Recent study indicates that the response of rigid passive piles is dominated by elastic pile–soil interaction and may be estimated using theory for lateral piles. The difference lies in that passive piles normally are associated with a large scatter of the ratio of maximum bending moment over maximum shear force and induce a limiting pressure that is ~1/3 that on laterally loaded piles. This disparity prompts this study.
This paper proposes pressure-based pile–soil models and develops their associated solutions to capture response of rigid piles subjected to soil movement. The impact of soil movement was encapsulated into a power-law distributed loading over a sliding depth, and load transfer model was adopted to mimic the pile–soil interaction. The solutions are presented in explicit expressions and can be readily obtained. They are capable of capturing responses of model piles in a sliding soil owing to the impact of sliding depth and relative strength between sliding and stable layer on limiting force prior to ultimate state. In comparison with available solutions for ultimate state, this study reveals the 1/3 limiting pressure (of the active piles) on passive piles was induced by elastic interaction. The current models employing distributed pressure for moving soil are more pertinent to passive piles (rather than plastic soil flow). An example calculation against instrumented model piles is provided, which demonstrates the accuracy of the current solutions for design slope stabilising piles.