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ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.

) © 2015



Jean-Louis Briaud1, Alireza Mirdamadi2, Mojdeh Asadollahi3

Professor and Holder of the Buchanan Chair, Zachry Dpt. of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M
University, College Station, Texas, USA. briaud@tamu.edu
Geotechnical Engineer, NGI, Houston, Texas, USA.
PhD student, Zachry Dpt. of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station,Texas,

ABSTRACT - The results of horizontal load – horizontal displacement tests in loose sand, soft
clay, medium hard clay and very dense crushed limestone are used to evaluate the Simple
Approach for Lateral Loads on Piles (S.A.L.L.O.P.) method. The S.A.L.L.O.P. method is based
on pressuremeter tests results and was developed by Briaud in 1997. It is a simple semi-
theoretical and semi-empirical method to predict the behavior of single piles subjected to a
horizontal load. The pile is modeled as an elastic member and the soil is represented by the
pressuremeter modulus and limit pressure. The length of embedment for the piles tested varied
from 1m to 3m. The pressuremeter tests were done using a mini pressuremeter with a diameter
of 33mm and an inflatable length of 250mm. Four types of soil were investigated and in each soil
horizontal static loading tests with measurement of creep behavior were performed. The
comparison between the measured response and the predicted response by the S.A.L.L.O.P.
method shows that the S.A.L.L.O.P. method with pressuremeter input parameter can estimate
the horizontal behavior of single piles with reasonable accuracy.

RESUME- Les résultats de chargement horizontal – les essais de déplacement horizontal dans
les sables lâches, les argiles molles, les argiles moyennes et les calcaires compacts sont utilisés
pour évaluer une simple approche de chargement latéral sur les pieux. Cette méthode,
développée par Briaud depuis 1997, est basée sur les résultats des essais pressiométriques et
fondée sur une simple approche semi-théorique et semi-empirique pour estimer le
comportement des pieux isolés soumis à une charge horizontale. Le pieu est modélisé comme
un élément élastique et le sol est défini à partir du module pressiométrique et de la pression
limite. La longueur d'encastrement des pieux étudiés varie entre 1m à 3m. Les essais
pressiométrique ont été effectués à l'aide d'un mini-pressiomètre muni d’une sonde de diamètre
de 33 mm et de longueur de 250 mm. Quatre types de sol ont été étudiés et dans chaque essai
un chargement horizontal statique a été effectué avec mesure du fluage. La comparaison entre
la réponse mesurée et celle prédite par la méthode proposée en utilisant les paramètres issus
de l’essai pressiométrique permet de déduire que la méthode proposée peut estimer, avec une
précision acceptable, le comportement horizontale de pieux isolés.

1. Introduction

Studies on piles subjected to vertical loads (e.g.: Wellington & Hering, 1893) predate studies
on piles subjected to horizontal loads (e.g.:Terzaghi, 1955). However horizontally loaded piles
are often found in onshore and offshore structures. Some examples include corner towers for
power lines, fenders for ship impact, moorings dolphins, offshore platform foundations resisting
hurricane winds, guard rails, traffic signs, protection of embassies, and foundation of wind
One of the well-known methods to analyze piles subjected to horizontal loads is the method
based on the use of p-y curves. In this approach the reaction of the soil is described by a series

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

of P-y curves where P is the load per unit length of pile at a depth z and y is the pile deflection at
the same depth. The pile is an elastic member and the problem is solved by using the governing
differential equation for a beam on an elastic foundation. Selecting a proper p-y curve is the
challenging part of this method and much work has been done along those lines. Other methods
such as the upper bound method, the lower bound method, the Characteristics Load Method
(CLM) and more recently the 3D numerical methods (finite element, finite difference and discrete
element) are also used for estimating the static capacity of a single pile under horizontal load.
The experimental test method to measure the lateral deflection of a pile under lateral loading is
described in ASTM D3966 (ASTM Standard D3966, 2007(2013)).
The first attempt for modeling a single pile under lateral load was made by Terzaghi (1955)
who suggested values for the modulus of subgrade reaction in order to solve the pile model for
deflection and bending moment. The model was an elastic pile and elastic soil and limited the
load on the soil to one-half of the soil bearing capacity. Poulos and his colleagues (Poulos & Hull,
1989; Poulos & Davis, 1980) also developed different solutions for an elastic pile and an elastic
Briaud (1997) developed a simple method called S.A.L.L.O.P. to predict the ultimate horizontal
load that a pile could resist and to predict the deflection at working loads by using pressuremeter
results. Elastic behavior was assumed for the pile material and an elastic perfectly plastic model
was used for the soil. In this study, a series of tests are conducted to evaluate the precision of
this simple method. The single piles are categorized in two types: flexible-infinitely long and rigid-
short. For intermediate length piles, a linear interpolation is suggested.

