Microstructure and Strength Effect on Bearing Capacity of Helical Piles Installed in Golestan Loess


Loess soils cover approximately 10% of the Earth’s land surface. Due to its honeycomb structure, this soil collapses under pressure and immediately settles when exposed to moisture. Using moisture and loading conditions prior to construction can have positive effects on the geotechnical properties of the soil and help to reduce its settlement. This study aims to investigate the effect of different installation methods of helical piles on microstructure of loess soils. A total number of 16 full-scale helical piles including single helix and double helix piles with spacing to diameter ratios of 1.5 and 3 were installed via wet and dry installation methods. These 3-m-long piles were installed at the site of Inche Borun, Golestan province, northeastern Iran. Pile static load tests were performed on a set of these piles to compare the effect of different installation methods. Furthermore, the behavior of Golestan loess was investigated by removing the soil in front of the other set of helical piles for element testing and SEM imaging. The results suggested that the combination of compressive installation load and water pressure increases the shear strength parameters of Golestan loess and accordingly, the bearing capacity of the installed helical piles.

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
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17
Fig. 18


  1. 1.

    Gudehus G (2016) Mechanisms of partly flooded loose sand deposits. Acta Geotech 11(3):505–517. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11440-016-0460-x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Xing H, Liu L (2018) Field tests on influencing factors of negative skin friction for pile foundations in collapsible loess regions. Int J Civil Eng 16(10):1413–1422. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40999-018-0294-z

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Liu Z, Liu F, Ma F, Wang M, Bai X, Zheng Y, Zhang G (2016) Collapsibility, composition, and microstructure of loess in China. Can Geotech J 53(4):673–686. https://doi.org/10.1139/cgj-2015-0285

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Gaaver KE (2012) Geotechnical properties of Egyptian collapsible soils. Alex Eng J. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aej.2012.05.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Ayadat T, Hanna A (2007) Prediction of collapse behaviour in soil. Revue Européenne de Génie Civil. https://doi.org/10.1080/17747120.2007.9692947

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Zhang YC, Yao YG, Ma AG, Liu CL (2020) In situ tests on improvement of collapsible loess with large thickness by down-hole dynamic compaction pile. Eur J Environ Civil Eng 24(2):156–170. https://doi.org/10.1080/19648189.2017.1370393

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Valizade N, Tabarsa A (2020) Laboratory investigation of plant root reinforcement on the mechanical behaviour and collapse potential of loess soil. Eur J Environ Civil Eng. https://doi.org/10.1080/19648189.2020.1715848

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Pei X, Zhang F, Wu W, Liang S (2015) Physicochemical and index properties of loess stabilized with lime and fly ash piles. Appl Clay Sci 114:77–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clay.2015.05.007

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Lim YY, Miller GA (2004) Wetting-induced compression of compacted Oklahoma soils. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 130(10):1014–1023. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)1090-0241(2004)130:10(1014)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Zhang D, Wang J, Chen C, Wang S (2020) The compression and collapse behaviour of intact loess in suction-monitored triaxial apparatus. Acta Geotech 15(2):529–548. https://doi.org/10.1139/t2012-075

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Zhang P, Zhang A, Xing Y, Zhang B, Ni W, Ren W (2018) Experimental study on settling characteristics of thick self-weight collapsible loess in Xinjiang Ili region in China using field immersion test. Soils Found 58(6):1476–1491

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Wang XL, Zhu YP (2011) Theoretical analysis on compacting effect of lime compaction piles. Appl Mech Mater 94–96(2):745–749. https://doi.org/10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMM.94-96.745

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Ma Y, Wang JD, Peng SJ, Li YW, Wang JH (2014) Immersion tests on characteristics of deformation of self-weight collapsible loess under overburden pressure. Chin J Geotech Eng 36(3):537–546. https://doi.org/10.11779/CJGE201403017

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Eslami A, Akbarimehr D, Aflaki E, Hajitaheriha MM (2019) Geotechnical site characterization of the Lake Urmia super-soft sediments using laboratory and CPTu records. Mar Georesour Geotechnol. https://doi.org/10.1080/1064119X.2019.1672121

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Evstatiev D (1988) Loess improvement methods. Eng Geol 25(2–4):341–366. https://doi.org/10.1016/0013-7952(88)90036-1

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Fateh AMA, Eslami A, Fahimifar A (2017) Direct CPT and CPTu methods for determining bearing capacity of helical piles. Mar Georesour Geotechnol 35(2):193–207. https://doi.org/10.1080/1064119X.2015.1133741

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Sakr M (2015) Retracted: relationship between installation torque and axial capacities of helical piles in cohesionless soils. J Perform Constr Facil 29(6):04014173. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)CF.1943-5509.0000621

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Motamedinia H, Hataf N, Habibagahi G (2019) A study on failure surface of helical anchors in sand by PIV/DIC technique. Int J Civil Eng 17(12):1813–1827

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Perko HA (2009) Helical piles: a practical guide to design and installation. Helical piles: a practical guide to design and installation. Wiley, Hoboken

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Sakr M (2009) Performance of helical piles in oil sand. Can Geotech J 46(9):1046–1061. https://doi.org/10.1139/T09-044

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Tsuha CHC, Aoki N, Rault G, Thorel L, Garnier J (2012) Evaluation of the efficiencies of helical anchor plates in sand by centrifuge model tests. Can Geotech J. https://doi.org/10.1139/T2012-064

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Spagnoli G, de Tsuha CHC (2020) A review on the behavior of helical piles as a potential offshore foundation system. Mar Georesour Geotechnol. https://doi.org/10.1080/1064119X.2020.1729905

