Response of Earth Dams to Traveling Seismic Waves

by Mostafa Dibaj,
Joseph Penzien,

Serial Information: Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division, 1969, Vol. 95, Issue 2, Pg. 541-560

Document Type: Journal Paper


The finite element method, previously used in earthquake analysis of earth dams assuming uniform base motion, is extended and a general theory is developed to account for spacial variations of earthquake ground motion along the dam base. A brief discussion of the causes of spacial variations in ground motion are given, and a general theory which can be used for dynamic analysis of structures of any type subjected to known non-uniform base motion is presented. The method is demonstrated by considering the horizontal component of Taft earthquake traveling across the base of a simple triangular cross section of a dam at an assumed propagation velocity. Results of analysis with different propagation velocities are presented in the form of plots showing the stress contours at selected instants of time and the time histories of stresses at selected points in the cross section. These results are compared with those obtained for uniform base motion. Relative differences between the rigid base and the traveling wave solutions are established, and it is shown that significant errors may be introduced by neglecting spacial variations in the ground motion.

Subject Headings: Ground motion | Seismic waves | Finite element method | Earthquakes | Dynamic structural analysis | Stress analysis | Earthfill dams | Seismic tests

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