Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 283–301 | Cite as

Single piles under horizontal loads in sand: determination of PY curves from the prebored pressuremeter test

  • Ali BouafiaEmail author
Original Paper


Lateral load-deflection behaviour of single piles is often analysed in practice on the basis of methods of load-transfer PY curves. The paper is aimed at presenting the results of the interpretation of five full-scale horizontal loading tests of single instrumented piles in two sandy soils, in order to define the parameters of PY curves, namely the initial lateral reaction modulus and the lateral soil resistance, in correlation with the pressuremeter test parameters. PY curve parameters were found varying as a power of lateral pile/soil stiffness, on the basis of which hyperbolic PY curves in sand were proposed. The predictive capabilities of the proposed PY curves were assessed by predicting the soil/pile response in full-scale tests as well as in centrifuge tests and a very good agreement was found between the computed deflections and bending moments, and the measured ones. Small-sized database of full-scale pile loading tests in sand was built and a comparative study of some commonly used PY curve methods was undertaken. Moreover, it was shown that the load-deflection curves of these test piles may be normalised in a practical form for an approximate evaluation of pile deflection in a preliminary stage of pile design. At last, a parametric study undertaken on the basis of the proposed PY curves showed the significant influence of the lateral pile/soil stiffness on the non-linear load-deflection response.


Lateral loading test Lateral reaction modulus PY curves Pressuremeter test Sand Single pile 

List of symbols and units


diameter or frontal width of the pile (m)


embedded length of the pile (m)


effective pile length (m)


elastic soil modulus (MPa)


excentricity of lateral load (m)


characteristic soil modulus (MPa)


first load pressuremeter modulus (MPa)


reload pressuremeter modulus (MPa)


initial lateral reaction modulus (MPa)


flexural pile stiffness (MN m2)


tangential lateral reaction (kN/m)


limit tangential lateral reaction or tangential lateral resistance (kN/m)


pressuremeter shear modulus (G r  = E r/[2(1 + ν)]) (MPa)


lateral load applied on the pile top (kN)


density index (%)


pile/soil compressibility


lateral pile/soil stiffness


tangential dimension of the pile section (parallel to H) (m)


transfer length or elastic length (m)


bending moment at a given depth (kN m)


bending moment applied to the pile top (kN m)


rate of increase of E ti with depth in Gibson’s soil (MPa/m)


N value of the SPT (blow counts/30 cm)


lateral soil reaction at a given depth (kN/m)


lateral soil resistance or limit lateral reaction (kN/m)


pressuremeter creep pressure (kPa)


limit pressuremeter pressure (kPa)


net limit pressuremeter pressure (kPa)

\( P_{le}^{*}\)

net equivalent limit pressuremeter pressure (kPa)


at-rest lateral earth pressure (kPa)


frontal lateral reaction (kN/m)


cone penetration resistance (MPa)


limit skin friction along the pile shaft (kPa)


least-squares regression coefficient (%)


initial radius of pressuremeter borehole (m)


increase in PMT borehole radius (mm)

Sf, St

shape factors


lateral displacement or deflection at a given depth (mm)


pile deflection at ground level (mm)


reference deflection or threshold of lateral soil resistance P u (mm)


depth with respect to the ground level (m)


critical depth (m)


rate of linear increase of E m with depth in Gibson’s soil (MPa/m)


rate of linear increase of \( P_{l}^{*} \) with depth in Gibson’s soil (kPa/m)


lateral resistance factor


Poisson’s ratio


ratio E ti to E m


ratio P u to \( P_{L}^{*} B \)



The study reported herein is supported by the Algerian ministry of higher education and research MESRS within the scope of the project COPIFOR (COmportement des PIeux FORés) under the code J0901/04/02/2000.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of civil engineeringUniversity of BlidaR. P BlidaAlgeria

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