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Re: Steel Water Tank Foundation

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        I've done a number of these for petroleum storage.  What you describe is typical of a standard API tank foundation.  API (American Petroleum Institute) is very well known.  I'm sure they have a web site but I've never had occasion to look for it.
        I must admit, the first time I designed a tank using the API standard I had my doubts; but they seem to work just fine.
        The largest tanks I ever worked on were something like 120 feet in diameter by 90 feet tall to store MTBE at a gasoline refinery. (Don't ask me to spell MTBE out in full; but it's mixed in a ratio of 30% with 70% gasoline to produce unleaded fuel for cars.)  There were two of these tanks underlain by about 90 feet of poor soil.  One of the tanks had a gigantic boulder covering about 25% of the projected area underneath it (a good many feet underneath it but I've forgotten the exact number).  I did a finite element analysis of the combined tank, soil, and rock; and the geotechnical consultant did a different form of analysis.  We independently reach the conclusion that it would work; and so far it has.  This was abut 1990; if it had failed it would have spilled some $30,000,000 worth of MTBE into the diked containment area and I'm sure we would have heard about it (even those in India would have heard about it if they had their windows open).
H. Daryl Richardson
----- Original Message -----
From: Rich Lewis
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2006 9:05 AM
Subject: Steel Water Tank Foundation

I was asked to research a foundation design for a large steel water tank.  The tank is about 50 feet diameter and 24 feet tall.  It looks like a typical oil field tank.  Are there publications that give foundation design recommendations for large diameter tanks?  What is the best source of design criteria?


The owner has stated that typically they put down sand and gravel and sit the tank directly on that.  Then they build a steel ring around the tank, beyond the tank perimeter,  to contain the soil underneath.  Is this a common procedure?  I would have expected a concrete ring footing below the tank.


If a concrete ring footing is used, does it only carry gravity load, or is it subject to tension forces from horizontal forces from the soil as well?


Thanks for any insight you can give.