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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/compgeo

on seismic coefﬁcient estimation

Konstantinos I. Andrianopoulos a,⇑, Achilleas G. Papadimitriou b, George D. Bouckovalas a,

Dimitrios K. Karamitros a

a

Geotechnical Department, School of Civil Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, Greece

b

Department of Civil Engineering, University of Thessaly, Greece

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This paper presents a numerical investigation of the seismic response of earth dams by employing results

Received 17 December 2012 from 110 nonlinear two-dimensional (2D) dynamic analyses of four different cross-sections with heights

Received in revised form 6 September 2013 ranging from 20 to 120 m. The analyses were of a parametric nature, considering the effects of seismic

Accepted 9 September 2013

excitation characteristics (intensity and frequency content), foundation soil stiffness, and the existence

Available online 5 October 2013

of typical stabilising berms and/or an impounded reservoir. The results of these studies indicated that

the predominant period of a dam’s vibration was strongly affected by its height and the input motion

Keywords:

characteristics. The results also indicated that the peak acceleration at the dam’s crest was governed

Earth dams

Earthquake

by its height, the input motion characteristics, and the stiffness of the foundation soil, but not by the

Embankments other parameters. These same analyses yielded results on pseudo-static seismic coefﬁcients for a total

Non-linear soil response of 1084 potential sliding masses within the analysed cross-sections, demonstrating that the seismic coef-

Numerical analysis ﬁcients decreased as the sliding mass became deeper and bulkier, increased if the mass was located

Pseudo-static analysis upstream rather than downstream, and were strongly affected by the seismic excitation characteristics

Seismic coefﬁcient and stiffness of the foundation soil. Moreover, these results allowed for a thorough evaluation of existing

methodologies for seismic coefﬁcient estimation, quantifying their accuracy and depicting their limita-

tions. This evaluation process also illustrated the fact that there is currently no methodology accounting

for all signiﬁcant problem parameters.

Ó 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction dam during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Thus, questions have

been raised regarding the seismic safety of existing dams that have

Reports of severe seismic earth dam failures have been limited not been designed to withstand earthquakes (small and/or old

worldwide and related mainly to liquefaction (e.g., the Lower San dams) or have been designed using methods of analysis that are

Fernando Dam during the 1971 San Fernando earthquake, numer- now considered outdated [8]. New, taller dams have also been con-

ous tailings dams such as the Mochikoshi dams during the 1978 structed in unfavourable foundation conditions, creating an in-

Izu–Ohshim–Kinkai earthquake [1], and a number of Indian dams creased need for more accurate design methods.

such as the Chang and Shivlakha dams during the 2001 Bhuj earth- In general, the assessment of the seismic stability of new or

quake [2]). In contrast, as reported by numerous reconnaissance existing dams can be performed via (a) pseudo-static analyses

reports and studies (e.g. [3–7]), there have been many more cases [9], (b) displacement-based (Newmark or sliding block) methods

in which some sort of cracking or slope sliding has occurred during [10–12], and (c) dynamic stress-deformation numerical analysis

strong shaking, which is not necessarily related to liquefaction [13]. Although such robust numerical analyses as method (c) are

(e.g., the Austrian dam during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake). now quite common, methods (a) and (b) still form the basis of

Moreover, earthquake-related damages to earth dams continue to engineering practice in the seismic design of earth dams around

occur worldwide and unfortunately still include total collapses, the world, at least in the design preliminary stages of new dams

such as the complete failure of the 18.5 m Fujinuma embankment or the safety assessment of existing dams. Compared to (b), pseu-

do-static analyses have the beneﬁt of accumulated experience and

user friendliness because they were ﬁrst employed in the 1950s

⇑ Corresponding author. Address: Mourgkanas 6, Maroussi, 15126, Athens, and require merely the estimation of a pseudo-static factor of

Greece. Tel.: +30 2108069604. safety, FSd, against seismic ‘‘failure’’ of the geostructure’s slopes.

E-mail addresses: kandrian@tee.gr (K.I. Andrianopoulos), apapad@civ.uth.gr

An example of such a pseudo-static problem is illustrated in

(A.G. Papadimitriou), gbouck@central.ntua.gr (G.D. Bouckovalas), dimkaram@

gmail.com (D.K. Karamitros). Fig. 1, which also depicts signiﬁcant problem parameters, such as

0266-352X/$ - see front matter Ó 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compgeo.2013.09.005

196 K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210

analyses are always demanding in terms of software, expertise,

and cost and thus defeat the purpose of selecting method (a) over

(c). To avoid these downsides, researchers and practitioners around

the world have devised various simpliﬁed methods for estimating

appropriate seismic coefﬁcient values for use in pseudo-static

analyses. Still, it is unclear how well such simpliﬁed methods agree

with measured responses and the results of robust dynamic anal-

yses of earth dams’ seismic responses.

Thus, this study attempted to clarify the compatibility between

existing simpliﬁed methods for estimating seismic coefﬁcients

Fig. 1. Deﬁnition of the critical geometric and geotechnical parameters for the (outlined in Section 2) and robust dynamic numerical analyses

seismic slope stability of earth dams and tall embankments. (performed using the methodology described in Section 3). These

analyses provided insight into the seismic response of zoned earth

dams and homogeneous tall embankments and ascertained the rel-

the peak values of the seismic acceleration at the crest, PGAcrest, at ative signiﬁcance of various problem parameters. As fully detailed

the outcropping (bed)rock, PGArock, and in the ‘‘free ﬁeld’’ of the in Section 4, such parameters included excitation characteristics

foundation soil, PGA. The most critical point of the approach is (intensity and frequency content), dam geometry (height and exis-

the value of the horizontal inertial force, Fh, applied at the sliding tence of stabilising berms), foundation soil conditions, and the

mass’s centre of gravity. This force Fh is equal to the weight of dam’s operation phase (‘‘end of construction’’ and ‘‘steady-state

the sliding mass, W, multiplied by a dimensionless seismic coefﬁ- seepage’’ conditions). Note that in addition to the excitation charac-

cient, kh. Therefore, the selection of an appropriate value for kh is teristics, the other parameters under study are crucial to the static

crucial for the estimation of FSd and of paramount importance to stability of earth dams, but their signiﬁcance in terms of seismic

a safe, rational design or safety assessment. loading is unknown. Whereas Section 4 considers the seismic re-

The value of kh should reﬂect the vibration of the sliding mass sponse of the whole dam, Section 5 focuses on seismic coefﬁcients

during the design earthquake. Given that the sliding mass is gener- and pinpoints which of the foregoing parameters are important to

ally not rigid, different locations within this mass do not vibrate in designating their values. Finally, Section 6 presents a critical eval-

phase (especially in tall dams where the predominant wave length, uation of the methodologies outlined in Section 2, providing a

kd, of the seismic shear waves within the dam body is comparable quantiﬁcation of their accuracy and limitations based on the

to their height, H [14]), and their vibrations are not of equal inten- numerical results.

sity (e.g., vibrations are less intense deep within the dam body than As clariﬁed above, the paper deals with the seismic response of

on its surface). Therefore, the value of kh should be related to the ‘‘zoned earth dams and homogeneous tall embankments’’. Yet, for

resultant acceleration time history of the sliding mass, which is re- reasons of brevity, in the remainder of the paper the studied geo-

lated to the resultant (horizontal) force time history along the structures will be referenced as ‘‘dams and embankments’’.

shear band delineating the sliding mass within the dam body. This

resultant acceleration time history is generally expected to be a

2. Methodologies for seismic coefﬁcient estimation

function of the characteristics of the dam and excitation and the

geometry of the sliding mass [15]. Yet, it can also be affected if slip-

This section begins with an overview of proposals from the

page has been initiated along the shear band delineating the slid-

literature for ‘‘effective’’ seismic coefﬁcients, khE, for use in pseu-

ing mass within the dam body [16]. In any case, the peak value

do-static slope stability analyses of dams and embankments (Sec-

of the resultant acceleration time history is observed only momen-

tion 2.1). It then provides estimators from the literature of peak

tarily, and therefore, the design of earth dams using the respective

values of the seismic coefﬁcient, khmax, for use in displacement-

peak value of the seismic coefﬁcient khmax, along with a require-

based (Newmark-type) methods (Section 2.2).

ment for a pseudo-static factor of safety against seismic ‘‘failure’’

FSd P 1.0, leads to an overly conservative approach. Hence, com-

mon practice dictates the use of an ‘‘effective’’ value of the seismic 2.1. Estimating ‘‘effective’’ seismic coefﬁcients

coefﬁcient, khE (a percentile of khmax), combined with the existing

requirement of FSd P 1.0, at the expense of generally ‘‘small’’ (but According to Kramer [14], it was Terzaghi [9] who ﬁrst depicted

still unknown) permanent downslope displacements. Based on values of khE = 0.1, 0.2, and 0.5 for ‘‘severe’’, ‘‘violent, destructive’’,

