Purdue University Graduate School
Thesis Final.pdf (5 MB)

Robust Seismic Vulnerability Assessment Procedure for Improvement of Bridge Network Performance

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posted on 2020-07-28, 15:26 authored by Corey M BeckCorey M Beck
Ensuring the resilience of a state’s transportation network is necessary to guarantee an acceptable quality of life for the people the network serves. A lack of resilience in the wake of a seismic event directly impacts the states’ overall safety and economic vitality. With the recent identification of the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone (WBSV), Department of Transportations (DOTs) like Indiana’s have increased awareness for the vulnerability of their bridge network. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has been steadily working to reduce the seismic vulnerability of bridges in the state in particular in the southwest Vincennes District. In the corridor formed by I-69 built in the early 2000s the bridge design is required to consider seismic actions. However, with less recent bridges and those outside the Vincennes District being built without consideration for seismic effects, the potential for vulnerability exists. As such, the objective of this thesis is to develop a robust seismic vulnerability assessment methodology which can assess the overall vulnerability of Indiana’s critical bridge network.

A representative sample of structures in Indiana’s bridge inventory, which prioritized the higher seismic risk areas, covered the entire state geographically, and ensured robust superstructure details, was chosen. The sample was used to carry a deterministic seismic vulnerability assessment, applicable to all superstructure-substructure combinations. Analysis considerations, such as the calculation of critical capacity measures like moment-curvature and a pushover analysis, are leveraged to accurately account for non-linear effects like force redistribution. This effect is a result of non-simultaneous structural softening in multi-span bridges that maintain piers of varying heights and stiffnesses. These analysis components are incorporated into a dynamic analysis to allow for the more precise identification of vulnerable details in Indiana’s bridge inventory.

The results of this deterministic seismic assessment procedure are also leveraged to identify trends in the structural response of the sample set. These trends are used to identify limit state thresholds for the development of fragility functions. This conditional probabilistic representation of bridge damage is coupled with the probability of earthquake occurrence to predict the performance of the structure for a given return period. This probabilistic approach alongside a Monte Carlo simulation is applied to assess the vulnerability of linked bridges along key-access corridors throughout the state. With this robust seismic vulnerability methodology, DOTs will have the capability of identifying vulnerable corridors throughout the state allowing for the proactive prioritization of retrofits resulting in the improved seismic performance and resiliency of their transportation network.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Civil Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Shirley Dyke

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Dr. Julio Ramirez

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Luis Garcia