American Society of Civil Engineers

Contact Interface Model for Shallow Foundations Subjected to Combined Cyclic Loading

by Sivapalan Gajan, (Asst. Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., North Dakota State Univ., 1410 14th Ave. N., Fargo, ND 58105. E-mail: s.gajan@ndsu.deu) and Bruce L. Kutter, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of California, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616)

Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol. 135, No. 3, March 2009, pp. 407-419, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: It has been recognized that the ductility demands on a superstructure might be reduced by allowing rocking behavior and mobilization of the ultimate capacity of shallow foundations during seismic loading. However, the absence of practical reliable foundation modeling techniques to accurately design foundations with the desired capacity and energy dissipation characteristics and concerns about permanent deformations have hindered the use of nonlinear soil — foundation — structure interaction as a designed mechanism for improving performance of structural systems. This paper presents a new “contact interface model” that has been developed to provide nonlinear relations between cyclic loads and displacements of the footing — soil system during combined cyclic loading (vertical, shear, and moment). The rigid footing and the soil beneath the footing in the zone of influence, considered as a macroelement, are modeled by keeping track of the geometry of the soil surface beneath the footing, along with the kinematics of the footing — soil system, interaction diagrams in vertical, shear, and moment space, and the introduction of a parameter, critical contact area ratio (A/Ac); the ratio of footing area (A) to the footing contact area required to support vertical and shear loads (Ac). Several contact interface model simulations were carried out and the model simulations are compared with centrifuge model test results. Using only six user-defined model input parameters, the contact interface model is capable of capturing the essential features (load capacities, stiffness degradation, energy dissipation, and deformations) of shallow foundations subjected to combined cyclic loading.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Shallow foundations
Cyclic loads
Contact pressure