‘Underpinning of Distressed Foundations’

Written by Avinash and Purnima Prasad
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“Every now and then, failures of different types of structures are reported in the news,” say Avanish Prasad and Purnima Prasad. “Some of these failures are a result of static and dynamic loading being applied to structures beyond their life cycle. It is imperative that engineers understand the behavior of structures under different types of static and dynamic loading, and analyze a structure undergoing underpinning operations to avoid failures.”

Underpinning of Distressed Foundations, an engineering paper prepared for AREMA by the Prasads (father and daughter, the former a New York University Ph.D. candidate and MTA New York City Transit employee; the latter an NYU undergraduate), discusses the basic concept of underpinning of distressed foundations: “In general, underpinning is the method of providing additional strength to the foundation of an existing building and/or its associated infrastructure. This can be achieved by providing additional depth or increasing the soil’s bearing capacity by adding suitable supports to existing foundations. Underpinning is a repair/rehabilitation process that strengthens existing deteriorated foundations. Its main intent is to hold the structure without structural failure and differential/total settlement that would be detrimental to the structure’s integrity and function. The right underpinning method should be decided upon only after understanding the foundation structure and support, and factors responsible for foundation damage. In this paper, many types of underpinning are reviewed, and methods of analysis are presented under a variety of soil and foundation conditions. This paper also covers underpinning distressed foundations of railroads, railroad bridge piers, and abutments.”

Mud pumping represents a complex process of degradation under a railroad track foundation. In recent years, it has received an increasing amount of attention from academic and practical perspectives, even though the actual mechanisms and possible solutions are still under investigation.

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