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A discrete crack joint model for nonlinear dynamic analysis of

concrete arch dam

M.T. Ahmadi
, M. Izadinia
, H. Bachmann
Department of Structural Engineering, School of Engineering, Tarbiat Modarres University, P.O. Box 14115-143, Tehran, Iran
IBK, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Hoenggerberg, Switzerland
Received 30 November 1998; accepted 27 May 2000
Concrete arch dams are generally constructed of massive plain concrete with almost no tensile resistance. To control
tensile forces due to concrete shrinkage, temperature variations and for construction facilitation, arch dams are built in
cantilever monoliths separated by vertical contraction joints. Earlier studies show that the modeling of such joints has
signicant inuence on the seismic safety evaluation of arch dams. This fact is due to the tensile and shear failures of
joints causing a redistribution of internal forces during and after a big earthquake. In the present study, a nonlinear
joint element model with a coupled sheartensile behavior for realistic nite element analysis of damreservoir system is
presented. Reservoir upstream radiation, and bottom partial absorption of acoustic waves, as well as water com-
pressibility are considered. The model when applied to simpler cases solved by other workers shows good performances.
However, it is much more useful to solve problems not considered so far, e.g., shear keys behavior, joint damages, etc.
The model could be employed eectively and conveniently for earthquake safety evaluation of arch dams in highly
active seismic regions. 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Arch dam; Joint element; Contraction joint; Dynamic analysis; Finite elements; Shear failure; Discrete crack; Joint opening;
Joint slip; Nonlinear analysis
1. Introduction
Various methods have been proposed to model the
discontinuous behavior of arch dam vertical joints. This
phenomenon is treated by using constraint equations or
by adopting special joint elements such as discrete
springs [1]. However, such generalized nonlinear springs
do not include all the mechanical properties of con-
traction joints, e.g., shear keys properties, initial tensile
strength due to joint grouting, shear softening, etc. in
numerical analysis. For example, shear and tensile fail-
ures of joints have an important coupling feature de-
pending on the amount of normal opening, shear key
height and damages due to nonlinear deformations.
Furthermore, considering the geometrical and physical
features of joints, additional examinations will be
needed to determine such springs stiness. Other work-
ers have treated the joint/interface by using a quasi-
continuum nite element of small thickness containing
planes of weakness. A special joint nite element has
been developed by Beer [2] and is successfully applied to
rock joints studies and other geo-mechanical pheno-
mena. Further studies are needed to extend such appli-
cations to dynamic analysis of jointed systems. Some
deciencies have been observed in the nonlinear behav-
ior, i.e., in both normal and tangential displacements of
the joint model developed by Fenves [3]. He studied the
nonlinear behavior of joints related only to the joint
normal displacement. He assumed fully elastic behavior
for joint response to tangential forces, without adequate
Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
Corresponding author. Tel.: +98-911-230-0463; fax: +98-
E-mail addresses: mahmadi@modares.ac.ir, resan9@mor-
va.net (M.T. Ahmadi).
0045-7949/01/$ - see front matter 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S0045- 7949( 00) 00148- 6
interaction with normal displacements (i.e., using shear
keys with innite shear strength).
Further shortcomings correspond to modeling the
reservoir hydrodynamic forces by added mass ap-
proximate method. Hohberg [4] studied the nonlinear
behavior of joints with relative normal and shear dis-
placements extensively. He developed mathematical
constitutive relations idealizing the behavior of concrete
contraction joints. However, his model for joint soft-
ening behavior showed deciencies in convergence and
diculties for parameters decision. Indeed it requires
more descriptive examples, experiments and compara-
tive studies with the observed damages to concrete
contraction joints and shear keys. He also did not in-
clude the reservoir hydrodynamic forces as desired for
large dams. Noruziaan [5] studied the nonlinear behav-
ior due to joint failure and concrete cracking in the nite
element analysis of Morrow Point concrete arch dam.
