2015 – Estimation of Seismic Hazard for Dams with a Consistent Risk Approach

Maz Mahzari and Chi-Fai Wan

Upgrading of an existing dam often faces challenges in both static and seismic safety assessment. The use of new hydrological and seismological data and improved design methods often mean more severe loading which outdates the original design and demands expensive upgrade works. Establishing the design criteria for checking the structural adequacy of an existing dam for multiple unusual load events occurring within a relatively short time frame presents another challenge.
A probabilistic approach is presented to rigorously address the effects of multiple load events while maintaining a consistent risk of failure for the structure. This is based on a probabilistic conditional combination where probability of each event is defined and used to develop a joint probability distribution. For instance if an earthquake occurs following a severe flood, the seismic hazard curve of the site can be used to adjust the seismic loading with shorter average recurrence interval to be used in conjunction with the pre-earthquake flood when assessing the structural adequacy of the dam. With this method of adjustment, the design can benefit from the choice of a reduced seismic design loading and hence a more cost effective design solution.
The proposed method is straightforward and can be effectively used in most engineering practices, including the design of hydraulic structures such as dams.
Keywords: Dams, Seismic Hazard, Post-earthquake, Risk analysis

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