An experimental study on the behavior of box-shaped culverts buried in sand under dynamic excitations

Ülgen, Deniz
Seismic safety of underground structures (culvert, subway, natural gas and water sewage systems) plays a major role in sustainable public safety and urban development. Very few experimental data are currently available and there is not generally accepted procedure to estimate the dynamic pressures acting on underground structures. This study aims to enhance the state of prevalent information necessary in understanding the dynamic behavior of box culverts and the stresses acting under dynamic excitations through experimental analyses. For this purpose, a series of shaking table tests were conducted on box-type culverts buried in dry sand. To simulate the free-field boundary conditions, a laminar box was designed and manufactured for use in a 1-g shake table. Four culvert models having different rigidities were tested under various harmonic motions in order to examine the effect of flexibility ratio on dynamic lateral soil pressures. Based on the tests results, a simplified dynamic pressure distribution acting on sidewalls of the culvert model was suggested. Then, a dynamic lateral coefficient was defined for the proposed peak pressure value in the distribution. The values of this coefficient were obtained as a function of shear strain and relative stiffness between the soil and underground structure. Finally, a simplified frame analysis approach was suggested for the assessment of the forces on the structure, to help to carry out a preliminary design of box-type culverts. In this approach, it was assumed that the culvert was fixed at bottom and subjected to lateral stresses on sidewalls and shear stresses on the upper face. For the confirmation of the method, centrifuge tests were conducted on a box-type culvert model under the Seventh Framework Programme of European Union with Grant Agreement No.227887. Results show that the proposed simplified procedure can be used in reasonable accuracy as a practical approach for the preliminary assessment of box-type culverts buried in dry sand under seismic action.