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Sliding response of gravity dams including vertical seismic accelerations

Constantin Christopoulos1, Pierre Léger2 and André Filiatrault3

  1. Department of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada

  2. Department of Civil Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal, Canada

  3. Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, USA

Abstract: Seismic safety assessment of gravity dams has become a major concern in many regions of the world while the effects of vertical seismic accelerations on the response of structures remain poorly understood. This paper first investigates the effect of including vertical accelerations in the sliding response analysis of gravity dams subjected to a range of historical ground motion records separated in two groups according to their source-to-site distance. Analyses showed that the incidence of vertical accelerations on the sliding response of gravity dams is significantly higher for near-source records than for far-source records. The pseudo-static 30% load combination rule, commonly used in practice to account for the non-simultaneous occurrence of the peak horizontal and vertical accelerations, yielded good approximations of the minimum safety factors against sliding computed from time-history analyses. A method for empirically estimating the vertical response spectra based on horizontal spectra, accounting for the difference in frequency content and amplitudes between the two components is investigated. Results from analyses using spectrum compatible horizontal and vertical synthetic records also approximated well the sliding response of a gravity dam subjected to series of simultaneous horizontal and vertical historical earthquake records.

Keywords: vertical accelerations; sliding; gravity dams; synthetic accelerograms; pseudo-static combinations; frequency

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Copyright© 2009 IEM. Journal of Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Vibration. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as described below, without written permission from the Publisher. Copying of articles is not permitted except for personal and internal use, to the extent permitted by national copyright law, or under the terms of a license issued by the National Reproduction Rights Organization of China.