Effects of Lateral Loads on a Single Pile

Original Contribution


Design of piles under lateral loads requires estimation of ultimate load carrying capacity of the pile and also, the pile deflections need to be evaluated to determine the allowable loads. For estimating the pile response, structural engineers invariably utilize the simplified method prescribed in the Indian code IS 2911-2002 (Indian Standard Code of Practice for Design of Pile Foundations, 2002). The method is based on replacing the pile soil system by an equivalent cantilever, the length of which is a function of subgrade reaction of the surrounding soil and the pile geometry. However, the method described is applicable only for flexible piles, where the maximum depth coefficient L/T is equal to or exceeds 4.0. To estimate the pile response for rigid piles, simplified procedures are not suggested and hence in the present study, an attempt has been made to evaluate the pile response under lateral loads using detailed soil–pile analysis. Parametric studies are carried out for various pile lengths and various soil stiffness. The pile responses thus obtained are compared with the method given in IS 2911-2002. It was observed that the pile response based on IS 2911-2002 compared reasonably well with the detailed soil–pile model even for L/T ≥ 2.5. However IS 2911-2002 underestimates the pile head deflections for L/T < 2.5 for both free headed and fixed head piles and hence detailed soil–pile analysis is essential for such situations. The variation of pile response with soil stiffness is also evaluated using these methods and the results are presented. The soil–pile analysis is carried out using subgrade modulus approach. The soil stiffness is assumed to vary linearly along the pile depth and hence the study is applicable for cohesionless soils which can be used for practical design of single pile subjected to lateral loads.


Modulus of subgrade reaction Laterally loaded piles Pile–soil interaction 

List of variables


Pile diameter


Young’s modulus of pile material


Moment of Inertia of Pile material


Modulus of subgrade reaction


Pile deflection at a depth ‘x’ below GL


Value of kx at x = L (tip of pile)


Constant of subgrade reaction


Length of the pile


Embedded pile in the soil medium (=L1 + Lf)


Length of pile above ground


Equivalent cantilever length below ground level


Reduction factor


Characteristic length/stiffness factor for cohesive soils


Characteristic length/stiffness factor cohesionless soils


Terzaghi’s modulus of subgrade reaction


Applied horizontal load at pile top


Moment applied at the pile head location


Fixed end moment in the pile

Zmax = L/T

Maximum depth coefficient


  1. 1.
    J.B. Hansen. The Ultimate Resistance of Rigid Piles Against Transversal Forces. Danish Geotechnical Institute, Bulletin no.12, Copenhagen, pp. 5–9 (1961)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    H. Matlock, L.C. Reese, Generalized solutions for laterally loaded piles. J. Soil. Mech. Found. Div., ASCE 86, 63–91 (1960)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    B. Broms, The lateral resistance of piles in cohesive soils. J. Soil. Mech. Found. Div., ASCE 90(SM2), 27–63 (1964)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    B. Broms, The lateral resistance of piles in cohesionless soils. J. Soil. Mech. Found. Div., ASCE 90(SM3), 123–156 (1964)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    H.G. Poulos, Behaviour of laterally loaded piles I: single piles. J. Soil. Mech. Found. Div., ASCE 97(SM5), 711–731 (1971)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    H.G. Poulos, Behaviour of laterally loaded piles II: pile groups. J. Soil. Mech. Found. Div., ASCE 97(SM5), 733–751 (1971)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    S. Ben Jamma, H. Shiojiri. A method for three dimensional interaction analysis of pile–soil system in time domain. Trans. Japan Soc. Comput. Eng. Sci., Paper No. 20000013 (2000)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Z. Yang, B. Jeremic, Numerical analysis of pile behaviour under lateral loads in layered elastic-plastic soils. Int. J. Numer. Anal. Methods Geomech. 26, 1385–1406 (2002)MATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    IS 2911-1979 (re-affirmed 2002). Indian Standard Code of Practice for Design of Pile Foundations, New Delhi, IndiaGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    K. Terzaghi, Evaluation of coefficients of subgrade reaction. Géotechnique 4, 297–326 (1955)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    L.C. Reese, H. Matlock, Non-dimensional solutions for laterally-loaded piles with soil modulus assumed proportional to depth, in Proceedings of the 8th Texas Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, (Austin, Texas, 1956) pp. 1–41Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    E. Winkler, Die Lehre von der Elastizitat und Festigkeit (Dominicus, Prague, 1867)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    M. Hetenyi, Beams on Elastic Foundation; Theory with Applications in the Fields of Civil and Mechanical Engineering (The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, USA, 1946)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Das, B.M. (2004). Principles of Foundation Engineering. 5th edn, 2nd reprintGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    H.G. Poulos, E.H. Davis, Pile Foundation Analysis and Design (Wiley, New York, 1980)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    MATLAB (2004). Programming, version 7, The Math Works, IncGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    V.S. Phanikanth, D. Choudhury, G.R. Reddy, Response of single pile under lateral load in cohesionless soils. Electron. J. Geotech. Eng., USA 15(H), 813–830 (2010)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    V.S. Phanikanth, D. Choudhury, G.R. Reddy, Behaviour of fixed head single pile in cohesionless soil under lateral loads. Electron. J. Geotech. Eng., USA 15(M), 1243–1262 (2010)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    D. Choudhury, S.M. Ahmad, Stability of waterfront retaining wall subjected to pseudo-dynamic earthquake forces. J. Waterw. Port Coast Ocean Eng., ASCE 134(4), 252–260 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    V.S. Phanikanth, D. Choudhury, G.R. Reddy, Behaviour of single pile in liquefied deposits during earthquakes. Int. J. Geomech., ASCE (2012). doi:10.1061/(ASCE)GM.1943-5622.0000224) Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Institution of Engineers (India) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bhabha Atomic Research CentreMumbaiIndia

Personalised recommendations