2003 – Energy Dissipation in Concrete Towers Subject to Extreme Earthquakes and Associated Reduction in Inertia Loads

N. Vitharana, P. Mendis, G. Kusuma and T. Ngo

In 1998, ANCOLD Guidelines entitled “Guidelines for Design of Dams for Earthquake” was issued. The Guideline mainly deals with the seismic aspects of dams and only a basic reference is made to the seismic assessment of intake towers in Section 8.3. Although the much needed and pioneering step taken to introduce this Guideline is to be appreciated and it has covered the seismic aspects of dams, some confusion does exist amongst dam / structural engineers in assessing the seismic performance of concrete intake towers. This is mainly due to the fact the behaviour of reinforced concrete intakes towers is quite different from that of earth or concrete gravity dams. This confusion could potentially lead to gross overestimate of the inertia loads on concrete intake towers resulting in unnecessary expenditure in investigation and remedial works.

The energy dissipation due to inelastic hysteresis behaviour of concrete members results in a great reduction in the inertia loads compared with those calculated with traditional “elastic” analysis methods. This consequently results in significant reductions in bending moments and shear forces on the tower and its foundation. It is very important to understand the basic behaviour of reinforced concrete, considering the composite action of concrete, longitudinal & hoop reinforcing steel, before embarking in sophisticated dynamic analysis the outputs of which are highly dependent on the input parameters.

The authors have developed a methodology in which the hysteresis energy dissipation due to the inelastic behaviour of concrete intake towers is considered. Various criteria were defined for serviceability and ultimate failure modes such as excessive deflection, spalling of concrete, buckling of reinforcing steel. The confinement effect of hoop steel on the core concrete is also considered.

This paper will present the fundamental aspects of seismic behaviour of reinforced concrete structures with practical cases as applied to intake towers. The results showed that the current methods adopted by various Dam Authorities in Australia are cursory and the energy dissipation aspect should be considered, in conjunction with expert advice, before undertaking any remedial works.

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