Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

David J. White


Testing small-scale prototype pier foundations to evaluate engineering behavior is an alternative to full-scale testing that facilitates testing of several piers and pier groups at relatively low cost. In this study, various pier systems and pier groups at one tenth scale were subjected to static vertical loading under controlled conditions to evaluate stiffness, bearing capacity, and group efficiency. Pier length, material properties and methods of installation were evaluated.

Pier length to diameter ratios varied between four and eight. A unique soil pit with dimensions of 2.1 m in width, 1.5 m in length and 2.0 m in depth was designed to carry out this research. The test pit was filled with moisture conditioned and compacted Western Iowa loess. A special load test frame was designed and fabricated to provide up to 25,000 kg vertical reaction force for load testing. A load cell and displacement instrumentation was setup to capture the load test data.

Alternative materials to conventional cement concrete were studied. The pier materials evaluated in this study included compacted aggregate, cement stabilized silt, cementitious grouts, and fiber reinforced silt.

Key findings from this study demonstrated that (1) the construction method influences the behavior of aggregate piers, (2) the composition of the pier has a significant impact on the stiffness, (3) group efficiencies were found to be a function of pier length and pier material, (4) in comparison to full-scale testing the scaled piers were found to produce a stiffer response with load-settlement and bearing capacities to be similar.

Further, although full-scale test results were not available for all pier materials, the small-scale testing provided a means for comparing results between pier systems. Finally, duplicate pier tests for a given length and material were found to be repeatable.


Copyright Owner

Maxim Mikhaylovich Prokudin



Date Available


File Format


File Size

206 pages