The treatment of early age cyclic loading (EAC) on pile-sleeve grouted connections is one of the challenging problems encountered in the design of offshore jacket structures. ISO 19902 appears to be the only offshore structural design code that quantifies the strength de-rating due to EAC. However, the mechanism of EAC considered in the ISO standard is little understood. Main provision is that the strength reduction due to EAC is considered to be linearly proportional to the compressive strength of the grout. This provision is conservatively applicable for medium strength grouts. However, it is over-conservative when modern high-performance grouts are used, and it can be further argued that it actually loses its physical meaning. Thus, a further investigation into the mechanics of the problem is deemed beneficial in order to understand better its underlying mechanism.
Using existing experimental evidence and a simple mechanical model, it is shown that the EAC mechanism considered in ISO 19902 triggers the grout matrix failure mechanism of the grouted connections. This behavior is characteristic of segregating grout materials. The benefit of the approach followed is that it links the interpretation of EAC to the grout material properties. The phenomenon is then understood using methods and experimental results that are well established in concrete mechanics. After a comparison with existing experimental evidence on grouted connections and concrete members, it is suggested that the strength drop for the specific shearing mechanism is independent of the uniaxial compressive strength of the grout material.