Comparative Study of Methods of Determination of Coefficient of Subgrade Reaction
Jamshid Sadrekarimi
Department of Geotechnical Engineering, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran Email: jsadr@tabrizu.ac.ir
Maryam Akbarzad
Department of Geotechnical Engineering, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran Email: maryam_akbarzad@Yahoo.com
ABSTRACT
In this paper, different methods proposed for determination of the coefficient of subgrade reaction, k _{s} are discussed, compared and evaluated for their suitability and accuracy. The geotechnical characteristics of a site on Tabriz Marl were selected as the base data and settlement analysis results with different methods were compared with that of obtained from analyses with advanced soil models using Safe and Plaxis software. It was discovered that for Tabriz Marl, soft soil model is the best governing model and Vesic relation among the methods of determination of k _{s} leads to a negligible error in comparison to the soft soil model. Also, in order to achieve more accurate results from these methods, it is proposed to use mean elasticity modulus which takes into account the effect of geometric and mechanical properties of sublayers.
Winkler model, soft soil model, coefficient of subgrade reaction,
modulus of elasticity, settlement.
KEYWORDS:
INTRODUCTION
Foundationground interaction has been one of the challenging problems in geotechnical engineering since late nineteenth century. Because of the complexity of soil behavior, subgrade in soilfoundation interaction problems is replaced by a much simpler system called subgrade model. One of the most common and simple models in this context is Winkler hypothesis. Winkler idealization represents the soil medium as a system of identical but mutually independent, closely spaced, discrete and linearly elastic springs and ratio between contact pressure, P, at any given point and settlement, y, produced by it at that point, is given by the coefficient of subgrade reaction, k _{s} (Dutta and Roy 2002).
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At first, this concept was introduced to use in analysis of rigid plates, but during the following decades the theory was expanded to include the computation of stresses in flexible foundations (Terzaghi 1955). In the area of soilfoundation interaction, lots of investigators have utilized this model, such as Biot (1937), Terzaghi (1955), Vesic (1961), Horvath (1989), Daloglu and Vallabhan (2000) and so on. Since 1920, the theory of subgrade reaction has also been used for computing stresses in piles and sheet piles, which are acted on by horizontal forces above the ground surface. In this case, the ratio between contact pressure and displacement of pile referred to as the coefficient of horizontal subgrade reaction, k _{h} (Terzaghi 1955). However, in this paper only the coefficient of vertical subgrade reaction, k _{s} , is taken into consideration.
The simplifying assumptions which Winkler hypothesis is based on causes some errors (Terzaghi 1955; Stavridis 2000). One of its basic limitations lies in the fact that this model cannot transmit the shear stresses which are derived from the lack of spring coupling. Several modified models have been proposed to overcome these shortcomings in the middle of the twentieth century by researchers such as Filonenko and Borodich, Heteny, Pasternak and Kerr (Dutta and Roy 2002; Horvath 1989). In all the models, the connectivity of the individual Winkler springs is accomplished by incorporating an elastic plate, which undergoes flexural or transverse shear deformation. However, assigning the numerical values of flexural rigidity and shear modulus of these plates, make the problem twofold. Hence, these methods did not get enough popularity among designers. Despite the flaws, which are attributed to Winkler hypothesis, using of this method has led to useful results in studying the behavior of long flexible beams (Stavridis 2000). Of course, this result is related to accurate estimation of k _{h} . Therefore, designers already use this approach widely and various computer soft wares are based on it.
