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Three-Dimensional Nonlinear Analysis of Tall Irregular Steel Buildings Subject to Strong Ground Motion


Krishnan, Swaminathan (2004) Three-Dimensional Nonlinear Analysis of Tall Irregular Steel Buildings Subject to Strong Ground Motion. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/A00K-RQ42.


Strong ground motion from a nearby fault has frequency content in the same range as the natural frequencies of tall buildings. This may have serious repercussions and is the topic of this dissertation.Buildings are designed per building code standards. But, are the code provisions adequate? Strong motion from large earthquakes has been recorded only in recent times in the near-source region. Have the current codes used this information to update tall structure design guidelines? Considerable damage has been observed in tall buildings from the Northridge, Kobe, Turkey, and Taiwan earthquakes. How will tall buildings designed per the latest code regulations perform if they were to be shaken by any of these earthquakes? This thesis attempts to answer these questions.

Tall buildings by their nature are computationally intensive to analyze. They consist of thousands of degrees of freedom and when subjected to strong ground motion from a nearby source, exhibit inelastic response. Modeling this inelastic response requires an iterative approach that is computationally expensive. Furthermore, a large class of buildings, classified as irregular, exhibits complex behavior that can be studied only when the structures are modeled in their entirety. To this end, a three-dimensional analysis program, FRAME3D, has been developed incorporating two special beam-column elements -- the plastic hinge element and the elastofiber element that can model beams and columns in buildings accurately and efficiently, a beam-column joint element that can model inelastic joint deformation, and 4-noded elastic plane-stress elements to model floor slabs acting as diaphragms forcing the lateral force resisting frames in a building to act as one unit. The program is capable of performing time-history analyses of buildings in their entirety.

Six 19-story irregular steel moment frame buildings (with buildings 2A and 3A being variants of buildings 2 and 3, respectively) have been designed per the latest code (Uniform Building Code, 1997). Two of these buildings have reentrant corners and the other two have torsional irregularity. Their strength and ductility are assessed by performing pushover analyses on them. To assess their performance under strong shaking, FRAME3D models of these buildings are subjected to near-source strong motion records from the Iran earthquake (Mw = 7.3, Tabas Station) of 1978, the Northridge earthquake (Mw = 6.7, Sylmar Station) of 1994 and the Kobe earthquake (Mw = 6.9, Takatori Station) of 1995. None of the buildings collapsed under these strong events in the computer analyses. However, when compared against the acceptable limits for various performance levels in FEMA 356 document, the damage in terms of plastic deformation at the ends of beams and columns and at joints would render the buildings inadequate in terms f life safety in quite a few cases and would even indicate possible collapse in a couple of cases. Thus, in these terms, the code falls short of achieving its life safety objective, and the near-source factors introduced in the code in 1997 in recognition of the special features of near-source ground motion seem to be inadequate.

The ductility demand, in terms of plastic rotation at the ends of beams and columns and in joints, on these buildings during this class of earthquakes is up to 6% of a radian, which is far greater than a typical limiting plastic rotation of 3% associated with fracture and consequent failure of large wide-flanged steel sections during experiments. Thus, if strength degradation due to fractures, local buckling, etc., were to be included in the analysis, then the results would likely to be worse, as far as the ability of these buildings to withstand these earthquakes without collapse is concerned.

Due to damage localization, the peak drifts observed in the structure far exceeded the inelastic drift limit in the code of 0.02 (in some cases up to 3 times). This points to serious non-structural damage to facades, interior dry wall, etc. Furthermore, large roof permanent offsets after the events indicate significant post-earthquake repair requiring considerable disruption and building closure.

Column yielding was minimal thus validating the strong-column weak-beam criterion in the code. Redundancy factors used to assess the redundancy in the system need to take into account the case of torsionally sensitive structures where frames in both principal directions are simultaneously activated. Stress concentration was not observed at the reentrant corners in L-shaped buildings.

Finally, the data catalogued in this work could be useful for future code development and tall structure design guidelines.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:beam element; earthquake; nonlinear analysis; panel zone; steel moment frames; strong ground motion; structural analysis; tall buildings
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Civil Engineering
Minor Option:Business Economics and Management
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hall, John F.
Group:Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory
Thesis Committee:
  • Hall, John F. (chair)
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami
  • Beck, James L.
  • Heaton, Thomas H.
  • Iwan, Wilfred D.
Defense Date:24 September 2003
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
EERL Report2003-01
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-02252004-181515
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemTechnical Report EERL 2003-01 in CaltechAUTHORS
Krishnan, Swaminathan0000-0002-2594-1523
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:755
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:27 Feb 2004
Last Modified:20 Aug 2021 23:06

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