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Advanced Materials Research Online: 2010-12-06

ISSN: 1662-8985, Vols. 163-167, pp 4449-4453


doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.163-167.4449
2011 Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland

Geotechnical Seismic Isolation System - Experimental Study

Wei Xiong1, a, Hing-Ho Tsang2, b, S. H. Lo2, c, Shouping Shang3, d,


Haidong Wang3, e and Fangyuan Zhou4, f
1
College of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Central South University, China
2
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Hong Kong, China
3
College of Civil Engineering, Hunan University, China
4
Department of Civil Engineering, Nagoya University, Japan
a b c d
bbbear2002@gmail.com, tsanghh@hku.hk, hreclsh@hkucc.hku.hk, sps@hnu.cn,
e
whdwang@163.com, fzhoufangyuan630@163.com

Keywords: Geotechnical Seismic Isolation (GSI) System; Rubber-Sand Mixture (RSM);


Experimental Study

Abstract. In this study, an experimental investigation program on a newly proposed seismic isolation
technique, namely Geotechnical Seismic Isolation (GSI) system, is conducted with an aim of
simulating its dynamic performance during earthquakes. The testing procedure is three-fold: (1) A
series of cyclic simple shear tests is conducted on the key constituent material of the proposed GSI
system, i.e., rubber-sand mixture (RSM) in order to understand its behavior under cyclic loadings. (2)
The GSI system is then subjected to a series of shaking table tests with different levels of input ground
shakings. (3) By varying the controlling parameters such as percentage of rubber in RSM, thickness of
RSM layer, coupled with the weight of superstructure, a comprehensive parametric study is
performed. This experimental survey demonstrates the excellent performance of the GSI system for
potential seismic hazard mitigation.

Introduction
China is located in a region of high-seismicity where many devastating earthquakes occurred in the
recorded history. The 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake resulted in over 100,000 casualties together with a
total financial loss of up to RMB 150 billion [1]. The severe consequences of seismic hazard in China
remind us that earthquake risk mitigation should be one of our nations topmost priorities, and more
innovative ways relevant to seismic risk mitigation are in urgent need.
In the past few decades, numerous anti-seismic techniques, e.g. seismic isolation devices, fluid
dampers, tuned mass dampers (TMDs), are proposed by academic researchers and
structural/geotechnical engineers aiming at providing better structural safety solutions. Among these
anti-seismic applications, seismic isolation is the most well-known and commonly-used, due to its
excellent energy dissipation and structural response reduction capability. Recent seismic isolation
devices could be divided into three categories [2]: Laminated Rubber Bearing (LRB), Friction
Pendulum System (FPS), and Hybrid Isolation System (HIS). Such isolation methods are becoming
increasingly mature due to the widespread applications in engineering practice.
This paper presents an experimental study on a novel Geotechnical Seismic Isolation (GSI) system
proposed by Hing-Ho Tsang [3]. The test investigation is three-fold. First, a series of cyclic simple
shear tests is performed on the key constituent material of the proposed GSI system, i.e., rubber-sand
mixture (RSM) in order to obtain its dynamic properties. The dynamic shear tests are then followed by
a series of shaking table tests on the GSI system with a set of input ground motions with different
shaking intensities. Further, a parametric study is carried out by varying the controlling parameters
such as percentage of rubber in RSM, thickness of RSM layer, as well as the weight of the
superstructure. The experimental result demonstrates the remarkable performance of the GSI system
and its high potential for seismic risk mitigation.

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4450 Advances in Structures

Geotechnical Seismic Isolation (GSI) System: A Brief Overview


The schematic view of the GSI system is shown in Figure 1. The soil layer underneath the
superstructure is replaced by sand mixed with a specified content of shredded or granulated rubber
materials. The GSI system can offer some distinguished benefits compared to other conventional
seismic isolation techniques: robust, eco-friendly, cost-effective, to name a few. More detailed
introduction to GSI system can be found in literatures [4-6].

