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EARTHQUAKE ENGINEERING AND STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS, VOL. 27, 91103 (1998)
SUMMARY
During the recent major earthquakes, some bridges suered severe damage due to the pulloanddrop collapse of their
decks. This is due to the large dierential movements of the adjacent spans of bridges during strong shaking compared to
the seating lengths provided. The dierential movements are primarily due to the dierent vibration properties of adjacent
spans and nonuniform ground excitations at the bridge supports. This paper analyses the eects of various bridge and
ground motion parameters on the required seating lengths for bridge decks to prevent the pulloanddrop collapse. The
random vibration method is used in the analysis. A twospan bridge model with dierent span lengths and vibration
frequencies and subjected to various spatially varying ground excitations is analysed. Nonuniform spatial ground motions
are modelled by the ltered TajimiKanai power spectral density function and an empirical coherency function. Ground
motions with dierent intensities, dierent crosscorrelations and dierent site conditions are considered in the study. The
required seating lengths for bridge decks are calculated. Numerical results are presented and discussed with respect to
dierent bridge vibration and ground motion properties. ? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
KEY WORDS: spatial variation; dierential movements; bridge deck ground displacement
INTRODUCTION
Pulloanddrop collapses of bridge decks were observed due to dierential movements between adjacent
bridge spans, in two recent major earthquakes. For example, the collapse of one panel of the San Francisco Bay
Bridge during the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California, and more recently, the collapse of
the approach span of the NishinomiyaKo Bridge during the January 17, 1995 HyogoKen Nanbu earthquake
in Kobe, Japan, were caused by dierential movements between adjacent spans. The collapses resulted in
complete close down of the two bridges after the events.
The collapsed upper deck of the Bay Bridge was 50 ft (1524 m) long, and was connected on its east end
to another span with a series of connections that acted as pin joints. On the west end, however, the deck
rested on a series of stiened seat connections with no provisions for restraining the horizontal movement of
the deck. During the earthquake, the east end moved eastward about 7 in (18 cm), while the seating length
of the stiened seat connection on the west end of the deck was only about 5 in (127 cm). The horizontal
movement of the deck being larger than the seating length of the support, the deck was pulled o the support
and dropped on the west end.1 The approach span of the NishinomiyaKo Bridge was 52 m long, and was
supported by seat connection on an elevated support. Adjacent to it on the west was a 252 m long tied arch
main span. The vibration properties of the two adjacent spans dier considerably. The ground motions at
the three supports also dier from each other signicantly due to the large separation distance. Although the
Correspondence to: Hong Hao, Senior Lecturer, School of Civil and Structural Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Nanyang
Avenue, Singapore 2263. Email: chhao@ntu.edu.sg
seating length provided for the dropped deck was about 08 m, the change in the vibration periods of the two
adjacent spans and the pronounced spatial variations of ground excitations at dierent supports induced very
signicant dierential movements of the two adjacent spans that resulted in the 52 m steel box girder approach
span being pulled westward o the support and dropped.2 The dierential movements of bridge decks were
also observed in other earthquakes, e.g. some pounding damage to decks was observed on bridges of freeway
5 in California during the Northridge earthquake.3
Long span structure response to nonuniform support excitations has been investigated recently by many
authors.49 All of those studies concentrate on the response of a single structure with multiple supports and
subjected to nonuniform multiple excitations. None of them specically studied the dierential movements
of adjacent structures excited by correlated nonuniform ground motions. The present paper carries out a
parametric study of the required seating length, which is the maximum dierential movement of the adjacent
bridge spans, for a bridge deck to prevent the pulloanddrop collapse. A twospan bridge model with
dierent span lengths and vibration frequencies and subjected to dierent nonuniform support excitations is
analysed. Random vibration method is used in the analysis. Nonuniform ground excitations with dierent
intensities and spatial variations are considered in the analyses. They are modelled by the ltered Tajimi
Kanai10 power spectral density function and an empirical coherency loss function.11 The eects of the site
conditions and damping ratios on the required seating lengths are also studied. Numerical results are presented
and discussed with respect to the various bridge and ground motion properties.
Skl (i!)
= Sg (!)
kl (i!;
dkl )
2 S0 (!)
= Hf (i!) kl (i!;
dkl )exp (i!d
kl =v) (1)
where ! is the circular frequency, v the apparent ground motion propagation velocity, dkl the projected distance
between points k and l on the ground surface in the ground motion propagation direction, and
! 4
2=
Hf (i!) (2)
(!f2 ! 2 )2 + 42f !f2 ! 2
is a highpass lter with centre frequency !f and damping ratio f ;10 and
1 + 42g ! 2 =!g2
S0 (!)
