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Causes Of Failure Of Structures

During Earthquakes
Earthquake Resistant Design &
Effect Of Earthquakes
The effect of an earthquake can be classified as
primary and secondary. Primary effects are
direct effect on ground, geological features,
water bodies and those on the building or other
structures and the secondary effects are those
which occur due to the primary effects such as
fires, epidemics etc..

Earthquakes cause landslides where
the hill slopes ale unstable due to
badly fractured rocks which may
consist of loose material . The effect
is more pronounced in rainy season
when the soil is wet than in dry

Effect Of Earthquakes
Ground Effects
Earthquake-induced ground effects has been
observed in the forms of around rupture alone
the fault zone, landslides. settlement and soil
Surface Faulting
Surface faulting along the fault zone may be
none, of very small extent. or may extend over
hundreds of kilometers. Ground displacement
along the fault may be horizontal, vertical or
both, and may be a few centimeters or meters.
Obviously a building directly traversed by such
a rupture will be severely damaged or
Effect Of Earthquakes
Liquefaction Settlements
Certain type of soils. such as alluvial or
sandy soils are more likely to fail during an
earthquake due to liquefaction. Liquefaction
is a type of ground failure which occurs
when saturated soil loses its strength and
collapses or becomes liquefied It is more
prominent if the foundation soil consists of
uniform loose sands within a depth of
about 8m below the ground surface and is
either fully saturated by or submerged
under water. The buildings resting on such
land may tilt or sink .
Rock Falls
In fractured rock areas, the earthquake can
also trigger rock fall when precariously
supported rock pieces or boulders are
shaken loose and roll down the hill slopes
and damage buildings or infrastructures .
Causes Of Failure Of Structures
The causes of failure of structures can be classified as:

Damage as result of problem of soils.
Damage as a result of structural problems.
Damage resulting from design and layout.
Quality Of Materials and Construction Practices
Resonance factor

Problem Of Soils
One of the most common causes of damage to structures is the result of
liquefaction of the surrounding soil. When loose, saturated sands, silts, or gravel
are shaken, the material consolidates, reducing the porosity and increasing pore
water pressure. The ground settles, often unevenly, tilting and toppling structures
that were formerly supported by the soil.

During the 1955 Niigata,
Japan earthquake, several
four-story apartment
buildings toppled over due
to liquefaction .
These buildings fell when
the liquefied soil lost its
ability to support them.
there was little damage to
these buildings and it was
reported that their collapse
took place over several

Problem Of Soils
When a steeply inclined mass of soil is suddenly
shaken, a slip-plane can form, and the material
slides downhill. During a landslide, structures
sitting on the slide move downward and
structures below the slide are hit by falling
debris . Landslides frequently occur in canyons.
along cliffs and mountains, and anywhere else
that unstable soil exists.

The number of landslides is greatly
increased wherever large
earthquakes occur. Landslides can
move a few inches or hundreds of
feet. They can be the result of
liquefaction, weak clays, erosion,
subsidence, ground shaking, etc.

Problem Of Soils
Weak Clay
The problems encountered at soft clay sites
include amplification of the ground motion as
well as vigorous soil movement, both of which
can damage foundations. Several bridges
suffered collapse during the 1989 Loma Prieta
earthquake due to the poor performance of
weak clay. Two parallel bridges were built in
1965 near Watsonville, CA were 800ft long with
spans ranging from 80 to 120 ft. The
surrounding soil was a very soft clay.
During the earthquake, the soft saturated soil in
was violently shaken. The soil pushed against
the piles, breaking their connection to the
superstructure and pushing them away from
the cap beam so that they punctured the bridge
deck). Investigators found long, oblong holes in
the soil, indicating that the piles were dragged
from their initial position during the
Structural Failures
Foundation Failure
Usually, it is the connection to the foundation
or an adjacent member rather than the
foundation itself that is damaged during a
large earthquake. Engineers occasionally
design foundations to rock during earthquakes
as a way of dissipating energy and of reducing
the demand on the structure; however, when
the foundation is too small, it can become
unstable and rock over. One of several factors
that determine a foundations ability to

withstand the forces of an earthquake is
the buildings mass. All buildings can carry
their own weight; even poorly constructed
ones can resist some additional lateral
loads, such as those from a normal wind.
But buildings are not necessarily designed
or constructed to resist the irregular,
multidirectional, and intense side-to-side
loads that occur during an earthquake,
particularly when earthquakes hit in a
series of waves.

