J.D. Morris

Doctor of Philosophy, Magdalen College, Oxford University, Hilary Term 1999

Physical and Numerical Modelling of Grouted Nails in Clay


The research described in this thesis focussed on the bond resistance of grouted soil nails in clay. Physical modelling took the form of large scale element tests in the laboratory of drilled and grouted nails in a stiff clay. Nails were installed under different boundary stresses; testing was conducted at different constant rates of pull-out and also under sustained load conditions. Observed behaviour was compared with that predicted by measurements of interface shear resistance obtained in a conventional shear box.

Numerical modelling was carried out in an attempt to improve understanding of the effects of installation processes on nail performance, and to investigate the trends in behaviour observed during laboratory tests. For this purpose, a one-dimensional finite element computer programme was developed to include the effects of consolidation and the out-of-plane soil displacements associated with nail axial loading.

The physical modelling showed that the loading rate has a significant effect on bond resistance. This has consequences for the interpretation of data from constant rate of displacement pull-out testing, the conventional method of verifying bond resistance in the field. It is suggested that this type of testing is inappropriate in low permeability soils, because capillary suctions develop which lead to increased bond resistance. Results from laboratory sustained load tests show that lower values of bond resistance are mobilised under the static load conditions more likely to exist in a real soil nailed structure.

The numerical modelling confirms the behaviour observed during the laboratory tests, and shows that the mechanisms by which bond is mobilised are complex, depending critically on the dilation and consolidation characteristics of the soil. Nail installation procedures are modelled, and grout pressures are shown to strongly influence bond resistance.

Interface tests show trends in behaviour similar to those observed during pull-out testing. However, difficulties exist in the qualitative use of interface test data to predict nail bond resistance.

Thesis (7.24MB, pdf)

This thesis can also be downloaded from the ORA website