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XIX Congresso Brasileiro de Mecânica dos Solos e Engenharia Geotécnica

Geotecnia e Desenvolvimento Urbano

COBRAMSEG 2018 – 28 de Agosto a 01 de Setembro, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
©ABMS, 2018

Evaluation of Two Alternative Solutions to Improve the

Performance of Helical Anchors
João M. S. M. dos Santos Filho
EESC-USP, São Carlos, SP, Brasil, jmsmfilho@sc.usp.br

Loana H. Sanchez
EESC-USP, São Carlos, SP, Brasil, loana@sc.usp.br

Cristina H. C. Tsuha
EESC-USP, São Carlos, SP, Brasil, chctsuha@sc.usp.br

ABSTRACT: Helical anchors have been frequently used in Brazil for the construction of
transmission line towers to resist uplift forces. However, in some sites, the appropriate soil layer to
install the anchor is considerably deep, or too hard that cannot be penetrated by the helices. In both
cases, the helical anchor is installed in a soil layer that provides lower uplift capacity than needed.
In order to find a solution to this problem, the present investigation presents an experimental
evaluation of two alternative procedures to improve the uplift capacity of helical anchors installed in
soils that provide insufficient anchor capacity. The first alternative is the injection of a water/cement
mixture in the soil mass around the helices. The second alternative consists of a helical anchor
installed with a grout column surrounding the shaft along the extensions in order to increase the
shaft resistance. To assess the water/cement injection and grouted shaft contributions to the uplift
capacity of helical anchors, five tension load tests were performed on identical three-helix anchors
installed in an unsaturated sandy silt soil, in Betim city (Brazil). The study shows that both solutions
evaluated significantly improved the helical anchor performance. Additionally, after the loading
tests the helical anchors were exhumed in order to examine the reinforced zones. This visual
inspection showed that the water cement injected filled the spiral path of the helices during

KEYWORDS: helical pile, post-grouting, full-scale test.

1 INTRODUCTION used to support various types of structures as:

transmission line towers, telecommunications
Helical anchors are composed of one or more towers, residential and commercial buildings,
steel helices welded to a central shaft (round or temporary works, foundations reinforcements,
square section). These anchors are installed into pipelines, earth retaining structures, etc.
the ground by the application of torque on the The use of helical anchors in transmission
shaft with a hydraulic motor. The rate of lines, when deep foundations are required, is
penetration is one helix pitch per revolution. extremely advantageous compared to other
They are normally used as deep foundations to traditional piles (quick and easy installation,
support axial compressive and tensile forces, possibility of installing below water level,
and in some cases to resist lateral loads. checking of the load capacity using the final
This type of anchor has been widely used in torque, etc.).
Brazil as foundation of towers of power However, in the practice of this type of
transmission lines. In other countries, they are anchor in Brazil, in many cases it is necessary to
XIX Congresso Brasileiro de Mecânica dos Solos e Engenharia Geotécnica
Geotecnia e Desenvolvimento Urbano
COBRAMSEG 2018 – 28 de Agosto a 01 de Setembro, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
©ABMS, 2018

install these anchors at great depths (more than grouted single-helix piles in centrifuge, and
20 meters) to support the required design load. verified that the load capacity of the model piles
This problem occurs due to the greater areas with the injection was almost twice the values
and depths of tropical soils of high porosity provided by the models of conventional helical
typical in Brazil. In these cases, it is impossible piles (without injection).
to install shorter helical anchors. Therefore, the
use of this type of anchor is not economically
viable in some of these areas (usually soils with 3 TESTING PROGRAM
SPT values N<10).
Considering the problem described above, 3.1 Tested Anchors
that has frequently occurred in the practice of
helical anchors in Brazilian tropical soils, the Five identical three-helix anchors were
current work was proposed to evaluate two fabricated for the tests performed for the current
alternative solutions in order to make possible study: two conventional helical anchors
the use of shorter helical anchors installed in (anchors E1 and E2), one helical anchor with
low capacity soils. grouted shaft (anchor A1), and two helical
anchors with water/cement injection around the
helices (anchor C1 and C2). The difference
2 ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS between the anchors C1 and C2 is the injection
INVESTIGATED procedure. For the anchor C1, the injection of
water/cement mixture was performed
The first alternative evaluated in the current immediately after the pile installation without
study, previously verified in the literature, is the pile rotation, and for the case of anchor C2, the
execution of a grouted shaft. This solution was pile was rotated during the injection.
introduced by Vickars and Clemence (2000). The helical piles were fabricated with
They demonstrated that the addition of grout circular shaft of 73 mm diameter and three
increases the frictional area along the shaft, helical plates of 203, 254 and 305 mm, as
contributing to the to the load capacity of a illustrated in Figure 1.
helical foundation subjected to axial
compressive and tensile loading. The grouted
shaft also contributes to prevent buckling
problems of helical piles installed in very soft
soils. The Grouted Helical Pile System has been
successfully used in other countries, in different
types of soil. According to the research done by
Vickars and Clemence (2000), Abdelghany and
El Naggar (2010), Lutenegger (2010), and El
Sharnourby and El Naggar (2012), this type of
grout column pile has provided a considerable
increase in the load capacities of helical piles.
The second alternative studied in this work
was the injection of a water/cement mixture in
the soil mass around the helices. Bian et al.
(2008) commented that an economical and
efficient way to improve the load capacity of
helical foundations is the injection of grout at
the pile tip. These authors tested models of
Figure 1. Helical anchors E1, E2 and A1.
XIX Congresso Brasileiro de Mecânica dos Solos e Engenharia Geotécnica
Geotecnia e Desenvolvimento Urbano
COBRAMSEG 2018 – 28 de Agosto a 01 de Setembro, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
©ABMS, 2018

