Van Thien Mai, Ph.D.; Ian D. Moore, Ph.D., P.Eng., M.ASCE; and Neil A. Hoult, Ph.D., P.Eng., M.ASCE



The performance of large diameter corrugated steel culverts/pipes under varying cover depth up to deep burial has previously not been investigated in a laboratory setting due to limitations associated with the application of overburden pressures.

Using the new deep burial simulator at Queen’s University, it is now possible to test flexible pipes up to 3 m in diameter up to a simulated burial depth of approximately 17 m.

In this study, a 2-m diameter corrugated steel pipe (CSP) culvert was instrumented with displacement transducers, strain gauges, and distributed fiber optic strain sensors and was tested under increasing overburden pressure up to a total of 358 kPa (equivalent to a depth of 17.9 m of soil with a unit weight of 20 kN/m3).

The diameter change values along the length of the culvert were within 10% of each other, suggesting that the simulator produces approximately uniform loading. The Canadian bridge design code produced thrust estimates within 10% of the measured response but did not predict the development of localized plastic hinges seen in the experiment.