Probabilistic based assessment of the influence of nonlinear soil behavior and stratification on the performance of laterally loaded drilled pier foundations
This thesis presents a probabilistic evaluation of multiple laterally loaded drilled pier foundation design approaches using extensive data from a geotechnical investigation for a high voltage electric transmission line. A series of Monte Carlo simulations provide insight about the computed level of reliability considering site standard penetration test blow count value variability alone (i.e., assuming all other aspects of the design problem do not contribute error or bias). Evaluated methods include Eurocode 7 Geotechnical Design procedures, the Federal Highway Administration drilled shaft LRFD design method, the Electric Power Research Institute transmission foundation design procedure and a site specific variability based approach previously suggested by the author of this thesis and others. The analysis method is defined by three phases: a) Evaluate the spatial variability of an existing subsurface database. b) Derive theoretical foundation designs from the database in accordance with the various design methods identified. c) Conduct Monti Carlo Simulations to compute the reliability of the theoretical foundation designs. Over several decades, reliability-based foundation design (RBD) methods have been developed and implemented to varying degrees for buildings, bridges, electric systems and other structures. In recent years, an effort has been made by researchers, professional societies and other standard-developing organizations to publish design guidelines, manuals and standards concerning RBD for foundations. Most of these approaches rely on statistical methods for quantifying load and resistance probability distribution functions with defined reliability levels. However, each varies with regard to the influence of site-specific variability on resistance. An examination of the influence of site-specific variability is required to provide direction for incorporating the concept into practical RBD design methods. Recent surveys of transmission line engineers by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) demonstrate RBD methods for the design of transmission line foundations have not been widely adopted. In the absence of a unifying design document with established reliability goals, transmission line foundations have historically performed very well, with relatively few failures. However, such a track record with no set reliability goals suggests, at least in some cases, a financial premium has likely been paid.