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Enhancement of bearing capacity from consolidation: Due to changing strength or failure mechanism?

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Stanier, SA 
White, DJ 


Bearing capacity of shallow foundations is higher following preload (or self-weight)-induced consolidation because the soil strength changes, and perhaps because the failure mechanism changes. Previous studies have illustrated this effect by plotting or predicting changes in either bearing capacity factor or strength. In this study, the relative contribution of these two effects is explored. This is achieved by formalising a definition of bearing capacity factor, which is described in terms of the average strength mobilised in the deformation mechanism at failure. Using the alternative definition of bearing capacity factor, the gain in foundation capacity is shown to be almost entirely due to changes in soil strength, rather than bearing capacity factor, which remains largely unaffected by the strength gains. This observation should encourage future studies into consolidated bearing capacity to present gains in capacity in terms of changes in mobilised strength rather than changes in bearing capacity factors, and supports the use of prediction methods that focus on defining the change in soil strength.



bearing capacity, consolidation, footings/foundations, numerical modelling, shear strength

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This work forms part of the activities of the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS), supported as a node of the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering (CE110001009), and the Industrial Transformation Research Hub in Offshore Floating Facilities, supported by Shell, Woodside, Lloyds Register and Bureau Veritas (ARC grant IH140100012). The first author is supported by ARC DECRA Fellowship DE170100119. The second author is supported by the Shell EMI Chair in Offshore Engineering at the University of Western Australia. This support is gratefully acknowledged.