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ARTICLE
Analysis of buried pipelines subjected to ground surface
settlement and heave

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George P. Kouretzis, Dimitrios K. Karamitros, and Scott W. Sloan

Abstract: This paper presents an analytical methodology for the calculation of internal forces and strains developing in
continuous buried pipelines that cross geotechnically problematic areas and are susceptible to permanent ground surface
settlement or heave. Material nonlinearity effects are introduced in the solution via an iterative procedure, while taking into
account the effect of pipeline elongation on its response. The use of a versatile bilinear expression to describe the stressstrain
response of the pipeline material renders the method appropriate for steel, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), concrete, and cast
iron pipelines alike. Comparison of the analytical results against those from benchmark nite element analyses highlights the
effectiveness of the simplied analysis. The method is a potential alternative to elaborate three-dimensional nonlinear numerical analyses that are often used in pipeline design practice, and offers ease-of-use with no expense in accuracy, at least for
problems involving simple pipeline geometries.
Key words: buried pipelines, settlement, heave, reactive soils, ground subsidence.
Rsum : Cet article prsente une mthode analytique de calcul des forces et contraintes prsentes a` lintrieur des pipelines
continus enfouis qui traversent des zones gologiques problmatiques et peuvent subir les effets des tassements et soulvements
permanents de la surface du sol. Les effets matriels de non-linarit sont incorpors a` la solution par lintermdiaire dune
procdure itrative et tiennent compte de leffet de llongation du pipeline sur la rponse de ce dernier. Lutilisation dune
expression bilinaire polyvalente pour dcrire la rponse contraintedformation du matriau constituant le pipeline rend la
mthode approprie dans le cas des pipelines en acier, en polythylne haute densit (PEHD), en bton en fonte. La comparaison
des rsultats analytiques avec ceux obtenus par la mthode de rfrence des lments nis montre lefcacit de lanalyse
simplie. La mthode est une alternative possible pour laborer des analyses numriques non linaires tridimensionnelles, qui
sont souvent mises en pratique lors de la conception des pipelines, et offre une simplicit dutilisation et une grande prcision,
du moins dans le cas des problmatiques lies aux pipelines a` gomtrie simple. [Traduit par la Rdaction]
Mots-cls : pipelines enfouis, tassement, soulvement, sols ractifs, subsidence du sol.

Introduction
Rapid growth of buried pipeline networks inevitably leads to
routes that cross geotechnically problematic areas. In these cases,
permanent ground settlement or heave, which is not related to
pipeline construction activities, may result in the development of
excessive pipeline strains and failure in the forms of cracking or
buckling. Such problematic areas include, but are not limited to

Reactive soil deposits that undergo signicant volume changes


due to environmental effects such as wettingdrying and freezing
thawing cycles (Chan et al. 2007; Gould et al. 2009; Rajeev and
Kodikara 2011).
Irrigated lands, where longer drought periods due to climate
change may lead to aquifer overpumping; which in turn may
result in nonuniform consolidation settlements (Budhu and
Adiyaman 2013; Wols and van Thienen 2014).
Areas susceptible to mine subsidence (Ho et al. 2007; ASCE-ALA
2005; AS 2885.1 2012 (Standards Australia 2012)).
Areas where ground surface subsidence is induced by nearsurface tunnelling works (e.g., Wang et al. 2011).
Loose sand deposits that are susceptible to dynamic densication (Tokimatsu and Seed 1987).

A link between pipeline failures and the geotechnical risks related to permanent ground surface deformation has been identied in the recent literature. Gould et al. (2009) analysed data from
39 687 failures documented by Australian water authorities over a
10 year period. Field crews responsible for pipeline repairs veried that a signicant number of these incidents were a result of
ground movement. Chan et al. (2007) identied a clear relationship between City West Water Ltd. (Melbourne, Australia) pipeline network failure rates and seasonal variation of soil moisture
content. Pratt et al. (2011) analysed a database of 8100 failures in
cast iron and reinforced concrete water pipelines that occurred
over a 10 year period in Western Australia, and reached similar
conclusions. In the USA, 10 143 serious incidents affecting onshore pipeline systems transporting hazardous liquid and gas
were reported between 1993 and 2004, and were included in the
US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration database. Seven hundred ten (7%) of these cases are explicitly attributed to pipeline exposure to natural hazards, and resulted in
14 fatalities, 78 injuries, and property damage of 1.8 billion USD
(source: PHMSA 2015 database). It must be stressed that, apart from
their economic and social impact, pipeline failures may pose a
signicant environmental threat, as they may result in leakage of

Received 13 August 2014. Accepted 27 November 2014.


G.P. Kouretzis and S.W. Sloan. ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment,
The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.
D.K. Karamitros. Department of Civil Engineering, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.
Corresponding author: George P. Kouretzis (e-mail: Georgios.Kouretzis@newcastle.edu.au).
Can. Geotech. J. 52: 10581071 (2015) dx.doi.org/10.1139/cgj-2014-0332

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Kouretzis et al.

