Field experience with suction piles is scarce compared to the many years of experience with driven pipe piles. More load tests on suction piles are needed to better understand suction pile behavior and to boost industry confidence this foundation.
The capacity of a suction pile has been analyzed I two ways. Albert et al. (1987) suggest analyzing suction piles as traditional pile, i.e. using skin friction, plus resistance provided by suction developed inside the pile and possible soil tensile strength developed at the pile tip (Fig.1). Støve et. at. (1992)and Clukey et al. (1993) view suction pile capacity as a reverse bearing capacity problem and use a limiting equilibrium approach for predicting capacity (Fig.2). More load test data would be helpful to determine how these two approaches can be applied to real problems. As full scale load tests are expensive, a laboratory testing program has been undertaken.
A first step toward understanding suction pile behavior is to understand the load transfer between the suction pile and the surrounding soil and the pore pressure distribution around the pile. To this end, a heavy instrumented model pile has been designed and constructed.
The objective of this research is to develop a model suction pile to be used for loads tests in clay. The model pile is designed to measure the load transfer inside and outside the pile, and the pore pressures inside and outside the pile. This model suction pile is intended to be used in a testing program that includes monotonic and cyclic loading.