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Nonlinear Analysis of Pacoima Dam with Spatially Nonuniform Ground Motion


Alves, Steven Wayne (2005) Nonlinear Analysis of Pacoima Dam with Spatially Nonuniform Ground Motion. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/QVFR-MV06.


Spatially uniform ground motion is an assumption that has often been made for structural analysis of arch dams. However, it has been recognized for many years that the ground motion in a canyon during an earthquake is amplified at the top of the canyon relative to the base. Pacoima Dam has been strongly shaken by the 1971 San Fernando earthquake and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The acceleration records from both of these events demonstrate the spatial nonuniformity of the ground motion, but the amount and quality of the data made it difficult to study in detail. An opportunity to do so arose on January 13, 2001, when a relatively small magnitude 4.3 earthquake was recorded by an upgraded accelerometer array at Pacoima Dam.

Frequency-dependent topographic amplification is apparent at locations along both abutments at 80% height of the dam relative to the base. Also, the ground motion is delayed at the abutment locations compared to the base. The delays are consistent with seismic waves traveling upward along the canyon, and the waves appear to be dispersive since the delays are frequency-dependent. Both of these effects are quantified in this thesis by several approaches that involve varying degrees of approximation. A method for generating nonuniform ground motion from a single 3-component ground motion specified for one location in the canyon, e.g., at the base, is developed using transfer functions that quantify the amplification and phase delay. The method is demonstrated for the 2001 earthquake and the Northridge earthquake with several variations in the transfer functions.

The 2001 earthquake records were also used for system identification. These results do not agree with results from a forced vibration experiment, which indicate a stiffer system. The earthquake must induce nonlinear vibrations, even though the excitation is quite small. This observation has implications for applications of structural health monitoring.

The generated nonuniform ground motions are supplied as input to a finite element model. The results indicate that the method for generating nonuniform input produces ground motion that yields reasonable modeled responses, but there is some evidence that the time delays may be larger for stronger ground motion. Comparisons of the responses from ground motions generated with various implementations of amplification and time delays were made. For modeling purposes, accuracy of the amplification appears to be more important than the delays, which can be dealt with using a simpler approximation. The nonuniform input produces a response that is substantially different than the response produced by uniform input. The major difference is that while the pseudostatic response is a rigid body motion for uniform input, it causes deformation of the dam, mostly close to the abutments, for nonuniform input. In order to refine the proposed method for generating nonuniform ground motion, more data is required from Pacoima Dam and other structures with instrumentation coverage along the abutments.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:canyon topography; finite element analysis; forced vibration testing; generated abutment motion; January 13 2001 earthquake; modal variation
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)
  • Kanamori, Hiroo
  • Beck, James L.
  • Heaton, Thomas H.
  • Duron, Ziyad H.
Defense Date:7 October 2004
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
EERL Report2004-11
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-10292004-155829
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemTechnical Report EERL 2004-11 in CaltechAUTHORS
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:4304
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:03 Nov 2004
Last Modified:12 Aug 2021 23:15

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