Pile foundations near the crest of a slope are often required to resist lateral loads. This is particularly important for piles at the abutments of bridges. However, limited full-scale test data are available to indicate how the lateral resistance of a pile would be affected when it is located near the crest of a slope. To investigate the effect of a slope on lateral pile resistance, three full scale lateral load tests were conducted on an instrumented steel pipe pile. For the first test, the pile was laterally loaded in horizontal ground. For the second test the pile was at the crest of a 30 degree slope and in the third test the pile was placed three diameters behind the crest of the 30 degree slope. The soil around the pile consisted of clean sand compacted to about 95% of the modified Proctor maximum unit weight for all three tests. Laboratory and in-situ direct shear tests indicated that the friction angle of the sand was approximately 39 degrees. The pile was instrumented with strain gages at approximately 1.5 ft intervals along its length so that the bending moment versus depth profile could be determined. Pile head load, deflection, and rotation were also measured. Based on the results, the presence of the slope decreased the ultimate lateral resistance of the pile-soil system by approximately 25% and 10% for tests two and three, respectively. The presence of the slope also resulted in an increase in the maximum bending moment of approximately 40% and 30% for tests two and three, respectively. Analyses using LPILE matched the lateral resistance for the pile in horizontal ground, but significantly overestimated the decrease in resistance due to the sloping ground. A mathematical model was developed to predict the ultimate strength of a pile located some distance from the crest of a cohesionless sloping profile. Parametric test results using the model were within 2.6 % of the measured results of tests two and three.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





lateral, full-scale tests, sand, slope, resistance ratio, lateral capacity, slope effect, sandy slope, crest distance, soil research, piles, pile test, lateral capacity