A Practitioner’s Perspective on the Benefits and Shortcomings of the use of Nonlinear Analysis for the Seismic Evaluation and Rehabilitation of Existing Structures
Aaron ReynoldsJohn Gavan
The idea of using nonlinear analysis for the seismic evaluation of structures became a goal early in the development of earthquake engineering, after the acknowledgement that nonlinearbehavior of structures had a major impact on their seismic response. The practical application of nonlinear analysis, however, had to wait until reasonable consensus was gathered regarding the adequatemethodologies, computers were powerful enough to carry on these more complex analyses, and enough data was collected to reliably model different structural components in a non-linear fashion. We areseeing now that all these three aspects are being materialized and, consequently, the use of nonlinear techniques for the seismic evaluation of structures has become viable.
This paper addresses thebenefits and shortcomings found during the implementation of this technique in actual seismic evaluation and rehabilitation projects, and it is built upon the experience gained in numerous projectsconducted in the last few years. We have found that the greatest benefit is that the insight into seismic response gained using this tool far exceeds what a linear-elastic analysis can deliver. Thereare however difficulties that need to be dealt with carefully, such as the extent of the effort to create a reliable nonlinear model, and deficiencies in current guidelines. One of the major problemswith current guidelines is the fact that they were not thoroughly developed using a “nonlinear” mindset which, we found, may have potentially serious consequences to the development of a project of thistype. The paper elaborates on these and other aspects brought about by our past experience with projects of this type.
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