Helen Patricia Dunne

Doctor of Philosophy, Mansfield College, University of Oxford, Trinity 2017

Finite Element Limit Analysis of Offshore Foundations on Clay

Capacity analysis is a common preliminary step in the design of offshore foundations. Inaccuracies in traditional capacity analysis methods, and the advancement of numerical modelling capabilities, have increasingly led designers to optimise foundations using more complex methods. In this thesis, the ultimate limit state capacity of a range of foundation types is investigated using finite element limit analysis.

Novel three-dimensional finite element limit analysis software is benchmarked against analytical solutions and conventional displacement finite element analysis. It is then used to find lower and upper bounds of foundation capacity, with adaptive mesh refinement used to reduce the bound gap over successive iterations of the solution. Rigid foundations subjected to short term loading on clay soil are analysed. The undrained soil is modelled as a rigid-plastic von Mises material, and attention is given to modelling any normal and/or shear stress limits at the foundation/soil interface.

Shallow foundations, suction anchor foundations, and hybrid mudmat/pile foundations are considered. Realistic six degree-of-freedom load combinations are applied and results are reported in the form of normalised design charts, and tables, that are suitable for use in preliminary design. Relationships between loading combinations and failure mechanisms are also explored. A number of case studies based on authentic foundation designs are analysed. The results suggest that finite element limit analysis could provide an attractive alternative to displacement finite element analysis for preliminary foundation design calculations.

Thesis (98.5mb, pdf)