Predicting RC frame response to excavation-induced settlement

Debra F. Laefer, Seyit Ceribasi, James H. Long, Edward J. Cording

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In many tunneling and excavation projects, free-field vertical ground movements have been used to predict subsidence, and empirical limits have been employed to evaluate risk. Validity of such approaches is largely unknown given that ground movements are in fact not one-dimensional and that adjacent applied loads are known to have an impact. This paper employed analytical and large-scale experimental efforts to quantify these issues, in the case of excavation adjacent to a reinforced concrete frame with tieback anchors and a sheetpile wall in dry sand. With this flexible system, a disproportionate amount of the soil and building movements occurred prior to installation of the first tieback, even when conservative construction practices were applied. Furthermore, free-field data generated a trough as little as one-half the size of that recorded near the building frames. Empirically based relative gradient limits generally matched the extent and distribution of the damage, while the application of various structural limits did not fully identify local damage distribution but did generally reflect global response. The use of fully free-field data or a failure to include lateral soil displacements both underpredicted building displacements by as much as 50% for low-rise concrete frames without grade beams on sand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1605-1619
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2009


  • Damage
  • Excavation
  • Frames
  • Predictions
  • Reinforced concrete
  • Soil settlement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • General Environmental Science


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