Free strain analysis of the performance of vertical drains for soft soil improvement
Improvement of soft clay deposit by preloading with vertical drains is one of the most popular techniques followed worldwide. These drains accelerate the rate of consolidation by shortening the drainage path. Although the analytical and numerical solutions available are mostly based on equal strain hypothesis, the adoption of free strain analysis is more realistic because of the flexible nature of the imposed surcharge loading, especially for the embankment loading used for transport infrastructure. In this paper, a numerical model has been developed based on free strain hypothesis for understanding the behaviour of soft ground improvement by vertical drain with preloading. The unit cell analogy is used and the effect of smear has been incorporated. The model has been validated by comparing with available field test results and thereafter, a hypothetical case study is done using the available field data for soft clay deposit existing in the eastern part of Australia and important conclusions are drawn therefrom.