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Earthquake-Induced Soil Pressures on Structures


Wood, John Holm (1973) Earthquake-Induced Soil Pressures on Structures. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/MZWQ-BA46.


The earthquake-induced pressures on soil-retaining structures are investigated. The study was motivated by the lack of suitable earthquake design data for relatively rigid structures on firm foundations in situations where the foundation, structure and retained soil remain essentially elastic.

Pressures and forces on the walls of a number of idealized wall-soil problems are analyzed. The solutions obtained are evaluated for a range of the important parameters to give results useful for design. In the idealized problems the soil is represented by an elastic layer of finite length bonded to a rigid foundation or rock layer. The wall or structure is represented by a rigid element resting on the rock layer and is permitted to undergo rotational deformation about the base. The mass or moment of inertia of the structure and its rotational stiffness are included as parameters in the idealization. Static and dynamic solutions are obtained using both analytical and finite element methods. Solutions are evaluated for the assumption of perfectly rigid behavior of the wall. The general solution for the deformable wall case was developed by superposition of the solution for the perfectly rigid case and solutions derived for displacement forcing of the wall structure.

The assumption of linear elastic behavior of the wall- soil system is likely to be approximately satisfied in situations where a building or other large civil engineering structure is founded on firm soil or rock strata. In contrast to the linearly elastic assumption made in this study, the commonly used Mononobe-Okabe method employs the assumption of sufficiently large wall deformations to induce a fully plastic stress condition in the soil. It was concluded that both the elastic theory and the Mononobe-Okabe method have valid applications in the design of wall structures subjected to earthquake motions, but that because of significant differences in the solutions obtained from each method, care is required in selecting the most appropriate method for a particular situation.

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):
  • Housner, George W.
Group:Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:21 May 1973
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Funding AgencyGrant Number
New Zealand Ministry of WorksUNSPECIFIED
Educational Foundation in New ZealandUNSPECIFIED
Earthquake Research Affiliates Program of CaltechUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechThesis:10152019-101037996
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemTechnical Report EERL 73-05 in CaltechAUTHORS
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11816
Deposited By: Kathy Johnson
Deposited On:15 Oct 2019 17:29
Last Modified:15 Oct 2019 17:31

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