Papadimitriou et al. [17], literature values for the khE/khmax ratio and ‘‘catastrophic’’ earthquakes, respectively. Until the mid-1970s,

have ranged from 0.5 to 0.8, with the most commonly used value the depiction of khE had been based on local experience and typi-

equal to 0.67 (e.g., in the British Standards for pseudo-static anal- cally led to values between 0.10 and 0.15, with the assumed value

yses of the slopes of dams or embankments [18]). Alternatively, increasing as a function of the design earthquake magnitude, M, or

there have been recent efforts to relate the appropriate selection the signiﬁcance of the civil engineering work, without exceeding a

of an ‘‘effective’’ seismic coefﬁcient, khE (for use in pseudo-static value of 0.2 (the old design guidelines of the US Army Corps of

analyses), directly to the allowable downslope displacement [18– Engineers). However, Kramer [14] has increased the range of khE

22], thus introducing performance-based design principles in the up to 0.25 in both the USA and Japan for more recent practice.

well-established pseudo-static analysis method. The older values (up to 0.15) have been corroborated by Seed

Given the complexity of the problem, an accurate estimation of [24], who has proposed values of 0.1 for M = 6.5 and 0.15 for

the resultant acceleration time history of a (generally) ﬂexible slid- M = 8.5, together with a requirement of FSd = 1.15 to ensure that

ing mass has required robust dynamic numerical analyses. Two displacements will not exceed 1 m (a value considered allowable

types of numerical procedures have been used for this purpose: for tall dams).

‘‘decoupled’’ analyses, in which the dynamic response of the exam- Seed’s proposals have more recently been validated as being

ined dam (and sliding mass) is calculated separately from possible quite reasonable, even for high PGA values [22]. However, the

slippage [15,23], and ‘‘coupled’’ analyses, in which the dynamic re- inﬂuence of the PGA level on the value of khE, which has been intu-

sponse is considered simultaneously with the accumulation of the itively acknowledged as early as Terzaghi [9], was incorporated

K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210 197

explicitly in literature proposals in the mid-1980s. In particular, The use of Makdisi and Seed’s correlation [15] and that of Mar-

based on a technical report from USCOLD [25], the typical practice cusson [32] (in Section 2.1) has created a practical need for esti-

of the time in the USA was to use khE values ranging from mating PGAcrest, a value that is generally not equal to the PGA or

0.25(PGA/g) to 1 PGA/g, with the largest values accounting the PGArock values that may be known from a seismic hazard study

elastic ampliﬁcation of motion within the body of the dam. Accord- of the site. In general, the accurate estimation of PGAcrest requires

ing to Pyke [26], khE has ranged from 0.2(PGA/g) to 0.6(PGA/g), but the execution of non-linear numerical analyses, such as those per-

based on earthquake magnitude values M ranging from 6.5 to 8.5, formed for this study (Section 3). Alternatively, an estimate may be

respectively. Note that although there are different measures of obtained by using inelastic response spectra for the free-ﬁeld sur-

earthquake magnitude, the values of M mentioned above must face of a dam’s foundation soil, which should be available from the

be considered equal to the most ‘‘accurate’’ moment magnitude aforementioned seismic hazard study. In doing so, the value of

Mw. Nevertheless, after Idriss [27], one may consider the local mag- PGAcrest can be estimated by accounting for the dam’s ﬁrst two to

nitude ML as accurate (ML ﬃ Mw) for ML 6 6.25 and the surface three modes of vibration [15].

wave magnitude MS ﬃ Mw as accurate for 6.25 < MS 6 7.5, but not Although less sound from a theoretical perspective, if khmax is

for higher-magnitude events. related to the PGA itself, then the foregoing practical problem no

Similarly, the respective British Standards [18] have proposed longer exists. This scenario has been studied by Zania et al. [21],

the use of khE = 0.67(PGA/g). This proposal essentially implies that who performed a ‘‘decoupled’’ procedure for estimating downslope

any sliding mass within the dam is rigid and therefore the peak va- displacements of embankments. In particular, they correlated the

lue of its resultant acceleration time history, denoted by khmaxg, is ratio of khmax/(PGA/g) with the tuning period ratio of the embank-

equal to the PGA, or equivalently that khmax = PGA/g. A similar cor- ment’s eigenperiod over the predominant period of excitation. This

relation between the ‘‘effective’’ seismic coefﬁcient and the PGA has correlation has enabled the proposal of a ‘‘seismic coefﬁcient spec-

also been proposed by seismic codes (e.g., EC8 and the Greek code trum’’ for zero-slope displacements (the term ‘‘spectrum’’ implying

EAK) for the pseudo-static analysis of slopes, but not dams or a maximum plateau value for khmax/(PGA/g) at (tuning) period ra-

embankments. For example, EC8 proposes the use of khE = 0.5(- tios of approximately one due to resonance).

PGA/g), which is estimated using intensity maps for rock outcrop- Much more recently, Rathje and Antonakos [33] performed

ping locations in National Annexes and the soil factor according to parametric ‘‘coupled’’ analyses for ﬂexible sliding masses and

ground category, thus introducing one-dimensional (1D) site established a predictive equation for the khmax/(PGA/g) ratio. This

ampliﬁcation effects for each value. In the Greek code, the intensity equation indicates that the ratio of khmax/(PGA/g) decreases with

maps provide values for the ‘‘effective’’ ground acceleration (=0.8 an increasing PGA input, and its value is governed by the (Tmass/

PGA), which essentially translates to khE = 0.4(PGA/g). In any case, Tm) period ratio. In particular, the period Tmass is the fundamental

Salgado [28] has criticised the use of a unique percentile value period of the sliding mass, which is assumed to vibrate approxi-

(0.5 above) in estimating khE in EC8 because this value should be mately as a 1D horizontal soil layer over bedrock with a thickness

a function of earthquake magnitude, M, and PGA level, which vary equal to the maximum thickness of the sliding mass. Concurrently,

according to country and region, among other code-related issues. Tm is the mean period of the seismic excitation, which is similar but

Moreover, EC8 accounts for the expected ampliﬁcation of seismic not equal to the predominant period, Te (see [16] for its deﬁnition).

motion near topographic irregularities (e.g., near slopes) due to In particular, this predictive equation indicates that as the sliding

the scattering and diffraction of incident seismic waves, a phenom- mass becomes more ﬂexible (i.e., it becomes thicker), the value

enon commonly referred to as ‘‘topography effects’’ [30]. In particu- of khmax/(PGA/g) decreases signiﬁcantly, particularly for Tmass/

lar, it has been proposed that an estimate of khE increases linearly Tm > 0.20.3.

from its minimum foregoing value when z = H to its maximum va-

lue, which is 20% higher for very shallow failure surfaces (z ? 0)

due to topography effects that are applied if the slope has a height 3. Description of numerical analyses

H P 30 m and its inclination is between 15° and 30° (higher angles

appear in natural slopes but rarely in earth dams). Thus, EC8 is con- 3.1. Overview

sistent with explicit recommendations for increasing the PGA by

25% for moderately steep slopes [29]. This increase could be larger To shed light on the seismic response of geostructures, such as

for steeper slopes (e.g., 40% for slope angles >30°, according to EC8) dams and embankments, 110 non-linear 2D dynamic analyses

or even moderately sloped dams and embankments if their crests were performed using the methodology described herein. Four dif-

are relatively narrow [30,31]. ferent cross-sections were considered to investigate the effect of

According to Marcusson [32], the slope stability of dams should the geostructure’s height on its dynamic response. In particular,

be performed using khE values related to PGAcrest (Fig. 1), a peak va- one case describing a tall uniform embankment of maximum

lue of acceleration that accounts for dam vibration, which PGA height H = 20 m was considered along with three cases of zoned

does not. earth dams:

a medium dam of maximum height H = 80 m, and

In their seminal work, Makdisi and Seed [15] were the ﬁrst to a tall dam of maximum height H = 120 m.

correlate the value of the peak seismic coefﬁcient khmax with both

the value of (PGAcrest/g) and a decreasing function of the ratio (z/H), The dams’ slope inclinations were chosen to vary between 1:2

representing the maximum depth z of the failure surface (mea- and 1:2.5 (vertical:horizontal) to achieve an adequate factor of

sured from the crest) over the dam’s height H (Fig. 1). In particular, slope safety under static conditions. Excluding the case of the tall

by employing ‘‘decoupled’’ analyses, they have reported values of embankment (H = 20 m), that was considered uniform, the

khmax 6 PGAcrest/g, with the equal sign holding for z/H = 0. The ben- remaining cross-sections included a clay core with slope inclina-

eﬁt arising from their proposal is that khmax accounts not only for tions of the core–shell interfaces ranging between 4:1 and 5:1

dam vibration through PGAcrest but also for the sliding mass’s geo- (vertical:horizontal).

