The paper examines the mechanism of pile installation by vertical jet fluidization in saturated sand in order to define the constitutive parameters that control installation geometry and pile depth of embedment. A series of laboratory model tests representative of offshore torpedo piles was carried out using downwardly directed vertical water jets in both medium and dense sands. Measurements from model tests at three different scales indicate that the geometry of fluidized cavities is not influenced by the initial density of the sand and that the perturbed zone is constrained to a distance of about two pile diameters from the pile centerline during pile installation. Following the laws of dimensional analysis, an expression for the embedment of fluidized piles is derived and shows that penetration depth is a function of pile weight and geometry, fluidized water jet flow rate and velocity, as well as the soil and fluid properties. Penetration is shown to increase with increasing flow rate and pile weight and decreasing soil relative density. Although the results have to be validated by tests at larger scales to prove compatibility with the full-scale behavior, model tests indicate maximum embedment depth of the order of 50 times the pile diameter.

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