Plate load test limitations

The limitations of the plate load test are as follows:•

As the width of the bearing plate is very small compared with the actual foundation, it only provides an estimate of the bearing capacity up to a depth of twice the width of the bearing plate.•

Since the plate load test is conducted over a very short duration, the settlement measured during plate load should not be considered as the ultimate settlement. This is particularly relevant to clayey soils.•

The plate load test underestimates the bearing capacity of dense sandy soils, because the bearing capacity of dense sandy soils increase with an increase in the size of the footing.•

The failure load is often not well defined in the load settlement curves obtained from the test. Hence, errors may arise based upon personal interpretation.•

The effect of the water table may not be taken into account properly in the test. It is advised to lower the water level by pumping, if it is encountered at the testing depth.

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