Detailed investigations of pile foundations affected by earthquakes around the world since the 1960’s indicate that pile foundations are susceptible to damage to such a degree that the serviceability and integrity of the superstructure may be affected. Although numerous cases of seismically damaged piles are reported, the detailed mechanisms causing the damage are not yet fully understood. As a consequence, an effective seismic design of pile foundations has not been yet established in practice. Many road bridge structures supported on piles exist in southern Indiana. This is a region where the risk of occurrence of a dangerous earthquake is high due to its proximity to two major seismic sources: (1) the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ); and (2) the Wabash Valley Fault System (WVFS). The present study is a first step towards the assessment of potential earthquake-induced damage to pile foundations in southern Indiana. Credible earthquake magnitudes for each of the two potential seismic sources, NMSZ and WVFS, are assessed for a return period of 1000 years. SHAKE analyses are performed at nine selected sites in southwestern Indiana to estimate the potential of ground shaking and liquefaction susceptibility. The soil profile and soil properties at each site are obtained from the archives of the Indiana Department of Transportation. The amplitude of the rock outcrop motion is estimated using attenuation relationships appropriate to the region, and estimated values are compared with predictions from USGS. SHAKE analyses are performed for two earthquake scenarios: (1) a NMSZ earthquake; and (2) a WVFS earthquake. Two sets of input motions are considered for each scenario. The liquefaction potential at those nine sites is assessed based on the Seed et al. (1975) method. Data from a total of 59 real cases of earthquake-induced damage to piles have been gathered through an extensive literature survey. The collected and compiled data have been used to identify the causes and types of pile damage, and the severity of damage. Based on the survey, damage is usually located near the pile head, at the interfaces between soft and stiff layers, and between liquefiable and non-liquefiable layers. Large inertial loads from the superstructure can cause crushing of the head of concrete piles. Imposed deformations due to the response of the surrounding soil can produce small to large cracks on concrete piles depending on the soil profile. In contrast, large inertial loads, liquefaction and lateral spreading can cause wide cracks. Few cases of steel piles are found in the literature. Steel casing seems to improve the performance of concrete piles. Numerical simulations of a concrete pile at a selected road bridge site with and without steel casing are used to investigate the effect of steel casing on the performance of concrete piles. Results from this work suggest that major credible seismic events can generate accelerations high enough to produce damage to concrete piles in southern Indiana. The potential of liquefaction and lateral spreading increase the likelihood of damage in both concrete and steel piles; this may pose a special risk to those bridges crossing the Wabash and Ohio rivers. However, further examination and analysis is required for existing bridge structures, as well as for future bridges. Existing structures may be retrofitted by placing a steel jacket on the upper portion of the piles or by installing additional steel encased concrete piles, or large diameter concrete piles.

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pile foundation, peak ground acceleration, liquefaction, lateral spreading, pile damage, steel casing, SPR-2410

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Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, IN

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