Geosynthetic-reinforced pile-supported (GRPS) embankments were developed for areas with compressible soil and subsidence.

Up to date, nearly all GRPS piled embankments in the world are dry, and therefore, no measurements were available of those structures where the embankment was partially or completely submerged into groundwater.

As a result, in wet conditions, unsustainable and unnecessarily expensive solutions such as concrete slabs are chosen.

This research will quantified the influence of extreme rain (climate change) or a high groundwater level (subsidence, sea level rise) and develop a design procedure to take groundwater into account.

Furthermore, efforts have been made to understand the impact of dynamic loading on piled mattresses through field measurements and numerical analyses.


  • Field measurements
  • Small-scale experiments
  • Finite element analyses

Field measurements

A regional road in the Krimpenerwaard, Netherlands, was constructed on a geotextile-reinforced pile-supported embankment. A section was monitored for four years. Geotextile strains, the changing groundwater level and settlements were measured.

GRPS embankment in the Krimpenerwaard, Netherlands. Installation of geotextile reinforcement, at the bottom of the embankment. (a) across road way, (b) along road way. The concrete pre-cast pile caps were covered by a non woven for protection of the reinforcement


Installation monitoring

Cross section test section, the ground water level was measured with pore pressure transducers. The groundwater table varied strongly.

Measured groundwater  level (ppt1). Air bubbles disturbed the measurements of ppt6.

Measured strains in the geotextile reinforcement

The geotextile strains did not respond clearly to the changing groundwater table 

The geotextile strains seem to relate with the average day temperature

The measured geotextile (GR) strains are smaller than the values calculated with the Concentric Arches model, that is utilized by the Dutch Design Guideline CUR226 for basal reinforced piled embankments

The analytical Concentric Arches model (van Eekelen et al., 2013 and 2015). The load is transferred via the arches towards the subsurface and pile caps. 

Conclusions field experiments

  • The analytic Concentric Arches model calculates larger geotextile strains than measured and therefore gives a safe prediction
  • The groundwater level does not affect the geotextile strains
  • The air temperature affects the geotextile strains
  • For this case, with these geotextiles, and this high ground water level, design guideline CUR226 for basal reinforced piled embankments, that applies the Concentric Arches model, gives a safe design.


Private partners

  • Solmax / TenCate

Knowledge Institutes

  • Deltares, Delft, The Netherlands
  • Kyung Hee University, Giheung-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea

Products / planning

The official products of this TKI project are:

Test set-up of Deltares modified, and scaled tests conducted.

A journal paper:

Lee, T.H., van Eekelen, S.J.M., Jung, Y.H., 2021. Numerical Verification of the Concentric Arches Model for Geosynthetic-reinforced Piled Embankments: Applicability and Limitations. Canadian Geotechnical Journal.

Proceedings papers about the field measurements and presented at the corresponding conferences:

van Eekelen, S.J.M., Zwaan, R.A. Nancey, A., Ruiter, J.M. and Jung, Y.H., 2022. Field measurements in a partly submerged woven geotextile-reinforced pile-supported embankment. In: proceedings of Eurogeo7, September 2022, Warsaw, Poland. IOP Conf. Series: Materials Science and Engineering 1260 (2022) 012046

van Eekelen, S.J.M., Zwaan, R.A., Nancey, A., Hazenkamp, M., Jung, Y.H., 2023. Four years field measurements in a partly submerged woven geotextile-reinforced pile-supported embankment. In: proc. 12ICG, Rome, Italy.

Proceedings papers about the model tests with groundwater:

van Eekelen, S.J.M., Wittekoek, B., Zwaan, R.A., Bezuijen, A., Nancey, A., 2024a. Groundwater in geosynthetics-reinforced pile-supported embankments, 3D Experiments. In: proc. ECSMGE 2024, Lisbon, Portugal.

van Eekelen, S.J.M., Wittekoek, B., Zwaan, R.A., Bezuijen, A., Nancey, A., 2024b. 3D Experiments in bath: groundwater in geosynthetic-reinforced pile-supported embankments. In: proc. 5th ECPMGE, Delft, Netherlands

Papers in Dutch magazine GeoKunst, GeoTechniek: 

van Eekelen, Suzanne J.M., Zwaan, Rob, Nancey, Alain, Hazenkamp, Marco, Jung, Young-Hoon, 2021. Veldmetingen in een onder-water paalmatras met geotextiel-wapening. GeoKunst, GeoTechniek, juni 2021, 54-59. 

van Eekelen, Suzanne J.M. Zwaan, Rob A., Bezuijen, Adam, 2024. Grondwater in paalmatrassen, 3D experimenten in bad. In: GeoKunst, GeoTechniek, september 2024.

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