DFI Journal - The Journal of the Deep Foundations Institute

Volume 6, Issue 1, January 2012

Papers are only available to members. If you are a member, please click on the "Login" link at the top of the site. You may use your DFI login.

If you are not a member, click here join.

Please click here to complete purchase by clicking on the PDF $25 icon and completing the payment form. The paper will be emailed to you within 48 hours.

The Influence of RC Nonlinearity on p-y Curves for CIDH Bridge Piers

Leonardo Massone, Anne Lemnitzer


The p-y method is one of the most popular methods in pile design and has been calibrated for various boundary conditions using numerical and experimental studies during recent years. Most studies on reinforced concrete (RC) piles have included the impact of flexural nonlinearity, (e.g. nonlinear moment–curvature relations) but not considered associated pile shear deformations when deriving p-y curves from field data. Common p-y curves may be better applicable for piles with flexure dominated failures (e.g. piles with free- head boundary conditions). For piles with fixed head boundaries (i.e. rotation restrained piles) shear deformations could be of significant influence. To study this problem, a coupled shear flexure interaction model for axial-bending-shear behavior coded in OpenSees was applied to a 0.61 m (2 ft) diameter flagpole and a 0.61m (2 ft) diameter fixed head pile specimen to investigate the possible influence of shear deformations to the overall pile responses. The surrounding soil was represented by p-y curves derived from prior large scale testing on piles with similar boundary conditions. Analysis results show that for flagpole piles, shear forces and shear deformations were insignificant. Considerable contributions of pile shear displacements and forces were observed for the fixed head pile, with shear displacements contributing up to 40% of the total pile displacement. Results suggest that nonlinear shear deformations for reinforced concrete piles should be considered for fixedhead or similar conditions, and that currently used p-y curves may underestimate the actual lateral pile displacement and possibly lead to unsafe design for the particular boundary condition.

piles, p-y curves, lateral loading, pile design