stress paths, it is necessary to do a fully couple stress-pore-pressure type of analysis. This means that

hydraulic boundary conditions as well as stress-strain boundary conditions must be applied at each stage.

Page 3 of 14

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The analyses are based on the assumption that there will be no drainage of the ground water conditions

behind the wall during the excavation phase of the project and that the watertable will be at the base of the

excavation at as the construction proceeds. This is accommodated in the analyses with the specification

of zero pressure at the original watertable behind the wall and zero water pressure long the base of the

excavations.

A fully coupled analysis requires the definition of time. Assuming that there will be no drainage can be

accommodated by making the time step small for each construction stage. In this case an arbitrary value

of 1-day was selected. This is a time-step long enough to allow the calculations to proceed but short

enough so there is no long term pore-pressure dissipation and consolidation.

The time steps are evident in the related analysis trees.

2.5

Halim and Wong used a Poissons ratio 0.495 for un-drained behavior. The thinking behind this is that

there will be no volume change when the soil behaves in an undrained manner, and the no-volume change

condition can be simulated with v = 0.5. A value of 0.5 cannot be used for numerical reasons and so a

value close to 0.5 is used.

In a fully coupled effective stress/pore-pressure type of analysis in GeoStudio there is no need to try and

simulate a no-volume change condition through an artificial Poissons ratio. A value of Poissons Ratio

equal to 0.334 is consequently used for all materials in the analyses presented here.

Setting v to 0.334 even at the insitu stage represents a Ko condition equal to 0.5. How close this is to the

actual field conditions is somewhat uncertain. On average it is likely not an unreasonable value for soft

normal or slightly over-consolidated soil.

The initial Ko conditions could likely be refined somewhat but such refinement would likely not affect the

results significantly.

2.6

Wall-soil interface

To prevent water from leaking through the wall it is necessary to use interface elements along the wall

with a special interface material. The easiest way to do this is to make the interface material a total stress

material. Total stress materials do not consider pore-pressures in the calculations; that is, the seepage

continuity equations are not formed at the nodes which have only total stress materials in common. This

has the effect of not allowing seepage to cross the interface.

Also, the interface material in these analyses is modeled as an elastic-plastic soil with an arbitrarilyspecified undrained shear strength of 100 kPa.

Judging by the favorable match obtained between the GeoStudio computed and measured wall

deflections, slippage between the soil and the wall is not an important issue.

A lower undrained strength could be used for the interface to investigate this further but this has not been

done for the presentation here.

2.7

Surcharge load

Note that in all the analyses a surcharge of 10 kPa has been applied to the ground surface 10-m beyond

the wall. The reason for the surcharge is not clear. Does it represent light structures that were present

Page 4 of 14

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long before the excavation was constructed or does it represent at surcharge that comes about during the

construction. In the analyses here it has been assumed the latter is the case.

Regardless of the actual field situation, the surcharge only has a minor effect on the magnitude of the wall

deflection. It has no significant effect on the shape of the deflection profile which is the key to structural

stresses induced by the excavation process.

2.8

Dimensions

In the six cases analyzed here all the geometric dimensions are rounded off to the nearest metre or nearest

half metre. This makes the numerical modeling easier and the mental interpretation of the results easier.

Working with dimensions to the nearest 10th or 100th of a metre does not increase the accuracy of the

analysis in cases like this, especially in light of the accuracy with which the soil properties can be defined.

Refined geometric dimensions can unnecessarily complicate the numerical modeling.

Wall deflections

The wall deflections profiles as computed with GeoStudio are compared with the ones presented in the

paper by Halim and Wong. The measured and SAGE CRISP lateral deflections presented graphically in

the paper have been re-plotted for convenient comparison.

A configuration diagram and the associated wall deflection graphs are presented below for each of the six

case histories.

In summary, the GeoStudio computed lateral wall deflections are in remarkably good agreement with the

field measured values, and the GeoStudio deflection profiles match the measured profiles as well or better

than SAGE CRISP computed profiles.

Page 5 of 14

3.1

www.geo-slope.com

Taipei Basin in Taiwan

35 m

100

95

14 m

90

85

Top clay

Elevation - m

80

75

70

Intermediate clay

65

60

Sand

55

50

45

-5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85

90

95

100

Distance - m

GeoStudio

CRISP

Measured

100

95

Elevation - m

90

85

80

75

70

0.0

50.0

100.0

150.0

200.0

Deflection - mm

Page 6 of 14

3.2

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105

10 m

Fill (sand)

100

Fluvial sand

95

Elevation - m

18 m

90

Fluvial clay

85

80

Dense alluvium

75

70

65

60

-5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

Distance - m

GeoStudio

CRISP

Measured

105

100

Elevation - m

95

90

85

80

75

-80

-60

-40

-20

20

Lateral deflection - mm

Page 7 of 14

3.3

www.geo-slope.com

35 m

Fill (silty clay)

