Civil and Environmental Engineering


First Advisor

Seunghee Kim

Second Advisor

Jongwan Eun

Date of this Version

Fall 12-2-2022


Van, Hung Phi. (2022). Experimental And Numerical Study: Sheet Pile Abutment Systems for Water–Crossing Bridges.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Civil Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professors Seunghee Kim and Jongwan Eun. Lincoln, NE: December 2022

Copyright © 2022 Hung Phi Van


Sheet piles are geotechnical-structural elements with interlocking edges together that are driven into the ground to deliver soil retention and excavation support. Steel sheet pile walls are widely used for retaining walls, riverbank protection, seawalls, cofferdams, etc. In Nebraska, sheet pile walls prevent scouring and protect backfill for bridge abutment systems. While sheet piling is not designed and applied to resist vertical load, several recent studies attempted to investigate whether sheet piles could be employed for axial load bearing. Many projects from Europe and some in the U.S. have utilized the axial load-bearing capacity of sheet piles in bridge abutment constructions and high buildings for years. This thesis investigates the feasibility of these sheet piles' function as axial load-bearing foundation elements and how sheet piles can cooperate with axial and lateral loads for applying a water-crossing bridge in Nebraska. The research conducted large-scale direct tests to evaluate the interface parameters between soil and sheet pile to estimate the side resistance acting on sheet piles under axial load. The test data was utilized for main input parameters for the numerical simulation of sheet pile abutment to estimate bearing capacity from the analytical method. The data obtained from the analytics and simulations were compared.

Furthermore, static pile load tests were conducted to evaluate the bearing capacity of a down-sized model sheet pile in a controlled test pit. A numerical simulation of sheet pile abutment was undertaken to understand sheet pile behavior under lateral and axial loads. This research evaluated how axial load can influence the failure criteria of sheet piles like horizontal deflection, shear force, and moment and how lateral load can affect the vertical settlement. The prerequisites to utilize sheet pile abutments, like effective span lengths of the bridge, excavation levels, anchors systems, and soil conditions, are provided in the parametric study.

Advisors: Seunghee Kim and Jongwan Eun