Winkler springs for axial response of suction bucket foundations in cohesionless soil

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Jacket structures mounted on suction buckets carry potential as cost-efficient foundations for next-generation 10 MW+ offshore wind turbines located in transitional water depths. Given this foundation method, resistance to overturning moment relies mainly on the axial response of the buckets. In practice, suction bucket foundations can be modelled as “Beams on Non-Linear Winkler Foundation” where soil is idealised as non-linear springs. This paper describes the derivation process of static load-transfer or t–z curves for suction buckets installed in cohesionless soil. The mathematical formulation of the curves is based on regression analysis of data obtained from 100 axisymmetric numerical models in a medium characterised by the Hardening Soil model for representing the stress–strain relationships for Frederikshavn sand, which is a typical offshore sand. Various bucket dimensions, soil properties and drainage conditions were simulated considering tension and compression, in order to describe frictional behaviour at the skirt–soil interface. The non-linear springs' properties are therefore linked to foundation diameter, friction angle and vertical overburden pressure. By superimposing the effects of all springs, load–displacement curves are generated and compared with results from available experimental and numerical studies on suction buckets, revealing reasonable agreement. It is shown that the existing t–z formulations for piles are inapplicable to large-diameter suction buckets.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoils and Foundations
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)64-79
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Friction
  • Numerical modelling
  • Load–displacement curves
  • Suction bucket
  • Soil/structure interaction


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