Insight into the seismic response of earth dams with an emphasis on seismic coefficient estimation

Konstantinos I. Andrianopoulos*, Achilleas G. Papadimitriou, George D. Bouckovalas, Dimitris Karamitros

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a numerical investigation of the seismic response of earth dams by employing results from 110 nonlinear two-dimensional (2D) dynamic analyses of four different cross-sections with heights ranging from 20 to 120. m. The analyses were of a parametric nature, considering the effects of seismic excitation characteristics (intensity and frequency content), foundation soil stiffness, and the existence of typical stabilising berms and/or an impounded reservoir. The results of these studies indicated that the predominant period of a dam's vibration was strongly affected by its height and the input motion characteristics. The results also indicated that the peak acceleration at the dam's crest was governed by its height, the input motion characteristics, and the stiffness of the foundation soil, but not by the other parameters. These same analyses yielded results on pseudo-static seismic coefficients for a total of 1084 potential sliding masses within the analysed cross-sections, demonstrating that the seismic coefficients decreased as the sliding mass became deeper and bulkier, increased if the mass was located upstream rather than downstream, and were strongly affected by the seismic excitation characteristics and stiffness of the foundation soil. Moreover, these results allowed for a thorough evaluation of existing methodologies for seismic coefficient estimation, quantifying their accuracy and depicting their limitations. This evaluation process also illustrated the fact that there is currently no methodology accounting for all significant problem parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-210
Number of pages16
JournalComputers and Geotechnics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Earth dams
  • Earthquake
  • Embankments
  • Non-linear soil response
  • Numerical analysis
  • Pseudo-static analysis
  • Seismic coefficient


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