Advances in Structural Engineering Research

Single Abstract

342980 - Damage Accumulation in Sequences of Induced Earthquakes

Saturday, April 21
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Location: 201B

Parts of the U.S. have experienced a dramatic increase in seismicity in recent years that has been attributed to oil and gas production and especially the disposal of large volumes of wastewater in injection wells (Ellsworth, et al., 2015). Damage experienced in recent earthquakes suggests the need to re-evaluate the conventional wisdom that holds that injection-induced earthquakes are not large enough to cause significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. This paper examines risks to built structures associated with injection-induced seismicity and specifically the accumulation of damage from multiple potentially damaging earthquakes. Many locations in Oklahoma are experiencing a large number of small to moderate events with cracks and other damage propagating with each event (The National Research Council, 2012). Although there has been substantial research in how mainshock-aftershock sequences may weaken a structure’s ability to withstand future shaking (Raghunandan, Liel, & Luco, 2015), this research has largely focused on large events and buildings that are close to collapse, so the lessons learned may not apply to the accumulation of damage currently being observed in historically low-seismic regions of the U.S. This research moves to focus more on the accumulation of damage in structures that are damaged, but well below the collapse level.
In this study, damage to built infrastructure from induced earthquakes is investigated through nonlinear dynamic structural response simulations. These simulations are based on two structures: a typical reinforced concrete moment frame building and a residential timber frame. Both are with design lateral strength and detailing consistent with modern code requirements for design in Oklahoma City, i.e. a region of low to moderate natural seismicity. The building models are subjected to multiple sequences of ground motion recordings from induced events, including those in Oklahoma and Kansas. The use of motions from induced events ensures that the ground shaking time histories used in the analysis is representative of the ongoing activity in Oklahoma and elsewhere. The dynamic response of the model after each motion in the sequence of events is recorded and analyzed to quantify the accumulation and propagation of damage from event to event. The structural analysis results will be used to generate fragility models, showing the probability of moderate to severe damage as a function of ground motion input parameters, and exploring how that changes from event to event.
This study will provide insight into how the accumulation of damage from induced seismicity will impact structures in the following ways:
• Results will be used to quantify differences in structural response and fragility when the building is subjected to multiple sequences of
induced ground motions.
• These results serve to evaluate the potential for sequences of multiple small to moderate earthquakes to generate structural and
nonstructural damage, an area where there is little existing research.

Robert Chase

University of Colorado Boulder

Doctoral student


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Abbie Liel

Associate Professor
University of Colorado - Boulder

Dr. Abbie Liel is an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. Having earned an undergraduate degree in civil engineering and public policy at Princeton University, she studied building and urban design at University College London, and completed her PhD at Stanford University. Since joining the faculty at CU, she has been the PI on a number of major grants examining community resilience to flooding, induced seismicity, and integration of green building and seismic design, among others. Her work has been recognized by a number of awards including the Shah Family Innovation Prize from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and a NSF CAREER award.


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Nico Luco

Research Structural Engineer, Manager



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342980 - Damage Accumulation in Sequences of Induced Earthquakes

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