He concluded that concrete nonlinear behavior have
negligible eects on the dams overall response. This is
doubtful in the case of strong earthquakes. He did not
disclose the details of his time integration and numerical
algorithm to deal with the proposed constitutive law of
concrete joints. His proposed model should be tested by
known simple examples of jointed systems. Besides, he
also used the added mass concept for the reservoir ef-
fects. Discrete crack model for concrete joints taken by
Lot [6] did not describe all the physical features ob-
served in concrete joints. He also applied the added mass
concept for reservoir eects. Ahmadi provided a discrete
crack nite element model for vertical and foundation
joints of an arch dam [7]. He considered only tensile
cracking due to persistent static loads and provided a
lower bound solution for the failure load. He also
studied the eect of dierent abutment exibilities on
joint opening due to weight and water loads. A recent
release of program DIANA DIANA [8] has the coupled shear
tensile failure modeling capability using Coulombs
friction law, but apparently it does not consider the joint
asperity height which controls the shear interlock.
Recent developments have shown that in addition to
reservoir hydrodynamic interaction, uid compressibi-
lity could also considerably aect the earthquake re-
sponses of arch dams [9]. It is now well understood that
the multivariable discrete nature of contraction joints of
arch dam should be taken into consideration, and the
present research deals with a realistic and novel handling
of such a task.
2. Methodology
2.1. Constitutive relations for the adopted joint element
Providing shear key members in arch dam upper
contraction joints is the usual construction practice in
many countries. This approach is considered very ef-
fective for ensuring dam safety in seismic regions or sites
with variable deformability in the foundation. With the
present research introduced in this paper, eects of shear
keys on earthquake response of the damreservoir sys-
tem could be studied.
Local discontinuities in solid displacement eld due
to existing joints, cause the variational problem and
minimization of total potential energy to be subjected to
constraint equations for joint displacements. This con-
strained minimization problem could be analyzed by the
Lagrange multipliers method or penalty function ap-
proach. However, even when assuming linear elastic
solids and small deformations, this problem will remain
strongly nonlinear because of the unknown state of
boundary conditions in the interface [4]. Relative tan-
gential and normal deformations at the joint surfaces
cause internal resisting forces or stresses. In the elastic
range, constitutive law for the interface surface is given
r = D
[ [ d ;
0 0
0 k
0 0 k
where r
, s
, s
are the normal and the two tangential
(shear) stresses, and v, u
, u
are the normal and the
tangential relative displacements. k
, k
are the penalty
parameters and guarantee the no-slip and no-penetra-
tion conditions of the interface surfaces for service loads.
These parameters have the dimension of force per unit
volume and are also called the initial shear and normal
joint stiness coecients. In Eq. (1), it is assumed that
the coupling between normal and shear displacements is
negligible, and the elastic modulus matrix D
is diagonal.
In a typical analysis of systems including joint elements,
relative tangential and normal displacements in each
quadrature point of joint surface are calculated by nodal
displacements vector.
Then, the resisting forces and stiness matrix can be
determined by Eq. (1). Element geometry and local and
global coordinates for the adopted 16-node joint ele-
ment are presented in Fig. 1.
It is possible to develop elasto-plastic modulus matrix
in nonlinear stages of deformations by a yield func-
tion equation. This function in the three-dimensional
(3-D) stress space ``r
, s
, s
'' could be based on Mohr
Coulomb yield criteria and a bounding tensile strength
value. It could be shown that the ow rule for slip is now
nonassociative. In this context, Hohberg [4] studied the
softening behavior or the damage to dierent compo-
nents of shear strength by multimechanism plasticity
theory. However, actual or safe application of this
model to dynamic analysis of arch dams requires ex-
tended studies. The elasto-plastic modulus matrix can
404 M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
thus be written for isotropic joint element without
softening behavior as
where l is the coecient of friction, m, a quantity equal
or less than l in the equation of plastic potential func-
tion, b
= cosc, b
= sinc, where c = arctan(s
) is the
angle between the tangential stress components in the s
and t perpendicular directions on the joint surface [4].
and k
correspond to undamaged joint properties.
