Experimental modeling for in-plane and out-of-plane loading of scaled model drag embedment anchors



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The failed anchoring systems of mobile offshore drilling units from hurricanes occurring in 2004 and 2005 established a need to better understand the ultimate pullout capacity and trajectory of scaled model anchors under typical and out-of-plane loading conditions. The six degrees of freedom of small scale drag embedment anchors were studied in a laboratory testing environment with the intent that reasonable trends in anchor behavior will be found. Investigations within this experimental research program demonstrated the in-plane and out-of-plane loading behavior of conventional and prototype scaled model anchors embedded to predetermined depths in two different test beds of kaolinite clay with undrained shear strength profiles constant and increasing with depth. The anchors were loaded to failure in concentric, normal, concentric, shear, eccentric, normal, eccentric, shear, inclined, and drag embedment loading configurations. This series of pullout and drag embedment tests provided a suite of test results indicating behavioral trends of the varying holding capacities and anchor trajectories. Results were compared with similar research presented in the literature and an analytical model predicting out-of-plane loading behavior of similar anchors.

It was concluded that increasing eccentricities from both concentric, normal and concentric, shear loading configurations resulted in decreasing bearing capacity factors, confirming the predicted trend from the analytical model for these loading configurations. Trajectories observed for the concentric, normal, concentric, shear, and eccentric, shear loading configurations showed that the anchors tracked straight out of the soil without deviation, but eccentric, normal loading found the anchor tending to track away from the initial loading location. For inclined loads, both anchors to track to whichever direction the anchor faced upon loading. Drag embedment trajectory was found to vary depending on the anchor, as the conventional anchor dove with an applied load and the prototype anchor rose towards the surface.