I am trying to visualize possible failure modes for foundations of elevated structures supported by piers, caissons, or even piles. Examples include communication towers, stair towers, or any other structures with multiple legs. To keep things simple consider a four legged frame (with four individual piers) with lateral loads applied at 45 degree angle. Assuming that two opposite corners are along the resultant neutral axis, and each of the other two corners are either in tension or compression, how will foundation failure occur? If tensile capacity controls pier design, how can upward movement occur without associated compressive failure, which is usually a higher limiting value? So does it really "fail" under tension?
Your comments and any technical references would be appreciated.
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