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Khazaei J, Eslami A (2016) Geotechnical behavior of helical piles via physical modeling by frustum confining vessel (FCV). Int J Geogr Geol 5(9):167–181. https://doi.org/10.18488/journal.10/2016.5.9/

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Sharma P, Rawat S, Gupta AK (2020) Horizontal pullout behavior of novel open-ended pipe helical soil nail in frictional soil. Int J Civil Eng. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40999-020-00535-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Harnish J, El Naggar MH (2017) Large-diameter helical pile capacity—torque correlations. Can Geotech J. https://doi.org/10.1139/cgj-2016-0156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Perko HA (2001) Energy method for predicting installation torque of helical foundation and anchors. ASCE Press, Reston

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Rogers W (2012) Theoretical installation torque for helical pipe piles—part 1: single helix—homogeneous soils. Quality Anchor Products Inc., Addison

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Sakr M (2015) Relationship between installation torque and axial capacities of helical piles in cohesionless soils. Can Geotech J 52(6):747–759. https://doi.org/10.1139/cgj-2013-0395

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    de Passini LB, Schnaid F (2015) Experimental investigation of pile installation by vertical jet fluidization in sand. J Offshore Mech Arct Eng. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4030707.32

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Tsinker GP (1988) Pile jetting. J Geotech Eng. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9410(1988)114:3(326)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Lourenço DE, Schnaid F, Camaño Schettini EB (2020) Model pile installation by vertical water jet in clay. J Offshore Mech Arct Eng. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4046169

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Gabr MA, Borden RH, Denton RL, Smith AW (2014) An insertion rate model for pile installation in sand by jetting. Geotech Test J 37(1):13–23. https://doi.org/10.1520/GTJ20120191

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Fateh AMA, Eslami A, Fahimifar A (2017) Study of soil disturbance effect on bearing capacity of helical pile by experimental modelling in FCV. Int J Geotech Eng 11(3):289–301. https://doi.org/10.1080/19386362.2016.1222692

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    ASTM D3080/D3080M-11 (2011) Standard test method for direct shear test of soils under consolidated drained conditions (withdrawn 2020). ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D3080_D3080M-11

    Book  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    ASTM D2216-19 (2019) Standard test methods for laboratory determination of water (moisture) content of soil and rock by mass. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D2216-19

    Book  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    ASTM D792-20 (2020) Standard test methods for density and specific gravity (relative density) of plastics by displacement. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D0792-20

    Book  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    ASTM D4318-17e1 (2017) Standard test methods for liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index of soils. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D4318-17E01

    Book  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    ASTM D422-63(2007)e2 (2007) Standard test method for particle-size analysis of soils (withdrawn 2016). ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D0422-63R07E02

    Book  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    ASTM D2435/D2435M-11 (2020) Standard test methods for one-dimensional consolidation properties of soils using incremental loading. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D2435_D2435M-11R20

    Book  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    ASTM D1586/D1586M-18 (2018) Standard test method for standard penetration test (SPT) and split-barrel sampling of soils. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D1586_D1586M-18

    Book  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Okhravi R, Amini A (2001) Characteristics and provenance of the loess deposits of the Gharatikan watershed in Northeast Iran. Global Planet Change 28(1–4):11–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0921-8181(00)00061-8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    ASTM D5333-03 (2003) Standard test method for measurement of collapse potential of soils (withdrawn 2012). ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D5333-03

    Book  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    ASTM D4700-15 (2015) Standard guide for soil sampling from the Vadose Zone. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D4700-15

    Book  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    ASTM D4220/D4220M-14 (2014) Standard practices for preserving and transporting soil samples. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D4700-15

    Book  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    ASTM D6169/D6169M-13 (2013) Standard guide for selection of soil and rock sampling devices used with drill rigs for environmental investigations. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D6169_D6169M-13

    Book  Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    ASTM D1143/D1143M-20 (2020) Standard test methods for deep foundation elements under static axial compressive load, ASTM International, West Conshohocken. https://doi.org/10.1520/D1143_D1143M-20.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Li P, Vanapalli S, Li T (2016) Review of collapse triggering mechanism of collapsible soils due to wetting. J Rock Mech Geotech Eng 8(2):256–274

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Zhang C, MacDonald BE, Guo F, Wang H, Zhu C, Liu X, Lavernia EJ (2020) Cold-workable refractory complex concentrated alloys with tunable microstructure and good room-temperature tensile behavior. Scripta Mater 188:16–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scriptamat.2020.07.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Terzaghi K (1942) Discussion of the progress report of the committee on the bearing value of pile foundations. Proc Am Soc Civil Eng 68:311–323

    Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    O’Neill MW, Reese LC (1999) Drilled shafts: construction procedures and design methods, publication no. FHWA-IF-99-025. Office of Infrastructure Federal Highway Administration, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Livneh B, El Naggar MH (2008) Axial testing and numerical modeling of square shaft helical piles under compressive and tensile loading. Can Geotech J 45(8):1142–1155

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The helix piles used in this study was constructed by Shaloodeh Foolad Asiya company. The authors greatly appreciate their generosity and would like to express their gratitude toward them herein.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Abolfazl Eslami.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Arabameri, M., Eslami, A. Microstructure and Strength Effect on Bearing Capacity of Helical Piles Installed in Golestan Loess. Int J Civ Eng (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40999-021-00602-2

Download citation


  • Golestan loess
  • Helical pile
  • Microstructure
  • Mechanical property
  • Bearing capacity
  • Full-scale test