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SECED - Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics

Young Engineers Conference - 2010


G. Papazafeiropoulos

Civil Engineer (M.Sc.), Ph.D. Candidate, Division of Mechanics, Department of Applied Sciences,
Technical University of Crete, Greece


The issues of the dynamic interaction of retaining walls with the retained soil (Wall-Soil Interaction) and of
structures with the soil underlying their foundation (Soil-Structure Interaction) have been examined by a
number of researchers in the past. Besides this, a usual problem faced by structural and/or geotechnical
engineers in densely populated areas is the construction of buildings near existing structures. Often in such
cases, there is not enough room to efficiently eliminate the interaction between the two structures, and the
engineer has to take into account the phenomenon of retaining wall-soil-structure interaction. Of much interest
is the dynamic “version” of this phenomenon (which incorporates the “static” version), where all the three
components (wall, soil, structure) respond dynamically and affect the response and distress of each other.
Dynamic Wall-Soil-Structure Interaction (denoted from now on by DWSSI) is present when the foundation of a
structure is relatively close to the basement wall of an adjacent structure, close to a gravity or cantilever wall
retaining soil or even close to a bridge abutment during a seismic event. DWSSI has not been investigated yet
and is either ignored or considered beneficial by the majority of the seismic norms worldwide. In general,
engineering practice follows these trends. In the present study, using numerical two-dimensional simulations,
the influence of the flexibility of the wall, the type of the wall-retained soil interface, the flexibility of the
foundation and the relative distance of the structure from the wall on the modified equivalent soil impedances
(springs and dashpots) and on the wall distress is addressed. Emphasis is given on the variation of the complex-
valued soil impedances with frequency. Subsequently, a structure founded on the retained soil is included in the
numerical models, as a single-degree-of-freedom system (SDOF) and its dynamic distress and response are
studied. Despite the fact that DWSSI is affected by many interrelated factors, the numerical results of the
current study provide a clear indication of the direct dynamic interaction between a retaining wall and its
retained structures. It is shown that DWSSI may be either beneficial or detrimental, according to the
circumstances. Therefore, neglecting DWSSI or assuming that it is beneficial can sometimes result in unsafe
seismic design and dangerous situations. In this study diagrams are presented which can be used for the seismic
design of retained structures. Nevertheless, a more elaborate consideration of the interrelated phenomena on the
seismic design is necessary, not only for the retaining walls but for the nearby structures as well.