metric characteristics through z/H, both of which are not depicted The effect of typical (upstream and downstream) stability

with the PGA. berms on the overall response was also investigated. The heights

198 K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210

Table 1 the following generalised Ramberg and Osgood [42] relation type

Type and plasticity index PI(%) for each geomaterial comprising the various for monotonic and cyclic loading paths:

earthdams, and related model constants for the employed non-linear hysteretic

model (po is the mean effective pressure at equilibrium (in kPa), used to vary the Gmax

(small strain) shear wave velocity V (in m/s) with depth). Gt ¼ ð1Þ

A

Geomaterial PI (%) V (m/s) a1 c1 (%) m 8 9

Uniform rockﬁll (H = 20 m) 0–7.5 115 (po)0.27 0.64 0.016 0.33 >

< 1 þ 2 a1 1 2Xg ; for cyclic loading >

=

1 1

Non-cohesive shells (H = 40, 0–7.5 86 (po)0.31 0.64 0.016 0.33 A¼ P1

80, 120 m) >

: 1 þ 2 a1 1 gX ; for monotonic loading >

;

1 1

Clay core (H = 40, 80, 120 m) 7.5–15 60 (po)0.29 0.64 0.027 0.33

dimensionless scalar that decreases during loading that introduces

and widths of typical stability berms were set approximately equal

Gt degradation and thus hysteretic damping, denoted as n. In partic-

to H/3 and 2H/3, respectively (where H is the ever-current dam

ular, the Gmax of Eq. (1) is either quantiﬁed as a function of the

height). Apart from the tall dam (H = 120 m), the remaining

(small strain) shear wave velocity V of the soil (and its mass density

cross-sections were analysed both with and without typical

q), using Gmax = qV2, or estimated as a function of the mean effec-

stability berms to depict the berms’ relative effect on dynamic

tive pressure p and void ratio e of the soil:

responses.

rﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

A multi-stage construction of each cross-section was initially Bpa p

Gmax ¼ ð3Þ

simulated to establish an admissible stress ﬁeld under static condi- 0:3 þ 0:7e2 pa

tions at the end of construction. Based on the computed mean

effective stresses, the initial shear-wave velocity proﬁle of each where B is a model constant and pa is the atmospheric pressure. In

cross-section was estimated according to Table 1. For H = 20 m, turn, scalar A of Eq. (2) is a function of the ‘‘distance’’ X in the gen-

the empirical correlation of Kokusho and Eshashi [34] for dense eralised stress-ratio space of the ever-current deviatoric stress ratio

(void ratio e = 0.4) gravels was used. For the other cross-sections, tensor r (=s/p, where s is the deviatoric stress tensor and p is the

an initial dynamic shear modulus, Gmax, was computed according mean effective stress) from its value rref at the last reference state.

to Hardin and Drnevich [35,36] for both clay core and core–shells. The latter is estimated by

Thus, the H = 20 m section could be considered a tall, dense rockﬁll qﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

embankment, whereas the remaining cross-sections simulated the X¼ 1=2ðr rref Þ : ðr rref Þ ð4Þ

dynamic response of zoned earth dams of various heights.

where ‘:’ denotes the double inner product of the two tensors. The

The effect of foundation conditions was examined by assuming

reference state for monotonic loading is the equilibrium state,

various shear wave velocities for the foundation layer, ranging

whereas the reference state is updated at each shear reversal state

from Vb = 250 m/s to 1500 m/s (the minimum value was used only

for cyclic loading. In addition, scalar g1, which divides ‘‘distance’’ X

for H = 20 m). Finally, to investigate the effect of reservoir

in Eq. (2), provides a correlation to the (updating) reference state:

impoundment on seismic response, the same dam cross-sections !

were analysed for both the ‘‘end of construction’’ and ‘‘steady-state Gref

max

seepage’’ conditions. In the former case, the water table was as- g1 ¼ a1 c1 ð5Þ

pref

sumed to lie at the dam base, whereas in the latter case, the water

table followed the surface of the impounded reservoir until the up- where pref and Gref max correspond to the values of p and Gmax (using

stream crest and then decreased linearly within the clay core, Eq. (1) for A = 1) at the last reference state (where rref is also up-

reaching the dam base at the core–downstream shell interface. dated), respectively, and c1 and a1 are model constants. For simplic-

Furthermore, in the analyses conducted for ‘‘steady-state seepage’’ ity, shear reversal is assumed to be triggered when the X value

conditions, the reservoir was modelled as an incompressible mate- reduces from its previous step. Then, pref, Gref

max , and r

ref

are updated,

rial with a density of q = 1 Mg/m3. The elastic stress–strain relation rendering ‘‘distance’’ X to be zero, as it was initially at the equilib-

was used for its modelling, with Poisson’s ratio of approximately rium state, and A = 1 for this time step. Given this updating upon

m = 0.5, a bulk modulus of 2 GPa, and a shear modulus of approxi- shear reversal and the form of Eqs. (1)-(5), the predicted soil re-

mately zero. This calibration corresponded to a compressional sponse is non-linear hysteretic. The non-linear model has four

wave velocity equal to 1500 m/s and a shear wave velocity of zero dimensionless constants: the elastic Poisson’s ratio m (with 0.33

within the reservoir. being a commonly assumed value), constant B (or velocity V) that

The parametric analyses also studied the effects of seismic mo- scales the Gmax value, positive scalar a1 (61) that introduces non-

tion characteristics, as described in Section 3.4. linearity (a1 = 1 for A = 1 and a linear response), and c1, a reference

cyclic shear strain level. Fig. 2 provides sample simulation runs for

3.2. Constitutive model for geomaterials calibrating constants a1 and c1 to best ﬁt the experimental curves of

the normalised secant shear modulus G/Gmax degradation and hys-

The mechanical response under dynamic loading of the various teretic damping n increase curves with a cyclic strain amplitude c,

geomaterials comprising the dams was simulated using the non- from Vucetic and Dobry [43].

linear hysteretic constitutive model described below, which has For the purposes of this paper, the (small strain) shear wave

been implemented as a user-deﬁned model routine in FLAC [37] velocities, V (related to the Gmax and model constant B values),

by the authors. Given the time-domain analysis performed, the for the dam shells and clay core were considered functions of the

equations were written in an incremental format, and the soil re- initial mean effective stress po, as this stress was estimated using

sponse was simulated by employing a step-by-step integration a staged construction analysis of each dam under study (Table 1).

based on the ever-current tangential values of the material moduli. The constants a1 and c1 were chosen based on the calibration of

The soil was modelled as a non-linear hysteretic material using Fig. 2, depending on the plasticity index PI(%): 0–7.5% for the shells,

constantly updated values of the tangential bulk Kt and shear Gt modelled as a PI = 0% material, and 7.5–15% for the clay core, mod-

moduli. Following isotropic elasticity, Kt and Gt are interrelated elled as a PI = 15% material (Table 1).

via a constant elastic Poisson’s ratio m (a model constant). Then, Fig. 2 illustrates that the foregoing non-linear hysteretic model

based on [38–41], the non-linear hysteretic form of Gt is given by used in this study yields almost no damping at very small cyclic

K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210 199

also used in the numerical analyses, calibrated to 1% damping for

the predominant frequency of the excitation.

difference mesh composed of quadrilateral elements (‘‘zones’’ in

FLAC terminology). Proper care was taken in creating a dense

mesh, with a maximum zone dimension equal to 1/10 of the pre-

dominant shear wavelength in each part of the medium, to avoid

the numerical distortion of the propagating waves’ frequency con-

tent. The mesh extended laterally and to the bottom sufﬁciently far

from the dam body (at least two times the dam height H) to min-

imise the effects of artiﬁcial reﬂections. Transmitting boundaries

[44] were applied at the base of the mesh for the same reason,

whereas boundaries simulating the free-ﬁeld response [45] were

applied at its lateral sides. The seismic excitation, represented by

vertically propagating in-plane SV waves (i.e. shear waves with

polarisation in the vertical plane), was applied as a time history

of shear stress along the mesh’s horizontal base to avoid artiﬁcial

wave reﬂections at the bottom boundary that are unavoidable

when time histories of displacement, velocity, or acceleration are

applied.

Fig. 2. Calibration of model constants a1 and c1 in the employed model to ﬁt the

experimental curves of Vucetic and Dobry [43].

Recorded ground motions from strong earthquakes in Greece

were used as seismic excitations in all 110 analyses:

shear strains, which is not in accordance with experimental data. (a) Splb time history recorded during the 1999 Athens earth-

Thus, to incorporate non-zero damping in the discretised soil med- quake (M = 5.9, longitudinal component, 12 km epicentral

ium irrespective of cyclic shear strain level and avoid high-fre- distance).

