Self-Sinking Caisson Failure Investigation


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In December 2006, the structure designed to hold combined sewage overflows in wait of treatment in Dearborn, MI failed thirteen months into the construction process. This structure was a hollow caisson that was designed to sink under its own weight after excavation of the interior soil. The caisson was intended to sink to a depth of 97 feet which would result in a total available volume of 10.5 million gallons. However, the caisson stopped sinking after a depth of 58 feet and experienced delamination and tension cracking. The project team has spent the last several months researching the possible causes of failure of the caisson by analyzing the design and implementation of the project. With the support and resources from our sponsor, Zack Chabot from SGH, and our faculty advisor, Dr. Ray Cook, the team examined the caisson to form hypotheses of failure and completed calculations to determine the validity of these hypotheses. Finally, it was determined that varying strength of the soil, lack of radial reinforcement, and ineffective flexural reinforcement ultimately led to the failure of the self-sinking caisson.


First Name Last Name
Rita Masouras
Will Conley
Maya Norris
Alissa Reitter

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Submission Details

Conference URC
Event Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering (ISE)
Department Civil and Environmental Engineering (ISE)
Group Investigation
Added April 17, 2022, 11:24 p.m.
Updated April 17, 2022, 11:32 p.m.
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