Cyclic and rapid axial load tests on displacement piles in soft clay

Paul Doherty, Kenneth Gavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Offshore piles are subjected to complex loading regimes that include both rapidly applied static and cyclic loads. This paper describes an experimental investigation conducted to assess the factors influencing the response of offshore piles to these loading conditions. The tests were performed using instrumented model piles installed in soft clay. During cyclic loading, the piles demonstrated a transition from stable to unstable behavior when the applied loads reached a specific load threshold. Stable behavior was defined when increments of plastic displacement decreased as the number of load cycles increased. During stable behavior, radial effective stresses at the pile-soil interface remained constant. During unstable behavior, pore pressures at the pile-soil interface rose as the number of cycles increased. This resultedin reduced radial effective stresses and progressively increasing displacement rates. Because of the presence of these excess pore pressures, the shaft resistance recorded during static load tests, performed after unstable cyclic loading, were lower than those measured on piles where the pore pressure was fully equalized. However, the axial resistance was seen to be rate dependent. Fast loading of the pile resulted in reductions of pore water pressure at the soil-pile interface and enhanced shaft resistance, which might overcome the negative effect caused by cyclic loading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1022-1026
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyclic loading
  • Foundations
  • Offshore loading
  • Piles
  • Pore pressure
  • Testing


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