For the anchors C1 and C2, eight holes of 22

mm (four bellow the bottom helix and four
bellow the second helix) were opened on the
round shaft, as indicated in Figure 2.

Figure 3. Location of the tested helical anchors and SPT

borehole (in meters).

3.3 Installation of the Helical Anchors

Figure 4 illustrates the equipment used for the

installation of the five helical anchors tested in
this study, and Figure 5 shows the results of
installation torque of these anchors. The final
embedment depth of all anchors was 4.0 m.
After the tensile load tests on the grouted and
Figure 2. Helical anchors C1 and C2.
injected helical anchors the soil was excavated
for the evaluation of the final shaft diameter and
3.2 Site Investigation the zone reached by the injection of
The experimental program was carried out at a
site in Betim, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. A
standard penetration test was performed in one
borehole (SP-01) in the test area to depth of 20
m. The soil at the site consisted of clayed sandy
silt to sandy silt soil with mean values of N60-
indices showed in Table 1. The plan views of
the exact location were the tests were performed
and the borehole location are showed in Figure

Table 1. Distribution of SPT N-values at borehole SP-01.

Soil layer value of
Clayed sandy silt (yellow) 0-5 8
Clayed sandy silt with pebbles 5 - 10 7
Sandy silt (yellow) residual soil 10 - 15 15

Figure 4. Installation of the tested helical anchors.

XIX Congresso Brasileiro de Mecânica dos Solos e Engenharia Geotécnica
Geotecnia e Desenvolvimento Urbano
COBRAMSEG 2018 – 28 de Agosto a 01 de Setembro, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
©ABMS, 2018

Figure 7 shows the execution of a helical

anchor with grouted shaft. The trace used to
prepare the mortar was in the proportion of 1:2
(one part of cement to two parts of sand).

Figure 5. Results of installation torque.

The helical anchor A1 was tested to evaluate Figure 7. Execution of the grouted shaft anchor A1.
the gain in uplift capacity provided by a grouted
shaft above the helices. For the execution of a Figure 8 shows the installation procedure of
grouted shaft with 2.0 m length below the soil the helical anchors with injection of cement
surface, two circular steel plates with diameter grout (C1 and C2). For these cases, the leading
of 200 mm were welded to the central tube. One section (with the helices) and the extension
plate was welded just above the top helix as were connected using threaded rods (Figure 8a).
shown in Figure 6. Figure 8c illustrates the holes drilled in the
This plate was welded to other two vertical central rod to allow the cement grout to
plates (forming a wing) to facilitate the anchor penetrate the surrounding soil.
installation. The second plate, welded to the top
part of the central tube, is illustrated. A hole
was perforated in this plate to allow the passage
of grout.

Figure 6. Inferior plate and top plate welded to the central

tube for the execution of a grouted shaft. Figure 8. Installation of the helical anchors C1 and C2.
XIX Congresso Brasileiro de Mecânica dos Solos e Engenharia Geotécnica
Geotecnia e Desenvolvimento Urbano
COBRAMSEG 2018 – 28 de Agosto a 01 de Setembro, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
©ABMS, 2018

Figure 9 illustrates the injection procedure. 3.4 Axial Load Tests

For these anchors it was used an injection pump
with a constant injection pressure of 800 kPa. Axial tension load tests were performed on the
The water–cement ratio was 0.5. five helical anchors of this study. The load test
setup is presented in Figure 10. For these tests,
a hydraulic jack with 450 kN capacity, a load
cell of 500 kN capacity, a reaction beam of five
meters, and four helical piles for reaction were
used. During the tests, the anchor head
displacements were monitored at four points
using dial gauges (0.01 mm accuracy, 50 mm
travel). The loads were applied in increments of
10% of the estimated uplift capacity in 5 min
time intervals, as recommended by the Brazilian
standard NBR 12131 (ABNT; 2006).

