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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H039716/1
Title: Seismic response of the built environment in densely populated urban areas
Principal Investigator: Knappett, Professor JA
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Dundee
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 October 2010 Ends: 30 December 2012 Value (£): 98,812
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Ground Engineering Structural Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
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Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
10 Feb 2010 Process Environment and Sustainability (PES) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Earthquakes are a perennial hazard to engineered structures worldwide. This is particularly true of densely populated urban areas (cities) where recent large magnitude earthquakes have demonstrated that the density of structures has a significant multiplicative effect on the cost of seismic damage. It is common practice at present to determine seismic response of structures in isolation from the urban environment which surrounds them. In reality, buildings in densely packed urban areas are often surrounded by other structures which may either be similar in design or very different (e.g. a 40-storey building next to a 5 storey building). An urban area with a block of adjacent buildings may be considered as a complex system of structures which may interact with each other through the ground which connects them. The actual seismic response of a structure within a dense urban environment may be significantly different (and larger) to that predicted using current methods based on isolated structural behaviour. If the adjacent structures are closely enough spaced and vibrate out-of-phase with each other, damage can subsequently occur due to 'pounding' - transient collision between adjacent structures. This will be worsened if structure-to-structure interaction increases the building response compared to an isolated structure. Furthermore, the close packing/spacing of structures also makes the consequences of a catastrophic failure more critical, as significant collateral damage to the adjacent structures may occur. Although previous research into this area has provided good initial insights into structure-soil-structure interaction using numerical simulation, there remain a number of issues to be addressed before this knowledge and understanding can be practically applied to engineering design in densely-packed urban areas. Notably, this includes whether current elastic idealisations of soil behaviour are appropriate during large earthquakes when strains may be in the inelastic range, and whether the appropriate controlling parameters have been selected. The work described in this proposal will consist primarily of a programme of physical model tests to be conducted on small scale models of adjacent structures founded on real soil within a geotechnical centrifuge to address these needs. This work will represent the first systematic experimental study of the fundamental phenomena involved for structures founded on real soil. The results will subsequently be used to assess the validity of using current models for isolated structures to assess buildings in densely packed urban areas and assess the range of earthquake conditions for which current structure-soil-structure interaction models based on linear elastic soil behaviour are applicable. The database of physical test data will additionally provide a useful database of observed physical behaviour which may be used to calibrate future more advanced numerical modelling work.
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Organisation Website: http://www.dundee.ac.uk