In Eq. (2), the interface stresses can be represented as
functions of dierent variables in the following manner:
= r
(u; v; l; m; k
; k
); (3)
s = s(u; v; l; m; k
; k
): (4)
Here, u stands for both u
and u
as s stands for s
and s
. Therefore, the form of matrix D
could now be
modied into an equivalent diagonalized form as the
modulus matrix D still implying coupling between
shear and normal forces adequately. Typical couplings
between physical parameters r
, s, v, and u are shown in
Fig. 2 for one-dimensional (1-D) joint laboratory ob-
servations [4].
Considering the nature of arch dam contraction
joints and based on engineering intuition, the more in-
uential parameters including the joint initial tensile
strength F
, joint asperity height D
, and joint cohesion
c, are chosen and taken into consideration in a similar
way as expressed above, and thus,
= k
(u; v; F
; k
)v; (5)
s = k
(v; l; c; D
; r
; k
)u; (6)
r = [D[d: (7)
Path-dependent stiness functions k
, k
(later on
called joint stiness coecients) are dened later. It is
important to note that such presentation of a nonasso-
ciative elasto-plastic relationship does not overlook its
coupled and nonsymmetric nature and is eectively
serving similar to the original full matrix form of rela-
tionship. Thus, the nonsymmetric form of equations is
avoided without losing consistency. Further, it is well
understood that unlike concrete mass cracks, softening
for a joint is quite abrupt, for both shear and tensile
failure modes.
After studying the contraction joints response of
concrete arch dams to static and dynamic loads and the
related experimental works done so far in this context,
the following assumptions are considered for the joint
constitutive law:
1. The joints have zero or small initial tensile strength.
2. Normal stiness coecient k
, and normal stress r
will vanish after joint opening (or crack mode-I),
but tangential stiness coecient k
will decrease in
Fig. 1. Joint element with zero thickness: (a) element geometry, (b) element geometry, local and global coordinates, and (c) iso-
parametric coordinate system.
Fig. 2. Observed joint behavior in normal and tangential dis-
placements where s
is the ultimate shear strength, s
, the shear
stress, m, the joint dilatancy and r
, the compressive stress.
M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420 405
steps with joint opening. At this stage, the joint un-
dergoes elasto-plastic deformations.
3. While the joint opening exceeds a specied limit D

(characteristic asperity or shear key height), both the

tangential stress and the tangential stiness will dis-
4. If shear stress for an intact joint is less than the shear
strength (as provided by cohesion and friction ac-
cording to Coulombs relation), then the joint will
have elastic tangential displacements, otherwise after
a shear failure (or crack mode-II) and loss of shear
strength, joint will have a perfectly plastic state.
5. The value of joint dilatation is assumed to be equal to
6. After the joint closes, friction will be activated against
slippage. In this manner, the joint behaves elastically
or in an elasto-plastic manner with coupling shear
and normal displacements.
7. The joint surfaces have isotropic properties.
8. The joint shear failure will be followed by elimination
of shear strength. However, upon re-loading, a resid-
ual shear strength as provided by a reduced friction
coecient will arise.
9. Upon any type of joint failure, tensile strength will be
lost, and shear stiness is reduced.
The above elaborated joint model, namely the
simplied discrete crack joint (SDCJ) model for nu-
merical computations is introduced in Fig. 3ad with
examples of dierent load paths and scenarios. In this
gure, the following reduction factors (or softening para-
meters) are assigned to the joint after or during joint
opening or joint slippage: r is the permanent reduction
factor for friction coecient after shear failure, m, the
permanent reduction factor for shear stiness after
shear failure, and n, the temporary reduction factor for
shear stiness after joint opening less than shear key
These reduction factors or softening parameters
along with other properties of the joint, such as tensile
strength F
, cohesion c, friction coecient l, asperity
height D
, have to be decided through experimental or
design specication examinations.
With reference to assumptions 2, 3 and 6 for the joint
constitutive law and Fig. 3d, the coupling between shear
and normal displacements have been fully considered in
static and dynamic nonlinear analyses.
