Using discrete-element method hindcasting of screw pile performance for practical design

Yaseen Sharif, Michael Brown, Matteo Ciantia, Alan Lutenegger, Pavan Kumar, Shantanu Patra, Sumanta Haldar

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Screw piles have been used to support a variety of structures due to their ease of installation and high axial capacity. Recently, screw piles have been proposed as an alternative foundation solution for offshore renewable structures due to their quiet or silent installation. Due to their variable geometry, design and prediction of installation requirements and its effect on in-service capacity may be challenging. In this research study, the discrete-element method (DEM) is used to numerically recreate a series of onshore field tests. The aim of the study is to investigate the ability of DEM to be used as a practical design tool for the design and deployment of screw piles. In this case study, the effect of the geometric helix pitch on the installation torque and tensile capacity of screw piles installed into sand is investigated. DEM results show that the geometric pitch of a screw pile appears to have little effect on the installation torque. The results show that DEM has the potential to be used as a practical design procedure for complex foundation installation where the simulation needs to capture installation effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalGeotechnique Letters
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Screw piles
  • Discrete element method (DEM)
  • Pile foundation
  • pile testing
  • piles & piling
  • geotechnical engineering
  • computational mechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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