Interpreting strain gage data from deep foundation (pile) axial load tests is usually assumed to be a simple calculation. The measured strain at any point in the test is multiplied by the computed Young’s modulus E of the pile to obtain stress. The stress is then multiplied by the cross-sectional area A to derive the load carried by the pile at the elevation of the strain gage. However, if the product of A and E (the axial pile stiffness) is nonlinear, the load-strain path must be considered and an incremental approach taken in order to approximate the true load value. Concrete cast-in-place piles may develop transverse tensile cracks, either due to soil restraint during curing or as a result of applied tensile loads. As such cracks open and close, the resultant axial pile stiffness will change significantly and abruptly, and the assumption of a constant stiffness can lead to significant error when computing loads from strain gages. This paper presents the mathematical derivation of the incremental load-strain calculation and case histories to illustrate the method.
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