Consolidation in Soft Soil – Case Study on Prefabricated Vertical Drains (PVDs)

Nadarasa Kuganeswaran1, 2, *, Afikah Rahim1, Nazri Ali1
1 School of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Skudai Johor Bahru, Malaysia
2 Public Works Department, Kerian District, Jalan Pejabat, 34200 Parit Buntar Perak, Malaysia

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© 2021 Kuganeswaran et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Skudai Johor Bahru, Malaysia; E-mail:



Constructing on soft ground is one of the challenges of geotechnical engineering. The unpredictable behaviour and characteristics of soft soil can cause much damage resulting in high maintenance costs in the post-construction phase.


The purpose of this study is to analyse the consolidation process and ground improvement method using surcharge and a prefabricated vertical drain by measuring the accuracy of the prediction settlement value with the actual site settlement results.


An effective ground improvement method is the application of a surcharge and prefabricated vertical drains (PVDs). Various methods can be used to predict the settlement effectively, one such method being PLAXIS 3D simulation. A case study on ground improvement works was selected for this research, where PVDs were constructed and implemented at the site. A few undisturbed samples were collected from the site to generate the parameters based on the lab test conducted in the simulation process. This parameter was carefully studied and representing the principal input for the 3D model, which is generated and represents the actual ground improvement method for the selected case study. The analysis was performed using a borehole and soft soil model to generate the diagram. The prediction settlement value was generated from the PLAXIS 3D analysis as the baseline comparing to the actual results. The factors that influence the settlement value, such as the length and spacing of the prefabricated vertical drain, construction method, and soil characteristics, are also discussed.


A predicted settlement of 2553 mm was generated by the simulation, while the actual settlement outcome at the site was 2096 mm, a difference of 457 mm, and a prediction accuracy of 82.1%.


The study found that the combination of surcharge and prefabricated vertical drain in the ground improvement worked well. Also, discussed were the factors that influenced the accuracy of the prediction and the site results.

Keywords: Consolidation, Ground improvement, PVD, Settlement, Soft soil, PLAXIS 3D simulation.