Also called caissons, drilled shafts, drilled piers, Cast-in-drilled-hole piles (CIDH piles) or Cast-in-Situ piles. Rotary boring techniques offer larger diameter piles than any other piling method and permit pile construction through particularly dense or hard strata. Construction methods depend on the geology of the site. In particular, whether boring is to be undertaken in 'dry' ground conditions or through water-logged but stable strata - i.e. 'wet boring'.
For end-bearing piles, drilling continues until the borehole has extended a sufficient depth (socketing) into a sufficiently strong layer. Depending on site geology, this can be a rock layer, or hardpan, or other dense, strong layers. Both the diameter of the pile and the depth of the pile are highly specific to the ground conditions, loading conditions, and nature of the project.
'Dry' boring methods employ the use of a temporary casing to seal the pile bore through water-bearing or unstable strata overlying suitable stable material. Upon reaching the design depth, a reinforcing cage is introduced, concrete is poured in the borehole and brought up to the required level. The casing can be withdrawn or left in situ.
'Wet' boring also employs a temporary casing through unstable ground and is used when the pile bore cannot be sealed against water ingress. Boring is then undertaken using a digging bucket to drill through the underlying soils to design depth. The reinforcing cage is lowered into the bore and concrete is placed by tremie pipe, following which, extraction of the temporary casing takes place.
In some cases there may be a need to employ drilling fluids (such as bentonite suspension) in order to maintain a stable shaft. Rotary auger piles are available in diameters from 300 mm to 2400 mm or even larger and using these techniques, pile lengths of beyond 50 metres can be achieved.
A common mode of failure for drilled piles is formation of a reduced section due to the collapse of the walls of the shaft during installation, reducing the pile capacity below applied loads. Drilled piles can be tested using a variety of methods to verify the pile integrity during installation.