Preloading of four-legged jack-ups in clay: Geotechnical time effects and fulfilment of preloading criteria

Wouter Sonnema, Sanne Brinkman, Ronald B.J. Brinkgreve, Federico Pisano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Presented here is a numerical study on the preloading of four-legged jack-ups, such as those commonly employed in the construction of offshore wind farms. The need for reducing jack-up installation time is particularly felt within the offshore industry, especially when multiple preloading cycles are necessary in clayey soils to fulfil given preloading criteria. This is due to clays experiencing delayed deformations, causing load redistribution among all legs while the ideal situation of steady preload on all spudcans is pursued. This work employs three-dimensional finite element (3D FE) modelling to analyse the preloading performance of a reference jack-up vessel in clayey soils using a wished-in-place (WIP) approach. Detailed modelling of time effects due to soil consolidation and viscosity is introduced, with some emphasis on how to derive material parameters from typical site investigation and laboratory soil data. The results of specific parametric studies are presented to support the suitability of the adopted analysis approach, also with regard to the adoption of alternative preloading procedures. The constitutive modelling of time-dependent clay’s behaviour is shown to play a crucial role in the considered framework, and will require further research for 3D FE modelling to provide reliable quantitative support to real wind farm installation projects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114425
Number of pages17
JournalOcean Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Jack-up
  • Spudcan
  • Preloading
  • Clay
  • Finite elements
  • Offshore engineering


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