2006 – Recent Advances in the Seismic Analysis of Intake Towers

John Bosler and Francisco Lopez

The ANCOLD “Guidelines for the Design of Dams for Earthquake” were published in August 1998. The guidelines contain a brief outline of the performance requirements and recommend, in general terms, a method of analysis for intake towers.

Over the last three decades there has been considerable research on the seismic performance of intake towers as they move into their inelastic range. In the years following the publication of the ANCOLD guidelines, some of the findings from this research have been incorporated into revised design procedures issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers. These procedures, if embraced by ANCOLD and the local dam engineering community, are likely to have a significant impact on how the structural adequacy of existing towers under seismic loading are assessed.

Rocking behaviour in which the tower becomes unstable as a transient condition has long been recognised as acceptable under certain conditions. Attempts to prevent tower rocking by measures such as retrofitting tensioned ground anchors may, in some situations, be of limited value in improving the seismic performance of a tower and could result in an increase in bending moments in the tower stem. Guidance is now available on the amount of rocking behaviour that is tolerable.

For seismic events greater than the Operating Basis Earthquake most towers will start to exhibit inelastic behaviour. Specific guidance is also now available on the length of time during an earthquake that bending moments in excess of the elastic capacity can be tolerated, the amount by which these moments can exceed the nominal bending moment capacity and the vertical extent of the tower stem that can be stressed beyond its elastic limit.

The paper discusses the different approaches taken by ANCOLD and the Corps of Engineers. Key differences in outcomes are highlighted using a worked example for a typical reinforced concrete tower and the ANCOLD approach is found to be generally, but not always, more conservative. The paper concludes with recommendations for dealing with these differences.

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