This research provides an insight into the previously unexplored aspects of kinematic pile bending, especially for large-intensity earthquakes where the soil behaviour is highly non-linear. In this study, a series of dynamic centrifuge experiments was conducted on pile foundations embedded in a two-layered soil profile to investigate the kinematic effects on pile foundations during model earthquakes. A single pile and a closely spaced 3 × 1 row pile group were used as model pile foundations, and the soil model consisted of a soft clay underlain by dense sand. It was observed that the peak kinematic pile bending moment occurs slightly beneath the interface of the soil layers and this depth is larger for the pile group compared to a single pile. Also, the piles in a group attract lower bending moments but carry larger residual kinematic pile bending moments compared to a single pile. Furthermore, the elastic solutions available in the literature for estimating the kinematic pile bending moments are shown to yield satisfactory results only for small-intensity earthquakes, but vastly underestimate for large-intensity earthquakes, if methods are applied injudiciously. The importance of considering soil non-linearity effects and accurate determination of shear strain at the interface of layered soils during large-intensity earthquakes for a reliable assessment of kinematic pile bending moment from methods in the literature is demonstrated using dynamic centrifuge test data.
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