Byron Walter Byrne

Doctor of Philosophy, Magdalen College, Oxford University, Trinity Term 2000

Investigations of Suction Caissons in Dense Sand


Offshore structures are used in a variety of applications ranging from the traditional oil and gas extraction facilities to emerging renewable energy concepts. These structures must be secured to the seabed in an efficient and cost effective manner. A novel approach is to use shallow inverted buckets as foundations, installed by suction, in place of the more usual piles. These foundations lead to cost savings through reduction in materials and in time required for installation. It is necessary to determine how these foundations perform under typical offshore loading conditions so that design calculations may be developed. This thesis presents experimental data from a comprehensive series of investigations aimed at determining the important mechanisms to consider in the design of these shallow foundations for dense sand.

Initially the long term loading behaviour (e.g. wind and current) was investigated by conducting three degree of freedom loading {V:M/2R:H} tests on a foundation embedded in dry sand. The results were interpreted through existing work-hardening plasticity theories. The analysis of the data has suggested a number of improved modelling features. Cyclic and transient tests, representing wave loading, were carried out on a foundation embedded in an oil saturated sand. The novel feature of the cyclic loading was that a 'pseudo-random' load history (based on the 'NewWave' theory) was used to represent realistic loading paths. Of particular interest was the tensile load capacity of the foundation. The results observed suggested that for tensile loading serviceability requirements rather than capacity may govern design. Under combined-load cyclic conditions the results indicated that conventional plasticity theory would not provide a sufficient description of response. A new theory, termed 'continuous hyperplasticity' was used, reproducing the results with impressive accuracy. Surprisingly, under the conditions investigated, loading rate was found to have a negligible effect on response.

Entire thesis (8.9MB, pdf)

This thesis can also be downloaded from the ORA website