Performance of suction caissons in sand and clay

Magued Iskander, Sherif El-Gharbawy, Roy Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of suction caissons (suction piles) in marine environments has been increasing in the last decade. A suction caisson is a steel pipe with an open bottom and a closed top that is inserted into the ground by pumping water out of it. Pumping creates a differential pressure across the caisson's top that pushes it into place, thus eliminating the need for pile driving. There are a number of uncertainties in the design of suction caissons. First, the state of stress and soil conditions adjacent to a suction caisson differs from those around typical driven piles or drilled shafts. Second, the axial load capacity of suction caissons depends on the rate of loading, hydraulic conductivity, drainage length, as well as the shearing strength properties of the foundation material. Finally, during pullout, volume change characteristics of the surrounding soils may change the theoretical suction pressures. A review of the existing knowledge relating to the design and construction of suction caissons is presented in this paper along with the results of a laboratory study on model caissons in sand and clay. Test results indicate that the use of suction pressure for installation of caissons is a viable alternative to conventional methods. Suction was also shown to resist some axial tensile loads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-584
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Anchor
  • Bucket
  • Capacity
  • Foundation
  • Pile
  • Suction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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