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Virtual earthquake engineering laboratory with physics-based degrading materials on parallel computers


Cho, In Ho (2012) Virtual earthquake engineering laboratory with physics-based degrading materials on parallel computers. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology.


For the last few decades, we have obtained tremendous insight into underlying microscopic mechanisms of degrading quasi-brittle materials from persistent and near-saintly efforts in laboratories, and at the same time we have seen unprecedented evolution in computational technology such as massively parallel computers. Thus, time is ripe to embark on a novel approach to settle unanswered questions, especially for the earthquake engineering community, by harmoniously combining the microphysics mechanisms with advanced parallel computing technology.

To begin with, it should be stressed that we placed a great deal of emphasis on preserving clear meaning and physical counterparts of all the microscopic material models proposed herein, since it is directly tied to the belief that by doing so, the more physical mechanisms we incorporate, the better prediction we can obtain.

We departed from reviewing representative microscopic analysis methodologies, selecting out “fixed-type” multidirectional smeared crack model as the base framework for nonlinear quasi-brittle materials, since it is widely believed to best retain the physical nature of actual cracks. Microscopic stress functions are proposed by integrating well-received existing models to update normal stresses on the crack surfaces (three orthogonal surfaces are allowed to initiate herein) under cyclic loading.

Unlike the normal stress update, special attention had to be paid to the shear stress update on the crack surfaces, due primarily to the well-known pathological nature of the fixed-type smeared crack model–spurious large stress transfer over the open crack under nonproportional loading. In hopes of exploiting physical mechanism to resolve this deleterious nature of the fixed crack model, a tribology-inspired three-dimensional (3d) interlocking mechanism has been proposed. Following the main trend of tribology (i.e., the science and engineering of interacting surfaces), we introduced the base fabric of solid particle-soft matrix to explain realistic interlocking over rough crack surfaces, and the adopted Gaussian distribution feeds random particle sizes to the entire domain. Validation against a well-documented rough crack experiment reveals promising accuracy of the proposed 3d interlocking model.

A consumed energy-based damage model has been proposed for the weak correlation between the normal and shear stresses on the crack surfaces, and also for describing the nature of irrecoverable damage. Since the evaluation of the consumed energy is directly linked to the microscopic deformation, which can be efficiently tracked on the crack surfaces, the proposed damage model is believed to provide a more physical interpretation than existing damage mechanics, which fundamentally stem from mathematical derivation with few physical counterparts.

Another novel point of the present work lies in the topological transition-based “smart” steel bar model, notably with evolving compressive buckling length. We presented a systematic framework of information flow between the key ingredients of composite materials (i.e., steel bar and its surrounding concrete elements). The smart steel model suggested can incorporate smooth transition during reversal loading, tensile rupture, early buckling after reversal from excessive tensile loading, and even compressive buckling. Especially, the buckling length is made to evolve according to the damage states of the surrounding elements of each bar, while all other dominant models leave the length unchanged.

What lies behind all the aforementioned novel attempts is, of course, the problem-optimized parallel platform. In fact, the parallel computing in our field has been restricted to monotonic shock or blast loading with explicit algorithm which is characteristically feasible to be parallelized. In the present study, efficient parallelization strategies for the highly demanding implicit nonlinear finite element analysis (FEA) program for real-scale reinforced concrete (RC) structures under cyclic loading are proposed. Quantitative comparison of state-of-the-art parallel strategies, in terms of factorization, had been carried out, leading to the problem-optimized solver, which is successfully embracing the penalty method and banded nature. Particularly, the penalty method employed imparts considerable smoothness to the global response, which yields a practical superiority of the parallel triangular system solver over other advanced solvers such as parallel preconditioned conjugate gradient method. Other salient issues on parallelization are also addressed.

The parallel platform established offers unprecedented access to simulations of real-scale structures, giving new understanding about the physics-based mechanisms adopted and probabilistic randomness at the entire system level. Particularly, the platform enables bold simulations of real-scale RC structures exposed to cyclic loading–H-shaped wall system and 4-story T-shaped wall system. The simulations show the desired capability of accurate prediction of global force-displacement responses, postpeak softening behavior, and compressive buckling of longitudinal steel bars. It is fascinating to see that intrinsic randomness of the 3d interlocking model appears to cause “localized” damage of the real-scale structures, which is consistent with reported observations in different fields such as granular media.

Equipped with accuracy, stability and scalability as demonstrated so far, the parallel platform is believed to serve as a fertile ground for the introducing of further physical mechanisms into various research fields as well as the earthquake engineering community. In the near future, it can be further expanded to run in concert with reliable FEA programs such as FRAME3d or OPENSEES. Following the central notion of “multiscale” analysis technique, actual infrastructures exposed to extreme natural hazard can be successfully tackled by this next generation analysis tool–the harmonious union of the parallel platform and a general FEA program. At the same time, any type of experiments can be easily conducted by this “virtual laboratory.”

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Nonlinear shear, parallel computing, earthquake engineering, reinforced concrete structure, large-scale simulation, localized damage, random material property
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Civil Engineering
Minor Option:Computational Science and Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hall, John F.
Thesis Committee:
  • Heaton, Thomas H. (chair)
  • Beck, James L.
  • Krishnan, Swaminathan
  • Aivazis, Michael A. G.
  • Hall , John F.
Defense Date:25 January 2012
Non-Caltech Author Email:ihcho (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:01302012-081909374
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:6894
Deposited By: Kathy Johnson
Deposited On:06 Apr 2012 22:20
Last Modified:12 Apr 2017 18:11

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