VERTICAL BEARING CAPACITY OF PILE GROUPS EMBEDDED IN SANDS AND GRAVELS.

Driven piles. If piles are driven into loose sands and gravel, the soil around the piles to a radius of at least three times the pile diameter is compacted. When piles are driven in a group at close spacing, the soil around and between them becomes highly compacted. When the group is loaded, the piles and the soil between them move together as a unit. Thus, the pile group acts as a pier foundation having a base area equal to the gross plan area contained by the piles. The efficiency of the pile group will be greater than unity as explained earlier. It is normally assumed that the efficiency falls to unity when the spacing is increased to five or six diameters. Since present knowledge is not sufficient to evaluate the efficiency for different spacing of piles, it is conservative to assume an efficiency factor of unity for all practical purposes. We may, therefore, write


where n - the number of piles in the group.

The procedure explained above is not applicable if the pile tips rest on compressible soil such as silts or clays. When the pile tips rest on compressible soils, the stresses transferred to the compressible soils from the pile group might result in over-stressing or extensive consolidation. The carrying capacity of pile groups under these conditions is governed by the shear strength and compressibility of the soil, rather than by the 'efficiency'' of the group within the sand or gravel stratum.

Bored Pile Groups In Sand And Gravel
Bored piles are cast-in-situ concrete piles. The method of installation involves

1. Boring a hole of the required diameter and depth,
2. Pouring in concrete.

There will always be a general loosening of the soil during boring and then too when the boring has to be done below the water table. Though bentonite slurry (sometimes called as drilling mud) is used for stabilizing the sides and bottom of the bores, loosening of the soil cannot be avoided. Cleaning of the bottom of the bore hole prior to concreting is always a problem which will never be achieved quite satisfactorily. Since bored piles do not compact the soil between the piles, the efficiency factor will never be greater than unity. However, for all practical purposes, the efficiency may be taken as unity.

Figure 15.27 Block failure of a pile group in clay soil

Pile Groups In Cohesive Soils
The effect of driving piles into cohesive soils (clays and silts) is very different from that of cohesionless soils. It has already been explained that when piles are driven into clay soils, particularly when the soil is soft and sensitive, there will be considerable remolding of the soil. Besides there will be heaving of the soil between the piles since compaction during driving cannot be achieved in soils of such low permeability. There is every possibility of lifting of the pile during this process of heaving of the soil. Bored piles are, therefore, preferred to driven piles in cohesive soils. In case driven piles are to be used, the following steps should be favored:
1. Piles should be spaced at greater distances apart.
2. Piles should be driven from the center of the group towards the edges, and
3. The rate of driving of each pile should be adjusted as to minimize the development of pore water pressure.
Experimental results have indicated that when a pile group installed in cohesive soils is loaded, it may fail by any one of the following ways:
1. May fail as a block (called block failure).
2. Individual piles in the group may fail.

When piles are spaced at closer intervals, the soil contained between the piles move downward with the piles and at failure, piles and soil move together to give the typical 'block failure'. Normally this type of failure occurs when piles are placed within 2 to 3 pile diameters. For wider spacings, the piles fail individually. The efficiency ratio is less than unity at closer spacings and may reach unity at a spacing of about 8 diameters. 

The equation for block failure may be written as (Fig. 15.27).


The bearing capacity of a pile group on the basis of individual pile failure may be written as


The bearing capacity of a pile group is normally taken as the smaller of the two given by Eqs. (15.70) and (15.71).

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