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TagsCalibration Deep Foundation Structural Load Structural Steel Bearing (Mechanical)
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Table of Contents
Referenced Documents
Significance and Use
Test Foundation Preparation
Apparatus for Applying and Measuring Loads
FIG. 1
FIG. 2
FIG. 3
FIG. 4
FIG. 5
FIG. 6
FIG. 7
FIG. 8
Apparatus for Measuring Movement
FIG. 9
FIG. 10
Test Procedures
FIG. 11
Safety Requirements
Precision and Bias
Document Text Contents
Page 1


Designation: D3966 – 07

Standard Test Methods for
Deep Foundations Under Lateral Load1

This standard is issued under the fixed designation D3966; the number immediately following the designation indicates the year of
original adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the year of last reapproval. A
superscript epsilon (´) indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval.

1. Scope*

1.1 The test methods described in this standard measure the
lateral deflection of a vertical or inclined deep foundation when
subjected to lateral loading. These methods apply to all deep
foundations, referred to herein as “pile(s),” that function in a
manner similar to driven piles or cast in place piles, regardless
of their method of installation, and may be used for testing
single piles or pile groups. The test results may not represent
the long-term performance of a deep foundation.

1.2 These test methods provide minimum requirements for
testing deep foundations under lateral load. Plans, specifica-
tions, provisions, or combinations thereof prepared by a
qualified engineer may provide additional requirements and
procedures as needed to satisfy the objectives of a particular
test program. The engineer in responsible charge of the
foundation design, referred to herein as the engineer, shall
approve any deviations, deletions, or additions to the require-
ments of these test methods.

1.3 These test methods allow the following test procedures:
Procedure Test Section

A Standard Loading 8.1.2
B Excess Loading (optional) 8.1.3
C Cyclic Loading (optional) 8.1.4
D Surge Loading (optional) 8.1.5
E Reverse Loading (optional) 8.1.6
F Reciprocal Loading (optional) 8.1.7
G Specified Lateral Movement (optional) 8.1.8
H Combined Loading (optional) 8.1.9

1.4 Apparatus and procedures herein designated “optional”
may produce different test results and may be used only when
approved by the engineer. The word “shall” indicates a
mandatory provision, and the word “should” indicates a

recommended or advisory provision. Imperative sentences
indicate mandatory provisions.

1.5 A qualified geotechnical engineer should interpret the
test results obtained from the procedures of these test methods
so as to predict the actual performance and adequacy of piles
used in the constructed foundation. See Appendix X1 for
comments regarding some of the factors influencing the
interpretation of test results.

1.6 A qualified engineer shall design and approve all load-
ing apparatus, loaded members, support frames, and test
procedures. The text of these test methods references notes and
footnotes which provide explanatory material. These notes and
footnotes (excluding those in tables and figures) shall not be
considered as requirements of the test methods. These test
methods also include illustrations and appendices intended
only for explanatory or advisory use.

1.7 The values stated in either SI units or inch-pound units
are to be regarded separately as standard. The values stated in
each system may not be exact equivalents; therefore, each
system shall be used independently of the other. Combining
values from the two systems may result in non-conformance
with the standard.

1.8 The gravitational system of inch-pound units is used
when dealing with inch-pound units. In this system, the pound
(lbf) represents a unit of force (weight), while the unit for mass
is slugs. The rationalized slug unit is not given, unless dynamic
(F=ma) calculations are involved.

1.9 All observed and calculated values shall conform to the
guidelines for significant digits and rounding established in
Practice D6026.

1.10 The method used to specify how data are collected,
calculated, or recorded in these test methods is not directly
related to the accuracy to which the data can be applied in
design or other uses, or both. How one applies the results
obtained using this standard is beyond its scope.

1.11 ASTM International takes no position respecting the
validity of any patent rights asserted in connection with any
item mentioned in this standard. Users of this standard are

1 These test methods are under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee D18 on Soil
and Rock and are the direct responsibility of Subcommittee D18.11 on Deep

Current edition approved Sept. 1, 2007. Published October 2007. Originally
approved in 1981. Last previous edition approved in 1995 as D3966 – 90 (1995)
which was withdrawn in December 2003 and reinstated in September 2007. DOI:


*A Summary of Changes section appears at the end of this standard.