Fig. 3. Acceleration time histories a(t) normalised by their peak acceleration value, amax, that were used as input excitations.

200 K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210

tion soil stiffness, existence of berms, and/or impounded reser-

voirs, dam height) on fundamental indices of the dam’s response,

such as the non-linear fundamental dam vibration period, To (Sec-

tion 4.2), and peak acceleration at the crest, PGAcrest (Section 4.3).

Section 4.1 presents results pertaining to the spatial variation of

the peak horizontal acceleration along the dam’s surface and with-

in its body, providing a clearer picture of how seismic waves atten-

uate in a dam’s vicinity.

Fig. 5a presents typical results corresponding to the response of

the short dam (H = 40 m) founded on ﬁrm ground (Vb = 1000 m/s)

at the ‘‘end of construction’’ when subjected to the Splb time history

scaled at PGA = 0.05 g. In particular, Fig. 5a provides information

on how the peak horizontal acceleration varies spatially with the

horizontal distance at the ground surface along the dam (surface

Fig. 4. Elastic response spectra (5% critical damping) normalised by their peak

level) but also at its base (foundation level). As shown, the peak

ground acceleration value, amax, compared to the elastic design spectra for ground

categories A and B of EC8.

horizontal acceleration exhibited intense spatial variability at the

surface level along the dam’s inclined shells, as opposed to the

more uniform response along the horizontal ground away from

(b) Aigio time history recorded during the 1995 Aigio earth- the dam. By directly comparing the results for the surface and

quake (M = 6.2, east–west component, 18 km epicentral foundation levels, it became obvious that signiﬁcant ampliﬁcation

distance). of seismic motion existed within the dam body (a factor of almost

(c) Argostoli time history recorded during the 1983 Cephallonia three, on average, between the two levels), which was a clear man-

earthquake (M = 7.0, east–west component, 34 km epicen- ifestation of topography effects [31]. Fig. 5a also illustrates that due

tral distance). to the presence of a heavy geostructure, the peak horizontal accel-

(d) Kozani time history recorded during the 1995 Kozani–Greve- eration was clearly de-ampliﬁed at the foundation level by a factor

na earthquake (M = 6.6, east–west component, 16 km epi- of approximately 1.5 compared to the peak horizontal acceleration

central distance). at the free-ﬁeld (away from the dam) of PGA = 0.05 g. Hence, the

average ampliﬁcation of peak horizontal acceleration at the dam’s

Fig. 3 presents the acceleration time histories employed, nor- surface level was equal to approximately two times that of the

malised with respect to their peak acceleration values for compar- PGA. However, the ampliﬁcation at the crest was signiﬁcantly

ison purposes. These recordings are characterised by durations of higher (approximately 2.6 times that of the PGA), with seismic mo-

strong motion that vary from 1 to 2 s (Aigio) up to approximately tion that was far from uniform despite its narrow width. This result

10 s (Argostoli). The Aigio time history includes a directivity pulse was similar to what analyses of 2D uniform hills have shown [31].

at approximately 3 s, whereas the other recordings may be consid- Fig. 5b compares these results in terms of the peak horizontal

ered relatively far ﬁeld motions. In addition, Fig. 4 presents (and acceleration’s spatial variability at the surface and foundation lev-

compares) their elastic response spectra (for 5% critical damping). els of a dam, yielding similar results for conditions identical to

The selected group of seismic recordings covers a wide range of those described before but with typical stability berms at the toes

predominant periods, Te = 0.14–0.5 s, which is the expected range of both the dam’s sides. Fig. 5b illustrates that the existence of

of predominant periods of bedrock motion in EC8 (at least for berms did not essentially affect the peak horizontal accelerations

Southern Europe, where M > 5.5). Fig. 4 also illustrates that the se- at the crest, foundation level, or ground surface away from the

lected recordings include relatively monochromatic excitations dam. In contrast, the existence of berms intensiﬁed the spatial var-

(Aigio, Splb), as well as an excitation with a wide range of signiﬁ- iation in the peak horizontal acceleration along the dam surface.

cant periods (Argostoli). Furthermore, the selected group of excita- This intensiﬁcation could again be attributed to the topographic

tions covers almost the entire range of signiﬁcant periods for the ampliﬁcation of the seismic ground motion observed in the vicin-

elastic design spectra of ground categories A and B of EC8, which ities of the two berms. Fig. 5b also illustrates that these local

correspond to relatively stiff ground conditions that are generally ampliﬁcation phenomena could be quite signiﬁcant but did not af-

used as foundation layers for dams and embankments. fect the seismic responses at the centre of the dam or its crest.

The seismic excitations applied at the base of the mesh were Fig. 5c compares the results of the combination of dam-founda-

appropriately scaled in each analysis to attain the desired peak tion-excitation from Fig. 5a (at the ‘‘end of construction’’ condition)

ground acceleration (PGA) at the foundation layer’s free-ﬁeld sur- with those for the same dam after impoundment (at the ‘‘steady-

face. The PGA values in the performed analyses ranged from state seepage’’ condition). The peak accelerations are ampliﬁed

0.05 g to 0.5 g, thus enabling the study of the entire spectrum of along the upstream shell and remain unaltered or slightly reduced

seismic dam responses, from the linear range for low-intensity mo- along the crest and downstream shell in the latter condition. These

tions up to the highly non-linear range for high-intensity motions. differentiations were observed at surﬁcial parts of the dam body

because the peak accelerations were not affected by the existence

of the reservoir at the dam’s base. Overall, the impoundment of the

4. Insights into the seismic responses of earth dams reservoir made the spatial variation in the peak accelerations at

surface level more non-uniform than in previously tested cases

4.1. Spatial variation of the peak ground accelerations with or without berms.

This ampliﬁcation of peak accelerations in the upstream shell,

Section 4 presents typical results from the numerical analyses compared to those in the downstream shell under ‘‘steady-state

with the goal of providing insights into the seismic responses of seepage’’ conditions, were attributed to the contrast between shear

dams as geostructures, with no reference being made to seismic wave velocities, V (proportional to the effective stresses in Table 1),

coefﬁcients of any potential sliding mass within the dam’s body. that existed between the non-saturated downstream shell and

In particular, this section presents results related to the effects of submerged dam body (the upstream shell and part of the core).

K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210 201

Fig. 5. Spatial variation in the maximum horizontal acceleration along the dam’s surface and base (H = 40 m, Splb time history, PGA = 0.05 g, Vb = 1000 m/s): (a) reference case

(without berms and at the end of construction), (b) effect of stabilising berms at the end of construction, and (c) effect of reservoir impoundment for the dam without berms.

An example of this contrast in shear wave velocity values is pre- a ﬁrst approximation. Thus, comparing this period with the range

sented in Fig. 6, which depicts the shear wave velocity contours of predominant periods, Te, expected at the dam’s location roughly

in the portion of the mesh close to the dam with H = 40 m. Observe determined whether resonance would occur and thus whether sig-

that the V values in the downstream shells exceed 500 m/s at large niﬁcant ampliﬁcation of accelerations from the base to the crest

depths, while at symmetric locations in the upstream shells the V would be observed. The geomaterials perform elastically for low-

values remain much lower. Thus, the stiffer downstream shell ap- intensity motions, so the dam’s fundamental vibration period is

peared to partially reﬂect the vertically impinging SV waves to- considered essentially equal to its elastic eigenperiod, Toe. How-

ward the upstream shell, producing seismic ampliﬁcation effects ever, most geomaterials are prone to stiffness degradation and an

in the upstream region without affecting the peak acceleration at increase in hysteresis, particularly under strong shaking. Thus, dur-

the crest. There was no such stiffness contrast within the dam’s ing an maximum credible earthquake (MCE) design scenario (in

body in the ‘‘end of construction’’ conditions, and therefore, the spa- which the dam must survive without the loss of impounding

tial variation in the peak accelerations was uniform, and there was capacity), or even an operating basis earthquake (OBE) scenario

no difference between upstream and downstream accelerations for (in which the dam must survive without considerable damage) in

vertically impinging SV waves (see Table 2). high-seismicity areas, the geomaterials behaved in a non-linear

manner that may be reﬂected on the dam’s fundamental vibration

4.2. Factors affecting the non-linear fundamental dam vibration period, To.

period, To To validate this scenario, Fig. 7 presents results from four of the

performed analyses, all pertaining to the trapezoidal cross-section,

As with any structure, knowledge of a dam’s fundamental vibra- without berms, of a medium height dam (H = 80 m) founded on

tion period provides a good index of its seismic response, at least as ﬁrm ground (Vb = 1000 m/s) in ‘‘end of construction’’ conditions. In

Fig. 6. Shear wave velocity contours under steady-state seepage conditions in the case of the short dam (H = 40 m).