hazardous materials or chemicals and consequent contamination


of the soil or the aquifer.
A number of studies in the recent literature deal with the stress
analysis of buried pipelines subjected to permanent ground settlement. The bulk of these studies focus on ground subsidence
due to tunnelling where the axis of the tunnel crosses the pipeline
route transversely. Analytical approaches (e.g., Klar et al. 2005,
2007; Vorster et al. 2005; Wang et al. 2011) consider the pipeline as
a beam on an elastic foundation or are based on a more rigorous
elastic continuum formulation. The effect of soil nonlinearity is
introduced either by limiting the axial soilpipeline friction in the
elastic continuum solution (Klar et al. 2007) or by an equivalent
linear approach, where the stiffness of the soil springs is a function of the average deviatoric strain developing in the pipeline
(Vorster et al. 2005). Numerical parametric analyses have also
been employed for the statistical derivation of expressions for
estimating the maximum bending strain developing in the pipeline, based on the interpretation of nite element analyses results
(Wang et al. 2011). These studies have been benchmarked against
relevant centrifuge tests presented by Vorster et al. (2005),
Marshall et al. (2010), and others. Recently, Wols and van Thienen
(2014) extended this concept to compute the pipeline stresses due
to differential ground settlement along the pipeline route, using
a Winkler-type model to simulate soilpipeline interaction and
assuming elastic behaviour of the pipeline material.
Two simplifying assumptions are adopted in the abovementioned studies, although their effect on the computed pipeline
stresses can be prominent in certain cases of practical interest.
The rst is that the nonlinear pipeline material response is not
introduced in the analytical solutions, even though it could be
important for the rational design of steel and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipelines in areas of considerable ground surface
deformations, where yield of the pipeline material could be acceptable as long as it does not lead to rupture or local buckling.
The second is that the pipeline elongation due to the vertical
ground surface offset is assumed to be negligible, in spite of the
fact that it can lead to the development of considerable axial
strains, especially when the pipeline material reaches yield due to
bending.
To tackle these shortcomings, a new analytical method is presented for the estimation of internal forces and strains that develop
in buried pipelines subjected to ground surface settlement along
their route. This analysis is extended to also cover the scenario of
ground surface heave due to the pipeline route crossing reactive soil
deposits. The core of the method is based on the work of Karamitros
et al. (2007) and Karamitros et al. (2011) for the stress analysis of
buried steel pipelines that cross strikeslip as well as normal and
oblique faults, respectively. Nonlinearity of the soil and pipeline material is accounted for via a simple iterative procedure, which can be
programmed easily in a spreadsheet. The results are compared against
those from benchmark nonlinear nite element analyses with a
beamspring model, similar to the one described in the American
Lifelines Alliance guidelines (ASCE-ALA 2005) for the design of buried
steel pipes. To conclude, some practical implications and limitations
of the method are discussed, in view of its potential use in the practical design of pipelines.

Problem description
Consider a straight continuous pipeline whose route crosses an
area of nite width where differential settlement or heave of the
ground surface may develop. It is assumed that no pipe bends or
anchoring points exist within the unanchored length of the pipeline, which is dened as the length where the relative axial soil
pipeline displacement will take place due to the vertical offset of
the ground surface. This free-to-slip assumption does not apply
to the restraining effect on the relative axial movement between
the soil and pipeline that is caused by a zone of differential

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ground displacements of limited width, which will be addressed


later in this paper. A step-like pattern for the differential ground
surface offset (Fig. 1) is also considered. In reality, the shape of the
deformed ground surface will be more complex, and vertical
movements will develop progressively along a zone of nite
width. Nevertheless, this guillotine type vertical offset is certainly conservative with respect to the calculated pipeline internal forces and strains. As per common practice in the design of
buried pipelines (e.g., ASCEALA 2005), stress analysis of the pipeline is performed via a beamspring model and the soilpipeline
interaction is quantied by replacing the soil surrounding the
pipeline with elastoplastic springs (Fig. 1). Three sets of springs are
used to account for the different mechanisms governing the axial,
upwards, and downwards relative movement of the soilpipeline.
The yield displacement and ultimate force of each set of springs
both depend on the geometry of the pipeline and properties of the
soil. The out-of-plane horizontal relative displacement is taken as
zero, so that transverse springs can be omitted from the analysis.
The in-plane vertical displacement is applied at the xed end of
the springs, resulting in the deformed pipeline axis shown in
Fig. 1a for a pipeline subjected to differential ground surface settlement, and in Fig. 1b for a pipeline subjected to differential
ground heave. The soil springs depicted in red (grey in the print
version of this paper) in Figs. 1a and 1b are under compression (and
thus apply a distributed pressure on the pipeline), while the
springs depicted in black are inactive, and correspond to sections
where no reaction load is applied on the pipeline.
Figure 1 illustrates that when a simplied step-like pattern is
considered, the heave is actually the mirror problem of settlement, and vice versa. In both cases the pipeline reacts to the
imposed displacements predominantly via bending, and both
deformation patterns intuitively should result in essentially the
same maximum internal forces and strains on the pipeline (for
the same relative offset magnitude). The difference is the location
of the maximum strains along the pipeline length, which should
be upstream of the point of application of the step-like displacement for the settlement case, and downstream for the heave case.
This is due to the fact that the downwards springs sustain a higher
yield force compared to the upwards springs, as given by the soil
failure surface that each deformation mode mobilizes (ASCE-ALA
2005, Kouretzis et al. 2014). Nevertheless, the exact location of the
maximum strains is irrelevant to pipeline design.
Keeping the above in mind, an analytical solution will be formulated to estimate the internal forces and strains in the pipeline, based on the same general concept of the nite element
nonlinear beamspring model that is used in everyday design
practice. The solution could be considered as a variation of the
method of Karamitros et al. (2011) for normal faults, assuming
that the deformation pattern imposed by the ground settlement is
equivalent to that imposed by the rupture of a normal fault with
a dip angle 90 whose trace is perpendicular to the pipeline route.
However, elongation of the pipeline due to the upwards or downwards displacement is taken into account here, and thus the corresponding axial pipeline force as a function of the width of the
settlement or heave zone is estimated. Albeit this elongation may
not be sufcient to mobilize the full friction resistance at the
soilpipeline interface, as assumed in all published methodologies for the stress analysis of pipelines crossing active faults
(Newmark and Hall 1975; Kennedy et al. 1977; Wang and Yeh 1985;
Karamitros et al. 2007, 2011; Trifonov and Cherniy 2010), it will be
proven here that the axial tensile strains that are developed
should not be neglected at least for cases where the ground
surface offset is considerable compared to the diameter of the
pipeline. In addition, the formulation for the heave problem will
be provided, to prove the postulation that step-like settlement
and heave of equal magnitude will result in the same maximum
internal forces and strains on the pipeline. Certain parts of the
analysis have already been presented in Karamitros et al. (2011),
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Fig. 1. Pipeline subjected to step-like differential (a) settlement and (b) heave along its route. The corresponding idealized beamspring
models are also shown, where the springs loaded by upwards and downwards movements are under compression and are depicted in red
(grey in the print version of this article) (the axial springs have been omitted for clarity).