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expressly advised that determination of the validity of any such
patent rights, and the risk of infringement of such rights, are
entirely their own responsibility.

1.12 This standard does not purport to address all of the
safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the
responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appro-
priate safety and health practices and determine the applica-
bility of regulatory limitations prior to use.

2. Referenced Documents

2.1 ASTM Standards:2

A36/A36M Specification for Carbon Structural Steel
A240/A240M Specification for Chromium and Chromium-

Nickel Stainless Steel Plate, Sheet, and Strip for Pressure
Vessels and for General Applications

A572/A572M Specification for High-Strength Low-Alloy
Columbium-Vanadium Structural Steel

D653 Terminology Relating to Soil, Rock, and Contained

D1143 Test Method for Piles Under Static Axial Compres-
sive Load3

D3689 Test Methods for Deep Foundations Under Static
Axial Tensile Load

D3740 Practice for Minimum Requirements for Agencies
Engaged in Testing and/or Inspection of Soil and Rock as
Used in Engineering Design and Construction

D5882 Test Method for Low Strain Impact Integrity Testing
of Deep Foundations

D6026 Practice for Using Significant Digits in Geotechnical

D6760 Test Method for Integrity Testing of Concrete Deep
Foundations by Ultrasonic Crosshole Testing

2.2 American Society of Mechanical Engineer Standards:4

ASME B30.1 Jacks
ASME B40.100 Pressure Gauges and Gauge Attachments
ASME B46.1 Surface Texture
ASME B89.1.10.M Dial Indicators (For Linear Measure-


3. Terminology

3.1 Definitions—For common definitions of terms used in
this standard see Terminology D653.

3.2 Definitions of Terms Specific to This Standard:
3.2.1 cast in-place pile, n—a deep foundation unit made of

cement grout or concrete and constructed in its final location,
e.g. drilled shafts, bored piles, caissons, auger cast piles,
pressure-injected footings, etc.

3.2.2 deep foundation, n—a relatively slender structural
element that transmits some or all of the load it supports to soil

or rock well below the ground surface, such as a steel pipe pile
or concrete drilled shaft.

3.2.3 driven pile, n—a deep foundation unit made of pre-
formed material with a predetermined shape and size and
typically installed by impact hammering, vibrating, or pushing.

3.2.4 failure load, n—for the purpose of terminating a
lateral load test, the test load at which continuing, progressive
movement occurs, or as specified by the engineer.

3.2.5 wireline, n—a steel wire mounted with a constant
tension force between two supports and used as a reference line
to read a scale indicating movement of the test pile.

4. Significance and Use

4.1 Field tests provide the most reliable relationship be-
tween the lateral load applied to a deep foundation and the
resulting lateral movement. Test results may also provide
information used to assess the distribution of lateral resistance
along the pile shaft and the long-term load-deflection behavior.
A foundation designer may evaluate the test results to deter-
mine if, after applying an appropriate factor of safety, the pile
or pile group has an ultimate lateral capacity and a deflection
at service load satisfactory to satisfy specific foundation
requirements. When performed as part of a multiple-pile test
program, the designer may also use the results to assess the
viability of different piling types and the variability of the test

4.2 The analysis of lateral test results obtained using proper
instrumentation helps the foundation designer characterize the
variation of pile-soil interaction properties, such as the coeffi-
cient of horizontal subgrade reaction, to estimate bending
stresses and lateral deflection over the length of the pile for use
in the structural design of the pile.

4.3 If feasible, without exceeding the safe structural load on
the pile(s) or pile cap, the maximum load applied should reach
a failure load from which the engineer may determine the
ultimate lateral load capacity of the pile(s). Tests that achieve
a failure load may help the designer improve the efficiency of
the foundation by reducing the piling length, quantity, or size.

4.4 If deemed impractical to apply lateral test loads to an
inclined pile, the engineer may elect to use lateral test results
from a nearby vertical pile to evaluate the lateral capacity of
the inclined pile.

NOTE 1—The quality of the result produced by this test method is
dependent on the competence of the personnel performing it, and the
suitability of the equipment and facilities used. Agencies that meet the
criteria of Practice D3740 are generally considered capable of competent
and objective testing/sampling/inspection/etc. Users of this test method
are cautioned that compliance with Practice D3740 does not in itself
assure reliable results. Reliable results depend on many factors; Practice
D3740 provides a means of evaluating some of those factors.

