Earthquake Resistant Design of Concrete Gravity Dams

by Anil K. Chopra, (M.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Structural Division, 1978, Vol. 104, Issue 6, Pg. 953-971

Document Type: Journal Paper


After demonstrating that traditional design procedures are unrealistic, a method for design of concrete gravity dams to remain essentially within the elastic range of behavior is presented. All factors that are significant in the dynamic response of dams are considered and the capacity of concrete to support dynamic stresses in tension is recognized. In designing dams for the very intense ground shaking that may occur only rarely in highly seismic areas, limited cracking of concrete may be permitted. However, at the present time it is not possible to analytically predict, with high degree of confidence, the extent of cracking and damage that a concrete gravity dam may experience during very intense ground shaking. The research needed to improve these analysis procedures and to incorporate them in the design process is identified. The procedure presented in this paper for design of concrete gravity dams to be built in seismic regions is also applicable to evaluation of the safety of existing dams.

Subject Headings: Concrete dams | Gravity dams | Earthquakes | Seismic design | Earthfill dams | Plastic design | Seismic tests | Cracking

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