Earthquake Induced Cracking in Concrete Gravity Dams

by Gregory L. Fenves, Univ of California, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Seismic Engineering: Research and Practice


An important nonlinear behavior in the earthquake response of concrete gravity dams is the formation and propagation of tensile cracks in the concrete. The earthquake response of a typical gravity dam monolith computed using a numerical procedure for nonlinear dynamic analysis is presented. Tensile cracking of the concrete is modeled using the crack band theory. The response results clearly demonstrate that the concrete will crack when the dam is subjected to strong ground motion. A recently proposed procedure for determining the extent of cracking based on the response from linear analyses is evaluated using the nonlinear response. For the cases studied, the procedure gives a reasonably accurate estimate of the elevations at which tensile cracks may propagate through the dam cross section.

Subject Headings: Concrete dams | Gravity dams | Ultimate strength | Earthquakes | Cracking | Earthfill dams | Nonlinear analysis | Ground motion

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