Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 1129–1140 | Cite as

Evaluation of Finite Element, Finite Difference and Elasticity Methods for Hypothetical Raft Foundations Installed on Layered Strata

Technical note


Different numerical methods including 2-D finite element (FE) analysis were implemented for hypothetical raft foundations of high length/breadth ratios to evaluate the reliability of (1) Boussinesq’s method, (2) “rigid-punch” (RP) elastic methods and (3) finite difference (FD) incorporating subgrade reaction theory. A dedicated computer program was developed and used in addition to professional software packages to analyse uniformly loaded rafts of various length/width ratios and stiffnesses, interacting with multi-layered soils of different properties. It was found that the greater the flexibility of the raft the closer was the agreement between the deformations computed from FE and FD methods and the settlements predicted from FE and RP methods. Additionally, the FE method yielded the most realistic predictions principally because of its capability to model and account for the interactions between soil layers as well as the continuity of the soil support. The results revealed that soil stresses computed from elastic methods were inaccurate in cases where a relatively incompressible bedrock existed within depths equivalent to 4 times the raft width or less. This led to a recommendation that in order to predict raft deformations accurately, only those methods that account for both soil-structure and soil–soil interaction should be used in designing raft foundation in practice.


Raft foundations Finite elements and finite differences Elastic solutions 



Kingston University, the first author’s employer, is thanked for permitting the use of various facilities including computing and laboratory equipment. The University also provided financial support and facilitated valuable discussions between academic staff whose contributions are acknowledged. The second author wishes to thank his dear mother Marzieh, father Azim and brothers Ehsan and Aryan, for their support and patience throughout the programme of work.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kingston UniversitySurreyUK

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