Fig. 3. Relation between stresses and normal or tangential displacements. (a) Normal displacement: (1) Tensile fracture and (2) joint
opening exceeding the shear key height. (b) Constitutive law for joint in shear: (0) loading, (1) shear fracture, (2) shear unloading, (3)
new shear fracture, (4) new loading and (5) new shear fracture. (c) Subsequent yield surface for joint damage. (d) Shear and tensile
fractures with coupling: (0) shear loading in tension, (1) reduction of shear stiness with partial joint opening, (2) shear unloading in
compression, (3) complete joint opening, (4) shear loading in compression, (5) shear fracture, (6) shear loading, (7) complete slip in
tension and (8) shear unloading.
406 M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
The model, although seemingly simple to apply, is
novel, new and practically similar to fuzzy approaches,
which deals with quite complicated problems consis-
2.2. Reservoir mathematical model
The governing equation for uid domain is the
Helmholtz equation for hydrodynamic pressure:
p =
p; (8)
where p is the hydrodynamic pressure, and C, the
acoustic wave velocity in water. The above equation
implies small displacements of invicid compressible uid
with irrotational motion. Water compressibility has a
signicant inuence on the uidstructure interaction
for a wide range of ratio of natural frequencies of
structure to uid domain, including the case of higher
and stier dams [9]. Thus, for general applicability and
completeness of the damreservoir formulation, one
needs to include the reservoir water compressibility.
Boundary conditions are expressed as

p = 0 (9)
for the reservoir-free surface,
_ p (10)
for the reservoir bottom partial absorption,
_ p (11)
for the reservoir upstream face radiation of acoustic
waves, and
= qa
for the interaction boundary between dam and reservoir.
In the above equations, z is the vertical coordinate, b,
the acoustic impedance ratio of rock to water, n, the
vector perpendicular to the boundary, q, the mass den-
sity of water, g, the gravitational acceleration, and a
the acceleration of dam upstream face in the normal
direction. Here, we have assumed that the hydrody-
namic waves satisfy the 1-D wave propagation equation
(11), through the upstream reservoir near-eld trunca-
tion surface. This boundary, sometimes known as the
Sommerfeld or viscous boundary, performs well in time
domain analysis when applied suciently far from the
structure. It is applicable only if compressibility is in-
cluded [10].
The above equations along with the governing
equation for the structure would lead to a simultaneous
dierential equations set for the coupled damreservoir
system. These equations are discretized by the nite el-
ement method in a standard way similar to that of Ref.
[11]. To avoid prohibitively high number of nonsym-
metric equations with large bandwidth, the staggering
solution method [11] is employed. Here, the displace-
ment and the pressure elds are solved alternatively in
each time step to achieve ``inter-domain compatibility''
or convergence.
3. Computer implementations
The SDCJ is established to study contraction joints
in static and dynamic analysis of arch dams. In this
model, two types of cracks (or failure modes) are dened
at each Gauss point of joint elements, i.e., crack mode-I
(or crack I) due to tensile failure, and crack mode-II (or
crack II) due to shear failure. A state parameter (ITEN)
describes the joint behavior in the following manner:
ITEN = 0 for intact joint, ITEN = 1 for crack-I in
compression, ITEN = 2 for crack-I in tension with v P
, ITEN = 3 for crack-I in tension with v < D
ITEN = 4 for crack-II in compression with s Ps
being the joint shear strength), ITEN = 5 for crack-II in
compression with s < s
, and nally ITEN = 6 for
crack-II in tension.
In each load step, the joint incremental stresses in
local coordinate system will be calculated by the relation
dr = Ddd, where dd is the relative displacement incre-
ment for the current iteration, and D is a variable con-
sistently diagonalized matrix dened by Eqs. (5)(7), as
expressed in Fig. 4. It is similar to the elastic matrix D
of Eq. (1), but the stiness coecients k
and k
of Eqs.
(5) and (6) are determined by Table 1, regarding the
current state parameter (ITEN) of the corresponding
Gauss point. In this table, k
and k
are initial stiness
According to the above descriptions, a owchart
summarizing the constitutive behavior of the joint is
established as shown in Fig. 4 and implemented in a
computer program. The joint quadrature order is pro-
posed to be three.
4. Numerical results and discussion
4.1. Preliminary example
The proposed constitutive law has been examined by
some simple examples of jointed systems.
