Soil Plugging of Open-Ended Piles During Impact Driving in Cohesion-less Soil
During impact driving of open-ended piles through cohesion-less soil the internal soil column may mobilize enough internal shaft resistance to prevent new soil from entering the pile. This phenomena, referred to as soil plugging, changes the driving characteristics of the open-ended pile to that of a closed-ended, full displacement pile. If the plugging behavior is not correctly understood, the result is often that unnecessarily powerful and costly hammers are used because of high predicted driving resistance or that the pile plugs unexpectedly such that the hammer cannot achieve further penetration.
Today the user is generally required to model the pile response on the basis of a plugged or unplugged pile, indicating a need to be able to evaluate soil plugging prior to performing the drivability analysis and before using the results as basis for decision. This MSc. thesis focuses on soil plugging during impact driving of open-ended piles in cohesion-less soil and aims to contribute to the understanding of this area by evaluating models for predicting soil plugging and driving resistance of open-ended piles. Evaluation was done on the basis of known soil plugging mechanisms and practical aspects of pile driving. Two recently published models, one for predicting the likelihood of plugging and the other for predicting the driving resistance of open-ended piles, were compared to existing models.
The main outcomes from the model evaluations are:
• Internal shaft resistance, pile diameter and pile velocity/acceleration were found to be the primary input parameters affecting the result in the models used to predict if soil plugging is likely to occur.
• The pile diameter was shown to have less influence on the calculated driving resistance in the recently published model, derived from measurements of plug length ratios, compared to in the existing model.
This thesis also includes a full-scale field study conducted during the initial piling operations for the construction of the new Värtahamnen seaport in Stockholm (Sweden). The soil conditions cause the piles to be driven through very dense post glacial moraine, in which little is known about soil plugging. The drivability performance of 146 open-ended and closed-ended steel pipe piles with diameters ranging from 914-1168 mm was compared through analysis of driving records. The aim was to evaluate if open-ended piles resulted in a drivability related gain and if so during which part of the installation process. The driving records were used to quantify the performance in terms of driving time and energy required to drive the piles.
The main conclusions from the field study are:
• Significant time savings were achieved by using open-ended piles instead of closedended piles. The time advantage was bigger during impact driving, compared to vibratory driving, and on average the impact driving of open-ended piles took 9 minutes versus 26 minutes for closed-ended piles.
• Contrary to what was expected, namely that the open-ended piles would result in lower driving resistance, the results indicate that the majority of the time savings came from open-ended piles being more stable during driving and thereby requiring fewer adjustments.
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