= (3)
(1 ! 2 =!g2 )2 + 42g !2 =!g2
is the TajimiKanai ground acceleration power spectral density function,12 in which !g and g , are the centre
frequency and damping ratio, respectively, and both depend on the site conditions, epicentral distance and
earthquake magnitude,13 and is a scale factor depending on the ground motion intensity.
kl =v) in equation (1) represents the phase shift between the ground motions at points k
The factor exp (i!d
and l; and
p
2

kl (i!;
dkl ) = exp (dkl ) exp [(!)
dkl (!=2)
] (4)
is an empirical coherency loss function for ground motion propagating from points k to l,11 where
(
2a= ! + b!=2
+ c; 0314 rad=s6!66283
rad=s
(!)
= (5)
01a + 10b + c; !6283
rad=s
Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998) ? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
A PARAMETRIC STUDY OF BRIDGE DECKS DURING EARTHQUAKE 93
Firm 40 06
Medium rm 25 06
Soft 10 06
Figure 1. Ground acceleration and displacement power spectral density functions with respect to dierent site conditions and unit
where a, b, c and are constants which can be determined by a leastsquares t of equation (4) to the
coherency loss of actually recorded motions.
In this study, three dierent site conditions representing rm, medium rm and soft sites are considered. The
centre frequencies and damping ratios of the three sites are given in Table I. It should be noted that a constant
g is used for all three site conditions since there is no reliable conclusion yet on how g varies with the site
conditions. The corresponding power spectral density functions with a unit and ff = !f =2 = 025 Hz and
f = 06 are shown in Figure 1.
The highpass lter of equation (2) is applied in ground acceleration power spectral density function to lter
out energy at zero and very low frequencies to correct the singularity in ground velocity and displacement
power spectral density functions, and to prevent the drift of ground velocity and displacement. There is no
solid physical base for the choice of the central frequency ff and damping ratio f . Dierent authors used
dierent values based on the nature of the problem. Figure 1 also shows the power spectral density functions
of ground displacements (Sg (!)= ! 4 ) of the medium rm site conditions and dierent ff . As can be seen,
ground displacement power spectral density functions decrease drastically with the increase of the central
frequency ff .
Peak ground acceleration (PGA) and peak ground displacement (PGD) depend on the scale factor . The
relations between them and can be established based on their respective power spectral density functions
Sg (!) 2 S0 (!)
= Hf (i!) ! 4 [see Appendix I]. Figure 2 shows PGA and PGD as functions of
and Sg (!)=
for dierent site conditions. These results are obtained by assuming the ground motion duration T = 20 s,
and a high cuto frequency of 25 Hz. It should be noted that the rst and the second spectral moments
of Sg (!)
diverge if the upper limit of the integral in equation (21) is innite [Appendix I]. Thus, only
approximate spectral moments can be obtained by introducing a high cuto frequency. In the present study, a
high cuto frequency of 25 Hz is used since it covers the dominant vibration frequencies of most engineering
structures and earthquake ground motions. As can be seen, although the highpass lter has little eect on
ground acceleration, it aects ground displacement signicantly. A highpass lter with a lower centre frequency
results in a larger PGD.
? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998)
94 HONG HAO
Figure 2. Peak ground acceleration and displacement corresponding to dierent site conditions and scale factor
Ground motion is assumed to propagate in the longitudinal direction of the bridge with an apparent ve
locity v = 1000 m=s in this study. Then, the distance dkl between the two supports of each span equals the
span length d. Constants in the coherency loss function used are those obtained from the recorded motions
during Event 45 at the SMART1 array.4 For comparison purposes, those corresponding to the recorded
motions during Event 30 at the SMART1 array, as well as the ground motions without coherency loss,
i.e. 
kl (i!;
dkl ) = 10, are also considered in the analyses. Table II gives the constants of the coherency
loss function corresponding to the two events. Figure 3 shows the coherency loss functions estimated by
equation (4) with dkl = 100 m. As can be noted, recorded motions of Event 30 are less correlated than those
of Event 45.
Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998) ? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
A PARAMETRIC STUDY OF BRIDGE DECKS DURING EARTHQUAKE 95
Ut = U + Uqs (6)
where U is the dynamic response vector and Uqs is the quasistatic response vector. The dynamic responses
can be calculated by solving the equation14
Uqs = Kss
1
Ksb Vg (8)
where M is the mass matrix, C the viscous damping matrix, Kss the stiness matrix corresponding to the
bridge response DOFs, and Ksb the stiness matrix corresponding to the coupled DOFs between the bridge
responses and the support excitations. The subscripts s and b refer to structure and base, respectively.
Vg = (v1 ; v2 ; v3 )T is the vector consisting of the three ground displacements at the three supports. The mass
and stiness matrices of the bridge model are given in Appendix II.
Since the dynamic responses of the two spans are independent of each other, they can be calculated
separately. For the rst span, it has
M1 U 1 + C1 U1 + Ks1 U = M1 Ks1
1
Kb1 V g1 (9)
where Vg1 = (v1 ; v2 )T . As the mass matrix M1 is a diagonal matrix with only one nonzero term associated
with the lateral displacement of the rst span (DOF 1), by neglecting the damping terms corresponding to
the rotational DOFs, equation (9) can be reduced by static condensation to
6k1 m1
m1 u1 + c11 u1 + u1 = (v1 + v2 ) (10)
l21 2
where u1 is the lateral displacement of the rst span, which can be expressed in the frequency domain as
? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998)
96 HONG HAO
and where i = 1 is the imaginary unity, the bar over the quantity indicates the Fourier transform of the
quantity, and
1
H1 (i!)
= (12)
!12 ! 2 + 2i1 !1 !
p
in which 1 is the viscous damping ratio, !1 = 6k1 =l21 m1 is the lateral vibration frequency of the rst span.
Similarly, the lateral response of the second span u4 in the frequency domain is
where H2 (i!)
q has a form similar to equation (12) except that !1 and 1 are replaced by !2 and 2 , and
where !2 = 3k3 =l23 m2 is the lateral vibration frequency of the second span.
The lateral quasistatic responses of the two spans can be derived as
and hence, the total lateral responses of the two spans in the frequency domain are
The absolute value of the dierence in lateral displacement between the two spans is given by
= u1t (i!)
us (i!) u4t (i!)
(18)
2 1 1
+ H2 H2 2 real(H2 ) + 4 real(H1 H2 ) 2 real(H1 )
! ! !
l l
1 1 !d
13 !d
23
2 real(H2 ) + 4 
13  cos + 
23  cos Sg (!)
(19)
! ! v v
where real represents the real part of a complex quantity, and the complex conjugate. If the ground
excitations are spatially uniform, equation (19) is simplied to
Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998) ? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
A PARAMETRIC STUDY OF BRIDGE DECKS DURING EARTHQUAKE 97
Figure 5. Required seating lengths of bridge spans obtained by varying bridge vibration frequencies
The eect of natural vibration frequency is studied rst by calculating the required seating length of the
bridge model with varying natural frequencies. Results for span length d = 100 m, coherency loss function of
Event 45, PGA = 05 g, medium rm site conditions with ff = !f =2 = 025 Hz and f = 06, and dierent
ratios of natural frequencies of the two spans, f2 =f1 , are presented in Figure 5 with respect to the dimensionless
parameter f1 d=v, where f1 = !1 =2 is the natural frequency of the rst span in Hertz. It is known that the
inphase and the outofphase excitations between ground motion phase shift (d=v) and structural vibration
mode occur when fd=v = 05(2n) and fd=v = 05(2n 1), respectively, where f is the vibration frequency of
the structure and n = 1; 2; : : :; and the eect of multiple excitations is minimum when the phase shift of the
multiple excitations is inphase with the vibration mode, and maximum when they are outofphase.5; 6; 7; 9
As can be seen, the required seating length reaches the maximum value at f1 d=v = 0025 and 025 when
f2 =f1 = 01; at 0025 and 0125 when f2 =f1 = 02; and at 0025 when f2 =f1 = 10, implying the maximum
seating length is required when the natural frequency of the rst or the second span coincides with the central
frequency of the highpass lter, ff . This observation indicates that the resonance of the rst or the second
span with the ground displacement causes the maximum dierential movements. When f2 =f1 = 05, however,
only one peak occurs at f1 d=v = 0034, or f1 = 034 Hz and f2 = 017 Hz, i.e. when the natural frequencies
of both spans are close to ff . The above observations demonstrate that the displacement response depends
strongly on the highpass lter because the quasistatic displacement depends on the ground displacement; and
a lower centre frequency ff of the highpass lter results in a larger ground displacement. Thus, the choice of
the highpass lter, which is not based on any physical property of ground motion as discussed above, aects
numerical results of displacement response signicantly.
