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Nonlinear Seismic Response Analysis of High Arch Dams to Spatially-Varying Ground motions


The failure of a large dam can be catastrophic to human life and property downstream. Therefore, the seismic safety is of particular concern for high dams in seismically active regions. This paper addresses the nonlinear seismic response analysis of high arch dams due to spatially-varying ground motions. Firstly, a comprehensive analysis model developed at Tsinghua University is presented, which takes into account radiation damping effect of semi-unbounded canyon, dynamic interaction of dam-water, opening of contraction joints, seismic damage cracking and strengthening of dam concrete, and nonlinearity of foundation rock. Subsequently, the seismic damage of Pacoima dam during the 1994 Northridge earthquake is qualitatively analyzed by the developed analysis model. The results agree with the actual damage observed after the earthquake. Most of the contraction joints opened and closed during the earthquake, and a larger residual opening occurred at the thrust block joint after the earthquake. The cracks continue from the bottom of the thrust block joint in three directions: diagonal, horizontal, and vertical. Finally, a large-scale numerical simulation of seismic ground motion from source rupture to dam canyon is introduced, which can simulate the characteristics of near-field ground motions at dam sites by considering the effect of source mechanism, propagation media, and local site.

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The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial supports provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, under Granted nos. 51639006 and 51725901. Appreciation is expressed to Prof. Yan-Jie Xu and Dr. Jian-Wen Pan for their valuable discussion and suggestions. The authors are also grateful to Professor Anil K. Chopra, University of California at Berkeley, for helpful advice and comments on the earthquake input models.

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Correspondence to Jin-Ting Wang.

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Wang, JT., Jin, F. & Zhang, CH. Nonlinear Seismic Response Analysis of High Arch Dams to Spatially-Varying Ground motions. Int J Civ Eng 17, 487–493 (2019).

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  • Concrete dam
  • Seismic damage
  • Spatially-varying ground motion
  • Source to site