4.1.1. Cantilever beam with roller support
Dynamic analysis of a cantilever beam with roller
support is studied. A prismatic exural beam with one
xed and one moment resistant no-shear roller end
M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420 407
support is modeled by four 20-node brick elements and
one joint element as visualized in Fig. 5.
In order to represent correctly the roller support
behavior by joint element, the following reasonable
values are assumed. Joint initial stiness coecients
= 0:0, k
= 9:81 10
, tensile strength F
9:81 10
, cohesion c = 9:81 10
. By
adopting these quantities, the joint element will behave
like a roller but has an elastic normal deformation
without separation or opening.
This exural beam is analyzed for a base acceleration
of sine half-wave with an amplitude equal to 20 m/s
Fig. 4. Flowchart of the SDCJ model: determination of new D or ITEN, based on current a, r and ITEN for each time step (or loading
step), each iteration, in each element at each Gauss point (a: nodal displacement vector, r: stress vector of one Gauss point).
408 M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
the transverse (vertical) direction for 0.2 s. Mass density
of the beam material is equal to q = 2400:0 kg/m
no damping is assumed.
This problem is re-analyzed by modeling the exural
beam as a 1-D frame element in the y-direction with
appropriate support nodes, and using classical theory
available in current commercial nite element programs.
Time history results of the two approaches have been
drawn for displacement and bending moment at the
roller support proving desirable similarity as shown in
Fig. 6.
4.2. Earthquake response of Morrow Point arch dam
The response results presented in this section are for
a well studied arch dam. It is the Morrow Point dam
located on the Gunnison river in Colorado, USA. This
dam is a 141.73 m high, approximately symmetric, single
centered arch dam. Detailed description of the geometry
of this dam is available in Ref. [12].
To limit the problem size, the dam and reservoir
system is assumed to be symmetric about the yz plane.
Moreover, the dam-foundation interaction is neglected.
The ground motion recorded at Taft Lincoln school
during the Kern County, California earthquake of 21
July 1952 is selected as the free-eld ground acceleration
(Fig. 7).
Fig. 6. Results of dynamic analysis for cantilever beam.
Table 1
Stiness coecients in matrix D
Joint state parameter (ITEN)
Intact Tensile damage Shear damage
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 nk
0 mk
0 0 k
Fig. 5. Cantilever beam, example 4.1.1.
M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420 409
The ground motions acting in the stream (y), and the
vertical (z) directions are dened as the S69E and the
vertical components of the recorded ground motion re-
spectively. The nite element idealization of the system
have the following characteristics: modulus of elasticity
for concrete E = 2 10
, concrete Poissons ratio
= 0:2, concrete unit mass q
= 2400:0 kg/m
, and in-
ternal viscous damping ratio 0.05. Ten 22-node brick el-
ements and ten 16-node joint elements with a total
number of nodal points equal to 187 (Fig. 8) are employed
in the dam-body nite element model. Thus, three con-
traction joints are considered in a half-dam-body model.
Reservoir domain includes 40 27-node elements, with
a total number of pressure nodes equal to 495. Water
level elevation for both hydrostatic and hydrodynamic
pressure calculations is equal to the dam crest elevation
(141.73 m). Acoustic wave velocity in water is C, 1440.0
m/s. The acoustic impedance ratio of rock to water is,
b = 3.
After the literature review on contraction joints,
properties of the joint elements adopted for contraction
joint with shear keys, namely the ``original'' properties
of joints, are as follows: joint initial shear stiness co-
ecient k
= 1 10
, initial normal stiness co-
ecient k
= 2 10
, coecient of friction
l = 0:9, cohesion c = 1:5 10
, tensile strength
Fig. 8. Damreservoir nite element model of Morrow Point arch dam.
Fig. 7. Original ground motion of Taft Lincoln California
Earthquake of 21 July 1952.
410 M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
= 1 10
), reduction factor for friction coef-
cient due to shear failure r = 0:9, reduction factor for
shear stiness due to joint opening n = 0:7, reduction
factor for shear stiness due to shear failure m = 0:2,
shear key height of joint surface D
= 0:5 m.
