WINKLER'S HYPOTHESIS: Solutions for Laterally Loaded Piles.

Most of the theoretical solutions for laterally loaded piles involve the concept of modulus of subgrade reaction or otherwise termed as soil modulus which is based on Winkler's assumption that a soil medium may be approximated by a series of closely spaced independent elastic springs.

Fig. 16.1(b) shows a loaded beam resting on a elastic foundation. The reaction at any point on the base of the beam is actually a function of every point along the beam since soil material exhibits varying degrees of continuity. The beam shown in Fig. 16.1(b) can be replaced by a beam in Fig. 16.1(c). In this figure the beam rests on a bed of elastic springs wherein each spring is independent of the other. According to Winkler's hypothesis, the reaction at any point on the base of the beam in Fig. 16.1(c) depends only on the deflection at that point. Vesic (1961) has shown that the error inherent in Winkler's hypothesis is not significant.

The problem of a laterally loaded pile embedded in soil is closely related to the beam on an elastic foundation. A beam can be loaded at one or more points along its length, whereas in the case of piles the external loads and moments are applied at or above the ground surface only.

The nature of a laterally loaded pile-soil system is illustrated in Fig. 16.1(d) for a vertical pile.

The same principle applies to batter piles. A series of nonlinear springs represents the force-deformation characteristics of the soil. The springs attached to the blocks of different sizes indicate reaction increasing with deflection and then reaching a yield point, or a limiting value that depends on depth; the taper on the springs indicates a nonlinear variation of load with deflection. The gap between the pile and the springs indicates the molding away of the soil by repeated loadings and the increasing stiffness of the soil is shown by shortening of the springs as the depth below the surface increases.

Figure 16.1 (a) Batter piles, (b, c) Winkler's hypothesis and (d) the concept of
laterally loaded pile-soil system

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