Free Field

Superstructure
Rubber-Sand
Mixture

Original Soil

Earthquake Input Motion


Figure 1. The Geotechnical Seismic Isolation (GSI) system a schematic view. The soil layer beneath
the superstructure is replaced by rubber-sand mixture (RSM).

GSI system could be a beneficial supplement to the more advanced, yet expensive, isolation
systems. The potential of the engineering application of GSI system would be promising in the less
developed (rural) areas.

Experimental Investigation on GSI System


For the purpose of assessing the isolation performance of GSI system during earthquakes, we
primarily conducted cyclic simple shear tests on RSM. A series of shaking table tests was then
conducted on the GSI system with the use of different input ground motions considering a wide range
of excitation intensities. Further, a parametric study was carried out by varying the controlling
parameters of the GSI system.
Cyclic Simple Shear Test on Rubber-Sand Mixture (RSM) In this section, the testing
procedure of the cyclic simple shear tests on RSM and the corresponding results are presented.
The size of granulated rubber used in the preparation of specimens is between 2 and 5 mm, specific
gravity 1.08, and volume weight 0.53 g/ml. The size of quartz sand used in the test is between 2 and
5 mm, specific gravity 2.55, and volume weight 1.38 g/ml. The rubber and sand materials were first
exposed in 36 hours of ventilation for dehydration, and were then mixed by spooning with specific
rubber volume proportions of 0% (pure sand), 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% (pure rubber). The mixing
scheme is presented in Table 1.
Table 1. Specimens proportions
Specimen Rubber Proportion (% Mixture Density (/ml)
1 0 1.38
2 25 1.17
3 50 0.94
4 75 0.75
5 100 0.53
Sinusoidal wave with vibration frequency 1 Hz has been applied in the dynamic shear tests. The
specimens were subjected to cyclic shear with consolidation pressure of 50 kPa, 100 kPa, 150 kPa,
and 200 kPa.
Advanced Materials Research Vols. 163-167 4451

The experimental results are illustrated in Figure 2. It is noted from Figure 2 that during the cyclic
loadings, the dynamic shear modulus of RSM increases with increasing consolidation pressure at the
same shear strain. With the increase of the proportion of rubber, the rate of degradation (slope) of the
dynamic shear modulus of RSM becomes lower, which may stem from the elastomeric property of the
rubber component in RSM. It can be concluded, as reflected by these findings, that the consolidation
pressure and rubber content are the two major factors that determine the dynamic characteristics of the
RSM.
12000

12000 12000
Dynamic shear modulus (kPa)

50kPa 50kpa 50kPa

Dynamic shear modulus (kPa)


10000

Dynamic shear modulus


100kPa 10000
100kpa
10000
100kPa
150kPa 150kpa 150kPa
8000 8000
8000
200kPa 200kpa 200kPa
6000 6000
6000

4000
4000
4000

2000
2000
2000
0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016 0.020
0
0 0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016 0.020
Dynamic shear strain (mm/mm) 0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016 0.020

Dynamic shear strain (mm/mm) Dynamic shear strain (mm/mm)

b) Rubber proportion 25% c) Rubber proportion 50%


a) Rubber proportion 0%
12000 12000
Dynamic shear modulus (kPa)

50kpa
Dynamic shear modulus (kPa)

10000 50kPa 10000


100kPa 100kpa
8000 150kPa 8000 150kpa
200kPa 200kpa
6000 6000

4000 4000

2000 2000

0 0
0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016 0.020 0.004 0.008 0.012 0.016 0.020

Dynamic shear strain (mm/mm) Dynamic shear strain (mm/mm)


d) Rubber proportion 75% e) Rubber proportion 100%
Figure 2. Dynamic shear modulus vs. dynamic shear strain of RSM with rubber proportion 0% (pure
sand), 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% (pure rubber) under consolidation pressure 50 kPa, 100 kPa,
150 kPa, and 200 kPa.

