Western Australia Chapter

Damage and premature refusal of piles

Professor Mark Randolph & Carl Erbrich


Pile damage during driving is relatively common, and probably occurs more frequently than is generally acknowledged. Unless the structural integrity of the pile is compromised, damage that leads to difficulty in driving, hence reduced final penetration of the pile, may not affect the foundation performance. However, for offshore applications where piles must be driven to a pre-determined penetration (because of the fabricated profile of wall thickness changes and external shear connections), premature refusal of open ended piles creates a major problem, which may incur high remedial costs to rectify. The lecture will present examples of pile damage, focusing in particular on a form of failure referred to as ‘extrusion buckling’. Case histories will be described, and various issues discussed including: (a) possible causes; (b) analytical methods; and (c) design guidelines to avoid pile tip distortion.


About Professor Mark Randolph

Mark Randolph holds the Fugro Chair in Geotechnics in the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems at the University of Western Australia. His two main research interests are piled foundations and offshore geotechnics, co-authoring books in each area: Piling Engineering, now in its third edition, and Offshore Geotechnical Engineering. He has published over 250 journal articles, providing novel solutions to practical problems.

Professor Randolph interacts closely with industry, both in research and through his role as Technical Advisor within Fugro AG (previously Advanced Geomechanics). He is a Fellow of several learned academies, including the Royal Society, and in 2013 was elected WA Scientist of the Year. In 2015 he received an honorary doctorate from ETH Zurich.


Carl Erbrich is the Technical Director for Fugro AG. Carl is Fugro’s lead technical authority on the behaviour of calcareous soils and has been central to development of diverse analytical and numerical models that capture their wide ranging and challenging properties. Carl has also authored many technical papers on a number of geotechnical issues and is considered to be a global authority on offshore foundations. He has developed a range of analysis software that are routinely used for design of offshore foundations, including piles.

Engineers Australia members participating in AGS technical sessions can record attendance on their personal CPD logs. Members should refer to Engineers Australia CPD policy for details on CPD types, requirements and auditing guidelines.