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Soil bentonite wall protects foundation from thrust faulting: analyses and experiment

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Abstract

When seismic thrust faults emerge on the ground surface, they are particularly damaging to buildings, bridges and lifelines that lie on the rupture path. To protect a structure founded on a rigid raft, a thick diaphragm-type soil bentonite wall (SBW) is installed in front of and near the foundation, at sufficient depth to intercept the propagating fault rupture. Extensive numerical analyses, verified against reduced-scale (1 g) split box physical model tests, reveal that such a wall, thanks to its high deformability and low shear resistance, “absorbs” the compressive thrust of the fault and forces the rupture to deviate upwards along its length. As a consequence, the foundation is left essentially intact. The effectiveness of SBW is demonstrated to depend on the exact location of the emerging fault and the magnitude of the fault offset. When the latter is large, the unprotected foundation experiences intolerable rigid-body rotation even if the foundation structural distress is not substantial.

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Correspondence to Meysam Fadaee.

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Fadaee, M., Anastasopoulos, I., Gazetas, G. et al. Soil bentonite wall protects foundation from thrust faulting: analyses and experiment. Earthq. Eng. Eng. Vib. 12, 473–486 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11803-013-0187-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11803-013-0187-8

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