3D numerical study of the performance of geosynthetic-reinforced and pile-supported embankments

Tuan A. Pham, Daniel Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Geosynthetic-reinforced and pile-supported (GRPS) systems provide an economic and effective solution for embankments. The load transfer mechanisms are tridimensional ones and depend on the interaction between linked elements, such as piles, soil, and geosynthetics. This paper presents an extensive parametric study using three-dimensional numerical calculations for geosynthetic-reinforced and pile-supported embankments. The numerical analysis is conducted for both cohesive and non-cohesive embankment soils to emphasize the fill soil cohesion effect on the load and settlement efficacy of GRPS embankments. The influence of the embankment height, soft ground elastic modulus, improvement area ratio, geosynthetic tensile stiffness and fill soil properties are also investigated on the arching efficacy, GR membrane efficacy, differential settlement, geosynthetic tension, and settlement reduction performance. The numerical results indicated that the GRPS system shows a good performance for reducing the embankment settlements. The ratio of the embankment height to the pile spacing, subsoil stiffness, and fill soil properties are the most important design parameters to be considered in a GRPS design. The results also suggested that the fill soil cohesion strengthens the soil arching effect, and increases the loading efficacy. However, the soil arching mobilization is not necessarily at the peak state but could be reached at the critical state. Finally, the geosynthetic strains are not uniform along the geosynthetic, and the maximum geosynthetic strain occurs at the pile edge. The geosynthetic deformed shape is a curve that is closer to a circular shape than a parabolic one.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1342
Number of pages24
JournalSoils and Foundations
Issue number5
Early online date6 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Cohesive soils
  • Finite difference method
  • Geosynthetic reinforcement
  • Load transfer mechanism
  • Numerical analysis
  • Parametric study
  • Pile-supported embankment
  • Unit cell model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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