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Lateral load resistance of pile by

various approaches and uplift

capacity of pile or anchor.
Submitted by

M. Tech(Str.)
Department of Civil Engineering
Delhi Technological University

What is meant by load carrying capacity of

the pile
Load carrying capacity of the pile in
foundation engineering:

the context of

The amount of load the pile can carry without undergoing

continuous displacements for insignificant load increments
by virtue of its boundary condition (soil condition) and not
by virtue of its structural strength.
The assumption for this definition is - the failure of surrounding
soil occurs prior to the failure of the pile material especially in
the case of concrete piles.

What are the various capacities of pile commonly used in

Axial capacity
Lateral capacity
Pullout capacity or Tension capacity
The lateral capacity of a pile is usually defined as the
load corresponding to a specified deflection of pile head from its
plumb. The amount of this deflection is usually suggested by the
local codes based on the structure(s) for which the pile
foundation is designed.
A vertical pile resists lateral load by mobilizing passive pressure
in the soil surrounding it.

Causes of lateral forces:

For tall buildings and transmission towers, wind action is the primary
In the case of bridge abutments and piers, horizontal forces are caused
due to traffic and wind movement.
Dams and lock structures have to withstand water. Pressures which
transfer as horizontal forces on the supporting piles.
Defense structures often have to withstand blasts that cause lateral
In the case of earth retaining structures, the primary role of piles is to
resist lateral forces caused due to the lateral. Pressures exerted by the soil
mass behind the retaining wall.
Sometimes, piles are installed into slopes, where slow ground movements
are taking place, in order to arrest the movement. In such cases, the piles
are subjected to lateral forces
The horizontal shaking of the ground during earthquakes generates
lateral forces that the piles
Impact Loads from Ships
Eccentric Loads on Columns


End bearing cum friction piles carry vertical compressive
loads partly by means of resistance offered by the hard
stratum at the tip of the pile and partly by the friction
developed between the pile shaft and soil.

Pure friction piles carry the major part of loads only by

means of friction developed between pile shaft and soil;
and pure End bearing piles only by means of bearing
resistance at the tip of the pile.

In both the above cases lateral loads are carried by the

lateral resistance offered by the surrounding soil.

Lateral Capacity of Piles

Piles are subjected to lateral loads in addition to axial loads
However for simplicity a pile subjected to only lateral load is
usually studied for analytical convenience.
Unlike axial capacity, the determination of lateral capacity of
the pile is a complex problem.
The lateral capacity of piles tested in the field is dictated by the
lateral deflection criteria of local codes
The laterally loaded pile unlike an axially loaded pile is a three
dimensional problem.
In case of circular pile, the problem can be analyzed as twodimensional due to symmetry.
A laterally loaded pile can deflect in any direction depending
on the direction of the lateral load.

Load carrying mechanism of pile subjected to

Lateral Loading and Moment

Figure 7

Categories of laterally loaded piles

Laterally loaded piles are divided into two categories based on
variation of deflection, shear and moment, as shown below

Rigid pile

Flexible pile

Figure 14

Figure 15

Load Transfer Mechanisms

In the case of lateral loads, piles behave as transversely loaded
beams. They transfer lateral load to the surrounding soil mass by
using the lateral resistance of soil
When a pile is loaded laterally, a part or whole of the pile tries to shift
horizontally in the direction of the applied load, causing bending,
rotation or translation of the pile. The pile presses against the soil in
front of it (the soil mass lying in the direction of the applied load),
generating compressive and shear stresses and strains in the soil that
offers resistance to the pile movement

Interaction between piles in the case of laterally loaded

pile groups
In a laterally loaded pile group, each pile pushes the soil in front of it (in
the direction of the applied force). Movement of the piles placed in the
first (leading) row in the direction of the applied force is resisted by the
soil in front of it. In contrast, the piles in the rows behind the first row (the
piles in the trailing rows) push on the soil which in turn pushed on the
piles in the rows in front of them. The resistive forces acting on the
trailing-row piles are in general less than the resistive forces acting
on the leading row.

Analytical Methods for Lateral Loading

The simplified methods proposed by Meyerhof et al. (1988) and Patra & Pise
(2001) has been briefly reviewed in this section. These methods are approximate
with considerable assumptions.

