‘Application of StressWave Theory to Piles, FB. Barends (od,) © 1992 Balkema, Rotterdam. ISBN 90 $410,082 6
Pile integrity testing and analysis
FRausche
Goble Rausche Likins and Associates, Inc...Cleveland, Ohio. USA
G.Likins
Pile Dynamics, Ine., Cleveland. Ohio, USA
Shen Ren Kung
Nanying Hydraulic Research Institute, People's Republic of China
ABSTRACT: The methods of instalation of drilled shafts give cise to concesn among engineers regarding the structurat
integrity of the shafts. This has led to a reluctance to use these foundations by some engineers. Alternatively, many
engineers are willing to accept these foundations provided that adequate inspection and integrity verification testing are
performed.
Low strain integrity testing has seen substantial improvement in recent years. The testing cost has been substantially
reduced and. a5 a result, the methods are now widely employed. However. the results of these tests must also be
accurately evaluated, The evaluation may be a simple visual inspection of the data by an experienced engineer. Recent
improvements in analysis capabilities now offer less intuitive interpretations at a reasonable cost. These new automated
procedures are superior to the visual techniques of the past both from the standpoint of operator required knowhow and
laser confidence in results.
1 INTRODUCTION 2 EQUIPMENT
Pile Integrity Testing (P{.T.), a low strain method for ‘Three devices are needed 0 perform a low strain integrity
integrity testing of driven piles and drilled shafts, uses a test: the haramer (with o without force sensor), the sensor
variety of techniques for the interpretation of force and and the processor (Figure 1). The primary difference
velocity records taken under the impact of alight hammer between various interpretation methods lies in the pro
blow (Rausche, Shen, Likins 1991). In its most basic form, gramming of the processor. The hammers and sensors are.
the input pulse signals are inspected directly in the time ‘with slight exceptions, very similar for transient dynamic
domain for reflections or echoes and hence are referred to response and sonic pulse echo methods.
as the "Sonic Pulse Echo Method". The interpretation of 
the pile top velocity traces is further enancea by an ampli
Seation which inezeases exponentially in time (Paquet
1968), This concept became practical with the deve
ment of digital data processing
21 The hammer
Depending on she pile size to be tested. che hammer mass
should be between Sand $ kg Smaller hammers have
Shorter ‘ise times and higher frequency content, while
larger hammers apply greater energies to the pile op. To
‘The advent of fast spectral analyzers made possible the
development of the frequency domain Non Destructive
Testing (NDT) methods generally applied to structural
concrete, NDT was chen applied to fow strain pile ‘esting
resulting in the “Transient Dynamic Response Method"
‘which displays the records in the frequency domain in a so
‘alled mobili piot. orion sexson_
Interpretations in frequency andlor time domain are
selected either according :0 individual preference or locally
developed practice. Generally cil engineers feel more an
comfortable in the time domain, particularly if they have Now.nsrmuwenteD on
been working with high strain Case Method testing. How { msimonteres wtten
ever, the experienced PLT. engineer should ‘ake advantage {
Fig 1 Schematic of low strain pile integrity resting
613be useful. the test must resolve pile deficiencies over short
distances along the test shaft. Sharp. narrow input pulses
are better suited for chis cask shan wider ones and there~
{ore smaller hammers are preferable. However, as the
Frequencies contained in s pulse increase. more energy is
lost in the wave propagation and the ability of investigating
a Yong pile decreases. Actually, itis often worthwhile to
test with different hammer sizes on any cite: the smaller
hammer tends 19 reveal more detail about impedance
variations (the product of shaft cross sectional sige and
concrete quality), while the larger hammer may be able 10
generate 2 pile toe reflection.
Figure 2 shows velocity records obtained under three
hammer sizes on a $00 mm diameter drilled shaft of 6.1 m
Tengti and with a defect at 4 m depth, The soil consisted
of hard and gravelly silt and clay. Obviously the smallest
hammer did not have a significantly sharper signal than the
medium sized hammer. Gn the other hand. the largest
hammer dic not improve the resolution of the pile coe
signal. compared with the medium sized hammer. which
‘would be the obvious choice for testing this shat
Ifthe hammer blow causes damage fo the pile top cur
face the signal is adversely affected by inelastic and non
fepetiuve waves. Therefore, the hammer's impact surtace
‘must be cushioned with 2 material which is soft compared
to concrete but sufficiently hard to generate a short pulse
duration. goed cushioning material takes the art out of
hammering and aids interpretation of results.
‘The hammer may be instrumented to measure the ap
plied force. Two systems are commonly employed: the
pressure sensor and the accelerometer. The pressure
sensor's located between the hammer's mass and the
impacting surface. while the accelerometer is attached
rigidly behind the mass. Typically, the measured force is
fone thousand times greater shan the hammer weight (for
the larger hammers the forces may therefore ceach a mo=
mentary peak value of $0 kN).
