This paper investigates the failure mechanisms of pipelines subjected to a localized loss of support. An experimental program was conducted, which consisted of a series of four centrifuge model tests containing an aluminum tube embedded in a pure dry sand backfill that was placed over an underlying rectangular rigid base moving downwards during the test. All models were built taking advantage of the longitudinal symmetry of the problem. The prototype pipe had a diameter (D) of 1.1 m and a soil cover height of about 5 D, characterizing deep burial conditions. Failure patterns were observed within a vertical section comprising the central axis of the pipe and also in four distinct vertical transverse sections along the length of the pipe in the region of ground loss. The influence of pipe stiffness and backfill density on the behavior of the system was assessed. The transverse sections showed fully developed slip surfaces starting in the vicinity of the edge of the void towards the adjacent soil mass. The mode of failure of the flexible pipes took the form of a severe deformation at the region of the shoulder and a reversal of curvature at the invert due to over-deflection. This situation was more critical in the central section. The damage experienced by the flexible pipes was noticeably more pronounced when using the looser backfill, whereas only negligible deflections were observed when using the denser backfill. The experimental results were compared with analytical predictions, which showed to be highly unconservative for the case loose backfill.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.