202 K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210

List of symbols. (PGA = 0.05 g) and very-high-intensity (PGA = 0.5 g) shaking due

A Dimensionless scalar of employed model to the low-frequency Aigio time history, whereas Fig. 7b does the

B Constant of the employed model same for the relatively high-frequency Splb time history. The re-

e Void ratio sults are presented in terms of the dam’s base-to-crest spectral

Fh Horizontal inertial force of the sliding mass

FSd Factor of safety against seismic ‘‘failure’’

ampliﬁcation ratios Sa,crest/Sa,base, normalised by their values for

Gmax Maximum (dynamic) shear modulus T = 0 (normalised transfer functions). This normalisation empha-

Gref

max

Maximum (dynamic) shear modulus at reference state in employed sises only the depicted value of the dam’s fundamental vibration

model period, To, and not the amount of seismic ampliﬁcation, which var-

Gt Tangential shear modulus

ies widely given the very different PGA levels compared. Based on

H Dam height

kh Seismic coefﬁcient of the sliding mass Fig. 7a for the Aigio time history, the dam’s fundamental vibration

khE ‘‘Effective’’ value of the seismic coefﬁcient period almost doubles, from its value To = 0.8 s to a value of To = 1.4

khmax Peak value of the seismic coefﬁcient based on the resultant s, as a result of a 10-fold increase in the PGA from 0.05 g to 0.5 g.

acceleration time history This 75% increase in To was attributed to severe stiffness degrada-

kh(t) Resultant (horizontal) acceleration time history of the sliding mass

Kt Tangential bulk modulus

tion and an increase in the hysteretic damping of the dam’s geoma-

M Earthquake magnitude terials during the strong seismic event compared to that of the

MCE Maximum credible earthquake very-low-intensity motion. However, when the same dam was

OBE Operating basis earthquake subjected to the Splb excitation, the initial value of the dam’s fun-

PGAcrest Peak value of the seismic acceleration at the crest

damental vibration period To = 0.73 s (for PGA = 0.05 g) was af-

PGArock Peak value of the seismic acceleration at the outcropping bedrock

PGA Peak value of the seismic acceleration at the ‘‘free-ﬁeld’’ of the fected very little by the 10-fold increase in the PGA: a 16%

foundation soil increase to a value of To = 0.85 s.

PI Plasticity index This quantitative difference in the amount To increases between

p Mean effective stress Fig. 7a and b was attributed to the difference in the predominant

pref Mean effective stress at reference state in employed model

pa Atmospheric pressure

period, Te, of the applied excitation each time. In particular, the

r Deviatoric stress-ratio tensor low-frequency Aigio time history had a predominant period

rref Reference state in employed model Te = 0.4 s that was relatively similar to the elastic eigenperiod of

Sa,crest Spectral acceleration at crest dam vibration Toe = 0.73 s, making near-resonance phenomena ex-

Sa,base Spectral acceleration at dam’s base

pected. In contrast, the relatively high-frequency Splb time history

s Deviatoric stress tensor

Tmass Fundamental period of the sliding mass had a value of Te = 0.14 s that was very different from the elastic

Tm Mean period of the seismic excitation eigenperiod of dam vibration Toe = 0.73 s, and thus, the dam was

Te Predominant period of the seismic excitation expected to vibrate out-of-phase from its excitation. As an effect,

Toe Elastic fundamental dam vibration period the expected geomaterial non-linearity was minimal. Overall, it

To Non-linear fundamental dam vibration period

t Width of the sliding mass in the horizontal direction

was concluded that the dam’s fundamental vibration period To al-

V Shear wave velocity of the soil ways increased due to shaking intensity (with the PGA being a

Vb Shear wave velocity of the foundation layer good index for the shaking intensity), but this increase was signif-

Vsd Average (non-linear) shear wave velocity within the dam body icant only for cases near resonance; that is, for values of Toe/Te

W Weight of the sliding mass

slightly larger than one. Values of Toe/Te 6 1 are hardly expected

w Maximum distance between two lines that are parallel to the

points of entry and exit of the failure surface and adjoin the sliding in practice because they may appear for only regular (and not tall)

mass embankments under very-high-frequency motions.

z Maximum depth of the failure surface However, it was still uncertain whether other parameters also

a1 Model constant affected the increase in the dam’s fundamental vibration period

c1 Model constant

from its elastic eigenperiod value of Toe to its non-linear counterpart

c Cyclic strain amplitude

kd average shear wavelength within dam body To. To shed light on this issue, Fig. 8 compares the results in terms of

m Poisson’s ratio the dam’s base-to-crest spectral ampliﬁcation ratios Sa,crest/Sa,base

n Hysteretic damping from three analyses pertaining to a dam with H = 40 m and founded

q Material density

on Vb = 1000 m/s, under the Splb seismic excitation for PGA = 0.05 g.

X Distance in generalized stress-ratio space used in employed model

The difference between these three analyses was that the dam had a

trapezoidal cross-section without stabilising berms and fell within

Fig. 7. Typical comparison of dam base-to-crest spectral ampliﬁcation ratios normalised by their values for T = 0 (normalised transfer functions) and PGA = 0.05 g and 0.5 g

for two cases of seismic excitation (results for a trapezoidal dam section with H = 80 m, founded on Vb = 1000 m/s, ‘‘end of construction’’ condition): (a) Aigio time history

when Toe/Te = 1.85 (near resonance) and (b) Splb time history when Toe/Te = 5.2 (out-of-phase vibration).

K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210 203

dam’s crest that are of little practical importance (see Fig. 7 for

an example), the value of PGAcrest in this paper was estimated as

the maximum value of the resultant acceleration time history in

the area of the upper 10% of the dam’s height, i.e. the area of the

dam in the close vicinity of the crest. Papadimitriou et al. [17],

by compiling pertinent data from 2D non-linear analyses, have

demonstrated that this ampliﬁcation ratio is affected by the dam’s

fundamental vibration period, To, and the predominant period of

excitation, Te. They have also demonstrated that scatter is reduced

if the PGAcrest/PGA ratio is correlated to the dam-to-excitation per-

iod ratio, To/Te, because this latter ratio acts as a tuning period

ratio.

Thus, Fig. 9 adopts this type of correlation for the analyses per-

formed in this study and presents only the pertinent data that cor-

Fig. 8. Typical comparison of dam base-to-crest spectral ampliﬁcation ratios

(transfer functions) for a dam without stabilising berms or an impounded reservoir, respond to two distinct cases: tall embankments founded on a very

the same dam with stabilising berms but no reservoir and the same dam without compliant foundation soil (Vb = 250 m/s, represented by hollow

berms but with an impounded reservoir (H = 40 m, founded on Vb = 1000 m/s, under symbols) and dams founded on a solid rock foundation

the Splb seismic excitation for PGA = 0.05 g). (Vb = 1500 m/s, represented by solid symbols). Moreover, the

shapes of the symbol differentiate the data related to low-intensity

(PGA < 0.15 g) excitations from those related to high-intensity

the ‘‘end of construction’’ (without an impounded reservoir) condi-

(PGA > 0.15 g) excitations. The employed data verify the adopted

tions in one case, whereas in the remaining two analyses, the same

correlation to the tuning period ratio given the small relative scat-

dam appeared once with stabilising berms (again without an im-

ter, and the peak dam ampliﬁcations are observed for tuning ratio

pounded reservoir) and once with both a trapezoidal cross-section

values close to unity. Furthermore, the peak ampliﬁcation ratios

and an impounded reservoir (‘‘steady-state seepage’’ conditions).

range from 1.1 to 3.6, comparable to but somewhat lower than

Observe, ﬁrst, that the existence of typical stabilising berms did

the values reported by Hwang et al. [49] and Cascone and Rampello

not appear to affect the dam’s fundamental vibration period, To, be-

[48]. These relatively smaller values in the results presented here

cause the berms had to be much bulkier than H/3 in height and 2H/3

could be because the literature reports normalise the peak acceler-

in width (the dimensions used in this paper) to provide the ex-

ation at the crest to the peak acceleration at the dam base, not to

pected stiffening effect on the dam’s fundamental vibration period

the PGA. Thus, the literature-reported ampliﬁcation ratios are sys-

To. Similarly, the impounded reservoir did not appear to affect the To

tematically higher because de-ampliﬁcation of the motion (with

value, which could be attributed to the reduced amplitude of hydro-

respect to the PGA) is consistently observed at the dam base (see

dynamic pressures at the typically mildly inclined slopes of dams

examples in Fig. 5). Our numerical estimates depicted PGAcrest as

and embankments (assumed equal to 1:2–1:2.5 (vertical:horizon-

the peak value of the resultant acceleration in the close vicinity

tal) in this paper), compared to the full (Westergaard) amplitude

of the crest (i.e., the upper 10% of the dam’s height) and not the va-

expected in the almost vertical slopes of other types of concrete

lue at the very top of the dam, which has generally resulted in

dams or retaining walls [47].

slightly smaller yet more consistent values.

