A suction caisson is an upturned ‘bucket’ of cylindrical shape made from steel. This type of foundation has been very popular in the oil and gas industry and the current trend is to extend its use to offshore wind farms. Seepage conditions play a pivotal role in suction caisson installation process in sand. Pressure gradients generated by imposed suction inside the caisson cavity cause an overall reduction in the soil resistance around the caisson wall and tip. This transient soil loosening around the caisson wall helps caisson penetration into the seabed. In this paper, we present a study of the role of seepage on the suction caisson installation process in homogenous sand. We also investigate the effects of seepage conditions on soil resistance to caisson penetration with a particular focus on how frictional and tip resistances are differently affected. For this purpose, a series of numerical models are developed using FLAC3D. These models are used to investigate the variation of suction pressure during caisson installation in homogenous sand and to predict the amount of suction required to penetrate the caisson to a certain depth. An explicit strategy is used for each embedment depth, which consists of updating current suction based on displacement history available after the previous prescribed displacement increment. The numerical models are developed for different caisson sizes and wall thicknesses to study the effects of caisson geometry on soil resistance during caisson installation. Problem dimensions are normalised with respect to the diameter of the caisson in order to obtain the results that can be applied to any caisson size. The results showed that suction pressure tends to increase with the embedment depth. Additionally, the overall behaviour and the pressure variation with depth are similar for caissons of different sizes and wall thicknesses. Finally, in order to validate the developed numerical models, data from centrifuge tests are investigated and compared with the results obtained from this study. The developed finite difference models are found to be in good agreement with centrifuge tests, in particular for thicker caissons (t/D = 1%).
Bibliographical noteCopyright: 2015 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- installation in sand
- normalised problem
- suction caisson foundation