Numerical Analysis of a Laterally Loaded Shaft Constructed Within and MSE Wall


Drilled shafts have been widely used to support lateral loads from superstructures. For typical applications, design methods are available to generate lateral load versus displacement curves and to estimate ultimate lateral capacity and displacement of the drilled shaft under a certain lateral load. However, occasionally drilled shafts have to be constructed within the reinforced zones of MSE walls, for instance drilled shafts supporting sound walls, traffic signs, billboards, and other superstructures. Under these circumstances, existing design methods are not applicable because of: (1) the limited horizontal extent of the soil mass; (2) the resistance from reinforcement; and (3) the influence of MSE wall facing. In this regard, a full-scale field study was conducted to investigate the behavior of shafts within the MSE wall, subjected to lateral loads. The test wall was 43 m long and 6 m high and constructed with layers of uniaxial geogrid and selected backfill. Three-dimensional numerical analyses were performed prior to the construction of this test wall (i.e., Class-A prediction) to guide its design and after the field test using the actual material properties (i.e., Class-C prediction). The selected test shaft for the analyses in this study was located at 1.8 m behind the wall facing. The numerical results from the Class-A and Class-C predictions are compared with the field data. The study showed that the Class-A prediction provided useful information for the design of the test wall and development of field test details. The Class-C prediction improved the overall accuracy of the calculations and could serve as a reference for future study.


Engineering Program

Document Type





numerical modeling, drilled shaft, laterally loaded MSE wall

Publication Date


Journal Title

Geotextiles and Geomembranes