5. Test Foundation Preparation

5.1 Excavate or fill the test area to the final grade elevation
within a radius of 6 m (20 ft) from the test pile or group using
the same material and backfilling methods as for production
piles. Cut off or build up the test pile(s) as necessary to permit
construction of the load-application apparatus, placement of
the necessary testing and instrumentation equipment, and
observation of the instrumentation. Remove any damaged or

2 For referenced ASTM standards, visit the ASTM website,, or
contact ASTM Customer Service at [email protected] For Annual Book of ASTM
Standards volume information, refer to the standard’s Document Summary page on
the ASTM website.

3 Withdrawn. The last approved version of this historical standard is referenced

4 Available from American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), ASME
International Headquarters, Three Park Ave., New York, NY 10016-5990, http://

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rollers and without indention or distortion of plates, and to
provide minimal restraint to the lateral movement of the test
pile or group as the lateral test loads are applied. Fig. 8a
illustrates a typical assembly having a compressive load limit
of 890 kN (100 tons). The two plates shall be of Specification
A572/A572M steel or equal with a minimum yield strength of
290 MPa (42 000 psi) and shall have a minimum thickness of

75 mm (3 in.). The plates shall have sufficient lateral dimen-
sions to accommodate the length of rollers required for the
compressive loads and for the anticipated travel of the rollers
as the test pile or group moves laterally under load. The
contacting surfaces of the steel plates shall have a minimum
surface roughness of 63 as defined and measured by AS-
ME B46.1. The rollers shall be of sufficient number and length

FIG. 7 Typical Example of Set-up For Combined Lateral and Axial Compressive Load

FIG. 8 Typical Anti-friction Devices for Combined Load Test

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to accommodate the compressive loads and shall be of Speci-
fication A572/A572M steel Grade 45 or equal (minimum yield
strength 310 MPa (45 000 psi) with a minimum diameter of 75
6 0.03 mm (3 6 0.001 in.). The rollers shall have a minimum
surface roughness of 63 as defined and measured by AS-
ME B46.1. The plates shall be set level and the rollers shall be
placed perpendicular to the direction of lateral load application
with adequate spacing to prevent binding as lateral movement
occurs. Antifriction Plate Assembly (Fig. 8b)—The antifric-
tion plate assembly shall be designed and constructed as
illustrated in Fig. 8b and shall consist of the following
elements: (1) a minimum 25-mm (1-in.) thick steel plate, (2) a
minimum 3.4 mm (10-gauge) steel plate tack welded to the
25-mm (1-in.) thick plate, (3) a minimum 2.4-mm (3⁄32-in.)
sheet of virgin tetrafluoroethylene polymer with reinforcing
aggregates prebonded to the 3.4 mm (10-gauge) plate by a
heat-cured epoxy, and (4) a minimum 6.4-mm (1⁄4-in.) thick
plate of Specification A240/A240M Type 304 stainless steel
having a minimum surface roughness of 4 as defined and
measured by ASME B46.1. The area of contact between the
tetrafluoroethylene polymer and the stainless steel plate shall
be sufficient to maintain a unit pressure of less than 14 MPa
(2000 psi) under the compressive loads to be applied. The area
of the stainless steel plate shall be sufficient to maintain full
surface contact with the tetrafluoroethylene polymer as the test
pile or group deflects laterally. The stainless steel plate shall be
formed with lips on opposite sides to engage the edges of the
test plate under the lateral load. During the lateral test, the lips
shall be oriented in the direction of the applied lateral load. The
use of a plate assembly having an equivalent sliding friction
shall be permitted. The use of two steel plates with a layer of
grease in between shall not be permitted.

NOTE 6—Combined lateral and axial compressive loading is recom-
mended to simulate in-service conditions. Precautions should be taken to
avoid a vertical component resulting from the applied lateral load or a
lateral component from the applied axial load.

NOTE 7—An apparatus for applying an axial tensile load to the test pile
in combination with a lateral test load is difficult to construct without
restraining the test pile from moving laterally under the lateral test loads.
If it is required that a pile be tested under combined axial tensile and
lateral loading, the use of a suitable crane equipped with a line load
indicator is suggested for applying the uplift or tensile loads. Some type
of universal acting device should be used in the tension member
connecting the test pile with the crane hook. That in combination with the
crane falls should minimize restraint against lateral movement of the test
pile under lateral loads.

