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Response of Buried Pipelines Subject to Earthquake Effects

by M.J. O'Rourke and X. Liu

The earthquake safety of buried pipelines has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years. These pipeline systems are commonly used to transport water, sewage, oil, natural gas and other materials. They are often referred to as "lifelines" since they carry materials essential to the support of life and maintenance of property.

Important characteristics of buried pipelines are that they generally cover large areas and are subject to a variety of geotectonic hazards. They can be damaged either by permanent movements of ground or by transient seismic wave propagation. Permanent ground movements include surface faulting, lateral spreading due to liquefaction, and landsliding. The hazard is usually limited to small regions within the pipeline network, however the potential for damage is very high. On the other hand, wave propagation hazards typically affect the whole pipeline network, but the rate of damage is lower (i.e, lower pipe breaks and leaks per unit length of pipe).


This monograph reviews the behavior of buried pipelines and components subject to permanent ground deformation and wave propagation hazards, as well as existing methods to quantify their response. The review focuses on simplified procedures which can be directly used in the seismic analysis and design of buried pipelines and components. Where alternate approaches for analysis or design are available, results from the different procedures are compared. The authors attempt to benchmark the usefulness and relative accuracy of various approaches through comparison with available case histories. Chapters include:

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