Effect of friction fatigue on pile capacity in dense sand

Kenneth G. Gavin*, Brenda C. O'Kelly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


The paper presents the results of a series of field tests performed to study the causes of friction fatigue experienced by displacement piles. Four instrumented model piles were installed at a dense sand test-bed site. The test series was designed to impose different levels of cyclic loading during pile installation. Static and cyclic load tests were subsequently performed to study the differences in the axial capacities developed for ostensibly monotonic and cyclic installations. The test results indicated that the mobilized horizontal effective stress regime that controls pile side friction primarily depends on the in situ sand state, as reflected by the cone penetration test (CPT) qc resistance. A zone of highly stressed sand that produced a concentration of high shear resistance was mobilized in the vicinity of the pile base. The horizontal effective stress that acted on the pile shaft reduced in response to cyclic loading, with the largest reductions occurring for high-intensity cyclic loading or when the pile had experienced only a few load cycles during installation. Although cyclic loading caused a reduction in the horizontal effective stress that acted on the pile shaft, the elevated stress built up in the vicinity of the pile base during installation remained higher than that remote from the base. The elevated stress in the vicinity of the pile base only dissipated after cyclic tension loading had been applied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Displacement
  • Fatigue
  • Field tests
  • Friction
  • Models
  • Piles
  • Sand


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