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Doctorate study Basal Reinforced Piled Embankments

Suzanne van Eekelen receives her PhD on basal reinforced piled embankments on 1 July 2015. 

For the doctorate, the Deltares laboratory carried out a series of experiments, reported in Van Eekelen et al., 2012a. Based on this, Van Eekelen developed the new Concentric Arches - design model for the basal reinforcement of the piled embankment (Van Eekelen et al., 2012b, Van Eekelen et al., 2013).

This model was validated with measurements from seven full-scale projects and four series of scaled model experiments (Van Eekelen et al., 2015). The calculated results are almost a perfect match with the measured results.

The Concentric Arches model. The loads are transported along the hemispheres and the 2D arches, towards the piles, the geosynthetic reinforcement and the subsoil. 

The results of the doctorate study are reported in the doctorate dissertation of Van Eekelen ((2015, ISBN 978-94-6203-825-7), click here to order a free paper version) and adopted in the 2015 update of the Dutch Design Guideline for Basal Reinforced Piled Embankments (CUR226:2015, in Dutch, downloadable at

What is a piled embankment?

A piled embankment consists of a foundation on piles, with on top of that an embankment. The bottom section of the embankment is composed of a granular material and reinforced with one or more geosynthetic layers. The embankment can be raised with sand or granular material. The piled embankment is finished with a road or a railroad construction.

Within the granular layer, a kind of arche occurs. The load is transferred through these arches. This phenomenon is called arching.

Why are piled embankments applied?

A basal reinforced piled embankment can be used for the construction of a road or a railway when a traditional construction method would require too much construction time, affect vulnerable objects nearby or give too much residual settlement, making frequent maintenance necessary.


Construction of the N210 in the Krimpenerwaard: sensitive existing road, very soft soil; Ballast Nedam Infra and Huesker Geosynthetics

Example projects

Please find a list of Dutch piled embankment projects here.


The Dutch version of Piled Embankment: Paalmatrassystemen.


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