Structural Failures
Foundation Connections
The major cause of damage to electrical transformers, variety of other structures
and lifeline facilities during earthquakes is the lack of a secure connection to the
foundation. Houses need to he anchored to the foundation with holddowns
connected to the stud walls and bolts connected to the sill plates. Otherwise, the
house will fall off its foundation.
If during the earthquake, the longitudinal reinforcement did not have sufficient
development length to transfer the force to the footings; insufficient confinement
reinforcement in the footings and columns and the lack of a top mat of
reinforcement will result in pulling out of the column connection to the footing.
Structural Failures
Flexural Failure
Flexural members are often designed to form
plastic hinges during large earthquakes. A plastic
hinge allows a member to yield and deform while
continuing to support its load; however, when
there is insufficient confinement for reinforced
concrete members and insufficient unsupported
width to thickness [b/t] ratios for steel plates, a
flexural failure will occur instead. Often, flexural
damage is accompanied by compression or shear
damage, as the capacity of the damaged area has
been lowered.

Structural Failures
Column Beam Anchorage Failure

The lack of adequate anchorage between
the support beam and the column allows
the beam to be disconnected from the
column: it also reduces the confinement of
broken concrete.
It is possible that the design drawings did
not specify the anchorage of the
reinforcement bars, or that the contractor
did not put them according to correct
drawings. These kind of details indicate
the need for precise control of the design as
well as on-the-job verification of the
reinforcement before the concrete is cast.

Design And Layout
Soft Storey
Generally the upper levels of a building often
remain intact while the lower floors crumble. This
is because the concentration of forces is at the
ground floor, where most soft floors are located.
Wherever they are, however, soft floors represent a
break in a buildings structural continuity. With
fewer walls and little infill, soft floors are typically
less rigid than the building constructed on top of
them, making soft floors and the columns that
support them susceptible to failure.

A soft story, however, does not always
occur on the bottom floor. During the
1995 Kobe, Japan earthquake, many
tall buildings had mid-story damage,
often due to designing the upper floors
for a reduced seismic load.

Design And Layout
Torsional Moment
Twist in buildings, called torsion, makes
different portions at the same floor level to
move horizontally by different amounts.
This induces more damage in the columns
and walls on the side that moves more
Many buildings have been severely affected
by this excessive torsional behavior during
past earthquakes. It is best to minimize this
twist by ensuring that buildings have

symmetry in plan
(i.e., uniformly
distributed mass ).
It this twist cannot be avoided, special calculations need to
e done to account for this additional shear forces in :he
design of buildings; the Indian seismic code has provisions
for such calculations. But, for sure, buildings with twist will
perform poorly during strong earthquake shaking.
Design And Layout

In general, buildings with simple
geometry in plan have performed
well during strong earthquakes.
Buildings with re-entrant corners,
like those U, V. H and i- shaped in
plait , have sustained significant
damage. Many times, the bad
effects of these interior corners in
the plan of buildings are avoided by
making the buildings in two parts.
For example, an L-shaped plan can
be broken up into two rectangular
plan shapes using a separation joint
at the junction .

Design And Layout

Quality Of Construction
Construction materials is a primary factor affecting the
vulnerability of a structure. Stone or brick laid in a weak
mortar such as mud are always weaker compared to
masonry built using strong binders such as a cement
Although sufficient for carrying the gravity loads,
mechanical characteristics of materials used for
construction of masonry buildings are not sufficient to
resist the additional bending and shearing effects
induced in the structural system by the lateral forces
generated in an earthquake.
Excessive thickness of horizontal mortar: vertical joints
not filled with mortar: continuity in vertical joints:
bricks not being soaked into water before construction:
are some of the examples of inferior construction
techniques in masonry construction. Similarly the use of
too much water in concrete: improper compaction of
concrete: honeycombing in concrete: low cover to
reinforcing steel bars: improper placement of steel bars.
are some of the examples in poor quality of RC


Resonance Factor
Small Buildings:
Small building are more affected, or shaken, by
high frequency waves (short and frequent). For
example, a small boat sailing in the ocean will not
be greatly affected by a low-frequency swell where
the waves are far apart. On the other hand several
small waves in quick succession can overturn, or
capsize, the boat. In much the same way, a small
building experiences more shaking by high
frequency earthquake waves.
Tall High Rises:
Large structures or high rise buildings are more
affected by low-frequency, or slow shaking. For
instance, an ocean liner will experience little
disturbance by short waves in quick succession.
However, a low-frequency swell will significantly
affect the ship. Similarly, a skyscraper will sustain
greater shaking by long-period earthquake waves
than by the shorter waves.

Resonance Factor
Resonance Factor
Thank You
Submitted By : Vinayak Bansal