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Experimental Investigation of the Nonlinear Seismic Response of Concrete Gravity Dams


Donlon, William Patrick, Jr. (1989) Experimental Investigation of the Nonlinear Seismic Response of Concrete Gravity Dams. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/4mqw-6z67.


The nonlinear seismic response of concrete gravity dams is investigated experimentally through the use of small-scale models. Of primary interest is crack formation, crack opening and closing, and sliding along crack planes. Also of concern is the stability of the structure after cracking. Three small-scale models (length scale - 115) of a single monolith of Pine Flat Dam are tested to determine the extent of such behavior and its effect on structural stability. The models are constructed of one polymer-based and two plaster-based materials developed for these experiments. The plaster-based materials fulfill the strength, stiffness, and density requirements established by the laws of similitude, while the polymer-based material fulfills only the stiffness and density requirements and is used only in the lower part of the dam where cracking is not expected. The excitation is a modified version of the N00E component of the 1940 Imperial Valley earthquake, applied to each model's base in the stream direction through a vibration table with high-frequency capability. Tests are performed with and without water in the reservoir. The response of each earthquake test is presented in the form of acceleration and displacement time histories, Fourier spectra, and frames taken from high-speed films of the model's response. The results of the experiments indicate that the neck region of a concrete gravity dam is most susceptible to cracking, although crack profiles can differ as a result of variations in excitation, material properties, and construction techniques. These results also indicate alternate design techniques which could improve the seismic stability of a cracked gravity dam.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Civil Engineering
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Civil Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hall, John F.
Group:Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory
Thesis Committee:
  • Hall, John F. (chair)
  • Beck, James L.
  • Kanamori, Hiroo
  • Jennings, Paul C.
  • Scott, Ronald F.
Defense Date:9 January 1989
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
EERL Report89-01
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-05232007-074318
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Report EERL 89-01 in CaltechAUTHORS
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:1982
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:24 May 2007
Last Modified:13 Aug 2021 22:50

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