Numerical analysis of the boundary effect in model tests for single pile under lateral load

  • Jinmei Dong
  • Fan Chen
  • Mi Zhou
  • Xiaowen Zhou
Original Paper


Model tests of pile foundations have been widely used to assess tlateral bearing capacities. The difference between the measured and the real lateral bearing capacity of pile foundation may exist due to the boundary effect, and this issue has not been studied thoroughly in the past. This paper, therefore, describes an extensive investigation of the boundary effect of a model container on the lateral bearing capacity of a circular pile foundation in uniform clay through finite element (FE) analysis. Prior to parametric study, the FE model was validated by comparing with the centrifuge test results and good agreement was obtained. Based on the parametric study, including various container sizes and soil properties, it can be concluded that the boundary effect on circular pile lateral bearing capacity can be significantly eliminated when the distance of container boundary to the pile center is larger than 15 times the pile diameter. A formula was proposed, based on FE results, to predict the difference of lateral bearing capacity of a circular pile in uniform clay induced by the boundary effect.


Model test Pile Clay Boundary effect FE 



Diameter of pile


Inner diameter of pipe pile


Young’s modulus of clay


Young’s modulus of pile


Horizontal resistance of single pile at finite boundary


Horizontal resistance of single pile at infinite boundary


Width of the model test soil container


The ratio of horizontal displacement to diameter of pile


Horizontal earth pressure coefficient


Length of pile


Pile radius


Inner radius of Pipe pile


Undrained shear strength of clay


Depth of the model test soil container


Effective unit weight of clay


Interface friction coefficient


Poisson’s ratio of clay


Poisson’s ratio of pile


Friction angle of clay


Dilation angle of clay


Boundary effect coefficient, = F f/F inf



The research presented here was undertaken with the support from the China funding Science and Technology Project of POWERCHINA Huadong Engineering Corporation Limited (SD2013-10), the Water Resource Science and Technology Innovation Program of Guangdong Province (2015-17), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (D2171820). This support is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinmei Dong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fan Chen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Mi Zhou
    • 4
  • Xiaowen Zhou
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Geotechnical EngineeringNanjing Tech. UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science, School of Civil Engineering and TransportationSouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Nanjing Municipal Design and Research Institute Co., LtdNanjingChina
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Subtropical Building Science, School of Civil and Transportation EngineeringSouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouChina

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