As offshore energy developments move towards deeper water, moored floating production facilities are increasingly preferred to fixed structures. Anchoring systems are therefore of great interest to engineers working on deep water developments. Suction embedded plate anchors (SEPLAs) are rapidly becoming a popular solution, possessing a more accurate and predictable installation process compared to traditional alternatives. In this paper, finite element analysis has been conducted to evaluate the ultimate pullout capacity of SEPLAs in a range of post-keying configurations. Previous numerical studies of anchor pullout capacity have generally treated the soil as an elastic-perfectly plastic medium. However, the mechanical behaviour of natural clays is affected by inter-particle bonding, or structure, which cannot be accounted for using simple elasto-plastic models. Here, an advanced constitutive model formulated within the kinematic hardening framework is used to accurately predict the degradation of structure as an anchor embedded in a natural soft clay deposit is loaded to its pullout capacity. In comparison with an idealised, non-softening clay, the degradation of clay structure due to plastic strains in the soil mass results in a lower pullout capacity factor, a quantity commonly used in design, and a more complex load–displacement relationship. It can be concluded that clay structure has an important effect on the pullout behaviour of plate anchors.

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Published on 01/01/2016

DOI: 10.1016/j.apor.2016.10.009
Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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