This paper considers the consolidation of a layer of clay in which partially penetrating prefabricated vertical drains (PVDs) are used in conjunction with a combined surcharge and vacuum preloading. Analytical solutions for partially penetrating PVDs are derived by considering vacuum pressure (suction), time-dependent embankment surcharge, well resistance, and smear zone. Three-dimensional seepage with a virtual vertical drain is assumed to reflect real seepage into the soil beneath the tip of a PVD. Analytical solutions were then used to examine the length of the vertical drain and vacuum pressure on soft clay to determine the consolidation time and degree of consolidation, associated settlement, and distribution of suction along the drain. The proposed solutions are then employed to analyse a case history. Finally, an appropriate PVD length in relation to clay thickness and drain spacing is recommended for various loading patterns.
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