A time step Dt = 0:005 s, with the full Newton
Raphson nonlinear solution algorithm is used. There-
fore, the structural stiness matrix has to be updated in
each iteration. The classical Newmark method with
standard parameters (0.25 and 0.5) is adopted for the
time integration of the system of equations of motion.
An explicit RungeKutta stress increment computation
is applied using half the value of strain increment to
determine the D matrix from the owchart of Fig. 4 in
each iteration. This ensures the calculated total stresses
not to fall beyond the margin of the yield surface.
Convergence tolerance for nonlinear displacement iter-
ations is based on the energy norms dened as
[E(i)[=[E(1)[ = 1:0 10
. For pressure iterations in the
staggering scheme, convergence is based on the pressure
norm as [[Dp[[=[[p[[ = 0:001. Maximum number of iter-
ations for pressure is 8, and for displacement is 10. In-
tegration order for all elements is 3 except for the dam
thickness direction for which 2 is deemed as sucient.
4.2.1. Verication under medium ground motion
In order to verify the numerical results, Morrow
Point damreservoir system was analyzed by program
ANSYS ANSYS Ver.5.0 [13]. Its corresponding model consists of
ten 20-node brick elements (SOLID95) for the dam, 59
2-node 1-D joint elements (CONTAC52) for contraction
joints and 80 8-node elements (FLUID30) for the uid
domain. None of the available versions of the above
program (including recent ones) has an account on ei-
ther cohesion or initial tensile strength for our purpose.
Also, interaction between shear and tensile failures due
to shear keys height could not be considered by dierent
existing versions of this program. The joint elements
CONTAC52 stiness values are obtained from the k
and k
values described above, multiplied by the trib-
utary area of each joint nodal point. Due to ANSYS ANSYS
limitations, here the joint properties have to be modied
for both the programs as follows hereafter. This set of
joint properties will be called ``modied'' properties of
joints. Tensile strength, cohesion and friction coecient
of joints are assumed as F
= 0:0, c = 0:0, and l =
respectively, implying no shear failure except when
joints open. Shear keys height is D
= 0:0, and reduction
factors for joints failure are m = r = 1:0, and n = 0 (no
shear interlock after joint opening).
The Taft ground motion records with the peak hori-
zontal acceleration normalized to 0.2g' are taken as the
free-eld input excitation for the initial comparative
studies of the two codes.
Static analysis of the system under self-weight and
the hydrostatic pressure was carried out to establish the
initial condition for dynamic analysis. Sequentially, dy-
namic analysis of the system was performed by both
authors and the ANSYS ANSYS programs. The history of dis-
placement in the stream direction of nodal point 186
in the middle of dam crest and the history of hydro-
dynamic pressure at nodal point 31 in the mid-height of
dam upstream face are shown in Figs. 9 and 10. The
history of normal relative displacement v, normal stress
Fig. 9. History of displacement in the stream direction at nodal point 186 with maximum ground acceleration equal to 0.2g.
M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420 411
, and resultant tangential stress s, for the Gauss
point 6 of joint element 8 below the crest, are shown
in Figs. 1113. For this level of acceleration, only three
upper joint elements encountered shear or tensile failure.
Maximum opening for joint elements is still small and
equal to 0.6 cm (at joint element 10 at time 8.405 s).
The comparison denotes that the results of the two
programs are close to each other. Most of the dierences
Fig. 10. History of hydrodynamic pressure at nodal point 31 with maximum ground acceleration equal to 0.2g.
Fig. 11. History of normal relative displacement (or joint opening) for the Gauss point 6 of joint element 8 with maximum ground
acceleration equal to 0.2g.
412 M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
are due to local behavior of joints, i.e., joint-opening,
joint normal and shear stresses. Such discrepancies are
generally attributed to dierent nite element modeling
characteristics as ANSYS ANSYS uses a 1-D one-to-one contact
elements rather than the 3-D surface contact elements
used by the authors. The spurious hydrodynamic pres-
sure obtained by ANSYS ANSYS in the rst seconds of motion is
not appreciated (Fig. 10).