Fig. 2. Segmentation of the pipeline into three beams A=A, ABC, and CC=: (a) settlement scenario: (b) heave scenario.

but are repeated here using the same nomenclature, where possible, as they are essential to describe the analytical method
completely.

Methodology
A step-like vertical offset z of the natural ground surface will
result in the deection of a straight continuous buried pipeline
crossing the settling or heaving zone, following the pattern illus-

trated in Fig. 2. Any soil movement in the horizontal plane is


disregarded in the following analysis, which suggests that it is not
valid for cases of vertical offset developing as a result of certain types
of deformation e.g., a rotational slope failure. Following the work
of Wang and Yeh (1985) and Karamitros et al. (2007, 2011), the analysis
of the pipeline will be based on beam theory, while uncoupling the
bending action from the axial elongation. To facilitate the analysis,
the pipeline is segmented into three characteristic parts: A=A, ABC,
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and CC= (Fig. 2). Points A and C along the pipeline route dene the
part ABC where it is presupposed that the maximum pipeline strains
will develop. Its ends are the nearest points to the edge of the settlement or heave zone where the relative vertical displacement between the soil and pipeline becomes zero. Point B is accordingly
dened as the projection of the edge of the settlement or heave zone
on the pipeline axis. Computation of the maximum values of the
pipeline internal forces and strains is performed in a ve-step iterative algorithm, which is described in the following.
Step 1
The case of the ground settlement prole illustrated in Fig. 2a is
examined rst. Beams A=A (from to A=) and CC= (from C= to +)
are analysed by employing beam-on-elastic-foundation theory to
obtain the relation between the reaction force, V; bending moment, M; and rotation of the elastic line, , at points A and C. This
implies that parts A=A and CC= will behave elastically for the range
of the vertical ground surface displacements considered, and the
vertical beam deection, w, will be limited so that geometric nonlinearity effects can be assumed to be negligible. In this case, the
differential equation providing the elastic line of the beams is
given by
(1)

E1Iw Kw 0

where E1 is the initial (elastic) Youngs modulus of the pipeline


material, I is the area moment of inertia of the pipeline crosssection, and K is the vertical spring constant. The latter is different for upwards and downwards movement (see, for example
Trautmann et al. 1985 and Kouretzis et al. 2014), but a mean value
will be assumed for these particular segments, for the sake of
simplicity. The boundary conditions for eq. (1) are w = 0 for x = 0, as
well as w = 0 for x or x + for the beams A=A and CC=,
respectively (Fig. 2). Under the above conditions eq. (1) yields
x

w Ce sinx for beam A A

(2b)

w Cex sinx for beam CC 

where

4 K/(4E I)

Differentiation of eqs. (2a) and (2b) results in the bending moment and reaction force at points A and C as
(4a)

MA (2E1 I)

(4b)

MC (2E1 I)C

(5a)

VA MA

(5b)

VC MC

The sign convention for the internal forces, displacements, and


rotation follows Fig. 3, whereas in Fig. 2 the actual directions of
the internal forces and beam deformation are plotted.
One can easily visualize that the solution would be exactly the
same in the mirror problem of step-like ground surface heave
(Fig. 2b), if the order of parts A=A and CC= were reversed. Yet, to
maintain consistency throughout the presentation, the beam located upstream of the edge of the heave zone will still be identied as part A=A, and the beam located downstream of the edge of
the heave zone as part CC=. In the latter case, the signs of eqs. (4)
and (5) are reversed.
Step 2
Segment ABC will be analysed as an elastic beam supported by
two rotational springs at its ends A and B. The constant of both
these springs results from eqs. (4a) and (4b) as
(6)

Cr M/ 2E1 I

(2a)

(3)

Fig. 3. Positive sign convention for displacement, rotation, and


internal forces.

where A wA and C wC is the rotation of the elastic line of the
beam. These constitute the boundary conditions for the analysis
of beam ABC during the next step of the algorithm. In order for
these boundary conditions to apply, one should ensure the existence of an adequate attenuation length x = La on each side of the
beam ABC. The quantication of this length is of special interest
in cases where the settling or heaving zone has a limited width,
and will be discussed in the following paragraphs.

A prescribed displacement of magnitude z is applied at the


beam support C (Fig. 2), equal to the vertical soil settlement or
heave. A positive sign for z corresponds to settlement while a
negative sign designates heave, according to the convention
shown in Fig. 3. Beam ABC of length L is accordingly partitioned
into two subsegments with lengths LAB and LBC, upstream and
downstream of the projection of the edge of the settlement or
heave zone on the pipeline axis, B. Lengths LAB and LBC are unknown, and will result from the following analysis. Downwards
vertical movement of support C will result in a negative ground
reaction load, qAB, distributed along subsegment AB, and a positive ground reaction load, qBC, along subsegment BC. The direction of the ground reaction distributed load, which follows the
convention of Fig. 3, is reversed in the case of upwards-vertical
movement of support C (Fig. 2b).
For the analysis of beam ABC it is assumed that the positive
reaction loads are uniform, and of a magnitude equal to the ultimate value of the resistance force developed during pipeline uplift (ASCE-ALA 2005; Trautmann et al. 1985). This is due to the fact
that this ultimate force develops for relatively low relative movements between the soil and pipeline, of the order of 0.01H to 0.02H
for pipelines buried in sand-backlled trenches, with H being the
embedment depth of the pipeline measured from the its centerline (ASCE-ALA 2005). Negative reaction loads, however, reach
their ultimate value, equal to the maximum resistance force
developed during relative movement of the pipeline vertically
downwards, for much higher relative displacement values of the
order of 0.1D, with D being the pipeline diameter (ASCE-ALA 2005).
Therefore it is expected that the negative ground reaction will
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Fig. 4. Estimation of zB in the case of differential ground (a) settlement and (b) heave.

