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Journal of Engineering
Volume 2013, Article ID 243179, 7 pages
Research Article

Modeling Laterally Loaded Single Piles Accounting for Nonlinear Soil-Pile Interactions

1Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3136, USA
2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL 61801, USA

Received 13 August 2012; Revised 4 December 2012; Accepted 18 December 2012

Academic Editor: Sadhan C. Jana

Copyright © 2013 Maryam Mardfekri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The nonlinear behavior of a laterally loaded monopile foundation is studied using the finite element method (FEM) to account for soil-pile interactions. Three-dimensional (3D) finite element modeling is a convenient and reliable approach to account for the continuity of the soil mass and the nonlinearity of the soil-pile interactions. Existing simple methods for predicting the deflection of laterally loaded single piles in sand and clay (e.g., beam on elastic foundation, p-y method, and SALLOP) are assessed using linear and nonlinear finite element analyses. The results indicate that for the specific case considered here the p-y method provides a reasonable accuracy, in spite of its simplicity, in predicting the lateral deflection of single piles. A simplified linear finite element (FE) analysis of piles, often used in the literature, is also investigated and the influence of accounting for the pile diameter in the simplified linear FE model is evaluated. It is shown that modeling the pile as a line with beam-column elements results in a reduced contribution of the surrounding soil to the lateral stiffness of the pile and an increase of up to 200% in the predicted maximum lateral displacement of the pile head.