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This paper presents a three dimensional limit method based on the upper bound theory for the stability of suction bucket foundations of offshore platforms. The bucket embedded in soil is subjected to a lateral load applied above the mud line. In order to simulate the lateral load, a fictitious soil layer is assumed, having a thickness equals to the vertical distance from the load point to the surface of the foundation. The unit weight and shear strength of the fictitious soil are set to be zero. The soil–bucket failure mechanism is approximated by a series of prisms. The three dimensional limit method starts from establishing a compatible velocity field and obtains the factor of safety by the energy and work balance equation. Optimization is followed to approach the critical failure mechanism that offers the minimum factor of safety. Two different basal surfaces are incorporated, i.e. an arbitrarily defined failure surface and a partly elliptical failure surface. Results of centrifuge modeling of bucket foundations are used to verify the method. The arbitrary failure surface provides more reasonable prediction than the partly elliptical failure surface. Being a multi-variable dependent problem, further investigation is needed to search for the critical failure mechanism.
Journal: Ocean Engineering - Volume 37, Issues 8–9, June 2010, Pages 790–799