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Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering

On-line version ISSN 2309-8775
Print version ISSN 1021-2019


ARCHER, A  and  HEYMANN, G. Using small-strain stiffness to predict the load-settlement behaviour of shallow foundations on sand. J. S. Afr. Inst. Civ. Eng. [online]. 2015, vol.57, n.2, pp.28-35. ISSN 2309-8775.

Foundation settlement prediction is a challenging task due to the difficulties associated with the quantification of the soil stiffness and the abundance of available analysis methods. Of the different soil stiffness moduli that may be measured, the initial small-strain stiffness is important since it can be measured both in the field and the laboratory, and settlement prediction methods using this parameter are becoming more common. The objective of this paper is to present a settlement prediction method for shallow foundations that only uses small-strain stiffness as input parameter. The method was developed by conducting physical modelling in the geotechnical centrifuge at the University of Pretoria to quantify the behaviour of shallow foundations on sand. Bender and extender elements were used to obtain the small-strain stiffness profile below the foundation before it was vertically loaded and the load-settlement curve determined. The tests were conducted on different density sands corresponding to loose, medium-dense and dense sand. A non-linear stepwise analysis approach was used in conjunction with a softening function, with variables calibrated to obtain the best fit solution for the different sand densities. Results indicate that the accuracy of the proposed method decreases as the sand density increases, but that load-settlement behaviour can be predicted with reasonable accuracy.

Keywords : small-strain stiffness; foundation settlement; centrifuge testing; softening function.

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