Interface Testing For The Design Of Micropiles In Expansive Soils

Schaut, Robert W.
Organization: Deep Foundations Institute
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2011
The use of micropiles is increasing for new construction and to retrofit distressed foundations in expansive soils. Typical micropiles in expansive soils have a lower section where the micropile grout is embedded in direct contact with the soil, and an upper section that is cased with rigid PVC pipe or other material to reduce the friction between the micropile and the surrounding expansive soil. In the upper cased section, the micropile grout is in direct contact with the inside of the casing. During construction, grout can flow upward into the annular space between the soil and the outside of the casing as the grout is tremied into the micropile. Thus, various interfaces may exist in a typical micropile, including soil-to-grout, grout-to-PVC, and soil-to-PVC. As the surrounding soil heaves, shear stresses are mobilized along the interfaces. The frictional characteristics of the interfaces are design variables that must be evaluated. For this study, an experimental program was conducted to evaluate the shear strength of the three interfaces listed above. Conventional direct shear testing was performed at a commercial testing laboratory. In addition, specialized testing was performed at Colorado State University (CSU). For the CSU testing, an interface testing protocol was designed using a modified triaxial cell to allow evaluation of the interface characteristics between rigid PVC and cylindrical specimens of grout or clay soil. It is shown that the shear strength of the soil-to-PVC and grout-to-PVC interfaces are similar, both of which are significantly lower than the shear strength of the soil-to-grout interface. This indicates that the use of a PVC casing in the upper portion of a micropile has a positive effect in reducing friction and the shear stresses resulting from expansive soil.
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