follow a triangular load distribution, reaching a peak value at


point B of the beam equal to Kdownz in the case of ground
settlement, and to Kdown(z z) in the case of ground heave.
Here Kdown is the stiffness of the springs in the downward direction (Fig. 1) and z (in the case of settlement) or z z (in the
case of heave) is the relative vertical displacement of the soil
pipeline at point B. To facilitate the analysis, instead of using a
triangular load distribution an equivalent uniform distribution
(which has the same resultant) is considered for the negative
ground reaction. This has the magnitude
(7a)

qAB (KdownzB)/2 for differential settlement,


along subsegment AB

(7b)

qBC [Kdown(z zB)]/2 for differential heave,


along subsegment BC

To estimate the displacement z it is assumed that the elastic


line of subsegments AB and BC deforms as a circular arc (Fig. 4).
This implies that segment ABC behaves as a cable of zero bending
stiffness, as in the work of Kennedy et al. (1977). Nonetheless, this
zero bending stiffness assumption is employed only for the estimation of displacement z, and not for the subsequent structural analysis of the beam, as this would overestimate the pipeline
strains for low relative offset values. Given the above, the radii of
curvature of subsegments AB and BC can be calculated while considering each circular arc to be part of the cross section of a
hollow cylinder, with a radius equal to the radius of curvature of
the corresponding subsegment, subjected to uniform internal
pressure qAB or qBC. Application of internal pressure to a hollow
cylinder will result in the development of a tensile hoop force, Fa,
translated as axial force for beam ABC, and
(8a)

RAB Fa /qAB

(8b)

RBC Fa /qBC

Equations (9a) and (9b) allow z to be estimated directly from


the input parameters of the problem. Thus the analysis can proceed for elastic beam ABC, whose rotation is constrained by rotational springs at A and C, which is subjected to uniform loads qAB
and qBC and to a prescribed displacement of z at its support C.
Starting with the settlement cases, bending moments MA and MC
at points A and C are estimated from eqs. (10a) and (10b)
(10a)

(10b)

(9a)

(9b)

zB

zB

2
2
3
LAB
qBCLBC
LBC
qABLAB
LAB
68
43
3 2
12
L
12L
L
L

EI
EI
EI
MC 2 A 4 C 6 2 z
L
L
L

2
2
3
LBC
qABLAB
LAB
qBCLBC
LBC
68
43
3 2
12
L
12L
L
L

Combining eqs. (10a) and (10b) with eqs. (4a) and (4b) for bending
moments at A and C, resulting from the analysis of the beams A=A
and CC= in step 1, yields

(11a)

MA

[2 (CrL/2EI)]MA0 MC0
4 (6EI/Cr L) (Cr L/2EI)

(11b)

MC

MA0 [2 (Cr L/2EI)]MC0


4 (6EI/Cr L) (CrL/2EI)

where

(12a)

Accordingly, from the deformed shape illustrated in Figs. 4a


and 4b z can be calculated from similar triangles as
qBC

EI
EI
EI
MA 4 A 2 C 6 2 z
L
L
L

qBC(qBC 2Kdownz)

qAB Kdownz

(12b)

Kdown
for differential settlement, Fig. 4a

(qAB Kdownz)

(Kdownz)
Kdown
for differential heave, Fig. 4b

2
2
qABLAB
LAB
LAB
EI
MA0 6 2 z
68
3 2
12
L
L
L

3
qBCLBC
LBC
43
12L
L

2
2
qBCLBC
LBC
LBC
EI
MC0 6 2 z
68
3 2
12
L
L
L

3
qABLAB
LAB
43
12L
L

Reaction forces at A and C are also computed from equilibrium


considerations as
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(13a)

VA

2
LAB
qBCLBC
1
MA MC qABLAB L

L
2
2

(13b)

VC

2
LBC
qABLAB
1
MA MC qBCLBC L

L
2
2

about 6070). This assumption, however, is not valid for the


settlement or heave problem, and might provide an explanation
for the discrepancies noted by Karamitros et al. (2011) between the
numerical and analytical results for locations near vertical fault
planes and large fault offsets. Here elongation of the pipeline due
to the vertical offset is estimated as (Fig. 4)

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The locations of points A and C are not known a priori. Still, the
length of each subsegment LAB and LBC and the total length of
beam ABC, L, can be computed iteratively, from the boundary
conditions described in eqs. (5a) and (5b). For that an initial value
is assigned to lengths LAB = (5 to 10)D and LBC = (10 to 20)D, estimating the internal forces at A and C from eqs. (11), (12), and (13), and
updating LAB and LBC during each iteration as

(14a)


LAB

qBCLBC VC MA
(1 )LAB
qAB

(14b)


LBC

qABLAB VA MC
(1 )LBC
qBC

where is an iteration coefcient.


