Geofoam blocks to protect buried pipelines subjected to strike-slip fault rupture

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Journal Article
Geotextiles and Geomembranes, 2020, 48, (3), pp. 257-274
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© 2019 Elsevier Ltd This paper proposes using geofoam blocks to improve the safety of buried steel pipelines under permanent ground deformation due to strike-slip fault rupture. Since these geofoam blocks are deformable, they can compress during fault rupture and thus reduce the pressure imposed on the pipeline by the surrounding soil. This means that the pipe can sustain a higher level of tectonic deformations. For the pipeline system adopted in this study, the geofoam blocks consist of two 1 m thick blocks at each side and another on the top of the pipeline. The effectiveness of this configuration is then assessed in comparison to the conventional buried pipeline by three dimensional numerical simulations that consider the interaction between soil and structure and the impact of critical parameters such as the pipeline-fault trace crossing angle, geofoam blocks thickness and the internal pressure of the pipeline. The results indicated that the geofoam blocks reduced the axial tensile strain of non-pressurised pipeline from the unacceptable 4.16% to the safe level of 0.75% when the crossing angle was 135°. In addition, geofoam blocks successfully decreased the maximum ovalisation parameter and compressive strain of the non-pressurised pipeline from 0.237 and −25.8% to 0.065 and −0.47%, respectively when the crossing angle was 65°.
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