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RE: Use Sheetpiles for Shearwall

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Sheet pile walls are commonly used as shearwalls in some types of
waterfront construction, like a wharf.  However, the sheet pile (unlike
your case?) is capped with (embedded in) a large pilecap/bulkhead, on
the order of 5' to 8' square on some of our projects, with the dock
structure out in front of this.  This cap prevents slippage at the

I have personally not designed one as a shearwall, so I can't get into
too much detail.  But my understanding is that the geotechnical engineer
gives us design criteria for lateral resistance, and the failure mode is
often (usually?) soil shear failure which happens long before the steel
piling itself fails.  It looks like you may have guessed this.  Of
course this depends on what kind of soils you're in.

Brian J. Harris, P.E.

-----Original Message-----
From: Enas, Gordon [mailto:enas(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2005 3:48 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Use Sheetpiles for Shearwall

I have a question on sheet pile wall:


Can we use a Z-shaped sheet pile wall to resist seismic shear (In-Plan)?
The sheet pile wall will protrude above the ground about 10 to 15 feet.
Normally, the primary purpose of the sheet pile wall was designed for
"Out of Plan" bending as a retaining wall.   However, in this case the
sheet pile wall will be used as a shearwall.  The sheetpiles will be
driven into an average to poor fill levee in the California delta area. 


What our concern is the shear may stretch the Z-shape pile and does not
take the design shear.  Also, the interlock joints between each sheet
piles are not vertically connected together and assumed it will slip
when applying the horizontal seismic shear loads.


Originally I thought the interface between soil and sheet pile at the
potential failure surface is much weaker than the sheet pile itself. 


If anyone designed it before or has experience, please advise.


Thank you in advance,


Kenneth Liu, SE


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