The above procedure converges if a value of between 0.2 and
0.5 is selected. The maximum bending moment, which in the
differential settlement scenario will develop upstream of the edge
of the settling zone, is then calculated as
(15)

Mmax MA VAxmax qAB

2
xmax
2

where xmax

VA
qAB

The procedure is essentially the same for the heave case, but the
signs of the reaction moments and forces in eqs. (10) to (13) are
now reversed. Lengths LAB and LBC are also reversed, so their initial
values to be entered into the iterative procedure should now be
LAB = (10 to 20)D and LBC = (5 to 10)D. Moreover, the maximum
bending moment will now develop downstream of the edge of the
heaving zone, and is calculated as
(16)

Mmax MC VCxmax qBC

2
xmax
2

where xmax

VC
qBC

To this end, the maximum bending strain using elastic beam


theory can be computed as
(17)

Mmax D
2E1I

(18)

Step 3
Vertical offset of the ground surface will result in some elongation of the pipeline, x, and in the development of axial strains.
Karamitros et al. (2011) ignored the elongation due to vertical fault
displacement, as it can be considered to be insignicant compared to the elongation imposed by the horizontal displacement
component of a normal fault with a realistic dip angle (typically

zL

cos arctan

Equation (18) is valid for both the settlement and heave scenarios. The maximum axial force that will develop on the pipeline
can be found based on the demand for compatibility between the
geometrically required elongation Lreq = x (eq. (18)) and the
available pipeline elongation Lavail, a concept originally introduced by Newmark and Hall (1975). The latter is dened as the
integral of the axial strains along the pipelines unanchored
length Lanch, i.e., the length along both sides of the projection
of the edge of the settlement or heave zone on the pipeline axis
(point B) where some relative horizontal displacement occurs between the pipeline and its surrounding soil

Lanch

(19)

Lavail 2

(L) dL

where (L) is axial strain distribution along the pipeline.


All analytical methodologies for similar imposed-displacement
problems (Newmark and Hall 1975; Kennedy et al. 1977; Wang and
Yeh 1985; Karamitros et al. 2007, 2011; Trifonov and Cherniy 2010)
assume, for simplicity, that the ultimate friction force between
the pipeline and surrounding soil is fully mobilized when calculating (L). This assumption, however, is not accurate for the
problem examined herein. As discussed above, the geometrically
required elongation due to settlement or heave, x, is considerably smaller than the elongation induced by the rupture of a
major seismic fault, for which the abovementioned methodologies were developed. Overlooking the elastic component of the
axial springs may result in a signicant overestimation of the
axial pipeline strain and, therefore, a renement in the calculation of the axial pipeline force is introduced in this study.
Starting with the case where the relative soilpipeline displacement is not sufcient to mobilize the ultimate axial friction force,
tu, the axial response of the pipeline is described by the following
differential equation
(20)

Equation (17) implies that the pipeline response is linear elastic,


and as the pipeline material undergoes yield it will ovepredict the
bending strains. However, the required magnitude of settlement
or heave to result in yielding of a signicant portion of the pipeline section (and consequently geometric nonlinearity effects becoming prominent) is unrealistic. As discussed in the following
step, the predominant mode of failure will be in bending, coupled
with a low tensile force. Thus calculating the bending strains via
eq. (17) is a realistic approximation.

tu
dF(x)
t(x) u(x)
dx
xu

where axis x coincides with the pipeline axis (Fig. 5a), F(x) is the
axial force along the pipeline, u(x) is the axial displacement of the
pipeline relative to the surrounding soil, t(x) is the mobilized axial
friction force, and xu is the relative displacement required for the
development of the ultimate friction force tu. Given the small
magnitude of the required elongation, Lreq, it can be assumed
that the relationship between axial stresses and strains along the
pipeline remains elastic, thus
(21)

F(x) E1 As(x) E1As

du(x)
dx

where As is the area of the pipeline cross section. Combining


eqs. (20) and (21) yields
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Fig. 5. Distribution of axial and friction forces along the pipeline for (a) Lreq < 2xu and (b) Lreq > 2xu.

(22a)

tu
d2u(x)

u(x) u(x) C1ex C2ex


2
E1 Asxu
dx

In this case, the distribution of the axial forces along Lu is


given as
(25)

where

(22b)

and the total elongation of the pipeline along length Lu will be

tu
E1 Asxu

(26)
Measuring x from the edge of the settlement or heave zone
(Fig. 5a), as x + the displacement u(x) 0, and thus C1 = 0
and C2 = uo with uo being the relative displacement at the edge
(point B of the pipeline). Furthermore, uo = Lreq/2 satises
displacement compatibility, taking into account that the required elongation is distributed symmetrically along both sides
of the settlement or heave zone edge. The corresponding axial
force Fo at point B may be then calculated from force equilibrium considerations, as the integral of the friction forces along
the pipeline

(23)

Fo

x0

t(x) dx

tuuo x
e dx
x0 xu

E1Astu
u
xu o

E1Astu Lreq
xu
2

Figure 5a presents the resulting distribution of the axial pipeline force and soilpipeline friction force, as calculated from
eqs. (20) to (22). Clearly eq. (23) is valid only when Lreq < 2xu. As
the required elongation Lreq = x increases, the ultimate soil
friction force will be eventually mobilized along a length Lu at
both sides of the edge, as shown in Fig. 5b. Length Lu can be
dened via the yield criterion for the axial soil springs
(24)

u(Lu) xu

F(x) Fo tux

Lu

FoLu
tuLu2
F(x)
dx

E1 As
2E1 As
x0 E1 As
Lu

Further away from the edge, the pipeline behaviour may still be
described by eq. (22), after substituting x with x Lu. To ensure
compatibility between the two pipeline segments, where the ultimate friction force is or is not mobilized, the following force
equilibrium equation needs to be considered:

(27)

F(Lu) Fo tuLu

E1 Astu
u(Lu)
xu

Finally, to satisfy displacement compatibility


(28)

Lreq 2(Lu xu)

Combining eqs. (24) to (28) yields the maximum axial force


developed in the pipeline, at the edge of the settlement or heave
zone
(29)

Fo

E1 Astu(Lreq xu)

As expected, when Lreq = 2xu, eqs. (23) and (29) yield the same
force at B, Fo. Furthermore, if xu = 0, eq. (29) reduces to the corresponding formula proposed by Karamitros et al. (2007), who did
not take into account the elastic component of the axial soil
springs.
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Fig. 6. Distribution of axial and friction forces along the pipeline, in the case of settlement or heave zone of limited width, Ls.