Evaluation of the numerical values of k _{s} is one of the most complex and sophisticated problems in geotechnical engineering. Even, time and widespread use of k _{s} have not eliminated longstanding disagreement on the determination methods. In the other hand, this factor leads to inaccuracy in the results of Winkler model and this aspect of the problem is scrutinized in this paper by a case study. In the first half of the twentieth century, some articles that gave erroneous values for k _{s} have been published and it was assumed that this coefficient has a definite value for any given subgrade. But Terzaghi (1955) dealt with the factors that influence the coefficient of subgrade reaction in the comprehensive treatise and demonstrated that k _{s} is not a fundamental soil property and it is a problemspecific observed result and in addition to depending on elastic characteristics of subgrade, it also relates to the geometry of the footing and loading scheme. After that, particularly between the 1950s and 1980s, this concept has been scrutinized and investigators have proposed numerous relations. Some of these relations were empirical and some of them were derived by using the elastic continuum theory.
Nevertheless, there is not enough information in technical literatures about the computational validity and accuracy of comprehensive application of these relations in engineering practice and in some cases; relations of determination of horizontal coefficient of subgrade reaction are utilized for evaluation of vertical coefficient (Okeagu and AbdelSayed 1984). In reality, a unique suggestion with respect to variety of mechanical properties of soils seems to be impossible. Also, need for more research on this topic have been emphasized (Daloglu and Vallabhan 2000). Hence, in this paper, different methods, proposed for determination of k _{s} , are compared and evaluated for their suitability and accuracy. The geotechnical parameters of a site on Tabriz Marl were selected as the base data and settlement analysis results with these methods are compared with that of obtained from analysis with advanced soil models.
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In general, the methods of determination of k _{s} can be classified as: 1 Plate load test (Dutta and Roy 2002; Bowles 1998), 2 Consolidation test (Dutta and Roy 2002; Bowles 1998), 3 Triaxial test (Dutta and Roy 2002), 4 CBR test (Nascimento and Simoes 1957) and 5 Empirical and theoretical relations that are proposed by researchers (Bowles 1998; Elachachi et al. 2004).
Among these methods, approaches 1 and 5 are utilized more than the others. Due to lack of enough data about plate load test, only empirical and theoretical relations are taken into consideration. As mentioned formerly, various relations of k _{s} have been proposed by researches and some of them are represented in Table 1; wherein, E _{s} = modulus of elasticity, υ _{s} = Poisson’s ratio, B = width of footing, EI = flexural rigidity of footing, k _{s}_{1} = the coefficient of subgrade reaction for a plate 1 ft wide, µ = nondimensional soil mass per unit length, B' = least lateral dimension of footing, I _{S} and I _{F} = influence factors which depend on the shape of footing and parameter m takes 1, 2 and 4 for edges, sides and center of footing, respectively.
Table 1: Common relations suggested for k _{s}
No. 
Investigator 
Suggested expression 

