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KMS / TECHNICAL DEPARTMENT

TECHNICAL NOTE 010

Raft Foundations,
s t Plots &
SPT-N Values
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Keywords
Raft foundations, s t plot, SPT-N values, soil friction angles

Version 02, Jul 2013

An s t plot is shown in the following figure (using the


laboratory test results for a site in Yuen Long).
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Introduction
Large raft foundations give very high allowable bearing
capacity, and in some cases, the bearing capacity might even
be higher than the equivalent bearing capacity of driven H-piles.
For large rafts, settlement becomes the controlling factor.
Triaxial compression test results, if available, can be used to
prepare an s t plot for determination of soil friction angle(s).
The SPT-N values (field test results) can also be used to
correlate the soil friction angle and the soil compactness,
allowing one to gain some quick feel of the soil bearing capacity.

400

s t Plots
Laboratory tests are normally conducted as part of a
ground investigation programme. Triaxial compression tests on
soil samples would usually be specified by a Designer.
Depending on the laboratory report format, the triaxial test
results are presented quite differently, ranging from full report
on 3, p, q, s, t to just some of these parameters. The most
useful values of c and are usually not reported because
these values are subject to interpretation by the Designer.
For the purpose of determining the soil friction angle, , we
only need to focus on the values of s and t, where:
s
t

= (1 + 3) / 2
= (1 3) / 2

where 1 is the applied axial load, and 3 is the different


effective confining pressure(s) in triaxial tests, ie, Cell Pressure
minus Measured Pore Water Pressure in soil sample.
NB The values of s and t are stated readily in the test
report, and there is no need to re-calculate them using
the above equations.

TECHNICAL NOTE 010


Version 02, Jul 2013

300
200
100

1.0

2.0

500

t (kPa)

Synopsis
This note explains, through examples, the use of triaxial test
results to prepare s t plots for determination of soil friction
angle(s), . Published correlation data (Meyerhoff, 1956)
between SPT-N values and is provided for counterchecking
the result. Given the value, the allowable bearing capacity of
shallow footing (or raft foundations) can be quickly assessed.

0
0

200

400

600

800

1000

s' (kPa)

Two trend lines are shown in the above plot : the broken line is
a best-fit line for the available data, and the solid line is a
lower-bound line. The gradient of these lines is tan, and the
effective soil friction angle, is given by:

= sin-1 (tan)

In the above plot, the values of tan and are as follows:


Lines

tan

Best-Fit

35

0.613

42

Lower-Bound

27

0.450

30

3.0

SPT-N Values & Soil Friction Angles


The correlation between SPT-N values and granular soil
friction angels are shown in the table below for quick reference.
SPT-N Values

Soil Friction
Angles,

Compactness

<4

< 30

Very loose

4 10

30 35

Loose

10 30

35 40

Medium Dense

30 50

40 45

Dense

> 50

> 45

Very dense

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KMS / TECHNICAL DEPARTMENT

Q1

Q2
B
L
h
z

= 50m
= 50m (into paper direction)
= 8m
= 2m
s = 18 kN/m3
w = 10 kN/m3
' = 8 kN/m3
= 30
FOS = 3

Qn
z

qo

The SPT-N value in the drill logs for the site in Yuen Long
ranges from 10 to 24. According to the correlation table, the
soil is considered compact and the corresponding soil friction
angle is within the range of 35 40, which is in reasonable
agreement with value given by the best-fit line in the s t plot.
Bearing Capacity of Raft Foundations / Footing
The bearing capacity of a large raft foundation can be
very high. An assessment is made, based on GEOGUIDE 1, for
a raft foundation having the arrangement shown in the diagram
above.

100.0
30.1
22.4
18.4

4.0

The ultimate bearing capacity, qult is given by the following


equation (Please note that the cohesion term, c, for granular
soil is usually small and can be ignored):
qult

10.0
Nc
Nq
N

1.0
0

' B N s + qo Nq sq

10

20

30

40

50

where N and Nq are bearing capacity factors, and s and sq are


correction factors to account for footing shape.

0.1
The bearing capacity factors, Nc, Nq, N have been derived by
different soil mechanics researchers. Those used in GEOGUIDE
1 Figure A2 are shown in the graph on the right. The
calculated values of these factors are shown below for = 30.
Nc

= 30.1 ;

sc

= 1.61

Nq

= 22.4 ;

sq

= 1.58

= 18.4 ;

= 0.60

Also, qo

Thus, qult

= 182 + 8(8 2)
= 84 kPa
= 0.585018.40.6 + 8422.41.58
= 5180.9 kPa

The allowable bearing capacity, qall is given by applying a factor


of safety (FOS) to the qult (Please note that the FOS is not
applied to the overburden pressure, qo , which is expected to
exist throughout the life time of the foundations).
qall

The allowable bearing capacity for the raft foundation having


the above parameters is approximately 1783 kPa. It is
unlikely that a field plate loading test would give prediction of
this bearing capacity, ie, using field plate loading test(s) to try
to verify the above bearing capacity will not be very meaningful.
However, an assessment of the likely settlement should be
carried out to ensure the movements are acceptable for the
proposed structures.

= [(5180.9 84) / 3] + 84
= 1782.9 kPa

TECHNICAL NOTE 010


Version 02, Jul 2013

- End -

This technical note is for internal circulation only.


For enquiry, please contact
Gary Chou
KMS / AGM (Technical)
Technical Department
Chun Wo Construction & Engineering Co Ltd
E gary.chou@chunwo.com
T 3758 8379
F 2744 6937

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