Meyerhofs method
The ultimate lateral resistance of rigid pile, Qur is expressed by Meyerhof
et al.(1981) as
Where is average unit weight of sand; d is the diameter of pile; L is
embedded length of pile; Kb is coefficient of net passive earth pressure on
pile using an average angle of skin friction = /3. Where is the angle of
internal friction. However the ultimate lateral load resistance of flexible pile
was presented by Meyerhof et al. (1988) as
Where Le is the effective embedded length of flexible pile. Meyerhof and
Yalcin (1984) suggested that if relative stiffness ratio Krs is less than 10-1
to 10-2 then the pile can be consider as flexible pile.

The relative stiffness, Krs can be presented as

Where Ep is modulus of elasticity of pile; Ip is moment of inertia of pile;
Eh is horizontal soil modulus at pile tip; L is embedded length of pile.
Meyerhof et al. (1988) reported that Le/L has an approximate functional
relationship with relative stiffness Krs and it can be presented as

However, Rahman et al. (2003) reported that Le/L can be

represent by following relation as

Patra & Pise method

Patra & Pise (2001) modified the Meyerhofs equation by multiplying
a constant shape factor of 3 with the line of Broms (1964)

Pile group

Patra & Pise (2001) reported that the ultimate resistance of the pile
group can be represented by
Where, QLg is ultimate lateral resistance of
the pile
group, F is frictional resistance on the vertical
along the side of the pile group of width
equal to
centre to centre distance between external
piles and
embedded length L and Pp passive earth
pressure for
the front pile as shown in Figure 1.

Some other analytical methods for Lateral Loading

Rigid Methods (Broms)
(Used for light weight short foundations
Same limitations as rigid methods for mat foundations)
Depth to Fixity Methods (Davisson)
(Only considers a certain depth as flexible
Structural engineers could analyse the foundation as a structure once
the depth of fixity was known Too simplistic)
Finite Element Analysis
p-y curves
Horizontal Modules of Sub grade Reaction Method
Soil as Elastic Continuum Method (Poulos & Hull)

Field test Methods for Lateral Loading

As per Indian Standard code 2911 series

Initial TestThis test is required for one or more of the following purposes.
a) Determination of ultimate load capacities and arrival at safe load by
application of factor of safety,
b) To provide guidelines for setting up the limits of acceptance for routine
c) To study the effect of piling on adjacent existing structures and take
decision for the suitability of type of piles to be used,
d) To get an idea of suitability of piling system, and
e) To have a check on calculated load by dynamic or static approaches.
Routine TestThis test is required for One or more or the following purposes.
a) One or the criteria to determine the safe load of the pile;
b) Checking safe load and extent of safety for the specific functional
requirement of the pile at working load
c) Detection of any unusual performance contrary to the findings of the initial
test, if carried out.

Application of Load:
Incremental load each increment being of about 20 percent of safe
an the pile. For testing of raker piles it is essential that loading is
the axis.
The next increment should be applied after the rate of displacement
is nearer to 01 mm per 30 minutes.

The safe lateral load on the pile shall be taken as the

least of the following:
a) Fifty percent of the final load at which the total displacement
increases to 12 mm.
b) Final load at which the total displacement corresponds to 5 mm and
c) Load corresponding to any other specified displacement as per
performance requirements.

The lateral soil resistance for granular soils and normally consolidated
clays which have varying soil modulus is modeled according to the

p/y = h z

where p = lateral soil reaction per unit length of pile at depth z below
ground level; y = lateral pile deflection; and h = modulus of sub grade
reaction for which the recommended values are given in Table 3.

The lateral soil resistance for preloaded clays with constant soil
modulus is modeled according to the equation:
p/ y = K


where k1 is Terzaghis modulus of subgrade reaction as determined from load

deflection measurements on a 30 cm square plate and B is the width of the
pile (diameter in case of circular piles).
The recommended values of k1 are given in Table 4.

Stiffness Factors
For Piles in Sand and
Normally Loaded Clays:

For Piles in Preloaded Clays:


Having calculated the stiffness factor T or R, the criteria for behaviour
as a short rigid pile or as a long elastic pile are related to the
embedded length L as given in Table 5.