1 
Biot 
0 95 E . 
B 
4 
E 
0 108 

k 
= 
s 
s 
. 

s 
B 
( 1 −ν 
2 s 
[ )( 1 
−ν 
2 s ) 
EI ] 

2 
Terzaghi 
For sands 
k s 
= 
k s1 ( 
B + 1 2 B 
) ^{2} 

For For clays clays 
k s 
= 
k s1 
1 B 

Vlassov 
1 − ν s 
) 

3 
k 
= 
E 
s 
( 
μ 

s 
( 
1 
+ν 
s 
)( 1 − 2 
ν 
s ) 
( 2B ) 

4 
Vesic 
0 
. 
65 E s 
4
E
B
s
12
EI


k 
s 
= 
B ( 
1 
2 
) 

− ν s 

5 
Meyerhof and Baike 
k ^{s} = 
E s 
2 

B (1 
− ν s 
) 

6 
Klopple and Glock 
k = 
2E 
s 

s 
B ( 1 + ν s 
) 

7 
Selvadurai 
0 65 . 
E 

k 
= 
s 

s 
B . 
1 − ν 2 s 

8 
 
k 
= 
E s 

^{s} 
B 
′ (1 
−ν 
2 
) 
mI 
I 

s 
s 
F 
Eq. (1) and (4) are defined for infinite beams resting on an elastic soil continuum (Biot 1937; Vesic 1961), but application of them in mat footings is observed widely in technical literatures (Bowles 1998). Eq. (2) when the quantity of the coefficient of subgrade reaction beneath a plate of 1 ft wide is defined only can be used. This equation is also relevant in analysis of plate load test results by substituting width of loading plate with 1ft, but some of the researchers instead of using these equations in plate load test suggest using of those modified by Arnold (Alsanad et al. 1993). Eq. (3) is introduced for beams and plates resting on elastic half space (Elachachi et al. 2004), but ambiguities of estimating µ make the problem more complex. Eq. (5), (6) and (7) are proposed for computing the coefficient of horizontal subgrade reaction in buried circular conduits (Okeagu and AbdelSayed 1984) and are employed for evaluation of k _{s} in few limited cases (Elachachi et al. 2004). Also, k _{s} can be determined using the theory of elasticity. By rewriting the
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relation of settlement of rectangular plates resting on elastic half space, k _{s} can be expressed as Eq. (8) (Bowles 1998).
From the above description, it can be concluded that the equation obtained from elasticity, Biot relation and Vesic relation are more adequate for evaluating of k _{s} . Also using of these three equations has been proposed more than others in technical literature and many investigators compared the results of their proposed relations and methods with those obtained from these equations for suitability and merits (Daloglu and Vallabhan 2000). Hence, in this paper accuracy and precision of these relations in predicting settlement and contact pressure are considered in detail.
For analyzing based on Winkler model and advanced soil models, Safe v. 8.06 and Plaxis v. 7.2 soft wares are used, respectively. In Plaxis soft ware, advanced soil models consisting soft soil, creep soft soil, hardening soil and MohrCoulomb models may be applied. So, the model which shows better coincidence to the mechanical behavior should be employed.
Soft soil model, as it is obvious from its name, is suitable for soft soils. The special feature of these materials is their high degree of compressibility. This is best demonstrated by oedometer test data. Another characteristic of soft soils is the linear stressdependency of soil stiffness. All of these features are taken into consideration in soft soil model (Manual of Plaxis). In Soft soil creep model, in addition to the features of soft soils, creep (secondary compression) is considered. This model is adequate for soils that secondary compression is a significant percentage of ultimate settlement (Manual of Plaxis).
Hardening soil model supersedes the hyperbolic model by using the theory of plasticity rather than the theory of elasticity. In Plaxis soft ware, this model is able to simulate the behavior of both soft soils and stiff soils. Hardening soil model provides stress dependent stiffness according to power law (Manual of Plaxis).
MohrCoulomb model is used as a first approximation of soil behavior in general. Yield surface of this model is an extension of Coulomb’s friction law to general states of stress (Manual of Plaxis). In Plaxis soft ware, variation of modulus of elasticity versus variation of stress can be inserted. However, in MohrCoulomb model, one only can insert the increase of Young’s modulus per unit depth. It should be noticed that, in reality, modulus of elasticity depends on both the stress level and void ratio; and several relations are proposed on this topic (Hicher 1996). But, in this soft ware, effect of specific volume on E _{s} is disregarded.
GEOTECHNICAL PROPERTIES OF GROUND AND SOIL PARAMETERS EMPLOYED FOR MODELING
The examined project includes a 22story residential building that will be constructed on a 44×20 m rectangular mat footing. The mat supports 35 columns with average size 80×80 cm. The geometry and loading are symmetric. Site is placed in southeast of Tabriz city in Iran. The mat will be founded 6 m below the original ground level. A detailed site investigation was carried out to provide the required engineering information and description of subsurface soil. These are summarized in Table 2. Before performing any investigation the upper 2 m of soil was removed and the ground was leveled. The site was explored by six boreholes, drilled to a depth of 25 m at
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Depth (m)
different places of the site, by rotary drilling. Sampling and standard penetration tests were carried out at 3 m intervals to a depth of 25 m. Corrected N values are plotted for four of the boreholes in Fig. 1 and they are in proportion to E _{r}_{7}_{0} .
In a laboratory, Index and physical and mechanical tests were performed on the undisturbed samples. Referring to the consolidation test results, it was observed that the soil is over consolidated up to 900 kPa and 950 kPa for yellow marl and gray marl, respectively. Also, some of the samples showed swelling. Hence, soil mass is heterogeneous, but it is assumed to be homogeneous in analyses.
Table 2: Soil properties and description
No. 
Moisture 

of 
Depth (m) 
Soil description 
content 
γ d (kN/m ^{3} ) 
C´ (kN/m ^{2} ) 
φ' (°) 
PI (%) 
LL (%) 

layers 
(%) 

