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Engineering Structures 25 (2003) 271–279

Seismic damage evaluation of a steel building using stress

A.A. Shama , M.S. Zarghamee , R.P. Ojdrovic , B.W. Schafer
Parsons, 100 Broadway, New York, NY 10005, USA
Simpson Gumpertz and Heger Inc., 41 Seyon Street, Waltham, MA 02453, USA
Department of Civil Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

Received 28 January 2002; received in revised form 28 August 2002; accepted 28 August 2002


This paper presents a procedure for the evaluation of the seismic damage in steel moment frame buildings. The rotational
capacities, of typical connections of a building in the Los Angeles area, which suffered extensive damage during the Northridge
earthquake, were determined using stress triaxiality as an indicator for fracture. The rotational demands of the same connections
were obtained from a three-dimensional finite element analysis of the building model. Comparisons of the rotational demands at
several locations in the building to the rotational capacities determined by the stress triaxiality analysis showed that fracture of
steel moment connections of the building are governed by the triaxiality of stresses. Based on a number of moment connections
analyzed, the paper suggests a moment capacity equation for the pre-Northridge welded steel moment connections taking into
account the fracture incidence due to stress triaxiality effect. The moment capacity of such connections as dictated by stress triaxiality
compared favorably to FEMA-350 requirements.
2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Triaxiality; Moment frames; Finite element; Fracture; Moment connections

1. Background and motivation Further experimental studies were undertaken by Tsai

and Popov [4] and Englehart and Husain [5]. However,
Prior to its approval for construction in the last dec- a common observation from these test programs is that
ades, the welded steel moment frame connection shown this moment frame connection showed highly variable
in Fig. 1 has been experimentally investigated under a performance. Although, some specimens performed sat-
series of research studies to examine its cyclic inelastic isfactorily, a significant number demonstrated unexpec-
behavior. Popov and Pinkney [1], tested 24 steel beam– ted poor performance in cyclic test programs. The
column connections. Five different basic connection Northridge Earthquake of 17 January 1994, demon-
types were investigated. One of which was the connec- strated that the welded steel moment frame connections
tion subject of this study that was later used in high seis- are prone to damage under severe ground motions. An
mic zones of western United States. When compared to enormous amount of new research under the sponsorship
other connection types, such an assemblage showed con- of the SAC joint venture has been conducted for a better
sistently high energy absorbing capabilities. Later, stud- understanding of the seismic performance of these con-
ies by Krawinkler et al. [2] and Bertero et al. [3] showed nections and to develop, guidelines for its seismic
that panel zone yielding could assist in providing design [6,7].
additional energy dissipation, and hence improve the Early studies [8,9] explicitly incorporated fracture
overall hysteretic performance of the sub-assemblage. mechanics methods with finite element analysis to simu-
late fracture of steel moment connections. These
approaches usually assume a pre-existing flaw of critical
Corresponding author. Tel.: 1-212-266-8585; fax: 1-212-571- size for an analysis to be performed and out of the scope
6824. of this paper. Alternatively, stress triaxiality has been
E-mail address: (A.A. Shama). cited as a prospective reason for the indigent behavior

0141-0296/03/$ - see front matter 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.