Serviceability design for geosynthetic reinforced column supported embankments

Daniel J. King, Abdelmalek Bouazza, Joel R. Gniel, R. Kerry Rowe, Ha H. Bui

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68 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, geosynthetic reinforced column supported embankments (GRCSEs) have become an increasingly popular design solution for road and rail infrastructure constructed over soft soil sites. However, the serviceability behaviour and deformation that often govern the suitability of their design is not well understood. This is due, in part, to the difficulties in describing the arching stress development in the load transfer platform (LTP). This paper highlights the need for coupled arching stress-deformation models to describe accurately serviceability behaviour. This approach contrasts the widely adopted two-step design approach, which uses limit-equilibrium models that de-couple the arching stress-deformation relationship to describe ultimate limit state behaviour. Using an analytical example, an arching stress/deformation model and an empirical relationship (developed by others) relating base LTP settlement to surface settlement, the relationship between serviceability behaviour and soft soil parameters is highlighted and the conditions leading to progressive collapse in GRCSEs are described. The approach presented provides a means to predict serviceability behaviour, and at the same time, raises questions about the long-term performance and the manner in which acceptable performance has been achieved in the short-term in several field case studies. In particular, those constructed at, or near, a minimum embankment height.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-279
Number of pages19
JournalGeotextiles and Geomembranes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Arching
  • Column supported embankments
  • Field case studies
  • Geosynthetics
  • Ground reaction curve
  • Load transfer platforms
  • Piled embankments

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