Weakly cemented silty sand 

1 011 
and gravel, water table at 8.0 m.b.g.l. 
8 
18 
0 
35 
 
 

2 1114 
Weathered yellow marl 
64 
9 
55 
21 
45 
77 

3 1417 
Yellow marl 
55 
12 
76 
20 
41 
72 

4 1719.7 
Yellow Greenish marl 
67 
10 
60 
20 
47 
75 

5 19.723 
Fissured gray marl 
67 
11 
54 
20 
45 
75 

6 2325 
Dark gray marl 
72 
9 
79 
20 
40 
72 
BH3
BH4
BH5
BH6
N >100
0
20
40
N
60
80
100
0 




3 


6 



9 




12 

15 





18 

21 




24 


27 

Figure 1: Corrected values of N for E _{r}_{7}_{0}
DETECTING THE SUITABLE MODEL
Suitable soil model for yellow marl and gray marl were examined separately. This was carried out by comparing the consolidation test results of those soils and the stresssettlement curve
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obtained from modeling of the consolidation test in Plaxis with different soil models. For all the models, identical average values of density (γ _{w}_{e}_{t} , γ _{d}_{r}_{y} ) and failure parameters (C ^{'} , φ ^{'} ) were defined. The angle of dilation was assumed to be zero, however.
For hardening soil and MohrCoulomb models, variations of modulus of elasticity, E _{s} , with effective stress level are based on the data obtained from consolidation test, which are plotted in Fig. 2. It should be noticed that in oedometer test, restriction of lateral stain influences the modulus value E _{o}_{e}_{d} , whereas in real soil acted upon loads, lateral strains develop in all directions. Hence, E _{o}_{e}_{d} can be related to E _{s} as following:
E
s
=
(1
+
ν
s
)(1
−
2
ν
s
)
(1
ν
−
s
)
E
oed
_{=}
1
m
v
E
oed
(9)
(10)
in which υ _{s} = Poisson’s ratio and m _{v} = coefficient of volume compressibility. Table 3 shows the strength parameters of hardening soil and MohrCoulomb models which are employed for modeling.
Effective stress (kN/m ^{2} )
Figure 2: Modulus of elasticitystress level diagrams in yellow marl and gray marl
In hardening soil model,
E
p
ref
oed
ref
= secant modulus of elasticity in standard drained triaxial test,
= tangent modulus of elasticity for primary oedometer loading at reference stress level and
are defined from oedometer
are
′ ) which samples have in soil mass before coring
ref
^{E} 50
represents reference stress for stiffness. Numerical values of
E
ref
oed
test results. Because there is not any data about triaxial test, so numerical values of
evaluated from Fig. 2 at initial stress level (
which is defined as
σ
0
p ref
. Parameter m is expressed as:
ref
^{E} 50
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E
s
=
E
ref
s
C
C
cot
ϕ
−
σ
1
′
cot
ϕ
+ p
ref
m
(11)
and E _{s} =
wherein C = cohesion, φ = angle of internal friction,
1 _{′} . Substituting appropriate values from Fig. 2, m value is obtained 1 for
both marl soils. In Plaxis, in the case of soft soil, it is realistic to use m = 1 and soft soil model can be used instead of this model. Therefore, hardening soil model is eliminated from analysis and the most suitable model is gathered among MohrCoulomb, soft soil and soft soil creep models.
modulus of elasticity at
E
ref
s
= modulus of elasticity at
p
ref
σ
Table 3: Strength parameters of Hardening Soil and MohrCoulomb models
Soil model 
Hardening soil model 
MohrCoulomb model 

Parameters 
Yellow Marl 
Gray Marl 
Yellow Marl 
Gray Marl 

(kPa) 
E 
ref 
6846 
8673 

oed 
 
 

(kPa) 
ref ^{E} 50 
6484 
8239 
 
 

(kPa) 
p 
ref 
212 
240 
 
 
m 
1 
1 
 
 

E _{s} (kPa) 
 
