Granular Columns for Geotechnical Applications

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Soft clay deposits are globally widespread and often coincide with strategic transport links and growing urban developments. These soft deposits are often waterlogged and are composed of clay with varying degrees of silt, sand and organic matter. These soils have low undrained shear strength and high compressibility, contributing to construction problems in relation to stability and settlement. Granular columns, also referred to as flexible piles, are one of the techniques widely considered in the industry for improving soft deposits for low-moderate structural loading. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the key investigations carried out in the topic of granular columns at Queen’s University Belfast, the UK.

The investigations focused on several aspects: (a) the interaction between columns and surrounding clay (b) containment of columns in geo-grid for enhanced strength performance (c) settlement performance under single or multiple column configuration (d) stress distribution under the footing and along the column (e) assessment of consolidation and creep settlement under constant loading and (f) granular columns for anchoring purposes and therefore stabilization of slopes. Overall observations are: settlement improvement factors were moderate under isolated loading, but granular columns are very effective in providing pull-out capacity in the form of anchors.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalGeotechnical Engineering Journal of the SEAGS & AGSSEA
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2018


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