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Foundation Failures

CE 164 1st Semester 2016-2017 (A. A. Acacio)


Lecture Notes 2
There are three situations in which we can encounter foundation problems:
1.) Wrong understanding of the ground with the correct application of a geotechnical
solution.
WRONG INTERPRETATION OF THE SOIL, CORRECT ANALYSIS
2.) Correct understanding of the ground with an incorrect application of a
geotechnical solution.
CORRECT SOIL INTERPRETATION, WRONG ANALYSIS
3.) Wrong understanding, wrong solution.
The solution to a geotechnical problem is then reduced to the proper understanding
of the ground conditions with the proper application of the most feasible geotechnical
solution:
UNDERSTAND THE GROUND,
APPLY THE CORRECT GEOTECHNICAL SOLUTON
Foundations fail due to:
1.) Geologic Instability the geologic conditions in the ground may adversely
affect the stability of the entire project area. Slope failures are caused by
geologic instability.
2.) Very High Foundation Stresses the design loads are exceeded. Additional
stresses are induced during earthquakes. Design and loading changes in the
structure also induce additional stresses. Constructing additional floors years
after a building has been built induce very high stresses that lead to catastrophic
failures.
3.) Gradual (long term) Degradation (weathering) of the Ground exposed
surfaces can weather and cause instability of the ground. Weathering can be
induced by air, water, heat and chemical reaction.
4.) Continuous Settlement - common for clayey soils. Settlement is a long term
problem and should always be considered for structures constructed on
compressible ground.

5.) Development of Excess Pore Water Pressure excess pore water pressures
are developed during earthquakes thereby reducing the effective stresses in the
soil. Reduced effective stresses reduce the bearing capacity of the ground.
Preventing foundation failures would then become the biggest responsibility of a
geotechnical engineer. In the design of any foundation system, the following
priorities should be set:
1.) SAFETY a foundation should be safe enough to support the structural
loads that need to be transmitted into the underlying ground. The ground
should provide adequate support.
2.) COST EFFECTIVENESS the cost of a foundation solution should be
kept low to justify the implementation of the project.
3.) CONSTRUCTABILITY a foundation solution should be constructed by
locally available methods, unless the safety of the structure is greatly
compromised.
Sometimes, the cost of a geotechnical solution becomes very high in which it
becomes impractical. The only option is to accept the risks involved.
Example: Instability of slopes along a very long stretch of a road