Seismic analysis incorporating detailed structure–abutment–foundation interaction for quasi-isolated highway bridges

Jie Luo, Larry A. Fahnestock, Derek L. Kozak, James M. LaFave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Illinois Department of Transportation has adopted an economical and pragmatic methodology for designing earthquake-resistant highway bridges in the Midwestern United States. These so-called quasi-isolated bridges employ low-cost non-seismically designed bearing components as sacrificial structural fuses. During seismic events, fusing actions of these components and subsequent sliding of superstructures on substructures are intended to achieve response characteristics similar to those of conventionally isolated bridges that employ specially designed isolators. This study explores seismic structure-abutment-foundation interaction for quasi-isolated bridges in Illinois, employing a detailed yet efficient non-linear finite-element model for seat-type bridge abutments. The abutment model incorporates many structural components and geotechnical mechanisms that are critical to seismic response of the structure-abutment-foundation (SAF) system. Through non-linear static analyses performed on a complete bridge model, the force-transfer mechanisms, component fusing performance, and potential failure modes of the SAF system were explored. Using earthquake ground motions, non-linear dynamic analyses were conducted to evaluate seismic characteristics of the quasi-isolated bridge, sequences of critical limit state occurrences, and effects of abutment attributes on bridge seismic performance. The influence of abutment model sophistication on simulated bridge response was also highlighted by direct comparison of simulation results obtained from different models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-603
Number of pages23
JournalStructure and Infrastructure Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 4 2017


  • Highway bridges
  • bridge abutments
  • bridge design
  • earthquake-resistant structures
  • seismic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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