A Contact Element Approach with Hysteresis Damping for the Analysis and Design of Pounding in Bridges

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Muthukumar, Susendar
DesRoches, Reginald
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Earthquake ground motion can induce out-of-phase vibrations between adjacent structures due to differences in dynamic characteristics, which can result in impact or pounding of the structures if the at-rest separation is insufficient to accommodate the relative displacements. In bridges, seismic pounding between adjacent decks or between deck and abutment can result in localized deck damage, bearing failure, damage to shear keys and abutments, and even contribute to the collapse of bridge spans. This study investigates pounding in bridges from an analytical perspective. A simplified nonlinear model of a multiple-frame bridge is developed in MATLAB incorporating the effects of inelastic frame action, nonlinear hinge behavior and abutments. The equations of motion of the bridge response to longitudinal ground excitation are assembled and solved using the fourth-order Runge-Kutta method. Pounding is simulated using contact force-based models such as the linear spring, Kelvin and Hertz models, as well as the momentum-based stereomechanical method. In addition, a Hertz contact model with nonlinear damping (Hertzdamp model) is also introduced to model impact. The primary factors controlling the pounding response are identified as the frame period ratio, ground motion effective period ratio, restrainer stiffness ratio and frame ductility ratio. Pounding is most critical for highly out-of-phase frames. Impact models without energy dissipation overestimate the stiff system displacements by 15%-25% for highly out-of-phase, elastic systems experiencing moderate to strong ground excitation. The Hertzdamp model is found to be the most effective in representing impact. Traditional column hysteresis models such as the elasto-plastic and bilinear models underestimate the stiff system amplification and overestimate the flexible system amplification due to impact, when compared with stiffness and strength degrading models. Strength degradation and pounding are critical on the stiff system response to near field ground motions, for highly out-of-phase systems. Current design procedures are adequate in capturing the nonlinear hinge response when the bridge columns are elastic, but require revisions such as the introduction of time dependent reduction factors, and a frame design period to work for inelastic situations. Finally, a bilinear truss element with a gap is proposed for implementing energy dissipating impact models in commercial structural software.
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