The above analysis essentially implies that the required elongation is accommodated along an innite length of the pipeline. If
the pipelines unanchored length where the relative axial displacement between the soil and the pipeline should not be restrained to avoid an increase in axial strain needs to estimated,
the following expression can be used:
(30)

Lanch Fo /tu

One common case where this unanchored length might not be


available is when the anticipated settlement or heave occurs
within a limited zone of width Ls < 2Lanch, as shown in Fig. 6. A
rigorous analysis of the effect of this restraint on the pipeline
strains would require distinguishing the following three cases:
1. The ultimate friction force is not mobilized along the pipeline
length.
2. The ultimate friction force is mobilized only outside the
settlement or heave zone.
3. The ultimate friction force is mobilized both inside and outside the settlement or heave zone.
Among these cases, only the third one is examined herein, as
the other two will have a negligible effect on axial pipeline
strains. Of course, due to symmetry, relative soilpipeline displacement becomes zero in the middle point of the settlement or
heave zone. This means that there must exist a region around this
point where the relative soilpipeline displacement is very small
and remains below xu, so that the ultimate friction force is not
mobilized. Nevertheless, in cases where the restriction of axial
displacement is expected to become critical for pipeline design,
i.e., in cases of increased elongation and limited settlement or
heave zone width, the extent of this region is expected to have a
trivial effect on the maximum pipeline strains that will develop
near the edges of the permanent ground deformation zone. It
therefore may be ignored, and the simplied distribution of the
axial and friction forces along the pipeline is assumed as depicted in Fig. 6.

Considering the friction force distribution shown in Fig. 6, the


ultimate friction force will be mobilized along a length Lu outside
the settlement or heave zone edges, where the pipeline behaviour
is described by eqs. (25) and (26). Further away from this length,
the axial soil springs will behave elastically and the pipeline behaviour is described by eq. (22). Finally, within the settlement or
heave zone, where the ultimate friction is also mobilized, the
axial force distribution will be as follows:
(31)

F(x ) Fo tux 

where the axis x= has its origin at the edge of the zone, and its
direction is opposite to that of the axis x (Fig. 6). The elongation of
the pipeline along each half of Ls (Fig. 6) is calculated as
(32)

Ls

FoLs
tuLs2
F(x ) 
dx

2E1 As
8E1 As
x 0 E1 As
Ls/2

Finally, to satisfy displacement compatibility


(33)

2Lreq 2(Lu xu) Ls

Combining the above equations yields

(34)

Fo

E1 Astu(2Lreq xu)

tu2Ls2
tuLs

2
2

For small values of Ls, eq. (34) predicts that the force Fo increases
for decreasing Ls values, as expected. Nevertheless, there is a critical Ls,cr value, above which this trend is reversed. Ls,cr is actually
the maximum width of the settlement or heave zone that will
induce restraint on the axial force developed in the pipeline.
Therefore, the critical width Ls,cr can be determined as
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(35)

Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 52, 2015

dFo(Ls)
0 Ls,cr
dLs

2E1As(2Lreq xu)
tu

If the settlement or heave zone is wider than the above critical


value Ls > Ls,cr, then the axial force should be calculated using
eqs. (23) or (29), depending on the magnitude of the required
elongation Lreq = x compared to xu (Fig. 5). For narrower zones
where Ls < Ls,cr, eq. (34) should be employed, provided that Lreq =
x > xu/2. When Lreq = x < xu/2 eq. (35) is not valid, as the
required elongation would be too small to mobilize the ultimate
friction force. In this case, the restraint effect of the settlement or
heave zone width on the axial forces is minimal, and need not be
taken into account during pipeline design. The axial force developed can be estimated directly from eq. (23).
The above formulation for considering the width of the settlement
or heave zone in the analysis is valid only when the half-width of
this zone is long enough to accommodate not only part BC of the
pipeline, but also an additional attenuation length La, thus ensuring that the boundary conditions used in the analysis of part CC=
(eq. (1)) are satised. In other words, the half-width of the soil
deformation zone Ls/2 must be larger than Ls/2 > LBC + La. The
length LBC is calculated in step 2, while the attenuation length La
dened in step 1 can be estimated by considering the equivalent
problem of a laterally loaded single pile in elastic homogenous
soil. The active length La, beyond which the behaviour of a laterally loaded pile becomes independent of its length, was estimated
by Karatzia and Mylonakis (2012) as
(36)

Ep
La
(0.1 0.7 logn)
Dp
ES

0.25

where Dp is the piles diameter, n is a tolerance parameter, and Ep


and Es are the stiffnesses of the pile and soil, respectively. Modifying the above relationship to account for the hollow cylindrical
section of the pipeline yields
(37)

E1 t
La
(0.17 1.18 logn)
D
KD

1 E2( 1)
E1
1 E2( 1)

0 1
1 2
2

where is the axial strain; 1 and 1 are the yield stress and strain
(Fig. 7), respectively; and 1 denes the portion of the cross section
undergoing yield in Fig. 8, depicted in red (i.e., the portions above
the 1 line and below the 1 line)

(40)

1,2

arccos

1
b

Step 4
The maximum pipeline strain is now calculated from the requirement for stress equilibrium over the pipeline cross section,
considering a bilinear stressstrain relationship for the pipeline
material (Fig. 7). Section deformation effects are ignored, as they
are not expected to be signicant for the range of ground movements considered. Referring to the point where the maximum
bending moment develops, the longitudinal stress distribution
over the cross section can be drawn as shown in Fig. 8, assuming
an internal force combination Fo, Mmax that results in a certain
portion of the pipeline cross section undergoing yield.
The longitudinal strain, , and stress, , distribution can be
described via the polar angle of the cross section, , as
b cos

(39)

0.25

where t is the thickness of the pipeline cross section.


Considering a reasonable tolerance of 10% (n = 0.1), most buried
pipelines would have an attenuation length of the order La =
(5 to 15)D. Nevertheless, even beyond the strict limits imposed by
the above derivation, the proposed methodology also provides
sufciently accurate results for the intermediate case where LBC +
La > Ls/2 > LBC. The validity of this hypothesis is investigated via
comparison with benchmark numerical analyses, and is discussed
in detail in the section titled Comparison of the results against
benchmark numerical analyses.

