Stone column treatment is commonly used to mitigate liquefaction hazard in sandy soils. Research and experience indicate that this method is effective for clean sands but that it may not be effective for silts and sands with fines contents greater than 15-20%. An alternative to the stone column method involves supplementing stone column treatment with pre-fabricated vertical wick drains installed prior to the stone columns installation. Although this method is used in practice, there has not been a formal academic study of its effectiveness. This thesis evaluates seven different case histories where wick drains were used and one where wick drains were not used, for comparison purposes. The site locations varied as well as the soil properties and treatment plans. CPT testing was done at 3 sites and SPT testing was performed at the other 5 sites. CPT data were correlated to SPT data to facilitate comparisons. One of the case histories includes a unique study in which three different variations of the stone column treatment were applied at the same site, providing a direct comparison of the effectiveness of each method. A 26% area replacement ratio (Ar) with drains was determined to be more effective overall than a 26% Ar without drains and more effective in increasing low initial blow counts than the 34% Ar without drains. The areas with drains were more likely to exceed the minimum project criteria consistently throughout the site. Significant scatter were observed in the results and probable causes for the scatter are noted. Final blow count coefficients of variation ranged from 28% to 77%. Increased fines contents required increased Ar in order to maintain similar average final blow counts. Site improvements were evaluated separately and collectively. Individual site results were compared to clean sand curves developed by Baez (1995). Sites with average fines contents less than 20% which were improved using drains and an 11-15% Ar treatment were comparable to clean sand sites without drains and with 5-10% Ar. To achieve similar improvement at sites with 40-46% fines necessitated drains and Ar values of 23-26%. Design recommendations are provided.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





liquefaction, silty sand, stone column, wick drain, liquefaction mitigation, vibrocompaction, soil improvement, pre-fabricated vertical drain