Dynamic behaviour of R/C highway bridges under the combined effect of vertical and horizontal earthquake motions

M. Ala Saadeghvariri, D. A. Foutch

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95 Scopus citations


Measurements of ground motions during past earthquakes indicate that the vertical acceleration can reach values comparable to horizontal accelerations or may even exceed these accelerations. Furthermore, measurements of structural response show the possibility of significant amplification in the response of bridges in the vertical direction that can be attributed to the vertical component of ground motion. In this study, the relative importance of the vertical component of ground motion on the inelastic response of R/C highway bridges is investigated. Particular emphasis is placed on modelling of the deck and piers to account for complex loading histories under combined vertical and horizontal earthquake motions. Analyses of actual bridges indicate that, in general, the vertical motion will increase the level of response and the amount of damage sustained by a highway bridge. Vertical motion generates fluctuating axial forces in the columns, which cause unstability of the hysteresis loops and increase the ductility demand. Furthermore, vertical motion can generate forces of high magnitude in the abutments and foundations that are not accounted for by the current seismic design guidelines. Thus, it is important to consider this component of the ground motion in the design of highway bridges, especially for those located in regions near seismic faults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-549
Number of pages15
JournalEarthquake Engineering & Structural Dynamics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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