Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 5

FOUNDATIONS OF THE TOWER OF PISA

by
FERNANDO TERRACINA

SYNOPSIS
Having stated that consolidation is the main Apres avoir Ctabli que le phenombne principal qui
phenomenon in the Tower’s underground, two s’est verifie dans le sol sousjacent la Tour est la
causes are pointed out for the Tower’s inclination: consolidation, on distingue deux ordres de causes
the difference in soil consistency on the sides of an de I’inclinaison de la Tour: un originaire,
1’CterogCnCitC du sol des deux cot& d’un plan axial
east-west axial plane, and the inequality of the
est-ouest, l’autre derive, l’excentricite de la
contact pressures as a consequence of the induced resultante des pressions sur la base. L’histoire de
eccentricity of the load. In the Paper the history ces pressions est reconstruite et on en tire la con-
of the second factor through the centuries is recon- sequence que l’eterog6nCite existante a l’epoque
structed. The increasing pressures on the southern de la construction est actuellement renversee, c’est
side have increased the strength and reduced the a dire que maintenant au cot6 bas le sol a une
compressibility, leading to an inversion of the compressibilite beaucoup moindre et une resistance
primitive differences: therefore, to avoid danger, a beaucoup plus grande que celles de l’autre cot&
Par consequence pour Climiner tout danger, plutBt
partial redressing of the Tower would be better than
qu’ameliorer le sol, on devrait reduire les differences
the strengthening of the soil. Shifting of the de pression en redressant partiellement la Tour ; en
inclination to 90/ (from the present 10%) will portant l’inclinaison de lOo,b (telle qu’elle est
very likely be sufficient to bring all soil pressures actuellement) a 9% par exemple, on conduirait
below the equilibrium values corresponding to the trcs probablement toutes les pressions audessous
present densities and to achieve stabilisation. The des valeurs d’equilibre correspondantes aux densites
actuelles et l’on obtiendrait ainsi la stabilisation
straightening could be obtained by boring soil under
dCfinitive de la Tour. Le redressement pourrait
the Tower on the northern side; and that would be etre obtenu par enlevement de materiau au cot6
possible according to various schemes, one of which haut ; une des modalites possibles pour l’enlevement
is given below. est indiquee.

This Paper deals with a case of a shallow foundation-a well-known one; in fact, perhaps
the best known of all, for it is a celebrated example of technical success and failure in the same
structure Fig. 1.
The foundation is unquestionably a shallow one, for it is less than 2 m deep, which is very
shallow in view of the height of the Tower (60 m), its width at the base (20 m) and, above all,
the mean pressure, which is about 5 k&q. cm.
In studying the static condition of the Tower of Pisa, the evolution of the underlying soil
has until now been neglected: it now appears that this evolution is an essential factor in
explaining the causes of the settlement, the present factor of safety, and possible methods of
arresting further subsidence.
The Tower of Pisa has been subject to a general mean subsidence of about 2 m, and a
rotation, corresponding to the present displacement, of IS0 m between the south and north
edges of the base. The rate of rotation and that of the mean subsidence have lessened greatly
with the passage of time, as can be seen from the lower part of Fig. 2, which is estimated from
the present various inclinations of the foundations (which were constructed horizontally), and
other preceding observations. The northern edge is practically stable; the movement of
rotation, on the contrary, shows no signs of cessation. The inclination, about 10% in all, has
increased by 1.5 per thousand during the past 50 years (Sanpaolesi, 1956).*
The soil characteristics, the hydro-geological state, and the rate of movement, drive one to
the conclusion that a settlement of fine saturated material, of the accepted Terzaghi type-
such as Terzaghi himself has pointed out-has occurred (Terzaghi, 1934) and that phenomena
* The references are given on p. 339.
3%
FOUNDATIONS OF THE TOWER OF PISA 337
related to the transport of soil particles 10

