Appraising vibro-settlement prediction methods using the finite element method
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ABSTRACT. Numerous approaches exist for the prediction of the settlement improvement offered by the vibro-replacement technique in weak or marginal soil deposits. The majority of the settlement prediction methods are based on the unit cell assumption, with a small number based on plane strain or homogenization techniques. In this paper, a comprehensive review and assessment of the more popular settlement prediction methods is carried out with a view to establishing which method(s) are in best agreement with finite element predictions from a series of PLAXIS 2D axisymmetric analyses on an end-bearing column. The Hardening Soil Model in PLAXIS 2D has been used to model the behaviour of both the granular column material and the treated soft clay soil. This study has shown that purely elastic settlement prediction methods overestimate the settlement improvement for large modular ratios while the methods based on elastic-plastic theory are in better agreement with finite element predictions at higher modular ratios (in some cases owing to the assumption of a significant bulging mechanism which is more prevalent in soft soils and in other cases due to the variability of soil stiffness with stress level which is considered in the FE calculations but not in the analytical solutions). In addition, a parameter sensitivity study has been carried out to establish the influence of a range of different design parameters on predictions obtained using a selection of elastic-plastic methods.
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