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Published December 1979 | public
Journal Article

Analysis of Earth Dam Response to Earthquakes


An investigation has been made of the effect of two earthquakes with Richter local magnitudes ML of 6.3 and 4.7 on a modern rolled-fill earth dam in Southern California. The dam was equipped with motion sensors that yielded data on the structural response as well as the ground input motion at the site. Amplification spectra of the dam were computed for the two earthquakes to indicate the natural frequencies of the dam, to estimate the shear-wave velocity of its materials, and to estimate the relative contribution of different modes of vibrations. A comparison between the aforementioned natural frequencies and those obtained for the dam by existing shear-beam theories was made to obtain representative dam material properties. In addition, field wave-velocity measurements were carried out as a further check as well as to study the variation of shear-wave velocity (or shear modulus) at various depths below the crest of the dam.

Additional Information

© 1979 American Society of Civil Engineers. The writers are grateful to Kinemetrics Inc. of Pasadena, Calif. for providing the instruments for the wave-velocity measurements and to the United Water Conservation District of Ventura County for giving permission to make the tests on Santa Felicia Dam. The assistance provided by R. Relies, P. Spanos, and J.-H. Prevost in conducting the tests is greatly appreciated. Gratitude is also extended to Sai-Man Li for the time and effort he contributed to the digitization and computer processing of the 1976 earthquake records. This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (Grant No. ATA 74-19135) and the Earthquake Research Affiliates program at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

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