Skip to main content

Behavior of Floating Stone Columns and Development of Porewater Pressure Under Cyclic Loading


The floating stone column is a common and efficient technique that provides confinement to the soft soil and increases its strength and provides short drainage paths for the excess porewater pressure. The present study investigates the effects of several patterns of floating stone columns constructed in soft clay under footing subjected to cyclic loading. The soft soil used in this study has a very low unconfined compressive strength and it was improved by single, two, three, and four in a square and four in a quadrilateral pattern of stone columns. The backfill material of columns is poorly graded sand having a relative density of 65%. The results of physical model tests indicated increasing soil bearing capacity and reduced the excess porewater pressure and settlement. The degree of improvement of geotechnical properties of soft soil increases with increasing the area replacement ratio of stone columns. Generally, the soil samples exhibited two patterns of porewater pressure (PWP) variation with increasing the number of loading cycles. The soil samples reinforced with one and two stone columns showed a linear increase in the PWP with increasing the number of loading cycles, but the soil samples reinforced with three and four columns showed nonlinear decreasing of PWP with a growing number of loading cycles. The four columns in a quadrilateral pattern is better than in a square pattern in improving the geotechnical properties of soft soil subjected to cyclic loading.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8


  • Ashour, S.: The response of stone columns under the cyclic loading. Doctoral dissertation, University of Birmingham (2016)

  • Bergado, D.T., Lam, F.L.: Full scale load test of granular piles with different densities and different proportions of gravel and sand on soft Bangkok clay. Soils Found. 27(1), 86–93 (1987)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Das, B.M.: Advanced Soil Mechanics. CRC Press (2013)

  • Datye, K. R.: Settlement and bearing capacity of foundation system with stone columns, In Int. Symp. on Soil and Rock Improvement Techniques Including Geotextiles, Reinforced Earth, and Modern Piling Methods, Asian Institute of Technology (1982)

  • Emrah, M. S.: A laboratory model study on settlement reduction of stone columns in soft clay. M.Sc. Thesis, School of Natural and Applied Sciences, Middle East Technical University (2012)

  • Fatahi, B., Khabbaz, H., Le, T.M.: Improvement of rail track subgrade using stone columns combined with geosynthetics. Advances in Transportation Geotechnics. 2, 202–206 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fattah M.Y., Shlash K.T. and Al-Waily M.J.: Stress concentration ratio of model stone columns in soft clays. Geotechnical Testing Journal. 34(1), 61–71 (2011)

  • Fattah, M.Y., Al-Neami, M.A., Al-Suhaily, A.S.: Estimation of bearing capacity of floating group of stone columns. Engineering science and technology, an international journal. 20(3), 1166–1172 (2017)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Frikha, W., Bouassida, M., Canou, J.: Parametric study of a clayey specimen reinforced by a granular column. International Journal of Geomechanics. 15(5), (2014)

  • Gniel, J., Bouazza, A.: Improvement of soft soils using geogrid encased stone columns. Geotext. Geomembr. 27(3), 167–175 (2009)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hanna, A.M., Etezad, M., Ayadat, T.: Mode of failure of a group of stone columns in soft soil. International Journal of Geomechanics. 13(1), 87–96 (2013)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hu, W.: Physical modelling of group behaviour of stone column foundations, Doctoral dissertation, University of Glasgow (1995)

  • Hugher, J. M. O. and Withers, N. J.: Reinforcing of soft cohesive soils with stone columns. Ground engineering, 7(3) (1974)

  • Juran, I., Guermazi, A.: Settlement response of soft soils reinforced by compacted sand columns. J. Geotech. Eng. 114(8), 930–943 (1988)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Karkush, M. O. and Jabbar, A.: Improvement of bearing capacity of soft soil and reducing excess porewater pressure using several patterns of floating stone columns. Unpublished paper, under review (2021)

  • Kim, B.I., Lee, S.H.: Comparison of bearing capacity characteristics of sand and gravel compaction pile treated ground. J Civil Eng KSCE. 9(3), 197–203 (2005)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Madun, A., Jefferson, I., Foo, K.Y., Chapman, D.N., Culshaw, M.G., Atkins, P.R.: Characterization and quality control of stone columns using surface wave testing. Can. Geotech. J. 49(12), 1357–1368 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mckelvey, D.D., Sivakumar, V.V., Bell, A.A., Graham, J.J.: Modeling vibrated stone columns in soft clay. Geotech. Eng. 157(3), 137–149 (2004)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ng, K.S.: Settlement ratio of floating stone columns for small and large loaded areas. J. GeoEng. 12(2), 89–96 (2017)

    Google Scholar 

  • Ng, K.S., Tan, S.A.: Design and analyses of floating stone columns. Soils Found. 54(3), 478–487 (2014)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ong, D.E.L., Sim, Y.S., Leung, C.F.: Performance of field and numerical back-analysis of floating stone columns in soft clay considering the influence of dilatancy. International Journal of Geomechanics. 18(10), 04018135 (2018)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rajagopal, K., Krishnaswamy, N.R., Madhavi, L.G.: Behaviour of sand confined with single and multiple geocells. Geotext. Geomembr. 17, 171–184 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shahu, J.T., Reddy, Y.R.: Clayey soil reinforced with stone column group: model tests and analyses. J. Geotech. Geoenviron. 137(12), 1265–1274 (2011)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shahverdi, M., Haddad, A.: Use of recycled materials in floating stone columns. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Construction Materials. 173(2), 99–108 (2020)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sivakumar, V., Boyd, J.L., Black, J.A., McNeil, J.A.: Effects of granular columns in compacted fills. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Geotechnical Engineering. 163(4), 189–196 (2010)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Unnikrishnan, N., Rajagopal, K., Krishnaswamy, N.R.: Behaviour of reinforced clay under monotonic and cyclic loading. Geotext. Geomembr. 20, 117–133 (2002)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wood, D.M., Hu, W., Nash, D.F.T.: Group effects in stone column foundations: model tests. Geotechnique. 50, 689–698 (2000)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhou, H., Diao, Y., Zheng, G., Han, J., Jia, R.: Failure modes and bearing capacity of strip footings on soft ground reinforced by floating stone columns. Acta Geotech. 12(5), 1089–1103 (2017)

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors expressed their thanks and appreciation to the staff of the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Baghdad for their help and support during conducting the necessary laboratory tests.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mahdi Karkush.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Karkush, M., Jabbar, A. Behavior of Floating Stone Columns and Development of Porewater Pressure Under Cyclic Loading. Transp. Infrastruct. Geotech. 9, 236–249 (2022).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Bearing capacity
  • Cyclic loading
  • Floating stone columns
  • Porewater pressure
  • Soft soil