Fig. 12. History of normal stress for the Gauss point 6 of joint element 8 with maximum ground acceleration equal to 0.2g.
Fig. 13. History of resultant tangential stress for the Gauss point 6 of joint element 8 with maximum ground acceleration equal to 0.2g.
M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420 413
4.2.2. Verication under strong ground motion
Using the modied joint properties again, but under
0.5g ground acceleration records, another comparative
study is carried out between the authors algorithm and
that of ANSYS ANSYS. Its results are shown in Figs. 1418.
There is an overall agreement between the two pro-
grams. However, as seen in Figs. 17 and 18, according to
the present model analysis, from about the time of 7.5 s,
Fig. 14. History of displacement in the stream direction at nodal point 186 with maximum ground acceleration equal to 0.5g.
Fig. 15. History of hydrodynamic pressure at nodal point 31 with maximum ground acceleration equal to 0.5g.
414 M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
joint element 8 undergoes complete tensile and shear
release as a result of large shift and damage in the dam
body while ANSYS ANSYS still shows small uctuations of both
stresses beyond this time. This seems to be an outcome
of the initial contact stress distribution at the interface
which is rather dierent for the two models.
Fig. 16. History of normal relative displacement (or joint opening) for the Gauss point 6 of joint element 8 with maximum ground
acceleration equal to 0.5g.
Fig. 17. History of normal stress for the Gauss point 6 of joint element 8 with maximum ground acceleration equal to 0.5g.
M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420 415
4.2.3. Nonlinear versus linear solution for original model
under strong ground motion
Further analysis is carried out with the original joint
properties input data described above as the nonlinear
model, versus a fully linear (without joints) model. Other
properties of dam and reservoir model are similar as
before. This time, the peak horizontal acceleration of
ground is again set to 0.5g to visualize the ability of the
Fig. 18. History of resultant tangential stress for the Gauss point 6 of joint element 8 with maximum ground acceleration equal to 0.5g.
Fig. 19. History of linear versus nonlinear displacements in the stream direction at nodal point 186 with maximum ground acceleration
equal to 0.5g (according to the present model).
416 M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
methodology to predict the inuence and damages due
to very strong earthquakes. Figs. 19 and 20 illustrate the
crest displacement responses and the corresponding
hydrodynamic pressures on the upstream mid-height
point of the dam in the cases of nonlinear (jointed) and
the linear (monolithic) models of the dam body. This
could well prove the signicance of inclusion of con-
traction joint failures in the dam response as the dam
body is pronouncedly shifted upstream up to about 8 cm
permanently. At the same time, maximum dynamic
displacement is magnied by about 50% when joint
failures are admitted. In this case, when the ground
motion is terminated, all the joint elements other than
elements 1 and 2 have encountered shear, or tensile, or a
combination of both types of damages.
Generally, joint opening happens for joint elements
on the plane of symmetry while combined joint opening
and slippage happen for other joint elements. Maximum
shear deformations (tangential displacements) for the
joints which experienced shear failure according to the
present nonlinear model, is shown in Table 2.
It is evident that such values of shear deformations
are signicant and could not be neglected during very
strong ground motions in contrary to what was assumed
in previous works [3]. Maximum dam crest displacement
in the stream direction is equal to 34.4 cm for node 186,
and maximum opening for joint elements is equal to 4.9
cm (joint element 10 on the plane of symmetry, at time
7.245 s) which is still less than the assumed shear key
height. Maximum tensile and compressive principal
stresses induced in the dam body are equal to 9.8 and
14.6 MPa, respectively. Maximum tensile principal
stresses are more than the dynamic strength values of
mass concrete, and thus the concrete mass material
proves to behave in a nonlinear way under tension as a
result of such a strong ground motion. It is interesting to
note that compression is still well in the elastic range.
4.2.4. Joint properties parametric study
Lastly, a parametric study is carried out to observe
the sensitivity of dam responses to some joint properties
under the latter load and with the adopted model. By
changing a single parameter of joints (either joint initial
tensile strength, F
or joint cohesion, c) while other
properties are constant, the stream-direction maximum
Table 2
Maximum shear displacement for joint elements
Joint element
3 5 6 8 9
Maximum shear
displacement (cm)
3.1 2.4 17.9 10.2 36.9
At Gauss points.