Focusing on the effect of foundation conditions, Fig. 9 indicates

4.3. Factors affecting the peak ground acceleration at the crest, PGAcrest that the dam ampliﬁcation ratio was signiﬁcantly affected by the

stiffness of the foundation layer. In particular, Fig. 9 clearly demon-

The signiﬁcance of the peak acceleration at the crest, PGAcrest, strates that founding a dam on hard rock led to reduced radiation

was already highlighted in Section 2. Of special interest is the com- damping and thus much higher seismic ampliﬁcation within the

parison of its value to the intensity of the applied seismic motion dam’s body. The opposite trend occurred for relatively soft soil

(PGA) because the PGAcrest/PGA ratio essentially depicts the seis-

mic ampliﬁcation ratio within the dam body macroscopically. Re-

ported values of this ratio from case studies have not been found

in the literature. However, there have been reports of ground mo-

tion ampliﬁcation values from the bases to the crests of various

dams. Cascone and Rampello [48] have presented real cases in

which a dam’s base-to-crest ampliﬁcation ratio ranges from 1.5

to 10, with the higher values referring to stiff dams subjected to

weak motion and the lower values to more ﬂexible dams under

strong motion. Similarly, Hwang et al. [49] have presented an anal-

ysis of seismic records for the Liyutan dam, reporting ampliﬁcation

values of approximately two to six, with an average ampliﬁcation

ratio of four under very weak excitations. However, these ampliﬁ-

cation values decrease by 1.4–1.7 times under strong seismic shak-

ing, such as during the Chi–Chi earthquake. Such reports have

depicted signiﬁcant ampliﬁcations within a dam’s body, and only

parametric numerical studies can systematically shed light on

the factors affecting these ampliﬁcation phenomena. Thus, in addi-

tion to the previous section’s study of how various factors affect Fig. 9. Correlation of the dam ampliﬁcation ratio, PGAcrest/PGA, to the tuning dam

period ratio, To/Te, for two extreme cases of foundation layer stiffness (Vb = 1500 m/s

the dam’s fundamental vibration period, To, the numerical investi- and 250 m/s) and two PGA levels (lower and higher than 0.15 g). The results

gation was extended to how the same factors affected the value of correspond to trapezoidal cross-sections with H = 20 and 120 m under the Splb and

PGAcrest, or, more accurately, the PGAcrest/PGA ratio. Aigio excitations and ‘‘end of construction’’ conditions.

204 K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210

conditions, which offered signiﬁcant radiation damping to the trend line of PGAcrest/PGA versus To/Te for Vb = 1500 m/s that was

vibrating geostructure, thus reducing the seismic ampliﬁcation established in Fig. 9 was still valid for cases of dams that were

within the dam. Furthermore, Fig. 9 fully describes the tuning role founded on hard rock but also included typical stabilising berms

of the period ratio To/Te because the seismic ampliﬁcation was re- and/or an impounded reservoir. These cases are denoted by differ-

duced due to the dam’s increasingly out-of-phase vibration when ent symbols and comprise a relatively narrow band of data around

this ratio became greater than 1.0. De-ampliﬁcation effects were the dashed trend line in the ﬁgure. Thus, it was concluded that the

even observed for unusually large values of To/Te (such as in very presence (or absence) of typical stabilising berms and the

tall dams under strong, high-frequency shaking) due to the dam’s impoundment of the reservoir did not affect the correlation be-

complete out-of-phase vibration. However, this de-ampliﬁcation tween PGAcrest/PGA and To/Te. In addition, given that these param-

effect was much more probable when the foundation soil stiffness eters were also found insigniﬁcant to the value of the dam’s

was relatively low due to the contributing effect of increased radi- fundamental vibration period To (Section 4.2), it was concluded

ation damping. In such cases, de-ampliﬁcation could be observed that they did not affect the value of PGAcrest. The reasons why these

even for relatively low, more probable values of To/Te. For example, parameters did not affect PGAcrest were identical to those given in

de-ampliﬁcation effects within the dam body could be observed for Section 4.2, explaining why the parameters also did not affect the

values of To/Te as low as two in the extreme case of Vb = 250 m/s, dam’s fundamental vibration period To, and need not be repeated

whereas such effects could be observed only for To/Te > 6 when here.

Vb = 1500 m/s. Finally, Fig. 9 also investigates whether the PGAcrest/

PGA normalisation alleviated the effect of the PGA level on the em-

ployed correlation. It was observed that for both relatively low 5. Factors affecting the peak seismic coefﬁcient khmax

(<0.15 g) and relatively high (>0.15 g) PGA values, the data fol-

lowed the same trend lines (roughly delineated by dashed lines) This section investigates the factors affecting the peak seismic

governed by the foundation layer stiffness (Vb value), but the data coefﬁcient, khmax, of potential sliding masses within dams. To this

for the low PGA values corresponded to lower To/Te values than end, each of the 110 performed nonlinear ground response analy-

their counterparts for high PGA values. Thus, the effect of the ses was processed to provide the resultant horizontal acceleration

PGA level was satisfactorily introduced through the PGAcrest/PGA time history, kh(t), for a number of potential sliding masses within

normalisation but also correlated with the tuning period ratio To/ its body (approximately 10 sliding masses per analysed case). By

Te indirectly because an increase in PGA led to more intense geo- estimating the peak acceleration value of each of these time histo-

material nonlinearity and thus increased the value of To. ries, a database of 1084 khmax values was created for sliding masses

According to these observations, high ampliﬁcation ratios were of different geometries. Given the parametric nature of the per-

expected for short dams characterised by low fundamental dam formed analyses, the results also enabled the study of the relative

periods, To, that were comparable to the usual predominant excita- importance of the investigated parameters (input motion charac-

tion periods, Te, especially for low PGA values and stiff foundation teristics, stiffness of foundation soil, existence of berms and/or im-

layers. For higher PGA values, when non-linearity increased the To pounded reservoir, dam height) on the values of khmax.

values of such short dams, the seismic ampliﬁcation within the First, the effect of sliding mass geometry on the values of khmax

dams was smaller and de-ampliﬁcation may even have been ob- was investigated, namely, the fundamental effect of the sliding

served, especially if these dams were founded on soft layers. For mass’s maximum depth (Section 5.1) and of its exact shape (Sec-

tall dams, low ampliﬁcation ratios were generally expected, irre- tion 5.2), to evaluate pertinent literature proposals. Next, the ef-

spective of the usually expected seismic excitations. Nevertheless, fects of reservoir impoundment (Section 5.3) and the existence of

de-ampliﬁcation effects were not generally expected for tall dams berms (Section 5.4) on the values of khmax, which have attracted

because such dams could not be readily founded on soft layers. less attention in the literature, were examined.

The foregoing conclusions with respect to PGAcrest were based

on observations made in Fig. 9, where the data correspond to trap-

ezoidal cross-sections and conditions at the ‘‘end of construction’’. 5.1. Effect of the maximum depth z of a sliding mass on khmax

Thus, it was worth investigating whether the presence of typical

stabilising berms and/or an impounded reservoir affected these Based on Makdisi and Seed [15], the values of khmax were suc-

conclusions. To this end, Fig. 10 investigates whether the dashed cessfully normalised by the peak acceleration at the crest, PGAcrest,

for generalisation purposes. These authors also demonstrated that

the dimensionless ratio khmax/(PGAcrest/g) decreases with an in-

crease in the normalised ratio z/H, i.e. the maximum depth z of

the sliding mass within a dam body divided by the dam’s height

H (see Fig. 1 for deﬁnitions). The analyses performed in this paper

enabled the testing of this geometric normalisation of the maxi-

mum depth z. Fig. 11a and b present a typical comparison of the

normalised horizontal acceleration time histories kh/(PGAcrest/g)

for the same sliding mass (with z/H = 0.5) of an dam with

H = 40 m (‘‘end of construction’’ conditions, Vb = 1000 m/s without

berms) under two widely different excitations, Splb and Aigio, with

the same low-intensity PGA = 0.05 g. In addition to the differences

in the duration of the sliding mass vibration, the results exhibited

different values of khmax/(PGAcrest/g) with 0.60 for the high-fre-

quency Splb and 0.66 for the low-frequency Aigio. This type of dif-

ference in the khmax/(PGAcrest/g) values for sliding masses with

identical z/H ratios under different excitations is systematic and

Fig. 10. Effect of typical stabilising berms and/or an impounded reservoir on the

correlation of the dam ampliﬁcation ratio, PGAcrest/PGA, to the tuning dam period

characterises the majority of the numerical results. Thus, the

ratio, To/Te. The results correspond to earth dams with H = 40 and 80 m, founded on proposal made by Makdisi and Seed [15], which employs a purely

hard rock (Vb = 1500 m/s), under the Splb and Aigio excitations with PGA = 0.25 g. geometrical normalisation of maximum depth z (for generalisation