2. Soil properties

The main in-situ test for the method is the PMT. The advantages of the PMT lie in its capability
to be performed in most soils and rocks. Another advantage is that it represents an in situ load
test in itself since different loading sequences can be duplicated such as long pressure steps for
load term loading, rapid inflation for impact loading and unload reload cycles for cyclic loading.
From the design aspect it is ideal for laterally loaded piles since it presents a response of the soil
to the lateral loading of the membrane and hence it is closely related to the actual loading (Briaud,
In this study a Pencel pressuremeter (Roctest) was used; the Pencell is a small size
pressuremeter developed for pavement engineering. The probe diameter is 33 mm with an
inflatable length equal to 250mm. The maximum working pressure of the instrument is 2500 kPa
and the probe is inflated with water. This pressuremeter can be used in a pre-bored hole (for hard
and stiff soils) and pushed (for soft and loose soils) down to 3m depth. The entire system fits in a
small suitcase. Fig. 1 shows the Pencel pressuremeter equipment and the field setup.

Extension rods Aluminum tripod


Pressure gauge Hammer

Control unit

Figure 1. Pencel pressuremeter equipment and field set up

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

In order to correct the equipment effect on the results, two types of corrections were done:
system compressibility calibration and membrane resistance calibration. In the system
compressibility calibration (volume calibration), the deflated probe is inserted into a steel tube
with the same diameter and the volume of water injected in the system corresponding to specific
pressure values is recorded. In the membrane resistance calibration (pressure calibration) the
probe is inflated in the air and the pressure corresponding to specific values of the probe volume
are recorded. The volume and pressure recorded during the test are corrected using these
volume and pressure calibration.
Four soils were selected to conduct the pile tests: loose sand, soft clay, hard clay, and very
dense crushed limestone. The loose sand and the soft clay were used for medium scale tests
pile load tests. The soils were placed in layers in a trench box. The hard clay and very dense
crushed limestone were natural soil in the field and were used for large scale tests. The soil tests
results for each soil are presented in Tables 1 and 2.

Table I: Laboratory and in-situ tests results for the soft clay and the loose sand.
Test Soft clay Loose Sand
Pressuremeter test PL=80 kPa, Eo=400 kPa PL=70 kPa, Eo=700 kPa
Briaud Compaction Device E=13.7 MPa

Dynamic Cone Penetrometer 15 mm/blow 20 mm/blow

Pocket Penetrometer Reading < 0.5 -
Hand Vane Shear Test 19 kPa -
Soil classification CL SW
Unit weight 19 kN/m3 17.4 kN/m3
UU Triaxial Test 24.5 kPa -

Unconfined Compression Test 48 kPa -

Direct Shear Test - φ=34 degrees

Table II: Laboratory and in-situ tests results for the hard clay and the crushed limestone
Test Hard Clay Dense crushed limestone

Pressuremeter test PL=1300 kPa, Eo=20 MPa PL=3000 kPa, Eo=45 MPa

Pocket Penetrometer

> 4.5 -
Std. Penetration Test 19 bpf >50 bpf

Soil classification CL SP-SM

Unit weight 21 kN/m3 23 kN/m3


UU Triaxial Test Su=350 kPa, E=35 MPa -

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

3. Soft soil tests:

A total of 4 static tests were performed in soft soils using a small scale pile. Two types of soft
soil were used: a loose sand and a soft clay. The soft clay came in vacuum extruded prepared
blocks of kaolinite clay and the loose sand came in a truck and was poured in place. Both soils
were placed in a pre-built steel box. A 1.5m long hollow square HSS 4×4×1 steel post, 100mm
square with 25mm wall thickness, were pushed 1m into the soil with a heavy concrete block (Fig.
2). The plan view and cross-section view of the box and pile location are shown in Fig. 3 and Fig.
4 respectively.

Figure 2. Pile installation in soft soil

Figure 3. Medium scale tests in soft soils: plan and section views (unit is meter)

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

Figure 4. 3D shape of the excavation for the medium scale test

A hydraulic jack was used to pull on the pile through a cable while measuring the load and
displacement. The load was recording through a load cell with an accuracy of 22 N and the
displacement with a string potentiometer. In order to control the repeatability of the tests two static
tests were performed in each soil. The static tests results are shown in Fig. 5. The failure in both
soils developed by punching through the soil.