Figure 10. Axial tension load test setup.


The results of load-displacement curves

Figure 9. Injection of cement grout after installation of the obtained from tensile-loading experiments
anchors C1. carried out on the five anchors of the current
investigation are presented in Figure 11. This
After the end of installation of the anchor figure shows that the both procedures evaluated,
C1, the injection of cement grout was grouted shaft and injection of cement, improved
performed as described in Figure 9. However, the uplift response of the helical anchors in the
for the anchor C2 the injection of cement grout soil tested. The three modified anchors C1, C2
was performed with the simultaneous rotation and A1 show much better performance than the
of the anchor (360 degrees). The idea was to conventional anchors E1 and E2.
verify if the synchronized rotation and injection
procedures could provide better anchor response
compared to the case of the anchor C1.
XIX Congresso Brasileiro de Mecânica dos Solos e Engenharia Geotécnica
Geotecnia e Desenvolvimento Urbano
COBRAMSEG 2018 – 28 de Agosto a 01 de Setembro, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
©ABMS, 2018

Figure 11. Load-displacement curves of the tension axial

load tests.

The helical anchor C1 shows greater

response compared to the case C2 (with the Figure 12. Helical anchor C1 after excavation and the
synchronized injection and rotation), however representation of the reinforced zones.
the results of uplift capacity are similar. Also,
the injected anchor C1 shows better
performance compared to the case A1 (2.0 m of
grouted shaft).
For a better understanding of the load-
displacement results, the anchors were
excavated for visual observation as shown in
Figures 12 to 14.
The reinforced soil of anchor C2 was not
symmetric due to the synchronized injection
and rotation procedure, as shown in Figure 13.
Also, in this case the reinforced soil is
concentrated in the region of the helical plates.
Differently, in the anchor C1 (injection without
rotation), the cement grout filled the void space
penetrated by the helices during installation. In
this case, the reinforced soil was concentrated
above the helices and around the anchor tip.
Figure 12 and 13 also shows the hypothesis
of the forces mobilized on the anchors under
tension axial loading. However more tests are Figure 13. Helical anchor C2 after excavation and the
necessary to confirm these preliminary representation of the reinforced zones.
XIX Congresso Brasileiro de Mecânica dos Solos e Engenharia Geotécnica
Geotecnia e Desenvolvimento Urbano
COBRAMSEG 2018 – 28 de Agosto a 01 de Setembro, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
©ABMS, 2018

Figure 14 illustrates the shape of the grouted REFERENCES

shaft anchor A1. The final shaft diameter ranges
from 190 to 250 mm. Abdelghany, Y., & El Naggar, M. H., 2010. Monotonic
and Cyclic Behavior of Helical Screw Piles Under
Axial and Lateral Loading. International Conferences
on Recent Advances in Geotechnical Earthquake
Engineering and Soil Dynamics, San Diego.
Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (2006). NBR
– 12131, Piles - Static load test – Method of test. Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil (in Portuguese).
Bian, Y., Hutchinson, T. C., Wilson, D., Laefer, D., &
Brandenberg, S. (2008). Experimental investigation of
grouted helical piers for use in foundation
rehabilitation. Journal of geotechnical and
geoenvironmental engineering, 134(9), 1280-1289.
Lutenegger, A. J. (2010). Shaft Resistance of |Grouted
Helical Micropiles in Clay. In Proceedings of the 10th
International Workshop on Micropiles, IWM.
Washington, DC, pp. 22-25.
Sanchez, L. H. (2104). Evaluation of alternative solutions
Figure 14. Helical anchor with grouted shaft A1. to increase helical pile capacity. Master dissertation,
Universidade de São Paulo (in Portuguese).
Vickars, R. A., & Clemence, S. P. (2000). Performance
of Helical Piles with Grouted Shaft. New
5 CONCLUSIONS Technological and Design Developments in Deep
Foundation, ASCE, 327-341p.
This paper described the preliminary results of
an investigation carried out to evaluate the use
of grouted shaft and injections of cement grout
to improve the performance of short helical
The first results showed that both techniques
could be used to increase the uplift capacity of
helical anchors installed in the tested soil of low
capacity. However more experiments are
necessary to confirm the observed


The authors are thankful to the Vértice

Engenharia for supported of this study. The first
and second authors thank the Coordination for
the Improvement of Higher Education
Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de
Pessoal de Nível Superior - CAPES) for the

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