Development of Computational Tools for Characterization, Evaluation, and Modification of Strong Ground Motions within a Performance-Based Seismic Design Framework

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Virginia Tech

One of the most difficult tasks towards designing earthquake resistant structures is the determination of critical earthquakes. Conceptually, these are the ground motions that would induce the critical response in the structures being designed. The quantification of this concept, however, is not easy. Unlike the linear response of a structure, which can often be obtained by using a single spectrally modified ground acceleration history, the nonlinear response is strongly dependent on the phasing of ground motion and the detailed shape of its spectrum. This necessitates the use of a suite (bin) of ground acceleration histories having phasing and spectral shapes appropriate for the characteristics of the earthquake source, wave propagation path, and site conditions that control the design spectrum. Further, these suites of records may have to be scaled to match the design spectrum over a period range of interest, rotated into strike-normal and strike-parallel directions for near-fault effects, and modified for local site conditions before they can be input into time-domain nonlinear analysis of structures. The generation of these acceleration histories is cumbersome and daunting. This is especially so due to the sheer magnitude of the data processing involved.

The purpose of this thesis is the development and documentation of PC-based computational tools (hereinafter called EQTools) to provide a rapid and consistent means towards systematic assembly of representative strong ground motions and their characterization, evaluation, and modification within a performance-based seismic design framework. The application is graphics-intensive and every effort has been made to make it as user-friendly as possible. The application seeks to provide processed data which will help the user address the problem of determination of the critical earthquakes. The various computational tools developed in EQTools facilitate the identification of severity and damage potential of more than 700 components of recorded earthquake ground motions. The application also includes computational tools to estimate the ground motion parameters for different geographical and tectonic environments, and perform one-dimensional linear/nonlinear site response analysis as a means to predict ground surface motions at sites where soft soils overlay the bedrock.

While EQTools may be used for professional practice or academic research, the fundamental purpose behind the development of the software is to make available a classroom/laboratory tool that provides a visual basis for learning the principles behind the selection of ground motion histories and their scaling/modification for input into time domain nonlinear (or linear) analysis of structures. EQTools, in association with NONLIN, a Microsoft Windows based application for the dynamic analysis of single- and multi-degree-of-freedom structural systems (Charney, 2003), may be used for learning the concepts of earthquake engineering, particularly as related to structural dynamics, damping, ductility, and energy dissipation.

Fourier Amplitude Spectrum, Attenuation Relationships, Site Response, EQTools, NONLIN, Ground Motion Histories, Amplitude Parameters, Duration Parameters, Ground Motions, Response Spectrum, Ground Motion Database, Performance-Based Seismic Design, Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis