AbstractThis paper reports the results of a series of centrifuge experiments exploring the dynamic response of pile foundations. The model tested in a centrifuge at 50g consisted of an isolated pile and two pile groups embedded in a kaolin clay, subjected to a sequence of quasi-sinusoidal waves with different amplitudes and frequencies. The results are back-analyzed through a two-step procedure. First, a one-dimensional ground response analysis is performed, in which the small-strain shear modulus is evaluated using data from air hammer tests, while a literature model is used to account for nonlinearity of soil behavior. Second, a three-dimensional finite-element analysis of the model foundations is carried out using the mobilized soil damping ratio and shear modulus determined from the previous step. The aforementioned procedure allowed to reproduce satisfactorily the response of the model foundations tested in the centrifuge, showing that the response of these models is strongly affected by the inertial oscillation of the cap connecting piles necessary to accommodate the measurement devices and to rigidly connect the piles’ heads of the groups. The same numerical model was then adopted to evaluate the change of seismic motion due to pure kinematic interaction effects by setting the pile cap mass equal to zero. This allowed to check the prediction capability of simplified methods of analysis for the evaluation of the base excitation of pile-supported structures. In addition, a number of issues related to the execution of centrifuge tests aimed at investigating the kinematic interaction between pile and soil are highlighted and discussed.

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