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1 Definition of Design Earthquakes

In the context of the seismic hazard study different types of design earthquakes are used as listed in
the subsequent part. Their definition is rational and directly related to the design of the dam and the
appurtenant structures and it also follows the current ICOLD concept for estimating seismic
parameters for dam projects (ICOLD 1989).

The following design earthquakes are defined:

 MCE: Maximum Credible Earthquake: Strongest earthquake ground motion at dam site with a
return period of > 2500 years;
 DE: Design Earthquake: Design earthquake for appurtenant structures in accordance with
Indian earthquake code and with a return period of 475 years;
 DBE: Design Basis Earthquake used for dam design in India; the meaning is the same as the
OBE according to ICOLD, however, the return period may be larger than 145 years.
 OBE: Operating Basis Earthquake after ICOLD: Design earthquake with an average return
period of 145 years; and
 CE: Construction Earthquake with a return period of approx. 50 years; the CE is at least 50%
of the DE.

The ground motions of the different design earthquakes listed above are represented by the following
characteristic parameters (the ground motions are defined for the ground surface, which is basically
(i) peak ground acceleration (PGA) for horizontal and vertical earthquake components;
(ii) acceleration response spectra for horizontal and vertical earthquake components and different
damping ratios; and
(iii) acceleration time histories of spectrum-compatible artificial accelerograms or scaled recorded
accelerograms (this includes the duration of strong ground shaking, which shall be longer than
that of real earthquakes in order to account for temporarily increased seismicity and/or
aftershocks after very strong earthquakes).


1.3 List of Structures and Associated Seismic Design Criteria

The following pages give a list of all structures, including underground powerhouse structures and
equipment. The design transmittal title of each structure or equipment, the assigned structural class
and ground motion level and, in some cases, the design methodology is also indicated in the
subsequent table.
Type of Design Earthquake
Title Element CE DE DBE/ MCE
1 Diversion Facilities
- Civil Intake / outlet DE/2
Tunnel liner DE/2
- Geotechnical Rock slopes DE/2
Underground facilities DE/2
Cofferdams: not less than flood design return
period and DE/2
- Electrical / Mechanical Gate equipment DE/2

2.1 Dam Dam DBE/ MCE

- Individual Blocks DBE
Crest bridge X
Crest spillway cantilevers DBE/ MCE
Bottom Outlet cantilevers DBE/ MCE

2.2 Dam – Foundation /

Abutment wedges DBE/ MCE

2.3 Dam - Bottom Outlets Main gates / Valves DBE/ MCE

Guard gate DBE/ MCE

Operating equipment DBE/ MCE

2.4 Dam - Electrical / Essential parts X

Type of EQ
Title Element
3.1 Spillway - Civil / Geotechnical

- Civil Crest spillway X

- Geotechnical Service spillway approach channel X

Service spillway rock excavations X
Plunge pool X

3.2 Spillway - Mech / Elect

- Mechanical Service gates & supports X

Emergency gates & stop logs X

4.1 Power Intake Civil / Geotechnical

- Civil Intake structure X

- Geotechnical Rock slopes X

Underground works, portals X
Shafts, galleries X

4.2 Power Int. Mech / Elect

- Mechanical Trash racks X

5.1 Power Tunnels Gate Shaft Structure

- Civil Tunnel liner X

5.2 Power Tunnel. Penstock Steel Liners Steel liners X

Type of EQ
Title Element
6.1 P/H Excavation & Rock Support Rock slopes X

6.2 P/H and Service Bay Civil Design Substructure X

Superstructure X

6.3 P/H Architectural Layout and Finishes X

6.4 P/H Cranes and Lifting Devices Cranes X

Support structures
6.5 P/H Generators & Exciting System Stationary X
Rotating X

6.6 P/H Turbine X

6.7 P/H Gen Step - Up Transformers X

7.1 Access Roads

- Culverts X
- Cuts and fills X
- Bridges X
- Underground Structures X

8.1 Reservoir Reservoir slopes

- Critical slopes (influencing safety of dam
body, or large volumes producing high
- Non-critical slopes X