Large scale static lateral load tests were performed on a pile cap under varying sand backfill configurations: no backfill, full-width dense sand backfill, dense sand slip plane confined backfill, and two configurations of dense sand MSE wall confined backfills. Efforts were made to maintain the relative compaction of the backfills for each of the tests near the same value. The MSE wall panel arrangement was varied to determine the effect of different reinforcement configurations on the passive resistance and wall panel displacement. Passive force-displacement curves were generated from each test. It was found that the MSE design manual provided reasonable estimates of pullout resistance of bar mats in dense sand, and that the passive resistance of a soil backfill confined by MSE walls can be calculated with an increased friction angle using a log-spiral approach. Also, the amount the triaxial friction angle can be increased depends on how much the MSE wall panels displace outward. Correlations were developed between the pressure on the pile cap and that on the MSE wall panels near the pile cap. Generally, the pressure on the wall panels was less than 10% of that which was on the adjacent pile cap, and decreased as the distance from the pile cap increased. Finally, it was found that while limiting the backfill width decreases the ultimate passive resistance of the backfill, if the backfill is confined in a plane strain configuration the passive resistance per unit width is higher than that for an unconfined backfill.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





passive force, MSE walls, abutments, pile caps, lateral resistance