Sizing Up Seismic Bearings

by Hamid Ghasemi, Res. Struct. Engr.; Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C.,
Michael S. Higgins, P.E., Proj. Mgr.; CERF's HITEC Division,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1999, Vol. 69, Issue 7, Pg. 54-59

Document Type: Feature article


Today in the U.S., there are two general technologies available to protect new and existing bridges from the damaging effects of earthquakes. One type, seismic isolation bearings, provide flexibility by allowing the superstructure to move separately from the substructure. This reduces the inertial load on the piers substantially. It is also an attractive retrofit approach for existing bridges that have substructures of different stiffnesses or that have weak foundations. The HITEC division of the Civil Engineering Research Foundation sponsored evaluations of eight seismic bearings, and found that performance often varied according to loads, temperatures, and environmental conditions. This article highlights those results.

Subject Headings: Seismic tests | Seismic effects | Existing buildings | Substructures | Bridge foundations | Seismic loads | Bridges | Earthquakes

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