DEM study of particle scale effect on plain and rotary jacked pile behaviour in granular materials

Benjamin Cerfontaine (Lead / Corresponding author), Matteo O. Ciantia, Michael Brown, D. J. White, Yaseen U. Sharif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
74 Downloads (Pure)


The capacity of open-ended piles strongly depends on the potential plugging occurring during installation. The Discrete Element Method (DEM) is particularly suitable to the study of pile plugging, as it can model large soil deformation. However, DEM simulation of the 3D boundary value problems is computationally expensive, and particle upscaling is usually used to reduce the number of particles modelled. In this paper, two granular beds were created with the same average porosity, initial stress field and contact parameters, but different particle scales. Two pile geometries were installed by plain and rotary jacking. Normalised results show that the pile penetration mechanism is strongly affected by the particle scale. Larger particles lead to earlier pile plugging, higher shaft resistance and require a greater force to penetrate the ground. This effect can be linked to a modified penetration mechanism, with larger shear zones and less well defined “nose cone” under the pile tip for larger particles. Changing particle scaling has a neutral effect on the total penetration resistance of a rotary jacked pile, but reduces the base penetration and increases the plug resistance. Maximising the ratio of particle scale to wall thickness is key to adequately capturing the pile coring mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105559
Number of pages14
JournalComputers and Geotechnics
Early online date6 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Piles
  • Plugging
  • Discrete Element Method
  • Granular material
  • Pile jacking
  • Rotary jacking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Computer Science Applications


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