Ideally, the frequency spectrum of the nammer force is 3
smooth. monotonically decreasing function, Small ham
mers tend to have nonmonotonic spectra if their handles
are relatively stiff and heavy (Figure 3). Such errate force
spectra adversely affects the mobility curves in an impor
ant frequency range. The hammer's cesponse in Figure 3
was improved by "tuning" the hammer's handle,
2 The motion sensor
Motion sensors are either accelerometers or eophones,
‘Although acceleration contains all the information, velocity
traces are easier 10 interpret and therefore 3
digtally Integrated. Geophones sirectly produce 2 velocity
proportional signal
Accelerometers and geophones have different properties
im thetr high and low frequency ranges. Accelerometers.
for example, yield more truthful resuts at hign ‘tequencies.
Geophones have a lower frequency range but Jo not e=
quire the calculation of an integration constant. Geo:
phones are generally heavier shan accelerometers and
therefore present more difficulty
Processors
‘echniques have matured. The sonie pulse was
originally viewed only in the time domain on an analog
oscilloscope, later results were obtained using a gersonal
computer (Reiding, Middendorg, Van Areder
and today ail data collection uses a small specialize unit.
Figure 4 shows the "P.LT. Collector” which signal condi
tions hammer and motion sensors. stores the data
transfer co computer. performs calculations ‘or data inter
pretation, and plots the processed data
For sonie mobility analysts. initially 2 spectral analyzer
was alvays necessary: however, modern PC’: aow perform
fast Fourier transform (FFT) analyses and are therstore
well suited to both time and frequency domain calculations.
Force
co Et AMPLITUDE 7
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Fig. 2 Velocity traces from a 20 # long pile taken with 9,
«45. 22 kg hammer (top to Sortom. respectively) 1 ft =
mm.
Fig. 3. Force spectra (A) irom normal and (B) stom a
hammer with “tuned” handle,
ais3.2. Amplification
Before the signals are converted to digital form. they are
‘sually amplified by the analog signal condioning «0 cake
advantage of the full digitizing range (e.g. 5 volts). This
assures that small signal changes are optimally resolved by
cord. However, a high resolution analogto
sich a5 the 16 bie A/D of the P.LT. Cole
lector, makes ths less critical. The input wave reurns at
2Lée alter being reflected by the pile toe. Of course, since
the wave then fas raveled the longest distance, its magni
rude is usually strongly reduced by either internal (con
crete) or external (soil) damping. Reflections from defects
are also y these damping
are at deeper depths are therefore more difficult to detet
‘A effect of uniform friction on detecting defects or the toe
Fig. 4 PLT. Collector can be minimized by using an amplification which increases
exponentially in time unt By appiving tis
increasing amplification, extreme weak signals om deep
3 DATA MANIPULATIONS AND ANALYSES friction effects are not uniformly distributed and 2
the beginning of the amplification should be delaved until
As discussed in the literature (Rausche, Shen, Likins 1991) the time wine the major ‘tition ef
the interpretation of the pile top velocity or mobility can be ple is ziven in Figure Sa and
considerably enhanced with a few transformations, These ple (pile length 20 m and hugh side damping of
manipulations will be de impedance) the pile zoe response was practically im
shaft recently prepared ‘or she United States Fed time 2Lic but was clearly apparent after 25X amplification,
Highway Administration at Texas A&M University ‘The amplification started at 4 m with unit intensity and
then increased exponentially as indicated below Figure 5.0
3.1 Filtering
ser transform and mobility
Probably all electronic measurements ate ‘tered tore
move unwanted signal components. In fat, most electronic Fourie transformation of pile top velocity and force
Amplifiers have an inherent built ia feequency cesponse time signals leads fo the corresponding velociy and force
limit. ‘The most common flterig removes fully o partially SPecta. Dividing the velocity spectrum by the force spe
those frequency components above some valve. zRe nem
nal lowpass Biter frequency. Conversion of continuous
fnalog signals to disrete, digital representation cequites 4
lowpass filter limit of at most one haf ofthe sampling
frequency. In PLT. the usual digitaing eequency i ap
proximately 30 kHz and hardware low pass ‘requency
response limits [0 kHe. Additional user controlled digital
Tow pass filtering is sometimes necessary wien anvanted
high frequency components mask che imporsant fow fe
quency sal
Highpass filtering removes low frequency compen:
such as 4 constant shift or a slow dif. Velocy records
derived trom acceieation records nave been unjustiy
blamed for an errate low Fequency behavior which then
yield useless dynamic sttiness (see mobility calculations
below). While accelerometers are dynamic instruments
whose signals slowly deft towards 22¢0, the average velocity
(actualy the zero Hequency component) s always set 0
zero. This means thatthe displacement caleslated from
the velocity s also zero atthe end of the record, surely a
reasonabie assumption considering the low impact energy
However, removing or seducing other low Requency com.
ponents, 8 suggested by Paguet (1968) and demonstrated
Below. may distort records and would be tolerable any if
czacily the same String is alvays applied. Clearly, the
Calculated sufiess values then only nave relaive value.
