Resistance analysis of axially loaded drilled shafts socketed in shale
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An investigation into the load-settlement behavior of two drilled shafts, founded in shale, is presented. The motivation for this research is to advance the understanding on how drilled shafts react under loading in stiff clays and shales. The objectives of the study are to measure the strengths within the subsurface material at the test site, estimate the unit side shear and unit end bearing of the shale-shaft interaction by running two axial load tests, and compare the results to the current design methods that are used to predict the axial capacity of drilled shafts. A comprehensive field investigation, performed by Fugro Consultants, provided strength profiles of the subsurface material at the test site. Through the cooperation of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the Association of Drilled Shaft Contractors, and McKinney Drilling Company, two drilled shafts were installed at a highway construction site in Austin, Texas. The load tests were performed by Loadtest, Inc.; using the patented Osterberg-Cell™ loading technique to axially displace the shafts. Ensoft, Inc. installed strain gauges at multiple levels within the shafts, making it possible to analyze the shaft mobilization during loading. Ultimate end bearing values of about 100- and 120-ksf were measured for Test Shafts #1 and #2, respectively. The current methods for estimating unit end bearing, developed by TxDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, provide fairly accurate predictions when compared to the measured information. The ultimate side resistance obtained near the O-Cell™ in each test was about 20-ksf, however, the measured ultimate side resistance steadily decreased nearing the tip of the shaft. For the zones where the side resistance was believed to be fully mobilized, the TxDOT design method accurately predicts the side resistance. A limited amount of information is currently available for load tests performed in soils with TCP values harder than 2-in per 100 blows. Additional load test information should allow for a stronger correlation between TCP tests and unit resistances for very hard clay-shales, as well as, allowing for further evaluation of the shale-shaft interaction near the shaft tip. The results presented herein demonstrate the effectiveness of the current design methods for drilled shafts and the non-uniformity of side resistance within one- to two-diameters of the shaft tip.