Analysis of Laterally Loaded Pile Groups
Various theoretical methods are available for the analysis of single laterally loaded piles, namely the modulus of subgrade reaction approach (or p-y method), finite element method and the boundary integral method. However, many practical applications require the use of piles arranged closely in a group rather than in isolation (for capacities and/or deformation considerations). Examples include foundations for bridge piers, abutments and offshore steel platforms where the pile groups are subjected to a substantial amount of laterally forces in addition to vertical loads. The modulus of subgrade reaction approach, by defination is unable to deal with interaction problems. The pile-soil-pile interaction problem may be dealt with using the finite element method, but the three-dimensional nature of the problem makes the method expensive, even for the assumption of linear elastic soil behaviour. The boundary integral approach comes into its own when dealing with three-dimensional linear problems involving semi-infinite domains. Extensions of the approach to deal with layered soil and soil nonlinearity increase the complexity and cost of the analysis, making it less attractive for routine applications, particularly at the preliminary design stage.
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