Cyclic direct simple shear test on soft clay at low normal stress: as applicable to offshore pipeline axial walking

2017-02-27T05:38:54Z (GMT) by Ao, Yang
Offshore pipelines play a significant role in transporting energy resources such as crude oil and natural gas from offshore platforms to processing facilities. The on-bottom stability of offshore pipelines is influenced significantly by the geotechnical conditions on the seabed. Pipelines undergo a number of thermal cycles during their operational life. At the end of each thermal cycle, some part of the expansion recovers, whereas the irrecoverable expansion accumulates at the free ends and causes the pipe to move axially in one direction, a phenomenon known as axial walking. The test results from the Monash Advanced Pipe testing System (MAPS) imply that pipe axial walking induces relative movements of the soil below the pipe. Since the pipe-soil interaction is extensively influenced by the soil response, the portion of the soil below the pipe which undergoes shearing, characterised as the shear zone, is significant for pipe axial walking assessment and thus needs thorough investigation. The research program reported here investigates the behaviour of soil within the shear zone in pipe axial walking problems. Cyclic direct simple shear tests on soft clay at low normal stress are performed as applicable to axial walking problems. The soil response in the shear zone is characterised as undrained, partially drained, or drained, based on cyclic shearing velocities and the relationship between residual shear resistance and shearing velocity is investigated. Finite element analyses are also conducted to capture the behaviour of soil within the shear zone, utilising an advanced constitutive soil model. Based on the results from both experimental work and numerical analysis, a set of data is established which can be applied in the calibration of large-scale pipe axial walking modelling, and provide guidance on the design practice of offshore pipelines when considering on-bottom stability in axial direction.