To further observe the eect of the highpass lter, numerical results corresponding to ff = 015 and 05 Hz,
f = 06 and f2 =f1 = 10 are also shown in Figure 5. Signicant dierence between results obtained with
dierent highpass lters is observed. As can be seen, displacement response increases with the ground dis
placement as the central frequency ff of the highpass lter decreases.
The case of f2 =f1 = 05 results in the largest peak value because both spans are resonant simultaneously with
ground displacement as discussed above, whereas f2 =f1 = 10 results in the smallest seating length requirement
because the dierential movements of the two spans are induced solely by nonuniform ground excitations.
As f1 d=v increases, implying an f1 increase, numerical values of all the cases approach a constant, which is
? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998)
98 HONG HAO
Figure 6. Required seating lengths of bridge spans obtained by varying span lengths
equal to the quasistatic response because dynamic response is very small at large vibration frequencies due
to deamplication eect, but the quasistatic response is independent of the vibration frequency.
As the bridge span length aects the spatial variations of multiple support excitations, numerical results
for the bridge model with f1 = 10 Hz and dierent span lengths are calculated to analyse the ground motion
spatial variation eect. Figure 6 shows those obtained with PGA = 05 g, medium rm site conditions, dierent
natural frequency ratios, and dierent highpass lters. Generally, as can be noticed, the required seating length
increases with f1 d=v or d, implying that less correlated ground motions cause larger dierential displacement
responses. This is because ground motions measured at points with a larger separation distance are less
correlated, and less correlated motions cause larger quasistatic responses.49
The required seating lengths also oscillate with f1 d=v. For the case of f2 =f1 = 10, they reach the peak
values at f1 d=v = 025; 075; 125 and 175, and the minimum values at f1 d=v = 05; 10; 15 and 20.
This is because of the eects of inphase and outofphase between the dominant ground motion phase
shift and the fundamental vibration mode of the bridge. Since the separation distance between supports 1
and 3 is 2d = 200 m, the outofphase excitations between the motions at supports 1 and 3 occur when
f1 d=v = 025; 075; 125 and 175, whereas the inphase excitations occur when f1 d=v = 05; 10; 15 and
20. The outofphase excitations cause the maximum dierential displacements while the inphase excitations
produce the minimum dierential displacements.
As can be seen in Figure 6 again, the highpass lter aects the dierential displacement of adjacent bridge
spans signicantly. Since the choice of the central frequency ff is not physically based, in the following
discussion, all the numerical results are normalized by the corresponding peak ground displacement.
To study the relative importance of the various parameters of spatial ground motions and the vibration
properties of the two adjacent bridge spans, Figure 7 shows the normalized relative displacements with respect
to the frequency ratio f2 =f1 obtained by using f1 = 05 Hz and varying f2 . As can be seen, the largest required
seating length occurs when f2 =f1 = 05, i.e. f2 = ff = 025 Hz, and the smallest seating length occurs when
f2 =f1 = 10. The ground motion spatial variation eect is most prominent when f2 =f1 is close to unity, i.e.
when the two adjacent spans have similar vibration properties. The less correlated ground motions (Event 30)
cause larger dierential displacements than the more correlated motions (Event 45). The ground motion spatial
variation eect is, however, not pronounced if the vibration frequencies of the two spans dier signicantly;
Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998) ? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
A PARAMETRIC STUDY OF BRIDGE DECKS DURING EARTHQUAKE 99
Figure 7. Normalized seating lengths for bridges subjected to multiple ground excitations with dierent spatial variations
Figure 8. Normalized seating lengths for bridges having dierent natural frequencies
the dominant factor of causing the dierential displacements is now the dierent vibration phases of the two
spans. When f2 =f1 is larger than 20, the required seating length approaches a constant, implying that the
response of the second span is primarily caused by quasistatic response, which is independent of f2 .
Figures 8 and 9 show the required seating lengths calculated by using dierent f1 , dierent viscous damping
ratios, and dierent site conditions. Besides the above observations, it can be seen that the natural vibration
frequency of the bridge aects the required seating length signicantly. The largest seating length is needed
if the bridge resonates with the ground displacement.
