Inelastic seismic response of stiffening systems and development of demand spectrum: Application to MSSS bridges

Ala M. Saadeghvaziri, A. Yazdani-Motlagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A stiffening system is a system that increases its stiffness as it goes under large displacements. Such behavioural characteristic can result from constitutive behaviour or at the structural level often from closure of gaps between various components (sub-systems) of the structure. An example of the latter situation is multi-span simply supported (MSSS) bridges under horizontal earthquake ground motion. Unlike softening systems, stiffening systems have not been studied. In addition to the need for more understanding of the seismic response of stiffening systems, there is a need to develop response spectrum that can be used in design. Several parameters including gap size and ratios of sub-systems stiffness, strength, and mass control the behaviour of a stiffening system. In this study, a simplified stiffening model is developed and over 367000 cases are analysed to investigate the nonlinear stiffening behaviour and pounding. Parameters considered also include ground motion characteristic. Results are evaluated and compared in terms of displacement and dissipated hysteretic energy. Parameter study results show that, on average, the displacement response is lower for stiffening systems, however, they dissipates higher hysteretic energy, due to higher yield cycles and yield excursions, and can possibly sustain more damage than a bilinear, elastic-plastic system. Using parameter study database, design response spectrum for stiffening systems is also proposed and its practical application is demonstrated through its application to an MSSS bridge. Results of this study goes beyond MSSS bridges and will have application for many structural systems where response is characterized by a stiffening behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2153-2169
Number of pages17
JournalEarthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics
Issue number14
StatePublished - Nov 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Bridges
  • Inelastic
  • Response
  • Seismic
  • Spectrum
  • Stiffening


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