Pile response to lateral spreads: Centrifuge modeling

Tarek Abdoun, Ricardo Dobry, Thomas D. O'Rourke, S. H. Goh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The paper presents results of eight centrifuge models of vertical single piles and pile groups subjected to earthquake-induced liquefaction and lateral spreading. The centrifuge experiments, conducted in a slightly inclined laminar box subjected to strong in-flight base shaking, simulate a mild, submerged, infinite ground slope containing a 6-m-thick prototype layer of liquefiable Nevada sand having a relative density of 40%. Two- and three-layer soil profiles were used in the models, with a 2-m-thick nonliquefiable stratum placed below, and in some cases also above the liquefiable Nevada sand. The model piles had an effective prototype diameter, d, of 0.6 m. The eight pile models simulated single end-bearing and floating reinforced concrete piles with and without a reinforced concrete pile cap, and two 2×2 end-bearing pile groups. Bending moments were measured by strain gauges placed along the pile models. The base shaking liquefied the sand layer and induced free field permanent lateral ground surface displacements between 0.7 and 0.9 m. In all experiments, the maximum permanent bending moments, Mmax occurred at the boundaries between liquefied and nonliquefied layers: the prototype measured values of Mmax ranged between about 10 and 300 kN m. In most cases the bending moments first increased and then decreased during the shaking, despite the continued increase in free field displacement, indicating strain softening of the soil around the deep foundation. The largest values Of Mmax were associated with single end-bearing piles in the three-layer profile, and the smallest values of Mmax were measured in the end-bearing pile groups in the two-layer profile. The companion paper further analyzes the Mmax measured in the single pile models, and uses them to calibrate two limit equilibrium methods for engineering evaluation of bending moments in the field. These two methods correspond to cases controlled, respectively, by the pressure of liquefied soil, and by the passive pressure of nonliquefied layers on the pile foundation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-878
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003


  • Earthquakes
  • Lateral pressure
  • Liquefaction
  • Pile caps
  • Pile groups
  • Piles
  • Soil-structure interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • General Environmental Science


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