 
6484 
8239 

ν 
s 
 
 
0.3 
0.3 
With Mohrcoulomb model, E _{s} is also estimated using Fig. 2. In soft soil creep and soft soil models, considering linear dependency of E _{s} to effective stress level (Eq. (11)) stressstrain relation is expressed using modified compression index, λ ^{*} , modified swelling index, κ ^{*} and modified secondary compression index, µ ^{*} . These parameters can be determined from compression index, swelling index and secondary compression index, from Terzaghi consolidation test results, respectively. The relevant relations are available in Manual of Plaxis soft ware. Numerical values of these parameters are given in Table 4 and default setting is used for other advanced parameters.
Loading steps are applied same as the laboratory tests. The results of these analyses together with the average of the measured laboratory data are plotted in Fig. 3 for comparison.
Based on Fig. 3, for the both marl soils, the soft soil model shows better coincidence to the mechanical behavior in comparison to other advanced soil models. Also, it corresponds to empirical observations, because the examined soil mass, in common with soft soils, exhibits comparatively high degree of compressibility (Sadrekarimi and Kia, 2005). Therefore, the soft soil model is used as the basis for methods of determination of k _{s} in the subsequent analyses.
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Table 4: Strength parameters of soft soil and soft soil creep models
Parameters of soft soil model 
Parameters of soft soil creep model 

Yellow Marl 
λ * =0.125 
ĸ * =0.056 
Yellow Marl 
λ * =0.125 
ĸ * =0.056 
µ * =0.008 
Grey Marl 
λ * =0.143 
ĸ * =0.057 
Grey Marl 
λ * =0.143 
ĸ * =0.057 
µ * =0.009 
Settlement analysis using soft soil model
Plaxis is a finite element package that has been developed specifically for analysis of deformation and stability in geotechnical engineering projects. In order to consider effect of layering and mechanical properties of subsoil on ground settlement, the geometry modeled in Plaxis soft ware was extended down to the influence depth of the foundation which is given to be five times of foundation width, 5B (Bowles 1998). In order to avoid boundary conditions effects, lateral boundaries of the model are extended 40 m from both sides of the foundation. To characterize boundary conditions, a full fixity (u _{x} = u _{y} = 0) at the base of the geometry and roller conditions (u _{x} = 0, u _{y} = free) at the vertical sides were generated, wherein u _{x} = horizontal displacement and u _{y} = vertical displacement.
(a)
(b)
log P (kN/m ^{2} )
log P (kN/m ^{2} )
Figure 3: Comparison between stresssettlement curves obtained from advanced soil models and results of consolidation test on (a) Yellow marl, (b) Gray marl
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In order to consider stresshistory caused by excavating, mat was modeled 6 m below the original ground level. Interface elements are used to model soilfoundation interaction. Layering and soil properties were defined referring to Table 2. Since properties of soil down to the depth of 25 m are available, texture and engineering properties of ground down to the influence depth of super structure, regarding the local information on Tabriz subsoil zonation, is assumed the same as the layer No. 6. The soil mass from 23 m to 106 m deep was divided into several layers based on the modulus of elasticity profile in Fig. 2, in a manner that the error due to assuming linear variation of E _{s} with stress level became negligible. For all layers, except sandy layer, soft soil model is selected and strength parameters of both marl soils are introduced from Table 4. The geometry configuration is illustrated in Fig. 4a.
