Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Nadarajah Ravichandran, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Ronald D. Andrus

Committee Member

Dr. Ashok Mishra

Committee Member

Dr. Weichiang Pang


This dissertation presents a coupled hydrological-geotechnical framework to investigate the performance of shallow and deep foundations under hydrological events such as heavy rainfall and drought. The variation in performance of foundation, interface between the structure and ground surface, is caused by the uncertainties associated with not only the geotechnical parameters but also the hydrological parameters that include intensity and duration of hydrological events and water table depth. The impact of such hydrological events significantly alters the performance of foundations by changing the soil strength and stiffness parameters of subsurface soil which may lead to foundation failures. Such failures can cause damage to the supporting structure. Therefore, to better understand the performance of geotechnical systems under different hydrological events and also to build sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems, the design of geotechnical systems should be carried out in a coupled hydrological-geotechnical manner considering the site-specific geotechnical and hydrological parameters. To this end, a numerical framework is developed based on the partially saturated soil mechanics principles and applied to a number of sites in the United States to show the impacts of hydrological events in the performance of shallow and deep foundations. In this framework, the one-dimensional Richards’ equation is numerically solved to compute the spatial and temporal variation of the degree of saturation and matric suction in subsurface soil due to the site-specific rainfall, evapotranspiration, and water table depth as model boundary conditions. Then, the critical settlement and bearing capacity of foundations (as critical design values) are calculated using the average degree of saturation and matric suction within the foundation influence zone. It is worth mentioning that two different design methodologies based on the probabilistic analysis and single extreme hydrological cycle are considered in the proposed framework to have a better assessment of foundation performance. The results show that the hydrological parameters have a significant impact on the performance of shallow and deep foundations, and in general, they improve the predicted foundation design values obtained from conventional methods in terms of the settlement and bearing capacity. The proposed method can be used as a decision-making tool for selecting the suitable design values of foundations in engineering practice.



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