Combined loading of strip footings on sand-over-clay with layers of varying extents

Ali Haghighi, Pan Hu, Joe G. Tom, Kristian Krabbenhoft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study describes the numerical analyses performed to investigate the bearing capacity of strip footings placed on granular (frictional) material overlying soft clay subjected to combined vertical-horizontal and vertical-moment loading. A plane-strain finite element limit analysis is used to estimate the limiting load combinations for two layer soil geometries where the top layer is either fully extended in the horizontal direction or it is of limited horizontal extent, representative of rock or gravel berms commonly used in offshore practice. Bearing capacity envelopes for combined vertical, horizontal and/or moment loading are well-documented in the literature for cases of footings resting on single sand or clay soil. For two-layer sand-over-clay soil with a horizontally extensive top layer, the vertical-horizontal and vertical-moment envelopes initially coincide with the envelope for a single sand layer at low vertical loads, but show an abrupt reduction in the horizontal or moment capacity as the vertical load increases beyond a certain critical vertical load. The critical vertical load is found to vary as a function of the thickness and the lateral extent of the upper layer. Relationships are presented to enable the vertical-horizontal and vertical-moment envelopes to be estimated based on the problem geometry and material properties. The findings in this study provide insight into the response of subsea foundations placed on rock or gravel of limited extent overlying a clay seabed as well as the general response of shallow foundations on two-layer profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
JournalSoils and Foundations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Clays
  • Finite element limit analysis
  • Rock
  • Sands
  • Strip footing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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