For sandy layer, MohrCoulomb model was employed. E _{s} and its increase with depth are assigned using the results of SPT test (Fig. 1), which is given by (Bowles 1998)
E
S
= 1200 (N + 6)
(12)
wherein, N is SPT number for E _{r}_{5}_{5} . After modification of N and substituting in Eq. (12), E _{s} value beneath the foundation level was estimated as 116040 kPa and its increase per meter of depth obtains 3300 kPa.
The finite element model is generated automatically and irregular 6–node triangle medium sized elements are used for the soil and planestrain analysis is chosen. The deformed mesh is shown in Fig. 4b.
Evaluating the Coefficient of Subgrade Reaction
As mentioned formerly, Eq. (1), (4) and (8) are used in this paper for evaluation of k _{s} . Main problem with the accuracy of k _{s} relations is related to evaluation of E _{s} . This is due to the fact that the modulus of elasticity is the only factor by which the effect of subsurface soil properties on the value of k _{s} can be examined. Hence, equivalent modulus of elasticity, which involves the mechanical properties of the layers within the influence depth, should be assigned.
With settlement of layered soil systems, numerous investigation have been carried out and various relation have been proposed, but in all these methods only effect of geometric characteristics of layers on E _{s} were taken into consideration (Enrico and Giovanni 1993), whereas it is obvious that the effect of external load decreases with depth (Boussinesq theory) (Bowles 1998). Hence, moduli of elasticity of upper layers are more effective on settlement than the lower layers. This issue was named depth factor, I _{D}_{i} , in this paper.
Evaluation of the equivalent modulus of elasticity consists of two steps: assigning the effect of geometric properties of layers and characterizing the value of depth factor. For the first one, thickness of each layer is selected and depth factor is defined as a ratio of settlement at midpoint of thickness of each layer to total settlement of the geometry modeled in Plaxis software (Fig. 4 a) and equivalent modulus of elasticity, E _{s}_{e} , can be estimated by the suggested relation given by
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E
se
^{=}
n
E
i = 1
si
I
Di
H
i
n
i = 1
I
Di
H
i
(13)
in which E _{s}_{i} = modulus of elasticity at midpoint of thickness of each layer, H _{i} = thickness of each layer and n = number of layers. Relevant values of these parameters are represented in Table 5. Substituting these values, E _{s}_{e} is obtained equal to 21021 kPa. Whereas, if one disregards layering, E _{s} along soilfoundation interface equals to 116040 kPa. It is evident that the significant difference between these values will lead to a remarkable error in predicted settlement. This indicates the importance of layering in determination of k _{s} , especially in the project under consideration, wherein the modulus of elasticity varies considerably from sand layer to marl.
Substituting E _{s} = 21021 kPa, υ _{s} = 0.3, B = 20 m, E _{c} I _{c} =3.1×10 ^{8} kN.m ^{2} and relevant values for I _{S} , I _{F} and m in Eq. (1), (4) and (8) the k _{s} values were computed and summarized in Table 6. It should be noticed that the relation obtained from the theory of elasticity (Eq. (8)) gives various quantities for edges and center of the footing. Therefore, for estimating the average coefficient of subgrade reaction the suggested method by Bowles (1998) is used.
(a)
(b)
Figure 4: a) The Geometry modeled in Plaxis and, b) deformed mesh
Table 5: Parameters of equivalent modulus of elasticity
No. of 

