AbstractA geosynthetic-reinforced piled embankment situated along a newly constructed high-speed rail line was fully instrumented and monitored to explore soil arching in an equilateral-triangular arrangement of piles with circular cap configuration. During construction, the settlement and vertical stress on the pile caps and subsurface at ground level and the tensile strain in the geogrid were recorded. A modified analytical arching model is derived from the established concentric arches (CA) model to elucidate the load transfer mechanism, specifically for a triangular array of piles. The general framework assumes that the embankment load, not resting on the subsurface beneath the arches, is transferred outward along the arches and distributed uniformly over the improved ground. Compared to the conventional CA model, the proposed model gives a lower proportion of load carried by piles, more in line with field measurements. Given the friction and adhesion between soil and geosynthetics, a novel quartic equation is applied to characterize the tensioned membrane effect of geosynthetic reinforcement based on Pham’s circular and parabolic models. The stiffness variation of the biaxial geogrid was critically assessed for the triangular pile arrangement, and its implications for the design were revealed. Finally, the pile efficacy and critical arch height were determined from different analytical methods and checked against field observations, demonstrating the potential of the proposed model.

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