Field investigation of the axial resistance of helical piles in dense sand

Kenneth Gavin*, Paul Doherty, Ali Tolooiyan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the results of compression and tension load tests performed on a single helical pile installed in dense sand. The pile was instrumented using strain gauges that allowed the shaft and base load resistance to be separated and the distribution of shaft resistance along the pile during the test to be determined. The pile was loaded first in compression, with a maintained load test, followed by a constant rate of penetration load test being performed to assess the effects of creep on the pile’s response to compression loading. The pile was then loaded in tension using a maintained load test procedure. Finite element analyses were performed using Abaqus and these helped to provide additional insights to explain the response of the instrumented pile during loading. The test showed that during compression loading, substantial bearing pressures developed beneath the pile helix, which provided the majority of axial load resistance. During tension loading, uplift pressure mobilized on the helix again provided the majority of axial resistance. The strain gauges suggested that the pile load response to compression loading was ductile. During tension loading, the pile response was brittle. Whilst load tests performed on only one instrumented pile test are presented, the use of instrumentation and finite element analyses allowed important insights into the load–displacement response of helical piles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1343-1354
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Field testing
  • Finite element analysis
  • Helical piles


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