Volume 46, N. 1, January-March 2023 | DOWNLOAD PDF(145 downloads)
Soft ground improvement techniques have evolved substantially in Brazil in recent years. However, their application in soft and very soft clays requires a good understanding of the fundamentals of ground improvement techniques suited to the problem as well as the actual field behavior when implemented on a real scale. This paper describes some of the most widely used ground improvement techniques in the context of very soft clays in Brazil. The techniques described in the paper use prefabricated vertical drains (PVD) such as vacuum preloading; or combine PVD and rigid inclusion, such as CPR grouting; or are purely column-like elements such as piled embankments (including those executed with the deep mixing technique, DSM); or combine column-like elements with the drainage function, such as stone columns and geosynthetic encased columns; or use cementitious binders such as shallow soil mixing. The paper reference condition is a soft clay foundation in which no strengthening is implemented, such as, an embankment with basal reinforcement or soft clay with vertical prefabricated drains, or the use of vacuum preloading to speed up the consolidation rate. The applications of the ground improvement techniques are illustrated by case histories, numerical analyses, or physical models. Different types of measurements are used to evaluate the performance of each technique, including settlements, horizontal displacements, excess pore pressures, embankment applied stresses, stress concentration factors, and clay strength following the ground treatment. The settlement improvement factor β, the ratio between the settlements for untreated and treated conditions, is shown to be a suitable parameter to assess the degree of improvement imposed in the soft foundation by ranking the various methods in increased order of strengthening effect.