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Shear Lag Effect

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Shear Lag Effect

Plane Beam theory assumes plane section before the bending remains plane after the bending
which implies structure should have infinite lateral stiffness or there is no shear force acting at the
beam section. Hence bending stress diagram for a beam has to be in a linear pattern.
In the event of earthquake and extreme wind pressure slender structures (The term Slender has a
different meaning for box girder, it means ratio of width to span of a box girder,) often experience
tremendous amount of lateral load, because most of the mass being lumped primarily at the first
degree of freedom. When slender structures, of which span to width ratio is high, experience
larger lateral loads they become prone to non-linear bending and shear stress distribution across
the cross-section (Fig. 01). In a box girder, a large shear flow is transmitted from vertical webs to
the horizontal flanges, which causes in-plane shear deformation of the flanges and results in
unpredicted extra longitudinal displacement at the web-flange junction [1]. Due to which central
portion of the flange lag behind that of the web for the response quantities. This phenomenon of
lagging is called as Shear Lag. Shear Lag effect is relevant to any slender box element that is
loaded laterally such as airplane wing structure and box girder bridges.

Figure 1: Schematic Showing Shear-Lag Effect in Box Girder (a) Shear Stress Distribution Across
the C/S of Box Girder (b) Non-uniformity of Longitudinal Stress (c) Out-of-plane Warping

While relying on plane beam theory which underestimates shear lag effect in box girder, gives
unre- liable response quantities (Shear, Moment, Displacements etc.).
It has also been observed that there is another phenomenon
exist which can be named as Negative Shear Lag (Fig.02).
For a cantilever box girder researchers observed that for the
one fourth the cantilever span length stress at the edge of
the box girder is less as compared to stresses at the central
flange portion [2].
Significant points about Shear Lag: Conventional Plane Beam Theory underestimates the
shear lag effect.

Figure 2: Negative Shear Lag

Shear Lag results in non-linear displacement distribution across the cross section.
Due to shear lag longitudinal displacement of the Fig. 02 Negative Shear Lag box girder
It also leads to stress concentration at web-flange junction and results in out-of-plane
warping. 8/16/2015

Shear Lag Effect

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In cable stayed bridges, forces due to shear lag effect observed maximum at pylon and
reduces away from it [3].
Shear Lag effect increases with the width of the Box Girder i.e. slender section has increased.
Now a days many bridges are designed as a Wide Single Cell Box girder bridge which generally
possesses high slenderness ratio and resulting in attracting a higher lateral forces. Recent bridge
designs theories find it difficult to maintain slenderness ratio (Width to span ratio) less, as it
increases the cost of the project tremendously. To counteract Shear Lag effect following remedial
measures can be considered:
Number of the shells in the box girder would be increased.
Slenderness ratio of the bridge would be reduced.
Height of the pylon would be reduced. It has been observed that extra-dosed bridges attract
lesser lateral forces and hence minimizes shear lag effect.

Bazant, P., Vladimir, K., Shear lag effect and uncertainty in concrete box girder creep, ASCE
Leonard, J., Investigation of shear lag effect in highrise building with dia-grid system, Thesis
Gao-feng, WU., Hong, XU., Theoretical and experimental study on shear lag effect of partially
cable stayed bridge, Journal of Zhejiang University Science.
NBMCW December 2010

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