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Design of bridges against large tectonic deformation

I. Anastasopoulos, G. Gazetas, V. Drosos, T. Georgarakos and R. Kourkoulis

National Technical University, Athens, Greece

Abstract: The engineering community has devoted much effort to understanding the response of soil-structure systems to seismic ground motions, but little attention to the effects of an outcropping fault offset. The 1999 earthquakes of Turkey and Taiwan, offering a variety of case histories of structural damage due to faulting, have (re)fueled the interest on the subject. This paper presents a methodology for design of bridges against tectonic deformation. The problem is decoupled in two analysis steps: the first (at the local level) deals with the response of a single pier and its foundation to fault rupture propagating through the soil, and the superstructure is modeled in a simplified manner; and the second (at the global level) investigates detailed models of the superstructure subjected to the support (differential) displacements of Step 1. A parametric study investigates typical models of viaduct and overpass bridges, founded on piles or caissons. Fixed-head piled foundations are shown to be rather vulnerable to faulting-induced deformation. End-bearing piles in particular are unable to survive bedrock offsets exceeding 10 cm. Floating piles perform better, and if combined with hinged pile-to-cap connections, they could survive much larger offsets. Soil resilience is beneficial in reducing pile distress. Caisson foundations are almost invariably successful. Statically-indeterminate superstructures are quite vulnerable, while statically-determinate are insensitive (allowing differential displacements and rotations without suffering any distress). For large-span cantilever-construction bridges, where a statically determinate system is hardly an option, inserting resilient seismic isolation bearings is advantageous as long as ample seating can prevent the deck from falling off the supports. An actual application of the developed method is presented for a major bridge, demonstrating the feasibility of design against tectonic deformation.

Keywords: fault rupture; earthquake; soil-structure interaction; bridge; viaduct; pile group; caisson foundation; finite elements

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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.