However, such 8 relative effect can also be easly evaluated
by merely comparing force and velocity at she time of rneguency
imac. Fig. 5 (A) Unampliies and (B) amplified velociy ume
records calculated for a “+m pulse. Velocity spectra are
respectively shown in (C) and (D).trum yields the mobiliy curve which normalizes the velocity
spectrum (i.e. pile velocity response per unit force at each
frequency). Ifthe pile is infiitely long or critically damp
ened as toe. then force and velocity both have exact
the same half sine wave appearance. Obviously, the mobi
lry is then constant and exactly equal to UZ where Z is the
pile impedance (elastic modulus imes cross sectional area
divided by wave speed). A pile with less than critical
damping and no friction has greater mobility and a free
pile has infinite mobility. In both cases, the mobility graph
's not linearly increasing and does not begin at the ongia.
‘The frequency response in Figure 5.b shows a nearly con
stant behavior above £00 Hz because high soil damping
reduces the (oe response such that the pile behavior is,
simular t0 an infinitely iong pile. Amplification (Figure 5.4)
brings out the repetitive response peaks but strongly dis
torts the mobility graph near the origin. Thus. ampiifia
tion is useful for pile length or detect detection but act for
le stiffness calculations.
The dynamic pile stiffness is only meaningful
‘mobility is linear in the O to 100 Hz sange. In order to
check the pile suffress concept, several cazes were analyzed
wwith an input pulse as in Figure 6, but with different resis
tance distributions. resulting in more or less concentrated
negative velocities over the Sst 2L.c time period and sith
final pile displacements being zero. Clearly, che mobility
‘behaves nonlinearly near zero frequency, a fact that cane
not be attributed 10 signal defects since ail velocities were
calculated. In summary, the sutfness analysis gives 20
absolute quantitative recut
3.4 Velocity reflectors
‘The socalled velocity reflectors are obtained when the
velocity transform iseif i subjected to an FFT. Of course,
these “reflectors* have the dimension of velocity and are
then again a funetion of length (or time) lke che original
signal. Choosing only the positive values of this FFT. the
location of the pile toe signal often becomes quite clear.
Also shaft defecs can then frequently be located,

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Fig. 6 Calculated responses for piles with different sol
resistance distibutions
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35 The Beta method
‘To assess the relative change of 3 ross section fom an.
‘observed upward wave arrival in :he pile top velocity re
cord, the Beta value can be calculated based on simple
wave mechanics. This aumber is the ratio of ower fo
lapper pile impedance or cross zection (Rausche, Goble
1979) and is easly calculated relative magnitude a
of the reflection tothe impact “ave,
oe a
Soil resistance effects have not been included in this
equation since is assumed shat shey have been accounted
for by exponential amplification. Sigce «also assumes that
the length of cross sectional change s greater shan the
pulse length, che method may underpredict the seventy of
2 shore sross section change
3.6 Impedance profile
‘This method is based on a simple algorithm which yelds 2
pile shape as a Sinction of depth Davis, Hertlin 1891
Rather than relving on the relative peak value of a reflec
fed wave as in the Beta method, the umpedance profile
directly caleulated 38 the integral of she enhanced ceflected
pulse relative zo the impact pulse. Soil resistance effects
must be properiy considered before the impedance profile
can be calculated. In complex cases. misinterpretation may
cccur if the aecessary record adjustments and integration
ate performed completely automatically.
3.7 PITWaP
This wave equation analysis program uses either the mea
sured force or an assumed force (proportional to the velce
lty during the early impact event) ae an input atthe pile
head. The soil must be considered and » models usually
assumed bated op results obtained on other “reference”
piles. PITWAP™ then calculates the ensuing pile op
Velocity whieh is then compared with the measured one.
these Wo curves do not agree. the pile model is adjusted,
and the analisis repeated antl a beet match is achieved,
This process is similar 1o CAPWAP™ where the pile
geometry is assumed to be known and :he soil parameters
ate calculated. Actually, the coi resistance effects are
never definitively known and for shat :eason engineering,
Judgements may seriously atfect the resuite. On the other
hang, PITWAP computes a ple shape relatively quickly
(and automatically) for any chosen soll model. Therefore
the effect of soil model variations on calculated pile shape
can he very
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