Shaking Table Test on GSI Systems The GSI system was then subjected to a series of shaking
table tests for demonstrating the effectiveness of isolation under earthquake excitations. The
configuration of the shaking table facility is shown in Figure 3.

a) The container for RSM b) The front view of the shaking table
Figure 3. Schematic view of the shaking table testing facility and its configuration
4452 Advances in Structures

Figure 4 shows the acceleration time histories of the superstructure with the use of GSI system with
layer thickness of 200 mm (35% rubber), and the corresponding input motions. It can be inferred from
Figure 4 that the dynamic responses of the superstructure are significantly reduced due to the energy
dissipation and motion decoupling by the RSM layer. It is observed that the isolation effects become
more significant with increasing percentage of RSM and increasing thickness of the RSM layer. The
results of the shaking table tests demonstrate the remarkable seismic isolation performance of GSI for
earthquake hazard mitigation purposes.

4 4
Output accereration Output acceleration

Acceleration (m/s )
Acceleration (m/s )

2
2

Input accereration Input acceleration


2 2

0 0

-2 -2

-4 -4
5 10 15 20 5 10 15 20
Time (second) Time (second)

a) Consolidation pressure 50 kPa, El Centro b) Consolidation pressure 100 kPa, El Centro


Amplitude 0.2 g Amplitude 0.2 g
4 4
Output acceleration Output acceleration
Acceleration (m/s )

Acceleration (m/s )
2

Input acceleration Input acceleration


2 2

0 0

-2 -2

-4 -4
5 10 15 20 5 10 15 20
Time (second) Time (second)

c) Consolidation pressure 50 kPa, El Centro d) Consolidation pressure 100 kPa, El Centro


Amplitude 0.3 g Amplitude 0.3 g
4 4
Output accerelation Output acceleration
Acceleration (m/s )

Acceleration (m/s )
2

Input acceleration Input acceleration


2 2

0 0

-2 -2

-4 -4
5 10 15 20 5 10 15 20
Time (second) Time (second)

e) Consolidation pressure 50 kPa, El Centro f) Consolidation pressure 100 kPa, El Centro


Amplitude 0.4 g Amplitude 0.4 g
Figure 4. Acceleration time history of GSI system with layer thickness of 200 mm (35% rubber
proportion)

Conclusion
For the purpose of investigating the performance and effectiveness of the novel Geotechnical Seismic
Isolation (GSI) system under earthquake excitations, a series of cyclic simple shear tests has been
conducted on rubber-sand mixtures (RSM) and shaking table tests have been conducted on the GSI
system. The following conclusions can be made based on the experimental results and analyses:
(1) RSM exhibits a tremendous energy absorption capability under dynamic loadings. The
dynamic shear modulus of RSM is increased with increasing consolidation pressure at the same shear
strain. With the increase of rubber proportion, the dynamic response behavior of RSM becomes more
linear elastic.
(2) The dynamic response of the superstructure can be substantially reduced when GSI system is
applied in shaking table tests. The seismic isolation performance of the GSI system is dependent on
the percentage of rubber in RSM, thickness of RSM layer, and the level of input ground shakings.
Advanced Materials Research Vols. 163-167 4453

Acknowledgement
This work was financially supported by National Science Foundation of China Grant No. 50578062,
50808078; and Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Project No.
715110. Appreciation is extended to the anonymous referees whose comments have led to substantial
improvements of this paper.

References
[1] J. Hubbard, J. H. Shaw: Nature Vol. 458 (2009), p. 194
[2] F. L. Zhou: Prog. Struct. Eng. Mater. Vol. 3(2001), p. 268
[3] H. H. Tsang: Earthq. Eng. Struct. Dyn. Vol. 37(2008), p. 283
[4] W. Xiong, H. H. Tsang, S. P. Shang et al: J. Build. Struct. Vol. S2 (2010), p. 39
[5] H. H. Tsang, in: Earthquake Engineering: New Research. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., New
York, U.S. (2009)
[6] H. H. Tsang, X. Xu, S. H. Lo, N. T. K. Lam, in: Proceedings of the Eleventh World Conference
on Seismic Isolation, Energy Dissipation and Active Vibrations Control of Structures,
Guangzhou, China (2009)