DFI Journal - The Journal of the Deep Foundations Institute

Volume 15, Issue 2, September 2021
DOI: 10.37308/DFIJnl.20210727.240

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Evaluation of Negative Skin Friction on Bridge Abutment Piles
Article Type: Research Paper

Drbe, O., El Naggar, M.H., Sadrekarimi, A.


Piles are used to transfer loads of structures to deeper and stronger soil layers through skin friction and/or end bearing. Surcharge loads, site grading, or dewatering may induce downward movement of soil adjacent to piles installed in a compressible medium. This movement creates negative skin friction stresses acting downward at the pile-soil interface, which applies additional loads “drag forces” to the pile causing a maximum axial load in the pile shaft at the “neutral plane”. To evaluate the development of drag forces, a comprehensive field monitoring program was conducted over four years for three instrumented abutment H-piles as part of a three-span bridge project. The soil settlement and changes in pore water pressure in the soil adjacent to the piles due to the construction of an approach embankment were monitored using multiple-point extensometers and vibrating wire piezometers. The piles’ elastic settlement and strains were measured using single-point extensometers and vibrating wire strain gauges. The field measurements are presented and discussed in terms of responses time histories and load distribution along one pile shaft. In addition, the calculated forces from vibrating wire strain gauges are compared with the unified design method prediction considering the total stress method (α-method) for cohesive soils. The results show that the maximum drag force was developed after the complete dissipation of excess pore water pressure and that the location of neutral plane varied during the embankment construction stages. Employing the total stress method in the unified design method provided a reasonable prediction of the drag force and the neutral plane’s location.

drag force, negative skin friction, instrumentation