layer 
1 
2 
3 
4 
5 
6 
7 
8 
9 
10 

E 
si 

(kPa) 
127590 
6226 
6846 
7673 
8408 
9077 
10387 
12593 
16155 
23386 

H 
i 

(m) 
3 
3 
3 
2.7 
3.3 
6. 61 
11.86 
28.81 
15.25 
20.47 

I Di 
0.99 
0.93 
0.85 
0.78 
0.71 
0.61 
0.47 
0.27 
0.13 
0.04 
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Settlement analysis using Winkler model
For the analysis with Winkler model, Safe soft ware v. 8.06 was employed. Settlement analyses were executed for each set of data given in Table 6. The foundation is modeled as a 44×20 m rectangular plate. Loading and material properties were defined the same as the other ones which were used in Plaxis. Finite element mesh, which comprises quadrilateral elements, was generated automatically regarding the maximum allowable element size.
Because of using of planestrain analysis, the foundation is considered as a 20 m long strip with unit width in Plaxis soft ware. In order to reduce the inaccuracy, settlement and contact pressure beneath the central strip of the foundation, obtained from Winkler and the soft soil models, were compared.
Table 6: Numerical values of k _{s} in Winkler model
Numerical value
(kN/m ^{3} )
Suggested expression
The relation obtained from the theory of elasticity
1500
Biot Relation
1419
Vesic Relation
908
COMPARISONS OF THE RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Settlement and contact pressure diagrams obtained from the soft soil and Winkler models are presented in Fig. 5, 6 and 7. In the given soil mass, differences between settlement and contact pressure obtained from the theory of elasticity and Biot relation are negligible. Since the soft soil model is intended as a criterion of accuracy of the determination relations of k _{s} , it can be concluded that the Vesic relation predicts settlement with acceptable accuracy for using in Winkler method. This relation gives the maximum settlement 8 % greater than that of the soft soil model. However, relation obtained from theory of elasticity and Biot relation estimate the settlement 30% and 34% less than that of the soft soil model, respectively. Vesic relation can be proposed as one of the main alternatives in predicting the behavior of yellow and gray Marl. Nevertheless, remedial measures are necessary to control settlement of the foundation (Fig. 5), but the main purpose of this paper is comparison of the results, so this issue is disregarded.
Interpreting the results of contact pressure is a little more complex. In Winkler model, elasticity, Biot and Vesic relations lead to approximately equal values of contact pressures. But the values obtained from Winkler model have great difference with that of the soft soil model. Winkler approach gives the maximum contact pressure 35 % greater than the soft soil model does. The difference is derived from ignoring the lateral pressure of soil in Winkler model. In reality, lateral pressure of soil elements on the soilfoundation interface reduces the vertical pressure. This feature is considered in the soft soil model (Manuel of Plaxis).
As mentioned, in theoretical relations, k _{s} is mainly affected by the modulus of elasticity and especially in layered soils, its effects are further eminent. Accordingly, disregarding type of equation and soil, evaluation of the equivalent modulus of elasticity is very important. Actually,
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accuracy of the results significantly depends on the equivalent modulus of elasticity. Hence, variations of E _{s} against effective stress should be determined.
Distance from edge (m)
Figure 5: Settlement diagrams
Distance from edge (m)
Figure 6: Contact pressure diagrams obtained from elasticity, Biot and Vesic relations
Nevertheless, in this article, there is not any plateload test result, but evidently in this test only mechanical properties of the layers placed within the influence depth of the loading plate, which is too small in comparison with the actual size of a foundation, affect k _{s} value. It can be concluded that if the rate of the variation of E _{s} with respect to depth is considerable, results of plateload test cannot be reliable.
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In summary, in order to minimize the error associated with the relations introduced formerly, it is proposed that enough information about theories and accuracy of the chosen relation on the similar projects (if possible) should be sought.
Figure 7: Contact pressure diagram of the soft soil model
CONCLUSION
1 The coefficient of subgrade reaction is a concept that is valid only at soilfoundation interface, but in this article, in order to increase the accuracy of the results, the effect of layering and mechanical properties of the subsurface soil on k _{s} are dealt with. 2 Among the methods for determination of k _{s} value, Vesic relation leads to acceptable accuracy in evaluating settlement in comparison to the soft soil model. Accordingly, this relation is suggested as a governing relation for estimating k _{s} for the given soil mass.
3 
Winkler relation gives contact pressure greater than actual values and it is derived from disregarding the effect of lateral pressures of soil mass. 
4 
In common practice, in order to minimize inaccuracy of k _{s} relations, two items should be considered. At first, one should have vast study and awareness on the basic theories of these relations; and secondly, in addition to geometric properties of layers, variation of the mechanical properties with depth is also considered in evaluation of the equivalent modulus of elasticity. 
REFERENCES
1. Alsanad, H. A., N.F. Ismael and R.P. Brenner (1993) “Settlement of Circular and Ring Plates in Very Dense Calcareous Sands,” Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE, 119(4): 622638.
2. Biot, M. A. (1937) “Bending of Infinite Beams on an Elastic Foundation,” J. Appl. Mech. Trans. Am. Soc. Mech. Eng., 59: A17.
3. Bowles, J. E. (1998) “Foundation Analysis and Design,” 6th ed., McGrowHill International press.
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4. Daloglu, A. T. and C.V.G. Vallabhan (2000) “Values of k for Slab on Winkler Foundation,” Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, ASCE, May:
463471.
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7. Enrico, C. and D. Giovanni (1993) “Settlement Analysis of Layered soil Systems by Stiffness Method,” Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE, 119(4): 780785.
8. Hicher, P. Y. (1996) “Elastic Properties of Soils,” Journal of Engineering Mechanics, ASCE, August: 641647.
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