Lateral load (kN)

1.5 Clay1
1 Sand1
0.5 Sand 2
0 50 100 150 200 250
Displacement (mm)

Figure 5. Static tests results in soft soil

4. Hard soil:

A total of 2 static tests in hard soil on large size piles with 2m and 3m embedment depth were
performed. Two types of soil were selected: a hard clay and a dense crushed limestone. A 350mm
diameter pipe pile with a 12.7mm wall thickness (HSS 14×1/2) with a 2m embedment was
selected for the hard clay test and a pile with a W14-109 section with a 3m embedment was
chosen for the dense crushed limestone test.
In the hard clay, the load was applied in steps of 8.9 kN and the load was held for 10
minutes at each step in order to measure the displacement and associated creep. The load was

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

applied at a height of 0.75m above the ground surface. A hydraulic jack was used to apply the
lateral load which was measured through a load cell. The displacement was measured through a
string pot. The load vs. displacement curve of the static test is shown in Fig. 6. According to the
results, the failure of the soil occurred at a load of 145 kN but the ultimate horizontal load Hou
defined as the load corresponding to a displacement of 0.1B at the ground surface is 115 kN. The
crack pattern around the post in plan view and the shape of the failed soil wedge are presented
in Fig. 7.


Lateral load (kN)







0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
Displacement (mm)

Figure 6. Load displacement curve for the static test in the hard clay


Figure 7. Crack pattern and failure zone for the static test in the hard clay

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

The test in the dense crushed limestone was conducted by applying the load in steps of
45kN. The load was applied at the height of 0.85m above the ground surface. At each load step,
the displacement was recorded every 2 seconds during 10 minutes. The load vs. displacement
curve for the static test in the dense crushed limestone is shown in Fig. 8. Failure of the soil
occurred at 495 kN with the “B/10” ultimate horizontal load Hou equal to 405 kN. Fig. 9 shows the
soil deformation at the end of the last step of loading. The depth of the failure wedge in fron of
the pile was measured to be about 1.2m deep.


Lateral load (kN)





0 20 40 60 80 100
Displacement (mm)

Figure 8. Load displacement curve for the static test in the very dense crushed limestone

Figure 9. Soil deformation at the end of the static test in the very dense crushed

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

5. Predictions compared to measurements:

The S.A.L.L.O.P. method was developed by Briaud (1997) as a simple semi-theoretical and
semi-empirical method to predict the behavior of single piles subjected to a lateral load. The
method can be used to make predictions of the ultimate load Hou and of the displacement at
working loads yo. The calculations start with the determination of the transfer length defined as

 4 EI  4
l0    (1)
 Ks 

where, l0 is the transfer length, EI , the bending stiffness of pile product of the pile material
modulus E and the pile moment of inertia I, and K s the spring constant of the soil. The spring
constant, K is the ratio of the lateral resistance of the soil per unit length of pile over the lateral
displacement of the pile; it is different from the modulus of subgrade reaction which is the
pressure divided by the displacement. The spring constant is proposed as (Briaud, 1997):

K  2.3E0 (2)

where, E0 is the first load modulus from the pressuremeter test. The depth to zero shear force V
is Dv; it is also the depth to the maximum bending moment and can be computed by setting V=0
and solving for the depth z.

For long flexible piles ( L  3l0 ),

 
 1  
Dv  l0 tan 
 or Dv  l0 if Mo = 0 (3)
 1  2M 0  4
 lH 
 0 0 
For short rigid piles ( L  l0 ),
H0 L2 L
Dv  or Dv  if Mo = 0 (4)
3 H0 L  2M 0  3

where, L is the pile embedment length, M 0 the applied moment at the ground level, H 0 the
applied lateral load at the ground level. If the pile length is between the criteria of long-flexible
pile and short-rigid pile, a linear interpolation between the two values is used. The ultimate lateral
capacity of the pile with respect to soil capacity, Hou is computed as (Briaud, 1997):

H ou  0.75PL BDv (5)

Where, PL is the limit pressure of the soil from the pressuremeter test within the depth Dv, and
B the pile width. For the deflections, the equations are those from the existing literature (e.g.:
Briaud, 2013), namely:

For long flexible piles ( L  3l0 ),

2 H o 2M o 2H o
yo   or yo  if Mo = 0 (6)
lo K lo2 K lo K

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

For short rigid piles ( L  l0 ),

2  2 H o L  3M o  4H o
yo  or yo  if Mo = 0 (7)

The properties of the piles and of the soils necessary for the calculations are listed in Table 3.

