Three-Dimensional Analysis of Geosynthetic Reinforcement Used in Column-Supported Embankments


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Virginia Tech


A geotechnical composite foundation system that has become increasingly popular over the years is a column-supported, geosynthetic-reinforced embankment. This system consists of strong columns or piles placed in soft clay, a bridging layer of sand or sand and gravel, and one or more layers of geosynthetic reinforcement. It is often used in soft ground situations where there is a need for faster construction and/or where there are adjacent structures that would be affected by settlement caused by the new embankment. The geosynthetic reinforcement is placed in the bridging layer to help transfer the load to the columns and decrease the total and differential settlements. Current methods of analysis for this material are extremely simplified, and do not thoroughly model the behavior of the system. Therefore, a more comprehensive analysis needs to be conducted that will better predict the true effect of the geosynthetic layer or layers.

In this thesis, one geosynthetic layer was considered. Models were developed using two different computer programs: Mathematica and ABAQUS. In Mathematica, the Rayleigh-Ritz method was used to approximate the deflections and tensile forces in the membrane. This method considered the geosynthetic reinforcement as a plate and minimized the total energy of the system. In ABAQUS, a finite element modeling program, the membrane was analyzed as a shell, and results were compared with some results from Mathematica.

A parametric study was completed in Mathematica to determine the effects of different parameters. The parameters varied involved the geogrid properties (Poisson's ratio, modulus of elasticity, and thickness), the vertical load, the soil stiffness above the piles, the soil stiffness between the piles, the size of the piles, and the distance between the piles.



Piles, Embankment, Geosynthetic Reinforcement, Plate, Rayleigh-Ritz