Abstract

It is evident from several studies that ultimate bearing capacities calculated by traditional methods are conservative and subjective. For large civil structures founded on spread footings, cost-effective and safer foundation could be achieved by adopting optimum ultimate bearing capacity values that are based on an objective and pragmatic analysis. There is a pressing need to modify the existing methods for accurate estimation of the bearing capacities of rocks for spread footings. In practice, foundation bearing capacities of rock masses are often estimated using the presumptive values from Building Officials Code Administrators, National Building Code, and methods adopted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. However, the estimated values are often not realistic, and site-specific analyses are essential. In this study, geotechnical reports and drill-log data from successful geotechnical design projects founded on a wide range of granites in eastern Tennessee were consulted. Different published methods were used to calculate ultimate bearing capacity of rock mass. These methods included Peck, Hansen and Thornburn, Hoek and Brown, Army Corps of Engineers, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and Terzaghi's general bearing capacity equations. Wide variation was observed in the calculated ultimate bearing capacity values, which ranged over about two orders of magnitude. Only two of the methods provided realistic results when validated with plate-load test data from similar rocks.

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