The axial capacity of driven piles in clay
An instrumented model pile was used to investigate the fundamental behaviour in clay soils of driven cylindrical steel piles used for offshore structures. Four test-bed sites were chosen; two in stiff heavily consolidated clays, and two in normally/lightly overconsolidated clays. Data from these sites confirm that a residual shear surface is formed along the pile during installation, the location of which relative to the shaft surface appears to depend on the shaft roughness. Comparisons with other site investigation data and cavity expansion theoretical predictions indicate that stress relief immediately behind the pile tip during driving gives rise to total radial stresses and pore pressures measured on the pile shaft which are lower than predicted. This stress relief is particulary severe in the stiffer clays. The data did however show that the installation total radial stresses and pore pressures are governed by the initial in-situ stresses and undrained shear strength as is predicated by the theory. During reconsolidation, pore pressures close to the instrument rise initially in all clays, and radial effective stresses drop. The slow recovery in radial effective stress during the later stages of reconsolidation was in some cases insufficient to return it to levels recorded during installation. However, the generation of negative pore pressures during undrained loading increased the radial effective stress and shaft friction at failure. This effect is particularly important in the normally consolidated clays, and is responsible for the set-up of shaft capacity seen in such clays, which might not be observed if the loading were drained. The observed behaviour was therefore quite different from the monotonic increase in radial effective stress during reconsolidation, followed by decrease during undrained loading which was expected from a review of current theory.