Table III: Pile and soil properties

Pile Soil spring Transfer
Embedment Height of load Moment of
Soil Type width B constant K length lo
depth (m) application (m) inertia I (m4)
(m) (kN/m2) (m)

Soft clay 1 0.3 0.1 4.755x10-6 920 1.43

Loose sand 1 0.3 0.1 4.755x10-6 1610 1.24

Hard clay 2 0.75 0.35 1.889x10-4 46000 1.35

Dense crushed
3 0.85 0.37 5.161x10-4 103500 1.41

Table 4 presents the calculated values of the ultimate loads and the measured loads at two
reference displacements y: 0.1B and 1B. Table 5 presents the predicted deflections at the working
loads and the measured deflections at the working loads. The working load is defined as one
third of the predicted ultimate load. The deflection yo is calculated assuming that the pile is long
and flexible first (L > 3lo) and then assuming that it is short and rigid (L < lo). The final answer
requires interpolation if the pile length L is between the two boundaries based on the transfer
length lo.

Table IV: Comparison between predicted and measured ultimate load

Predicted ultimate Measured Load at Measured Load at 1B
Soil type load 0.1B displacement displacement
(kN) (kN) (kN)
Soft clay 1.3 2.0 3.5
Loose sand 1.1 1.0 1.9
Hard clay 148 115 145
Dense crushed
515 405 495

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Table V: Comparison between predicted and measured displacement at working load

Working load
Predicted Measured
= 0.33 x Yo flexible Yo rigid
Soil type displacement displacement
predicted (mm) (mm)
(mm) (mm)
ultimate (kN)
Soft clay 0.43 - 2.70 2.70 0.5

Loose sand 0.37 - 1.30 1.30 0.5

Hard clay 49.3 2.45 3.35 3.13 13

crushed 171.7 3.77 3.15 3.50 3

6. Conclusions:

The S.A.L.L.O.P. method is a simple method to calculate the behavior of horizontally loaded piles
without the use of a computer. It does require that pressuremeter data be available; PMT data is
the best soil data to predict the behavior of piles subjected to quasi-static horizontal loading. The
method is evaluated against 4 sets of load tests in weak and strong soils. Two design values are
calculated for each pile test: the ultimate horizontal load and the deflection at working loads. The
comparison between predicted and measured values indicates the following:

1. The predicted ultimate loads are within plus or minus 33% from the measured loads at a
displacement equal to 10% of the pile width.

2. The predicted ultimate loads for the weak soils are underestimated while the predicted
ultimate loads for the strong soils are overestimated.

3. The deflections are not predicted with the same degree of precision as the ultimate loads but
both predicted and measured values would likely be acceptable in design.

4. One exception is the prediction of the deflection for the hard clay which was underpredicted
by a factor of 4. This is attributed to the fact that the clay was significantly fissured in the upper
zone close to the ground surface while the PMT was performed at larger depth and may not
have captured the weaker surface layer. This underlines the importance of carrying the PMT
at shallow depth where most of the horizontal resistance comes from.

7. References

ASTM Standard D3966. (2007(2013)). Standard test methods for deep foundations under lateral load.West
Conshohocken, PA: ASTM International. doi:10.1520/D3966_D3966M
Briaud, J.-L., (1992), “The Pressuremeter”, Taylor and Francis publishers, London, 322 pages.
Briaud, J. (1997). S.A.L.L.O.P.: Simple approach for lateral loads on piles. Journal of Geotechnical and
Geoenvironmental Engineering, 123(10), 958-964.
Briaud J.-L., (2013), “Geotechnical engineering: unsaturated and saturated soils”, John Wiley and sons, New York,
1000 pages.
Guo, W. D. (2008). Laterally loaded rigid piles in cohesionless soil. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 45(5), 676-697.

ISP7-PRESSIO 2015. Frikha, Varaksin & Gambin (Eds.) © 2015

Motta, E. (2012). Lateral deflection of horizontally loaded rigid piles in elastoplastic medium. Journal of Geotechnical
and Geoenvironmental Engineering, 139(3), 501-506.
Poulos, H. G., & Hull, T. S. (1989). The role of analytical geomechanics in foundation engineering. Paper presented
at the Foundation Engineering: Current Principles and Practices, 1578-1606.
Poulos, H. G., & Davis, E. H. (1980). Pile foundation analysis and design
Terzaghi, K. (1955). Evalution of conefficients of subgrade reaction. Geotechnique, 5(4), 297-326.
Wellington, A. M., & Hering, R. (1893). Piles and pile-driving, Engineering News Publishing Co.

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