7. Apparatus for Measuring Movement

7.1 General:
7.1.1 Reference beams and wirelines shall be supported

independent of the loading system, with supports firmly
embedded in the ground at a clear distance from the test pile of
at least five times the diameter of the test pile(s) but not less
than 2.5 m (8 ft), and at a clear distance from any anchor piles
of at least five times the diameter of the anchor pile(s) but not
less than 2.5 m (8 ft). Reference supports shall also be located
as far as practicable from any struts or supports but not less
than a clear distance of 2.5 m (8 ft).

7.1.2 Reference beams shall have adequate strength, stiff-
ness, and cross bracing to support the test instrumentation and
minimize vibrations that may degrade measurement of the pile
movement. One end of each beam shall be free to move
laterally as the beam length changes with temperature varia-
tions. Supports for reference beams and wirelines shall be
isolated from moving water and wave action. Provide a tarp or
shelter to prevent direct sunlight and precipitation from affect-
ing the measuring and reference systems.

7.1.3 Dial and electronic displacement indicators shall con-
form to ASME B89.1.10.M Dial Indicators (For Linear Mea-
surements) and should generally have a travel of 100 mm (4
in.), but shall have a minimum travel of at least 75 mm (3 in.).
Provide greater travel, longer stems, or sufficient calibrated
blocks to allow for greater movement if anticipated. Electronic
indicators shall have a real-time display of the movement
available during the test. Provide a smooth bearing surface for
the indicator stem perpendicular to the direction of stem travel,
such as a small, lubricated, glass plate glued in place. Except as
required in 7.4, indicators shall have minimum graduations of
0.25 mm (0.01 in.) or less, with similar accuracy. Scales used
to measure pile movements shall have a length no less than 150
mm (6 in.), minimum graduations of 0.5 mm (0.02 in.) or less,
with similar accuracy, and shall be read to the nearest 0.1 mm
(0.005 in.). Survey rods shall have minimum graduations of 1
mm (0.01 ft) or less, with similar accuracy, and shall be read to
the nearest 0.1 mm (0.001 ft).

7.1.4 Dial indicators and electronic displacement indicators
shall be in good working condition and shall have a full range
calibration within three years prior to each test or series of
tests. Furnish calibration reports prior to performing a test,
including the ambient air temperature during calibration.

7.1.5 Clearly identify each displacement indicator, scale,
and reference point used during the test with a reference
number or letter.

7.1.6 Indicators, scales, or reference points attached to the
test pile, pile cap, reference beam, or other references shall be
firmly affixed to prevent movement relative to the test pile or
pile cap during the test. Unless otherwise approved by the
engineer, verify that reference beam and wireline supports do
not move during the test as provided in 7.6.

7.2 Pile Top Lateral Movements:
7.2.1 Unless otherwise specified, all lateral load tests shall

include apparatus for measuring the lateral movement of the
test pile top, or piles within a group, or the pile group cap. This
apparatus as described herein shall include a primary measure-
ment system and at least one redundant, secondary system.

NOTE 8—When possible use displacement indicators as the primary
system to obtain the most precise measurements. Use the redundant
system(s) to check top movement data and provide continuity when the
measuring system is disturbed or reset for additional movement.

7.2.2 Displacement Indicators (Fig. 1)—Orient the refer-
ence beam(s) perpendicular to the line of load application,
placing the beam supports as far as feasible from the test pile,
anchor piles, deadmen, or cribbing. Mount the displacement
indicator(s) on the reference beams to bear on the pile top
along the line of load application of the test pile, or pile cap,
with stems parallel to the line of load application. Alternatively,

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Page 17 Operating pressure for double-acting and differen-
tial type hammers, Throttle setting—diesel hammer (at final driving), Fuel type—diesel hammer, Horsepower delivered and frequency of vibratory

driver during final 3 m (10 ft) of pile penetration, Description of special installation procedures used

such as piles cased off, Type and location of pile splices, Driving or drilling records, Final penetration resistance (blows per inch), Rate of pile penetration in m/s (ft/s) for last 3 m