Fig. 20. History of linear/nonlinear solution-based hydrodynamic pressures at nodal point 31 with maximum ground acceleration
equal to 0.5g (according to the present model).
M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420 417
displacement of nodal point 186 (upper curve in both
Fig. 21a and b) and the maximum opening of joint el-
ement 10 on the dam crest (lower curve in the same
gures) are computed. It is interesting that for a wide
range of variation for both cohesion and joint tensile
strength the general response is not much aected.
However, the local stress distributions proved not to
follow this insensitivity.
Fig. 21. Sensitivity study of maxima of displacement and joint opening with respect to (a) joint tensile strength and (b) joint cohesion.
418 M.T. Ahmadi et al. / Computers and Structures 79 (2001) 403420
5. Conclusions and future works
After reviewing previous researches on contraction
joints behavior in dynamic response analysis of arch
dams, a discrete crack joint model namely SDCJ, is
proposed based on the most signicant mechanical
features of arch dam joints. Full damreservoir inter-
action with upstream radiation and reservoir bottom
partial absorption of pressure waves along with surface
gravity wave boundaries are satised. Water compress-
ibility which has a major role in certain realistic cases of
such systems is also included. It is well understood from
the results presented in this paper that vertical con-
traction joints play an important role in response
analysis of concrete arch dams in case of very strong
earthquakes; a conclusion in agreement with other re-
searchers ndings. Eciency of the proposed joint
model is promising for earthquake safety evaluation of
concrete arch dams. It is a powerful model which takes
into account all the major factors and parameters af-
fecting the joints of arch dams such as joint initial ten-
sile strength, joint cohesion, joint friction coecient,
shear key height, joint shear softening after damages,
and most important, the coupling between joint opening
and joint slippage similar to nonassociated plasticity
theory. Besides, the model has physically meaningful
parameters which are presumably more easier to deter-
mine. It also does not suer convergence and solution
deciencies related to complicated mathematical non-
associated plasticity models proposed so far. Although
the shear resistance is based on MohrCoulomb rela-
tionship, but the model is versatile enough to accom-
modate other laws as well. Finally, it is easy to
implement in standard codes.
By applying the new model to a large existing arch
dam, it is observed that under very strong ground mo-
tion, vertical joints generally encounter shear and/or
tensile failure, and cause redistribution of internal
forces. For earthquakes in the stream or vertical direc-
tion and under symmetric loading, joints on the mid-
plane generally have normal opening or tensile failure,
and joints on the quarter section of arch span show
shear failure. Joints opening magnitude is generally
about a few centimeters and does not seem to exceed
regular shear keys height at geometrically similar sites.
However, sucient strength for shear keys is needed,
otherwise their failure would endanger the integrity and
stability of arch dams against severe earthquake. Careful
implementation of appropriate shear keys for vertical
joints causes increased strength and stability. It is
claimed that shear keys supply the cohesion of joints
eciently. They also provide an interlock shear-carrying
system to help integrity of the jointed structure after
joint opening. Unlike concrete compressive stresses,
tensile stresses generally enter into the nonlinear range
for high intensity earthquakes with the peak acceleration
of about 0.5g, and nonlinear material laws for concrete
fracture might be necessary to consider. In order to in-
crease the accuracy of computations, more precise
boundary conditions for the reservoir boundaries and an
inclusion of the damfoundation interaction is desirable.
Additional study together with laboratory experiments
is necessary for determining the physical properties of
contraction joints. The values of cohesion, friction co-
ecient, and joint softening parameters should be de-
termined regarding properties of concrete material and
shear keys geometry. An extensive parametric study on
the inuence of shear keys is the subject of future re-
searches of the authors using the powerful methodology
introduced here.
Parts of this research was made possible while the
rst author had his sabbatical in the IBK, Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology, ETH-Zurich. The supports of
International Institute of Earthquake Engineering and
Seismology, and Moshanir Consultant Engineers, Teh-
ran, Iran is also greatly appreciated.
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