K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210 205

Fig. 11. Typical effect of the maximum depth z of a sliding mass on the value of khmax/(PGAcrest/g) for sliding masses with different z/H values and under different excitations,

namely: (a) with z/H = 0.5, z/kd = 0.29 under the Splb excitation, (b) with z/H = 0.5, z/kd = 0.21 under the Aigio excitation, and (c) with z/H = 0.67, z/kd = 0.28 under the Aigio

excitation (H = 40 m, PGA = 0.05 g, Vb = 1000 m/s, ‘‘end of construction’’ conditions, without berms).

purposes) and neglects input motion characteristics, needs The validity of simplifying Eq. (7) was veriﬁed in Papadimitriou

reﬁnement. et al. [50]. Of interest here was the determination of whether the

Thus, a new normalisation scheme was needed that would z/kd normalisation correlated better to khmax/(PGAcrest/g) than the

introduce the input motion characteristics and combine them with z/H normalisation. Fig. 11c presents the normalised horizontal

the geometry of the sliding mass. The maximum depth of the slid- acceleration time history kh/(PGAcrest/g) for another sliding mass

ing mass z can be normalised over kd, i.e. the average shear wave- with z/H = 0.67 in the same dam as that depicted in Fig. 11a and

length within the dam’s body. By deﬁnition, this wavelength b, under the Aigio excitation with PGA = 0.05 g from Fig. 11b. Ob-

depends on the average (non-linear) shear wave velocity within serve that the khmax/(PGAcrest/g) values in Fig. 11a and c almost coin-

the dam’s body, Vsd, and the predominant vibration period of the cide despite the different z/H values, which could be attributed to

dam, Td. The former can be estimated based on the dam’s non-lin- the fact that the two different sliding masses corresponded to the

ear fundamental vibration period, To, and the dam height, H, using same z/kd value given the different predominant excitation periods

the following equation: of the Splb (Fig. 11a) and Aigio (Fig. 11c) excitations. Interestingly,

this type of coincidence in the khmax/(PGAcrest/g) values for sliding

V sd ¼ ð2:6HÞ=T o ð6Þ

masses with the same z/kd under different excitations was system-

which is a simpliﬁcation of the equation proposed by Dakoulas and atic and could provide the basis for correlating khmax/(PGAcrest/g) to

Gazetas [46] for dams. The predominant vibration period of the the dimensionless thickness z/kd for design purposes. This alterna-

dam, Td, is equal to neither the predominant excitation period, Te, tive is investigated in Fig. 12, which includes peak seismic coefﬁ-

nor the dam’s non-linear fundamental vibration period, To, but cient data for dams in ‘‘end of construction’’ conditions and with

generally takes a value in between the two. Thus, for simplicity, H = 40, 80, and 120 m, founded on stiff soil or rock (Vb P 1000 m/

its value can be estimated as the mean value of the two period s) under all four excitation waveforms, and with PGA values ranging

values, and hence the average shear wavelength, kd, within the from 0.05 to 0.50 g. Fig. 12 illustrates that the well-known decreas-

dam’s body can then be approximately estimated by: ing effect of the maximum depth z on the value of khmax/(PGAcrest/g)

was corroborated by our analyses. More importantly, this decreas-

2:6H T o þ T e

kd ¼ V sd T d ¼ ð7Þ ing effect could be successfully generalised if the maximum thick-

To 2

ness z was normalised over kd.

Given the relatively small scatter of the data in Fig. 12, it was

understood that the correlation of khmax/(PGAcrest/g) to the nor-

malised maximum depth z/kd provided a good overall estimate

of the acceleration regime in any sliding mass. However, from

a geometrical perspective, the maximum depth z of a sliding

mass cannot fully describe its geometry because many differ-

ently shaped sliding masses with the same z value could be

deﬁned within a single dam. Two additional geometrical param-

eters, w and t, were introduced to better describe the shape of

any sliding mass. As illustrated in Fig. 1, parameter ‘‘t’’ corre-

sponded to the width of the sliding mass in the horizontal direc-

tion, whereas parameter ‘‘w’’ corresponded to the maximum

distance between two lines that were parallel to the failure sur-

face’s points of entry and exit and adjoined the sliding mass.

Small (t/w) ratios corresponded to relatively elongated ‘‘thin’’

sliding masses, whereas large (t/w) ratios corresponded to rela-

tively ‘‘bulky’’ sliding masses. To investigate the relative impor-

tance of the normalised thickness (t/w) on the resultant

acceleration time history and its related peak seismic coefﬁcient,

khmax, Fig. 13 provides a typical comparison of the normalised

Fig. 12. Correlation of khmax/(PGAcrest/g) ratio to z/kd ratio of a sliding mass resultant acceleration time histories for two sliding masses with

(founded on Vb P 1000 m/s, all seismic excitations and PGA = 0.05–0.5 g). the same dam-foundation-excitation combination and the same

206 K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210

does not affect the PGAcrest/PGA dam ampliﬁcation ratio (Fig. 10),

nor does it affect the value of the dam’s non-linear fundamental

vibration period, To (Fig. 8). However, it was also shown that a res-

ervoir does affect the spatial variation of the peak horizontal accel-

erations at the dam’s surface, mainly by amplifying the motion in

the upstream shell for ‘‘steady-state seepage’’ conditions (Fig. 5).

Thus, it was still uncertain whether reservoir impoundment would

have a different effect on the vibration of upstream or downstream

sliding masses within the same dam. Therefore, Fig. 14a investi-

Fig. 13. Typical effect of the normalised thickness of a sliding mass, t/w, on the gates this issue by presenting a typical comparison of resultant

value of khmax/(PGAcrest/g) for ‘‘thin’’ and ‘‘bulky’’ sliding masses with the same z/kd acceleration time histories for upstream and downstream sliding

ratio. H = 80 m, Vb = 1000 m/s, under the Aigio excitation with PGA = 0.25 g and masses with the same geometry that are of intermediate depth

‘‘end of construction’’ conditions. (z/kd = 0.37) but apply to the same dam-foundation-excitation

combination. The time histories were relatively similar, but there

depth z and width w but different thicknesses t. In particular, was a clear ampliﬁcation depicted in the upstream sliding mass,

the sliding mass with (t/w) = 0.12 could be considered ‘‘thin’’, reﬂected by a higher value of khmax/(PGAcrest/g) = 0.62 compared

whereas its counterpart with (t/w) = 0.24 was ‘‘bulky’’. The to 0.53 for the downstream sliding mass with identical geometry.

comparison indicated that the time histories were qualitatively This type of difference was found systematically in all relatively

similar, yet the ‘‘thin’’ sliding mass was characterised by higher shallow to medium-depth sliding masses but not in relatively dee-

peak seismic coefﬁcient values because khmax/(PGAcrest/g) = 0.62, per sliding masses. To illustrate this phenomenon, Fig. 14b pre-

compared to 0.55 for its ‘‘bulky’’ counterpart that had the same sents a similar comparison of upstream and downstream sliding

z/kd value. Such differences were systematic and attributed to masses with z/kd = 0.55, in which the differences are diminished.

the fact that the former included mostly surﬁcial locations on These effects could be attributed to ampliﬁcation phenomena

the dam body, where higher accelerations were expected, com- due to the stiffness contrast between the saturated (and thus soft-

pared to the latter sliding masses, which were heavier and er) upstream shell compared to the non-saturated (and thus stiffer)

reached deeper locations within the dam body that vibrated less downstream shell of a zoned earth dam at ‘‘steady-state seepage’’

intensely (Fig. 5). conditions. Note the differences in the shear wave velocity values

Fig. 14. Typical effect of reservoir impoundment on the value of khmax/(PGAcrest/g) for upstream and downstream sliding masses with identical geometries that are: (a)

shallow (z/kd = 0.37) and (b) deep (z/kd = 0.55). H = 80 m, Vb = 1000 m/s, under the Aigio excitation with PGA = 0.25 g and ‘‘steady-state seepage’’ conditions.

Fig. 15. Typical effect of stabilising berms on the value of khmax/(PGAcrest/g) for sliding masses with identical geometrical properties z, w, and t but within earthen dams

without or with berms. The results for sliding masses that are: (a) shallow (z/kd = 0.37) and (b) deep (z/kd = 0.55). H = 80 m, Vb = 1000 m/s, under the Aigio excitation with

PGA = 0.25 g and ‘‘end of construction’’ conditions.