(10 ft), vibratory driving, When cap block replaced (indicate on log), When pile cushion replaced (indicate on log), Cause and duration of interruptions in pile instal-

lation, and Notation of any unusual occurrences during in-

10.1.5 Pile Testing: Date and type of test, Temperature and weather conditions during tests, Number of piles in group test, Brief description of load application apparatus,

including jack capacity, Location of point of load application with reference

to top of pile or pile cap, and to ground surface, Description of instrumentation used to measure

pile movement including location of indicators, scales, and
other reference points with respect to pile top, Description of special instrumentation such as
inclinometers or strain gauges including location of such with
reference to pile top, Axial load—type, amount, how applied, Special testing procedures used, Tabulation of all time, load, and movement read-

ings, Tabulation of inclinometer readings, declination

versus depth, Identification and location sketch of all indicators,

scales, and reference points, Description and explanation of adjustments made

to instrumentation or field data, or both, Notation of any unusual occurrences during test-

ing, Test jack and other required calibration reports, Groundwater level, and Suitable photographs showing the test instrumen-

tation and set-up.

11. Precision and Bias

11.1 Precision—Test data on precision is not presented due
to the nature of this test method. It is either not feasible or too
costly at this time to have ten or more agencies participate in
an in situ testing program at a given site. Each test pile is
unique due to the variable nature of the ground in which it is
embedded. Furthermore, retesting a particular pile commonly
results in different data from the initial testing due to plastic
movement of the ground in which the pile is embedded.

11.1.1 The Subcommittee D18.11 is seeking any data from
the users of this test method that might be used to make a
limited statement on precision.

11.2 Bias—There is no accepted reference value for this test
method, therefore, bias cannot be determined.

12. Keywords

12.1 field testing; jack; lateral static pile capacity; load cell;
loading procedure; reference beam


(Nonmandatory Information)


X1.1 Possible interaction of lateral loads from test pile(s)
with lateral loads transferred to the soil from reaction piles or
cribbing obtaining part or all of their support in soil at levels
above the tip level of the test pile.

X1.2 Changes in pore water pressure in the soil caused by
pile driving, construction fill, and other construction operations
which may influence the test results for frictional support in
relatively impervious soils such as clay and silt.

X1.3 Differences between conditions at time of testing and
after final construction such as changes in grade or groundwa-
ter level.

X1.4 Loss or gain of test pile soil resistance due to changes
in the soil stress distribution around the test pile(s) such as
excavation, scour, fill, etc.

X1.5 Possible differences in the performance of a pile in a
group or of a pile group from that of a single isolated pile.

X1.6 Affect on long-term pile performance of factors such
as creep, environmental effects on pile material, negative
friction loads, swelling soils, and strength losses.

X1.7 Type of structure to be supported, including sensitiv-
ity of structure to movement and relation between live and
dead loads.

X1.8 Special testing procedures which may be required for
the application of certain acceptance criteria or methods of

X1.9 Requirement that non tested pile(s) have essentially
identical conditions to those for tested pile(s) including, but not

D3966 – 07


Page 18


limited to, subsurface conditions, pile type, length, size and
stiffness, and pile installation methods and equipment so that

application or extrapolation of the test results to such other
piles is valid.


Subcommittee D18 has identified the location of selected changes to this standard since the last issue
(D3966 – 90 (1995)) that may impact the use of this standard (approved Sept. 1, 2007).

(1) Reorganization following current D18 guidelines, includ-
ing addition of “Terminology” and “Significance and Use.”
(2) Change title and text to indicate multiple procedures and
include deep foundations that function similar to driven piles.
(3) Inclusion of current D18 caveats D6026 and D3740.
(4) Require load cell(s) for tests over 900 kN (100 tons), and
hemispherical bearings.

(5) More specific requirements for test plates.

(6) Addition of references for pressure gauges and displace-
ment indicators. Note that these references are ANSI standards
that are maintained by ASME. At some future point, D18.11
hopes to develop ASTM standards for these references.

(7) Additional requirements for measuring systems.

ASTM International takes no position respecting the validity of any patent rights asserted in connection with any item mentioned
in this standard. Users of this standard are expressly advised that determination of the validity of any such patent rights, and the risk
of infringement of such rights, are entirely their own responsibility.

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