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What is the mechanism of formation of soil plugs in marine driven steel piles with reinforced concrete infill?

During initial driving process, open-ended steel piles are driven through the soils at their bases. However, shaft friction will gradually develop between the steel piles and soils inside piles at some time after pile driving. The hitting action of driving hammers induces forces to the soil and later it comes to a stage when the inertial forces of inside soils, together with the internal frictional forces exceeding the bearing capacity of soils at pile toes. Consequently, the soil plug formed is brought down by the piles. Reference is made to M. J. Tomlinson (1977).

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Why are steel tubular marine piles often driven open-ended?

In marine structures where piles are constantly subject to significant lateral and uplift forces induced by berthing operation and wave action, it is necessary to drive the piles to much greater depth. To avoid premature refusal so that insufficient soil cover may develop which is incapable of providing the required lateral and uplift resistance, tubular piles are normally driven open-ended so that they are driving to greater depths than piles with closed ends.

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What is the problem in traditional marine piling system of steel tubular pile with concrete infill and what are the possible remedial measures?

In the design of marine piles of steel tubular piles with concrete infill, loads from pier deck are taken up by steel tubular piles before the occurrence of corrosion of steel piles above seabed. In fact, it is assumed that steel piles above seabed level will all be corroded after a certain year. The load transfer mechanism after complete corrosion of steel pile above seabed is as follows: loads from pier deck are taken up by concrete infill above the seabed level. Below the seabed level, loads would be transferred to steel piles through frictional forces between concrete infill and steel casings.

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For marine pile type of steel tubular piles with reinforced concrete infill, minimum toe level is often specified in contract drawings. What is its purpose?

The purpose of minimum toe level is two-fold:

(i) In detailed design stage, ground investigation should be conducted and the approximate level of rockhead is known. Therefore, to avoid the marine piles to be founded prematurely on boulders, minimum toe levels of marine driven piles are specified in contract.

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Why are most marine piles circular in cross section?

For marine piles, there are several options available for selection, namely H-piles, circular pipes and box piles.

However, only circular piles and box piles are suitable for marine application because of the following two reasons suggested by G. M. Cornfield (1968):

(i) Circular piles and box piles possess high column buckling strength. For marine structures like jetties, piles are well above seabed level and therefore the column buckling effect is significant when compared with other structures. Therefore, it is essential to use pile sections which have relatively high buckling strength in piers.

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