K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210 207

impoundment on resultant accelerations diminished for deeper

sliding masses because the peak accelerations at the dam base

were unaffected by the existence of an impounded reservoir (see

typical results in Fig. 5).

did not affect the PGAcrest/PGA dam ampliﬁcation ratio (Fig. 10) or

the value of the dam’s non-linear fundamental vibration period, To

(Fig. 8). In contrast, such berms did affect the spatial variation of

the peak horizontal accelerations at the dam’s surface, mainly by

amplifying the motion in their vicinity (see typical results in

Fig. 5). Thus, it was worth investigating whether these local ampli-

ﬁcation effects also applied to the vibration of sliding masses that

contained stabilising berms. Fig. 15a presents a typical comparison

of resultant acceleration time histories for a sliding mass of inter-

mediate maximum depth (z/kd = 0.37) based on two distinct anal-

yses: a) a case in which the dam exists without berms

(symmetric trapezoidal cross-section) and b) a case in which the

same dam also has typical stabilising berms, as described in Sec-

Fig. 16. Evaluation of empirical estimates for the ‘‘effective’’ seismic coefﬁcient, khE,

tion 3. The foundation and excitation conditions were identical in based on numerical data.

both analyses. The results indicated that the time histories were

largely identical, proving that the existence of a stabilising berm

played no role when the endpoint of the sliding mass was above with the proposal given by the British Standards [18]. However, the

the berm. This is not the case in Fig. 15b, which presents a similar large scatter (standard deviation of ±0.33) related to this crude

comparison of time histories for a deep sliding mass (z/kd = 0.55 average value demonstrated that other problem parameters ex-

and an endpoint within the berm). The presence of the berm pro- isted apart from the PGA that should be considered (e.g., character-

duced a higher peak seismic coefﬁcient, khmax/(PGAcrest/g) = 0.39 istics of the dam, frequency content of the excitation, and

compared to 0.31 in the dam without berms. Again, these effects geometrical characteristics of the sliding mass; see Sections 4

were systematic and demonstrated that the seismic ampliﬁcation and 5 for their signiﬁcance).

phenomena in the vicinity of berms affected only sliding masses Similarly, Fig. 17 evaluates various estimates for the ‘‘effective’’

that contained these berms. seismic coefﬁcient, khE, that are based on correlations to the PGA.

Additionally, the existence of an additional effect of the normalised

maximum sliding mass depth z/H was assessed. An increase in the

6. Evaluation of existing methodologies for seismic coefﬁcient

normalised maximum depth z/H consistently reduced the value of

estimation

the seismic coefﬁcient for the same PGA level, an issue that has

been qualitatively addressed only by the EC8. From a quantitative

6.1. Overview

perspective, the overall quantitative consistency of the proposal

made by the British Standards [18], implied by Fig. 17, masks the

The insights made into the seismic response of dams (Section 4)

and the knowledge obtained on the factors affecting the peak seis-

mic coefﬁcient, khmax (Section 5), could prove invaluable when

evaluating existing methodologies for estimating seismic coefﬁ-

cients (outlined in Section 2). Such an evaluation is performed in

this section based on the pertinent numerical data from the 110

2D analyses described in Section 3.

The aforementioned methodologies found in the literature were

applied as proposed and their predictions were compared to the

respective numerical data. To evaluate the khE methodologies, the

numerical estimates of the ‘‘effective’’ seismic coefﬁcient value,

khE, were estimated by assuming khE/khmax = 0.67, i.e. the typically

ad hoc selected value for this ratio based on the literature.

seismic coefﬁcient, khE, and illustrates that the intuitive proposals

of Terzaghi [9] are rational. Furthermore, the typical empirical val-

ues of khE (=0.1–0.25 in [14]) were considered safe options for val-

ues of PGA 6 0.25 g but could prove very non-conservative for

dams or embankments that were designed to withstand earth-

quakes of larger intensities. In addition, Fig. 16 corroborates the

intuitively rational and increasing effect of PGA on the value of Fig. 17. Evaluation of estimates for the ‘‘effective’’ seismic coefﬁcient, khE, related to

khE, leading to an average khE/(PGA/g) = 0.66 that largely coincides the PGA and based on numerical data.

208 K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210

masses (z/H P 0.8) and an underestimation for their shallow coun-

terparts (z/H 6 0.4). In addition, the range of empirical estimates

compiled by USCOLD [25] includes the majority of the numerical

results for sliding masses of intermediate and large depths (z/

H P 0.5) but is nonconservative for shallower sliding masses. Fi-

nally, the proposal made by Pyke [26] appears appropriate only

for deep sliding masses (z/H P 0.8). Fig. 17 illustrates that the

EC8 code provisions, which qualitatively address the issue of z/H,

have generally underestimated the numerical results for deep slid-

ing masses (z/H P 0.8). Nevertheless, these code provisions must

be evaluated with caution because they are intended to be used

for natural slopes only.

khmax based on the values of the maximum acceleration at the

crest, PGAcrest, and the normalised maximum depth, z/H. Estimat-

ing the maximum seismic coefﬁcient, khmax, based on PGAcrest re-

duced the scatter of the numerical results compared to similar

estimates based on PGA (Fig. 17). This result could be attributed

to the fact that PGAcrest reﬂected the dam’s vibration characteris- Fig. 19. Evaluation of estimates for the peak seismic coefﬁcient, khmax, related to the

PGA and based on numerical data.

tics, whereas the PGA did not. In addition, Fig. 18 illustrates that

the reducing effect of the normalised maximum depth, z/H, on

the value of khmax, also depicted in Fig. 17, remained consistent.

With respect to the pertinent proposals from the literature, it non-linear fundamental vibration period, To, to the predominant

was observed that the guidelines of Marcusson [32] are oversim- period, Te, of the excitation, and the different symbols in the ﬁgure

plistic and lead to conservative estimates of khmax for sliding denote different normalised maximum depths, z/H, of the sliding

masses of intermediate to large depths (with z/H > 0.5). In contrast, masses. These numerical estimates corroborated the resonance ef-

the proposal made by Makdisi and Seed [15] is qualitatively accu- fects in the khmax values, and the out-of-phase dam vibration, cor-

rate and leads to accurate estimates of khmax, largely for medium responding to large values of To/Te, led to reduced values of khmax,

size dams (H = 40 and 80 m) comparable to the height of the dams as depicted by the ‘‘seismic coefﬁcient spectrum’’ given by Zania

considered in their publication. Nevertheless, Fig. 18 also illus- et al. [21]. However, in quantitative terms, this spectrum clearly

trates that their design charts are conservative for tall dams underestimated the values of khmax for To/Te P 1.5. Overall,

(H = 120 m) and nonconservative for short dams or tall embank- Fig. 19 underlines the signiﬁcance of the (tuning) period ratio To/

ments (H = 20 m). Te on the response and demonstrates that estimates of khmax made

Fig. 19 attempts an evaluation of khmax estimates based on the based on the PGA led to larger scatter than that shown in Fig. 18

PGA that do not require an a priori estimation of the PGAcrest (un- because seismic coefﬁcients appeared to be better correlated to

like those evaluated in Fig. 18). The numerical estimates of khmax/ PGAcrest than to PGA.

(PGA/g) were correlated to the (tuning) period ratio of the dam’s Furthermore, as shown in Fig. 19, the ratio of khmax/(PGA/g)

clearly decreased with an increase in z/H for all (tuning) period ra-

tios, To/Te (see denoted trend lines). This result was in qualitative

agreement with what Rathje and Antonakos [33] have demon-

strated by ‘‘coupled’’ analyses, in which their predictive equation

for this ratio generally reduces with Tmass/Tm, where Tmass is a linear

function of the maximum depth z.

Finally, no methodology was found in the literature to account

for such issues as reservoir impoundment and the existence of typ-

ical stabilising berms. This fact alone contributed to the relatively

large scatter of the evaluated methodologies when compared to

the numerical data obtained from robust analyses.

7. Conclusion

dams and tall embankments, with an emphasis on the factors

affecting the peak seismic coefﬁcients of potentially sliding

masses. This insight was achieved by performing and processing

results obtained from 110 non-linear 2D dynamic ground response

analyses of a parametric nature, which yielded results for 1084 po-

tential sliding masses. These results were also used to evaluate

methodologies in the existing literature for the estimation of seis-

Fig. 18. Evaluation of estimates for the peak seismic coefﬁcient, khmax, related to the mic coefﬁcients for pseudo-static slope stability analyses. The fol-

PGAcrest and based on numerical data. lowing conclusions were drawn based on this study:

K.I. Andrianopoulos et al. / Computers and Geotechnics 55 (2014) 195–210 209

In addition to the area of the crest, local seismic ampliﬁcation and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments

phenomena were expected at the upstream shell of an that helped in enhancing the quality of the manuscript.

impounded reservoir and in the vicinity of typical stabilising

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