(38)

Fig. 7. Pipeline material bilinear stressstrain response.

1
1
b
1
1
1
b
1
1
b

The axial force is accordingly calculated by summing the longitudinal stresses over the cross section, as

(41)

F2

Rmt d 2RmtE1 (E1 E2)(1 2)

(E1 E2)(1 2)1 (E1 E2)(sin1 sin2)b


where Rm = (D t)/2 is the pipelines average radius. The axial
strain, , results from the requirement for compatibility of axial
forces calculated from eq. (41) and step 3. The solution is obtained
iteratively, by employing a NewtonRaphson procedure. Starting
with an initial value = 0, the axial strain is calculated in each
successive iteration, k, as
(42)

k1 k

Fk Fo
dF/dk

where
(43)

dF
2Rmt E1 (E1 E2)(1 2)
dk
d2
d2
d1
d1
(E1 E2)

(E1 E2)

d
d
d
d 1
d2
d1
(E1 E2)
cos1
cos2 b
d
d

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Fig. 8. Strain and stress distribution over the pipeline cross section. The part of the cross section undergoing yield is depicted in red (i.e., the
portions above the 1 line and below the 1 line) and the part of the cross section remaining elastic is depicted in blue (i.e., the portions
between the 1 and 1 lines).

and

(44)

d1,2

1
b sin1,2
100
100
1

b sin1,2

Fig. 9. RambergOsgood stressstrain relation for API.5L-X65 steel


considered in the numerical analyses, plotted against the bilinear t
employed in the analytical solution.

b sin1,2 0.01
0.01 b sin1,2 0
0 b sin1,2 0.01
0.01 b sin1,2

The bending strain, b, in eq. (44) is input as a percentage.


Having calcutated both the axial strains from eqs. (42)(44) and
bending strains from eq. (17), the maximum, max, and minimum, min, longitudinal strains are derived from eq. (38), for
= 0 and = , respectively.
Step 5
The nonlinear behaviour of the pipeline material can now be
introduced into the solution by computing a secant Youngs mod
, compatible with the stress and strain distribution over
ulus, Esec
the pipeline cross section. This is calculated as
(45)

Esec


Mmax
D
2Ib


where the bending moment Mmax
results from the stress distribution over the cross section as

(46)


2
Mmax

E 2

2
RmtRm cos d 2Rm
t

(E1 E2)(sin1 sin2) (E1 E2)(sin1 sin2)1


b
b
(E1 E2)(1 2) (E1 E2)(sin21 sin22)
2
4

Steps 25 of the algorithm are repeated by updating the value of


the Youngs modulus, until convergence is achieved. Via this procedure the nonlinear response of the pipeline material is taken
into account (albeit approximately), while still using the mathematically convenient elastic theory for the analysis of beam ABC.

Comparison of results against benchmark


numerical analyses
As stated earlier, the proposed analysis aims to provide results
that match as closely as possible the results obtained from non-

Table 1. Summary of elastoplastic soil spring properties.

Spring

Yield
force
(kN/m)

Yield
displacement
(mm)

Axial (friction)
Vertical (upwards displacement)
Vertical (downwards displacement)

18.60
31.91
576.18

3.0
2.3
63.0

linear large-deformation beamspring numerical analyses, which


is the current state of practice for the design of buried pipelines
subjected to permanent ground deformations (ASCE-ALA 2005).
To investigate to what extent this objective has been met, the
maximum, minimum and axial pipeline strains calculated analytically are comapared against those predicted from the results of
three-dimensional nite element analyses with the commercial
code ANSYS.
To this end a typical straight, continuous 20 in. (1 in. = 25.4 mm)
natural gas pipeline, made of high-strength API.5L-X65 steel is
considered. The external diameter of the pipeline is D = 0.508 m
and its thickness t = 0.0079 m. The total length of the simulated
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Fig. 10. Detailed results from the numerical analysis for differential heave offset z = 1.2D, focused on the area of interest where the
maximum strains develop. The sign of the vertical reaction forces follows the convention of Fig. 3.

Fig. 11. Comparison of axial, maximum, and minimum pipeline strains calculated with the proposed method against numerically computed
strains for relative settlement and heave. This set of results corresponds to the analysis for a settling or heaving zone of width Ls = 40 m.

pipeline is 2000 m, evenly divided along both sides of the settling


or heaving zone. The total length of the model was proven adequate to avoid any end effects on the results in the area of interest.
Straight plastic beam elements (PIPE20) are used to discretize the
pipeline, each of which is 0.5 m long. A RambergOsgood curve is
used to simulate the stressstrain response of the steel, as per
common practice
(47)

1
Ei
r 1 e

where for X65 steel Ei = 210 GPa, e = 490 MPa, b = 38.32, and r =
31.5 (Fig. 8). In this way, the effect of considering a simple bilinear
stressstress relationship in the analytical solution on the accu-

racy of its results can be assessed. In doing this, the bilinear


relationship of Fig. 7 is tted to the RambergOsgood curve, as
depicted in Fig. 9.
The soilpipeline interaction in the vertical and axial directions is quantied via elasticperfectly plastic spring elements
(COMBIN39), connected to each node of the pipeline elements
(two sets of spring elements per running metre). The properties of
the springs were derived according to the ASCE-ALA (2005) guidelines, assuming the pipeline is installed inside a trench of sufcient dimensions and backlled with medium-dense sand up to a
level of 1.20 m, measured from the pipeline crown (Table 1).
The sand unit weight is taken as = 18 kN/m3, its friction angle
as  = 36, and the soilpipeline interface friction angle as = 24.
It is further assumed that the earth pressure coefcient at-rest of
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Fig. 12. Comparison of axial, maximum, and minimum pipeline strains calculated with the proposed method against numerically computed
strains, for varying widths of the soil heave zone.

