Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 585–605 | Cite as

Centrifuge modelling of normal fault–foundation interaction

  • M. F. BransbyEmail author
  • M. C. R. Davies
  • A. El. Nahas
Original Research Paper


Earthquake fault ruptures may emerge at the ground surface causing large differential movements. When fault ruptures emerge at or adjacent to the position of existing foundations, significant damage can be caused. However, the study of recent faulting events revealed that in some circumstances the fault-rupture emergence is deflected by the presence of buildings leaving the buildings intact. A centrifuge modelling study has been conducted to investigate how normal faults interact with strip foundations which run parallel to the strike direction. The study confirms that fault rupture may be deviated by the presence of the foundation so that the foundation is protected from the most serious differential movements. However, whilst the fault propagates to the soil surface the foundation has to withstand initial movements before the final fault rupture emergence mechanism is activated. The centrifuge results suggest that it is the bearing pressure of the foundation which causes the deviation of the fault rather than the kinematic restraint of the foundation. The interaction between the earthquake fault and the shallow foundation depends on the foundation bearing pressure, foundation width, soil depth and position of the fault relative to the foundation and these aspects should be considered in design. Results from the tests are used to validate a series of finite element analyses as reported in an accompanying paper.


Centrifuge modelling Earthquake fault rupture Shallow foundations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. F. Bransby
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. C. R. Davies
    • 1
  • A. El. Nahas
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Civil EngineeringUniversity of DundeeNethergate, DundeeUK

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