### Optimization of the Ultimate Bearing Capacity of Reinforced Soft Soils through the Concept of the Critical Length of Stone Columns

Nour El Islam Boumekik, Mohamed Labed, Mekki Mellas, Abdelhak Mabrouki

#### Abstract

The objective of this paper is to develop an analytical equation based on the concept of the critical-length of columns in order to optimize the ultimate bearing-capacity of soft soils, supporting a strip footing and reinforced by a group of floating stone columns. Optimization procedure was performed on three-dimensional numerical models simulated on the Flac3D computer code, for various soft-soils with different undrained-cohesions (Cu=15–35kPa), reinforced by columns of varying lengths (L) and area replacement ratio (As=10-40%), considering different footing widths B. Obtained results indicate that the optimal bearing-capacity ratio (Ultimate bearing-capacity of reinforced soil/unreinforced soil) is reached for the column critical-length ratio (Lc/B) and increase with increase of the later ratio, depending  on As and Cu. Analysis of results also showed that the optimal values of the bearing-capacity ratio in the reinforced soils remain bounded between the lower and higher values (1.28-2.32), respectively for minimal and maximal values of the critical-length ratio (1.1) and (4.4). Based on these results, a useful analytical equation is proposed by the authors, for the expression of the critical-length; thus ensuring an optimal pre-dimensioning of the stone columns. The proposed equation was compared with the data available in the literature and showed good agreement.

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#### Keywords

Stone Columns; Critical-length; Footing; Ultimate Bearing Capacity; Numerical Simulation; Soil Reinforcement.

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DOI: 10.28991/cej-2021-03091737

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