Centrifuge modeling of rocking-isolated inelastic RC bridge piers

Marianna Loli, Jonathan A. Knappett, Michael J. Brown, Ioannis Anastasopoulos (Lead / Corresponding author), George Gazetas

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    64 Citations (Scopus)
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    Experimental proof is provided of an unconventional seismic design concept, which is based on deliberately underdesigning shallow foundations to promote intense rocking oscillations and thereby to dramatically improve the seismic resilience of structures. Termed rocking isolation, this new seismic design philosophy is investigated through a series of dynamic centrifuge experiments on properly scaled models of a modern reinforced concrete (RC) bridge pier. The experimental method reproduces the nonlinear and inelastic response of both the soil-footing interface and the structure. To this end, a novel scale model RC (1:50 scale) that simulates reasonably well the elastic response and the failure of prototype RC elements is utilized, along with realistic representation of the soil behavior in a geotechnical centrifuge. A variety of seismic ground motions are considered as excitations. They result in consistent demonstrably beneficial performance of the rocking-isolated pier in comparison with the one designed conventionally. Seismic demand is reduced in terms of both inertial load and deck drift. Furthermore, foundation uplifting has a self-centering potential, whereas soil yielding is shown to provide a particularly effective energy dissipation mechanism, exhibiting significant resistance to cumulative damage. Thanks to such mechanisms, the rocking pier survived, with no signs of structural distress, a deleterious sequence of seismic motions that caused collapse of the conventionally designed pier.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2341-2359
    Number of pages19
    JournalEarthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics
    Issue number15
    Early online date6 Jul 2014
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


    • Centrifuge modeling
    • Seismic performance
    • Soil – structure interaction
    • Rocking isolation
    • Concrete failure

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Engineering(all)
    • Civil and Structural Engineering


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