100

90

85

Elevation - m

7m

95

80

Loose sand

75

Dense silt

70

65

60

55

-5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85

90

95

100

Distance - m

MOE Building

GeoStudio

CRISP

Measured

100

Elevation - m

95

90

85

80

75

-50

50

100

150

200

250

300

350

Lateral deflection - mm

Page 8 of 14

105

3.4

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Rochor Complex

Rochor Complex

100

45 m

Sand

95

6.5 m

90

Elevation - m

85

80

Firm clay

Lower marine clay

75

70

65

60

55

-5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

70

75

80

85

90

95

100

Distance - m

Rochor Complex

GeoStudio

CRISP

Measured

100

Elevation - m

95

90

85

80

75

50

100

150

200

Deflection - mm

Page 9 of 14

105

3.5

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Syed Alwi Project

14 m

100

Clay Silt

Soft marine clay

95

Sand

8m

90

Soft clay

Elevation - m

85

80

75

70

65

60

-5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

Distance - m

GeoStudio

CRISP

Measured

100

98

96

Elevation - m

94

92

90

88

86

84

82

80

-70

-60

-50

-40

-30

-20

-10

Wall deflection - mm

Page 10 of 14

70

3.6

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12 m

100

Fill

95

15.5 m

Elevation - m

90

85

80

75

70

65

60

55

-5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

Distance - m

GeoStudio

CRISP

Measured

100

95

Elevation - m

90

85

80

75

70

-20

-10

10

20

30

40

Lateral deflection - mm

Page 11 of 14

65

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The settlement behind a shored excavation wall is always a key issue. A GeoStudio analysis makes it

possible to obtain a picture of the possible magnitude and trend.

Figure 3and Figure 4 show the surface settlements for two cases. These are typical of all the six cases.

Surface settlement

0.02

0

Y-Displacement (m)

-0.02

-0.04

-0.06

-0.08

-0.1

-0.12

-0.14

-0.16

-0.18

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

X (m)

Surface settlement

0.02

Y-Displacement (m)

0

-0.02

-0.04

-0.06

-0.08

-0.1

-0.12

-0.14

-0.16

0

10

20

30

40

50

X (m)

There are several features in these profiles that are of significance. The surface surcharge has an

influence on the settlements and consequently it is necessary to have an understanding as to why and

when the surcharge is applied.

Probably the most significant observation is that the maximum settlement takes place some distance

behind the wall and not immediately behind the wall. This is logical and consistent with the overall

behavior of the walls. Once the top strut is in place the walls tend to bow out near the bottom of the

excavation. This in essence causes the wall and soil wedge behind the wall to rotate about the top strut.

SIGMA Example File: Braced deep excavations in soft ground (pdf)

Page 12 of 14

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The maximum settlements are consequently towards the far side of the rotating soil wedge behind the

wall.

The tendency for the retained soil wedge to rotate further suggests that slippage between the soil and the

wall is not a serious issue in the numerical analysis.

These comments and observation of course infer that there is no loss of ground from behind the wall as

would be the case for a diaphragm wall or a sheet-piling wall. In the case of a pile-and-lagging shoring

system this may not be always true depending on the ground conditions there may be some loss of

ground from behind the wall which could significantly influence the settlement behind the wall. The

numerical analysis cannot consider such loss of ground. The point here is that the computed settlements

behind the wall must be judged in light of the actual events during construction.

Strut loads

Section 2.1 above discusses how the lateral excavation forces are applied and how they are defined. The

area under the x-stress profile is a representation of the total lateral force that will acting on the wall over

excavated height of the wall. As noted earlier, the struts or will have to pick up this load.

The following table compares the total lateral force as computed from the initial insitu horizontal total

stress with the summation of the strut loads at the end of the excavation. As is evident from these values,

the summation of the loads in the struts do reflect the pressure on the wall.

Force from pressure Summation of

diagram (kN)

Taipei Basin

1125

1275

Farrer Park

2100

2165

MOE building

300

493

Rochor Complex

260

573

440

634

1270

The flexural rigidity of diaphragm wall or sheet pile wall itself will pick up some of the applied loads and

so the strut loads will not necessarily be exactly equal to pressures based on the initial insitu stresses.

There should however be a rough correlation. If there is no correlation then it would be advisable to

carefully check the input parameters and numerical model design.

Page 13 of 14

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Bending moments

One of the significant benefits of numerically modeling structures such the braced excavations is that it is

possible to investigate the bending moments and structural forces which can be used to check that they

have sufficient capacity to withstand the resulting stresses. A typical result is presented in Figure 5.

Such diagrams can be plotted for all the cases.

Moment

100

Y (m)

90

80

70

-600

-400

-200

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

Moment (kN-m)

Concluding remarks

The analysis here of six Case Histories demonstrates that GeoStudio has all the features and capabilities

for modeling the behavior of deep shored excavations in soft ground.

Also, the favorable agreement in the computed results between GeoStudio and a completely

independently developed software product SAGE CRISP lends credence to the fact that GeoStudio has

been formulated and implemented correctly.

Reference

Halim, D. and Wong K.S. (2005). Evaluation of Modified Cam Clay Parameters for Deep Excavations

Analysis, Underground Singapore 2005, pp. 188 199.

Page 14 of 14

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