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Published October 2016 | Published
Journal Article Open

International Benchmark on Numerical Simulations for 1D, Nonlinear Site Response (PRENOLIN): Verification Phase Based on Canonical Cases


PREdiction of NOn‐LINear soil behavior (PRENOLIN) is an international benchmark aiming to test multiple numerical simulation codes that are capable of predicting nonlinear seismic site response with various constitutive models. One of the objectives of this project is the assessment of the uncertainties associated with nonlinear simulation of 1D site effects. A first verification phase (i.e., comparison between numerical codes on simple idealistic cases) will be followed by a validation phase, comparing the predictions of such numerical estimations with actual strong‐motion recordings obtained at well‐known sites. The benchmark presently involves 21 teams and 23 different computational codes. We present here the main results of the verification phase dealing with simple cases. Three different idealized soil profiles were tested over a wide range of shear strains with different input motions and different boundary conditions at the sediment/bedrock interface. A first iteration focusing on the elastic and viscoelastic cases was proved to be useful to ensure a common understanding and to identify numerical issues before pursuing the nonlinear modeling. Besides minor mistakes in the implementation of input parameters and output units, the initial discrepancies between the numerical results can be attributed to (1) different understanding of the expression "input motion" in different communities, and (2) different implementations of material damping and possible numerical energy dissipation. The second round of computations thus allowed a convergence of all teams to the Haskell–Thomson analytical solution in elastic and viscoelastic cases. For nonlinear computations, we investigate the epistemic uncertainties related only to wave propagation modeling using different nonlinear constitutive models. Such epistemic uncertainties are shown to increase with the strain level and to reach values around 0.2 (log_(10) scale) for a peak ground acceleration of 5  m/s^2 at the base of the soil column, which may be reduced by almost 50% when the various constitutive models used the same shear strength and damping implementation.

Additional Information

© 2016 Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received 20 October 2015. Such an exercise was made possible by the interest and funding of the French and Italian nuclear industry under the project SeIsmic Ground‐Motion Assessment (SIGMA). It was made successful thanks to the dedicated and proactive participation of many teams from all over the world: a large number of teams reacted very positively to our invitation to take part in this (risky) benchmarking exercise, among them the developers of a wide variety of internationally used constitutive laws and/or codes. Such a broad participation witnesses the actual need for such a carefully controlled comparison, and also brought an invaluable enrichment to the project, which undoubtedly benefitted greatly from the deep expertise of the participants. PREdiction of NOn‐LINear soil behavior (PRENOLIN) is part of two larger projects: SINAPS@, supported from French funding managed by the National Research Agency under the program Future Investments (SINAPS@ reference number ANR‐11‐RSNR‐0022), and SIGMA, funded by a consortium of nuclear operators (EDF, CEA, AREVA, ENL). The authors want to thank Associate Editor Eric Chael and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

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