Small-strain, non-linear elastic Winkler models for uniaxial loading of suction caisson foundations

S. K. Suryasentana, H. J. Burd, B. W. Byrne, A. Shonberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Soils exhibit non-linear stress–strain behaviour, even at relatively low strain levels. Existing Winkler models for suction caisson foundations cannot capture this small-strain, non-linear soil behaviour. To address this issue, this paper describes a new non-linear elastic Winkler model for the uniaxial loading of suction caissons. The soil reaction curves employed in the model are formulated as scaled versions of the soil response as observed in standard laboratory tests (e.g. triaxial or simple shear tests). The scaling relationships needed to map the observed soil-element behaviour onto the soil reaction curves employed in the Winkler model are determined from an extensive numerical study employing three-dimensional finite-element analysis. Key features of the proposed Winkler model include: computational efficiency, wide applicability (it can be used for caisson design in clay, silt or sand) and design convenience (the required soil reaction curves can be determined straightforwardly from standard laboratory test results). The proposed model is suitable for small and intermediate caisson displacements (corresponding to fatigue and serviceability limit state conditions) but it is not applicable to ultimate limit state analyses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalGeotechnique Letters
Issue number4
Early online date5 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023


  • footings/foundations
  • numerical modelling
  • offshore engineering
  • soil/structure interaction


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