the backll material is Ko = 1.0, to account for any accidental


compaction of the sand although compaction of the backll in
areas where relative ground surface deformations are expected
should be avoided, as a denser backll will introduce higher reaction forces on the pipeline. Note that the uplift yield displacement
in Table 1 is derived by tting a bilinear forcedisplacement curve
to the hyperbolic equation proposed by Trautmann et al. (1985).
The free end of the spring elements is xed, and a step-like
prescribed displacement (Fig. 10) is applied to the xed nodes
located along the width of the settling or heaving zone. Analyses
for both ground settlement and heave are performed, with the
absolute offset value ranging from 0.1016 to 1.016 m, which corresponds to normalized offset values z/D = 0.2 to 2.0. This range is
expected to cover realistic ground surface offsets due to settlement or
heave.
First a pipeline crossing a settling or heaving zone of width Ls =
40 m (approximately 80D) is simulated, to check whether it is

sufciently wide to avert any interaction between the curved


parts of the pipeline located at the edges of the zone (Ls/2 > LBC + La
from step 3). Detailed results of the analysis for ground heave with
an offset z/D = 1.2 are presented in Fig. 10, to assess pipeline
response in light of the simplications introduced in the analytical solution. The rst focus is on the pipeline deformed shape and
the reactions applied to the pipeline from the backll in the axial
and vertical directions in the vicinity of the edge of the heave
zone. It can be argued that the deformed shape of the pipeline is
compatible with the deformation mode of the pipeline segments
depicted in Fig. 2b, while the vertical reaction forces along parts
AB and BC of the pipeline are in agreement with the shape and
magnitude assumed for loads qAB and qBC. It is also clear that the
assumption of a uniform friction resistance developing along the
full unanchored length of the pipeline is, as discussed earlier, not
totally accurate, as the friction forces diminish to zero at the
middle of the heave zone.
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Fig. 13. Variation of axial, maximum, and minimum pipeline strains developing for vertical ground heave z/D = 1.0, with the half-width of
the heave zone Ls/2.

Notice also that the location of maximum axial strains and


bending strains coincides, as implied in step 4 of the methodology. At this point the axial strains need to increase locally, so that
the integral of the longitudinal strains remains equal to the axial
force. A more detailed discussion of this effect is provided by
Karamitros et al. (2011), as well as by ORourke and Liu (2012).
Given this agreement in capturing the elements of the pipeline
response, it is no surprise that the proposed analytical method is
able to provide accurate estimates of the pipeline strains, compared to those from the benchmark nonlinear nite element
model. This comparison is illustrated in Fig. 11. Further to that,
Fig. 11 provides additional evidence that both the settlement and
heave cases essentially result in the same maximum pipeline
strains, though in different locations along the pipeline route.
To support the hypothesis that the proposed methodology
will provide accurate results when the half-width of the settling or
heaving zone Ls/2 is larger than the length of the beam BC plus the
attenuation length La, Ls/2 > LBC + La, parametric analysis was
performed where the half-width of the heave zone was decreased
gradually from Ls/2 = 20 m (40D) to Ls/2 = 1 m (2D). The results of
this parametric analysis are presented in Fig. 12, using the same
format as in Fig. 11. The analytically calculated strains match the
results of the nite element analyses, except for the case of the
narrowest heave zone width Ls/22D. This can be explained by
means of Fig. 13. When the half-width of the ground offset zone
becomes less than the length of the beam BC LBC, the highcurvature areas formed at the two edges of the heave zone (Fig. 10)
overlap. This effect, which results in a substantial increase in
bending strain, is not taken into consideration by the proposed
methodology and the corresponding analytical predictions become nonconservative. On the other hand, it is worth noting that
the analytical results match the numerical values fairly well in the
intermediate cases where LBC + La > Ls/2 > LBC, even though the
theoretical boundary conditions considered for the analysis of
segment CC= in step 1 are violated.

Summary and practical considerations


The method presented provides an attractive alternative to
more rigorous (and complex) numerical analyses of pipelines that
are subjected to permanent ground settlement and heave, offering ease-of-use and a quick estimation of pipeline internal forces
and strains. The simplications introduced have a negligible
effect on the accuracy of the solution, at least for the realistic
vertical ground surface offsets examined here. Although the comparison with the benchmark analyses was limited to a pipeline
made of high-strength steel, the methodology is applicable to
HPDE, cast iron or concrete pipelines, as it provides versatility in
terms of the material model and direct estimates of both the
strains and internal forces. Nevertheless, appropriate tting of
the bilinear constitutive relation to the actual pipeline material
stressstrain behaviour is required to obtain realistic results.
Note, however, that it is not necessary for the bilinear t to capture the whole extent of the pipeline materials stressstrain relationship: as the proposed methodology is intended for practical

design purposes, a bilinear t that adequately reproduces the


materials behaviour within the region of the acceptable design
limits is deemed sufcient.
It must be stated, however, that the approach does not account
for the possibility of local buckling, due to excessive compressive
strains, which may cause early failure of the pipeline. For that
aspect, the pipeline designer must compute a limiting compressive strain that the pipeline section can sustain, which is a function of the pipeline geometry (see, e.g., EN 1998-4 (CEN 2006)).
Furthermore, longitudinal strains due to internal pressure and
thermal effects were omitted from the analysis, as customarily
they are expected to be an order of magnitude lower than the
strains induced by permanent ground deformation. The methodology is applicable to straight, continuous pipelines, and to
settlement or heave zones that are wider than the curved length
of the pipeline, where bending strains develop. Unanchored
length estimates may be used to decide whether a more detailed
analysis is required to take into account the restraint on the pipeline axial deformation that is imposed by the existence of pipe
bends in the vicinity of the settlement or heave zone (these will
lead to development of additional strains near the bends).

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