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Testing pile predictions


Imperial College launches a competition to predict performance of jet grouting enhanced piles.

Imperial College has released details of its design predictions competition which will be a key element of the Geotechnics in the new millennium symposium held at the college this September.

Entries are now being sought and already some of the major names from consulting, piling specialists and academia have expressed their intention to participate. The competition is open to all (except the IC group) and forms a major part of the college's celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of its postgraduate soil mechanics teaching.

Teams or individuals are invited to predict the performance of recent pile testing carried out during research near Dunkirk in France (see box).

The competition requires participants to predict the behaviour of a control pile (a normal open ended driven steel tube pile in sand) and a pile with a jet grouted bulb at its base. Participants may optionally enter a prediction for performance of the control pile under cyclic loading.

Intentionally the problem is complicated. 'We are not rehearsing the well known' says Imperial College's Professor Richard Jardine. 'Even with a straightforward pile test in sand the industry standard methods are only reliable to around +/-60% when predicting capacity. We are expecting plenty of scatter but the issues raised are very real to current geotechnical practice.'

Indeed one of the aims of the symposium, adds Jardine, is to show that contrary to a growing conception - 'geotechnics is a live discipline - we still have plenty to achieve though research'.

The competition closes on September 1, 1999 and entries will be judged against the results of the field testing. The winners will be announced at the college's predictions symposium on September 16.

Imperial College has set up an ingenious entry process which will allow teams to enter using a pseudonym. This is to avoid what is 'potentially an everything to loose, nothing to win situation' says Jardine.

Only the teams providing the top three predictions will be identified. The names of any anonymous entries that make the top three will be made available through the symposium website in early September. These teams will then be invited to identify themselves before the winning prediction is announced on 16 September.

Central to the competition is the appointment of CIRIA as head of an independent judging panel and competition administrator.

Further information on entry, details of site condition and construction control measures are available in a comprehensive information pack from CIRIA tel: (0171) 222 8891, or through the competition website www.geo

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