Parameters Influencing Seismic Structural Collapse with Emphasis on Vertical Accelerations and the Possible Related Risks for New and Existing Structures in the Central and Eastern United States

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Virginia Tech


This thesis presents the results of basically two separate studies. The first study involved identifying structural and earthquake parameters that influenced seismic structural collapse. The parameter study involved nonlinear dynamic analyses using single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) bilinear models. Four parameters were associated with the SDOF models — the lateral stiffness, the post-yield stiffness ratio, the yield strength, and the stability ratio (P-Delta effects). Then, three parameters were associated with the ground motions — the records themselves, the lateral ground motion scales, and the vertical ground motion scales.

From the parameter study, it was found that the post-yield stiffness ratio augmented by P-Delta effects (rp) in conjunction with the ductility demand was the best predictor of collapse. These two quantities include all four structural parameters and the seismic displacement demands. It was also discovered in the parameter study that vertical accelerations did not significantly influence lateral displacements unless a given combination of model and earthquake parameters was altered such that the model was on the verge of collapsing.

The second study involved Incremental Dynamic Analysis (IDA) using bilinear SDOF models representative of low rise buildings in both the Western United States (WUS) and the Central and Eastern United States (CEUS). Models were created that represented three, five, seven, and nine story buildings. Five sites from both the WUS and CEUS were used. Four different damage measures were used to assess the performance of the buildings. The IDA study was primarily interested in the response of the structures between the earthquake intensities that have a 10 percent probability of occurring in 50 years (10/50) and 2 percent probability of occurring in 50 years (2/50).

The results showed that all structures could be in danger of severe damage and possible collapse, depending on which damage measure and which earthquake was used. It is important to note, though, that the aforementioned is based on a damage-based collapse rule. The damage-based rule results were highly variable.

Using an intensity-based collapse rule, proved to be more consistent. Due to the nature of the bilinear models, only those structures with negative rp values ever collapsed using an intensity-based collapse rule. Most of the WUS models had positive rp values and many of the CEUS models had negative rp values. While many of the CEUS structures had negative rp values, which made them prone to collapse, most of the CEUS structures analyzed did not collapse at the 2/50 intensity. The reason was that the periods of the CEUS models were much longer than the approximate periods that were required to determine the strengths. Consequently, the strength capacity of most of the CEUS models was much greater than the seismic strength demands. While many of the CEUS models did have sudden collapses due to the large negative rp values, the collapses happened at intensities that were generally much higher than the 2/50 event.

In the IDA, it was also shown that vertical accelerations can significantly affect the ductility demands of a model with a negative rp post-yield stiffness ratio as the earthquake intensity approaches the collapse intensity. Since IDA is concerned with establishing collapse limit states, it seems that the most accurate collapse assessments would include vertical accelerations.



Dynamic Instability, Incremental Dynamic Analysis, Nonlinear Analysis, Seismic Hazard, Central and Eastern United States, P-Delta Effects, Vertical Accelerations, OpenSees, Collapse