To investigate the liquefaction mitigation capability of Rammed Aggregate Piers® (RAP) in silty sand, blast liquefaction testing was performed at a soil profile treated with a full-scale RAP group relative to an untreated soil profile. The RAP group consisted of 16 piers in a 4x4 arrangement at 2 m center-to-center spacing extending to a depth of 9.5 m. Blasting around the untreated area induced liquefaction (ru ≈1.0) from 3 m to 11 m depth, producing several large sand boils, and causing settlement of 10 cm. In contrast, installation of the RAP group reduced excess pore water pressure (ru ≈0.75), eliminated sand ejecta, and reduced average settlement to between 2 to 5 cm when subjected to the same blast charges. Although the liquefaction-induced settlement in the untreated area could be accurately estimated using the CPT-based settlement approach proposed by Zhang et al. (2002), settlement in the RAP treated area was significantly overestimated with the same approach even after considering RAP treatment-induced densification. Analyses indicate that settlement after RAP treatment could be successfully estimated from elastic compression of the sand and RAP acting as a composite material. The composite reinforced soil mass, surrounded by liquefied soil, transferred load to the base of the RAP group inducing settlement in the non-liquefied sand below the group. This test program identifies a mechanism that explains how settlement was reduced for the RAP group despite the elevated ru values in the silty sands that are often difficult to improve with vibratory methods.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





Rammed Aggregate Piers, silty sand, liquefaction, liquefaction mitigation, liquefaction-induced settlement, blast-induced liquefaction



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Engineering Commons