In-plane pushover analysis of a quay wall with an uneven pile foundation

The case study of the Grimurgwal

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The main motive for this research was to study the behaviour of quay walls when there is an uneven pile foundation present. This means that the number of piles varies in the thickness of the quay wall along the length. The inspiration came from the failure of the Grimburgwal (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) that collapsed in 2020, which had a length of 65 meters, according to Korff et al. (2021). Korff et al. (2021) reported that the main failure mechanisms that are considered in the case of the Grimburgwal, is the deformation of the piles due to horizontal bending, in the section where there were only two instead of three rows of piles present in the thickness of the wall.

A 2D model with a length of 22.5 meters in the longitudinal direction (along the length of the quay) wall is used in this research, to study the influence of the uneven pile foundation in the thickness of the wall. The quay wall’s out-of-plane behaviour is not considered. The masonry and timber floor are modelled with linear plane stress elements. An interface condition is used to model the interaction between masonry and the timber floor. The longitudinal support beams and kespen are modelled as one element. The piles are modelled as equivalent translational springs that are evenly distributed in the longitudinal direction. In the central area, one spring represents two piles in the cross-section, while the rest of the springs represent three piles. After the application of the deadweight of masonry and timber, a uniform distributed load was used on top of the model to cause settlement of the piles and wall. The dilatation joint was modelled with a nonlinear interface with a high dummy stiffness and no tension, and with a gap of one millimeter.

If the length of the section with two rows of piles is increased, the capacity of the wall reduces. The cracks at the bottom of the masonry, still do not increase significantly if the length of the length of the section with two rows of piles is increased, but it does take less load to generate the same cracks. The boundary conditions also play a large role in the distribution of forces, since it is seen that the piles near the dilatation joint are less critical than the piles near the constrained edge. In the end, this model does give information on how the forces in the piles distribute and how the piles settle, before both brittle and ductile failure of the piles occurs and cracking within the model. However, it should be kept in mind that the model that is considered is a 2D model, whereas the problem of a quay wall is a 3D problem, so the results are not expected to be accurate.