The required seating length for bridge deck also depends on the damping ratios and ground motion intensi
ties. Increase of the viscous damping is a very eective way to reduce the required seating length. As shown
? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998)
100 HONG HAO
Figure 9. Normalized seating lengths for bridges having dierent damping ratios and on sites of dierent conditions
in Figure 9, the required seating length is reduced by more than 50 per cent by increasing the damping ratio
from 1 to 5 per cent.
Also shown in Figure 9 are the normalized results corresponding to dierent site conditions. As can be
seen, the normalized results for the three site conidtions are very close to each other, implying a larger
seating length should be provided for a bridge on a soft site than on a rm site. This is because the PGD
corresponding to a soft site is larger than that corresponding to a rm site if the PGA for both sites are the
same. Required seating lengths corresponding to dierent PGA are also calculated. It is interesting to note that
the normalized relative displacements obtained by ground motions with dierent PGA are the same, indicating
that the relative displacement and PGD are linearly proportional to each other although they are nonlinearly
proportional to PGA or .
The above results demonstrated that bridge vibration properties, viscous damping ratios and spatial ground
motions aect the dierential responses of structures. Depending on the bridge vibration frequency, damping
ratio, PGA and PGD, and site conditions, the seating length required to prevent the bridge deck being pulled
o its support during a major earthquake could be more than 10 m. Because of the quasistatic response,
the dierential displacements strongly depend on ground displacement. In practice, most of the available
ground motion information is ground accelerations, and ground displacements are usually obtained by nu
merically integrating the recorded ground accelerations. Mathematically, a highpass lter has to be applied
to ground acceleration before integration to prevent ground velocity and displacement to drift from the zero
axis. Since the choice of the highpass lter, especially the choice of the central frequency of the highpass
lter, aects ground displacement substantially, it is crucial to nd a reliable and physically meaningful central
frequency for the highpass lter if ground motion spatial variation is considered in the structural response
analysis.
CONCLUSIONS
The required seating lengths for bridge seat connections to prevent the pulloanddrop collapse during strong
earthquakes have been calculated. The numerical results of the required seating lengths have been presented
Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998) ? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
A PARAMETRIC STUDY OF BRIDGE DECKS DURING EARTHQUAKE 101
and discussed with respect to the bridge vibration frequencies, span lengths, damping ratios, and the spatial
ground excitations. It is found that:
1. The dierential movements of bridge spans strongly depend on ground displacement. The largest seating
length is required when the natural frequency of the bridge coincides with the central frequency of the
ground displacement;
2. A larger seating length is required if multiple ground motions are less correlated; and if the multiple
ground motion phase shift is outofphase with the fundamental bridge vibration mode;
3. The variation of vibration properties of two adjacent spans is the dominant factor causing dierential
displacements when the natural frequencies of the two spans dier from each other noticeably. However,
ground motion spatial variations become the primary factor to cause dierential displacements when the
natural frequencies of the two spans are close to each other;
4. Damping ratios, site conditions and ground motion intensities all aect the required seating length. It is
a very eective way to reduce the required seating length by increasing the damping of the bridge.
APPENDIX I
For a zero mean stationary process x(t) with power spectral density function S(!),
its mth order spectral
moment is dened as
Z
m = ! m S(!)
d ! (21)
0
In this study, all the above integrations are carried out numerically by using the commercial mathematical
library NAG.16
? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998)
102 HONG HAO
APPENDIX II
For the bridge model shown in Figure 4, the mass matrix is
m1 0 0
0 0 0 0
M1 0
M= 0 0 0 =
(27)
0 M2
m2 0
0
0 0
where m1 and m2 are the lumped masses of the two spans to their respective lateral displacement DOFs.
The stiness matrices can be formed as
12k 12k 6k1 6k2
l21
1
+ l2 2 l l
2 1 2
6k1
4k 1 0 0
l1
6k Ks1 0
Kss = 2
0 4k2 = (28)
l2 0 Ks2
12k3 6k3
2 l3
0 l3
6k3
l3 4k3
and
12k1 12k2
l21
l22
6k1
l1 0 0
Ksb = = Kb1 0
(29)
6k2 0 Kb2
0
l2
12k3 6k3
0 l23
l3
where ki = (EI)i =li , in which (EI)i and li are the
exural rigidity and the height of the ith support.
If l1 = l2 and k1 = k2 , i.e. the rst two supports of the left span are identical as they are assumed in this
study, we set
0:5 0:5 0
3=4l1 3=4l1 0
1
Kss Ksb = 3=4l1 3=4l1 0 (30)
0 0 1
0 0 0
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? 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Earthquake Engng. Struct. Dyn., 27, 91103 (1998)