The Analysis of Offshore Foundations Subjected to Combined Loading

Shallow offshore foundations, which achieve their stability through the foundation bearing on the seabed, can in most applications be idealised as large rigid circular footings subjected to vertical, horizontal and moment loading.

A small strain linear-elastic perfectly-plastic three- dimensional finite element program was developed to analyse this combined loading problem.

The selection of a suitable three-dimensional finite element for accurate and computationally efficient analysis was based on the element’s ability to model incompressible soil conditions, using exact numerical integration. A new approach for evaluating element suitability is developed and is quantified in terms of the parameter free degrees-of-freedom (equal to the degrees-of-freedom minus the incompressibility constraints).

The tetrahedron family of three- dimensional elements is found to be in general more suitable and computationally efficient than the Serendipity and Lagrangian cube families. The 20-node quadratic strain tetrahedron is adopted for all analyses presented in this thesis.

For combined loading, most of the available elastic numerical analyses also examine the effect of footings embedment from three cases of embedment geometry. This demonstrates that the increase in footing stiffness (reduction in displacement) due to embedment for horizontal and moment loading is developed at shallower depths, and has a greater magnitude, than for vertical loading.

The stability of a rough rigid circular footing placed on the surface of an undrained clay is examined. Zero thickness interface elements, despite experiencing some numerical instability problems, were found to model the footing-soil interaction better than conventional continuum elements. However, application of interface elements to footings which can lose contact with the soil, under moment loading conditions, resulted in numerical instability of the solution. A simpler model was therefore used to define the shape of the three-dimensional failure envelope at high vertical load. Comparisons with the semi-empirical inclination factors of bearing capacity solutions are included.
Source: Oxford University
Author: R.W. Bell

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