Deep foundations like auger-cast piles and drilled shafts frequently extend through liquefiable sand layers and bear on non-liquefiable layers at depth. When liquefaction occurs, the skin friction on the shaft decreases to zero, and then increases again as the pore water pressure dissipates and the layer begins to settle, or compact. As the effective stress increases and the liquefiable layer settles, along with the overlaying layers, negative skin from the soil acts on the shaft. To investigate the loss of skin friction and the development of negative skin friction, soil-induced load was measured in three instrumented, full-scale auger-cast piles after blast-induced liquefaction at a site near Christchurch, New Zealand. The test piles were installed to depths of 8.5 m, 12 m, and 14 m to investigate the influence of pile depth on response to liquefaction. The 8.5 m pile terminated within the liquefied layer while the 12 m and 14 m piles penetrated the liquefied sand and were supported on denser sands. Following the first blast, where no load was applied to the piles, liquefaction developed throughout a 9-m thick layer. As the liquefied sand reconsolidated, the sand settled about 30 mm (0.3% volumetric strain) while pile settlements were limited to a range of 14 to 21 mm (0.54 to 0.84 in). Because the ground settled relative to the piles, negative skin friction developed with a magnitude equal to about 50% of the positive skin friction measured in a static pile load test. Following the second blast, where significant load was applied to the piles, liquefaction developed throughout a 6-m thick layer. During reconsolidation, the liquefied sand settled a maximum of 80 mm (1.1% volumetric strain) while pile settlements ranged from 71 to 104 mm (2.8 to 4.1 in). The reduced side friction in the liquefied sand led to full mobilization of side friction and end-bearing resistance for all test piles below the liquefied layer and significant pile settlement. Because the piles generally settled relative to the surrounding ground, positive skin friction developed as the liquefied sand reconsolidated. Once again, skin friction during reconsolidation of the liquefied sand was equal to about 50% of the positive skin friction obtained from a static load test before liquefaction.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





liquefaction, downdrag, auger-cast piles, pile load test, settlement, drilled shafts