It is recognized that the loads attracted to buried structures cannot be accurately estimated by simply considering the self-weight forces generated by the prism of soil supported by the structure. Incompatibility between the stiffness of a buried structure and the surrounding soil leads to the development of local soil arching around the structure, the degree of which is dependent on the relative stiffness between the structure and the surrounding soil. This arching can induce structural damage or collapse, or indeed can be utilized to optimize the efficiency of the structure. The paper presents numerical finite element analysis of the results of a series of scaled physical model tests conducted on a large fixed beam centrifuge designed to investigate the contribution of the deflection of structural elements (top slab and side wall) of a buried structure and local soil stiffness, to the overall loads attracted to the structure. The results of the test program have been interpreted to establish the contributions to the total load attracted to a buried structure from deflection of the top slab and the side-walls respectively. Results of comparative analyses using the finite element software Plaxis are presented.
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