Offshore Technology Research Center


OTRC Project Summary

Project Title:

Laboratory Tests to Estimate Strength Profile of Normally Consolidated Kaolinite

Prinicipal Investigators:

Roy Olson and Robert Gilbert


Minerals Management Service and Industry Consortium

Completion Date:

December, 2004

Final Report ID#

B148(Click to view final report abstract)

Note: This study is part of a broader project "Suction Caissons & Vertically Loaded Anchors: Model Tests" (MMS Project 362).

A research project is underway at the University of Texas at Austin, to characterize the behavior of laboratory–scale suction caissons. Tests are conducted on an instrumented model caisson that is installed, using suction, in tanks of normally consolidated kaolinite. Previous research on suction caissons in normally consolidated kaolinite depended on T-bar penetration tests to estimate the strength profile of the kaolinite bed. However offshore practice relies mostly on cone penetration tests and vane shear tests for estimating the strength profile of offshore sediments to help them in the design of suction caissons. The research described in this study aims at generating a strength profile for the normally consolidated kaolinite bed that is comparable to that used in the field using vane shear, cone penetration and ball penetration tests in addition to the T-bar penetration tests. The results of finite element analyses being developed depend on the strength profile the model uses. The present research will help in an easier application of the results of the laboratory tests for design of suction caissons in the field.

The laboratory equipment used, preparation and properties of the test bed, procedures for the tests, results and correlations from these tests, conclusions and recommendations are described in this study.

Related Publications: El-Sherbiny, R. M, Olson, R. E., Gilbert, R. B, and Vanka, S. K. (2005), “Capacity of suction caissons under inclined loading in normally consolidated clay”, Proceeding of the International Symposium on Frontiers in Offshore Geotechnics, Perth, Australia, September.


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