Effect of modelling assumptions and input motion characteristics on seismic design parameters of RC bridge piers

A. S. Elnashai, D. C. McClure

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36 Scopus citations


Modelling assumptions, boundary and loading conditions have a significant effect on analytical assessment of ductility supply and demand measures for RC bridges, a structural form which had suffered extensively in recent earthquakes. In recognition of the important role played by analysis in advancing seismic design of bridges, this paper is concerned with assessing the effect of model characteristics and earthquake strong-motion selection on analytical action and deformation seismic design parameters. This is of particular significance when viewed in the light of the large capital investment and problems with the satisfaction of dynamic similitude encountered in physical testing of piers and pier-deck assemblies. The models studied range between simple fixed-base cantilever and inclusion of both soil and deck effects, represented by assemblies of springs in translational and rotational degrees of freedom. Moreover, two sets of earthquake records are used in dynamic analysis, each comprising six records covering low, intermediate and high a/v, where a and v are the peak ground acceleration and velocity, respectively. The two sets differ in the scaling procedure employed to bring them to a common level of severity; the first set is obtained by direct acceleration scaling whilst the second utilizes the concept of velocity spectral intensity. The results from static and dynamic analysis, using advanced material characterization and solution procedures, are assessed and discussed. Subject to the limitations of the study, outlined in the paper, the results indicate that the inclusion of deck stiffness and/or soil representation is essential to avail of accurate seismic response parameters. However, the effect of variations in soil stiffness and/or deck torsional rigidity applied in the analysis is rather small, compared to the inclusion/exclusion of the model feature. Moreover, it is also observed that using acceleration scaling leads to much larger scatter in the results than when velocity spectral intensity scaling is used. Finally, the results from two particular earthquakes, Friuli and El Centro, highlight the peril of using a small number of records selected without due consideration to the relationship between their wave form, predominant periods and spectral shapes on the one hand and the response periods of the structure on the other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-463
Number of pages29
JournalEarthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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