by flowing water are not among the


essential causes of the movement and PRESSURE: c,
mi/sa.CM
of its lack of uniformity, despite long-
standing beliefs to the contrary. 0
Although irreversible settlement
may have been considerable, there has 3
SETTLEMZNT:
been insufficient soil resistance in the METRES
technical sense of the term, i.e. in the
sense of insufficient resistance to
sliding movement. Fig. 2.
It has been attempted elsewhere
(Terracina, 1960) to determine the stability of the soil; failing positive knowledge, one falls
back on the resistance to shear deduced from simplified hypothesis, perhaps of a debatable
character, with reassuring results. In this respect, the decisive factor is the high rigidity
afforded to the surface of the base by the massive and symmetrical structure and also by the
great height of the latter. For this reason, only those deformations of the soil which are
compatible with an absence of distortion of the form of the base are admissible.
The inclination of the Tower is moreover related to the asymmetry of the situation in the
ground at two sides of the mean vertical east-west plane: it is, however, convenient to con-
sider two circumstances separately:
(a)-the original cause, i.e. the greater compressibility of the soil on the south side;
(b)-the secondary cause, namely, the greater pressure on the same side.
The second cause has always been increasing and is bound to increase in the future: the
progress of this phenomenon is shown by that of the pressures on the south and north sides,
calculated by the usual theory of the linear diagram;
these pressures and their mean values are shown in VJ
the upper part of Fig. 2; obviously, they must be
regarded merely as indications of the asymmetry of
pressure, since it is well known that beneath a rigid 99 -
foundation, the contact pressures are very far from
being linear-except for an annular zone of greater
or lesser width near the outside, they usually increase
0.8 -
towards the periphery. Moreover, those which are
important for the present case are the very variable .s
pressures in the whole space involved. The curves G
show in each case the difference between the soil $ Q7-
history on the south and north sides. From this dia- 5
gram and from the fact that we are not very far from
complete consolidation, it is evident that although 0.6-
when the Tower was built the soil was more com-
pressible on the south side, the present-day condition
shows the reverse. The tower continues to settle on
the south side although the soil is less compressible, 0 I , I , I I
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
because on this side, total consolidation has not yet pressore p (kgpm’)
been reached for the previous pressures, and because
Fig. 3.
the pressures there are still increasing.
The situation is shown diagrammatically in Fig. 3, which shows the secondary cause (b)
only, i.e. beginning with a wholly homogeneous soil. In the plane 9, e (pressure, voids ratio),
m is the line of the consolidated soil, as may be deduced from the results of oedometric tests
338 FERNANDO TERRACINA

carried out on rehandled material starting from the limit of liquidity. It can thus be deduced
as a first approximation, that points below the line m represent positions of equilibrium, and
those above the line unconsolidated conditions. The line P - PI represents an oedometric
test.
Assuming different rates of increase of pressures (on the surface and in depth) at the two
sides of the tower, the evolution of the state of the soil after the construction of the tower may
be represented (merely indicatively, of course), by the line P - N for a typical element of the
northern zone and by the line P - S for a symmetrically-located element in the southern zone.

Fig. 4.

It is clearly seen that, while the reduction of the pressure has long since brought the element
N into the zone of equilibrium, the same is not true of the element S, because of the continual
increase in pressure.
It can therefore be assumed that the southern edge would cease to move if the pressure of
the typical element were reduced, for example, to the extent shown by S - Sr: in such a case
it would become equal to the pressure of equilibrium corresponding to the present density.
A reduction of the pressures on the south side could be produced by diminishing the in-
clination of the tower: in that case, there would be an increase of pressure on the north, which
would be of the type N - Nr, and would therefore imply no change in the specific volume.
It is very probable that a reduction of 1 y0 in the inclination (which is now 10%) would suffice,
by bringing the values of the pressure to the level of those existing 200 or 300 years ago, to
arrest the movement of the tower.
Fig. 1. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
FOUNDATIONS OF THE TOWER OF PISA 339
This correction could be effected in the simplest and most certain manner by the removal
of material from the northern side by a series of borings, which might be arranged as shown in
Fig. 4. At the right-hand ends of the curves in Fig. 2 are shown the changes in subsidence and
pressure which would be caused by this procedure.
Obviously, the operation would have to be preceded by numerous tests of the condition of
the soil and of its resistance at various points; it might first be tried on structures of no histori-
cal value. In any case, by regulating the number, position, diameter and, above all, the speed
of execution of these borings, all the precautions necessary to ensure the safety of this out-
standing monument would be ensured.
Such a scheme is at present under consideration by the Italian Ministry of Public Works.

REFERENCES

SANPAOLESI,P., 1956. “The Tower of Pisa,” Pisa.


TERZAGHI, K., 1934. “Die Ursachen der Schiefstellung des Turmes von Pisa” (“The causes of the tilt of the
Tower of Pisa”). Bauingenieur, 15 : 1-4.
TERRACINA, F., 1960. “ On the problems of soil mechanics connected with the Tower of Pisa.” Proceedings
of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Physics Section, Series 8, 29: 5~321329.