Concrete gravity dams are critical infrastructure serving electricity generation, water supply, flood control, irrigation and recreation. Large concrete dams would most likely experience different earthquake induced motions at different points on their base during an earthquake. This spatial variation of the motions is commonly ignored in the seismic design of these massive structures, although it may induce more severe response patterns in the structures, which may potentially pave the way for the loss of the reservoir and ensuing devastation. This project will comprehensively study the effect of the spatial variability of the ground motions on a few carefully selected concrete gravity dams from the nation?s inventory exposed to seismic excitations pertinent to their sites. The study will involve detailed numerical modeling and dynamic analysis of dam systems to accurately include the complex nonlinear material behavior and interactions of the dam concrete, foundation rock and water in the reservoir. The project will provide the methodology and framework for the evaluation of the effect of spatially variable ground motions on the response of concrete gravity dams. Based on the research results, recommendations for incorporating the effect of spatial variability of seismic motions in the design and retrofit of dam structures will be made.
The research results will enable engineers to design safer concrete gravity dams and to evaluate the performance of existing dams to identify those posing significant hazard to the community in terms of expected casualties and economic losses. The outcomes of the study will be directly disseminated to the profession via publications and presentations. The numerical codes and data generated with this project will be posted on a web site for use by researchers and practicing engineers. This will eventually enhance the safety of the nation?s vital infrastructure. The research will also provide advanced training to graduate and undergraduate students. Underrepresented groups will be recruited in the project using well established institutional partnerships.