Development of a Selective Weakening Approach for the Seismic Retrofit of Reinforced Concrete Structural Walls
Thesis DisciplineCivil Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Engineering
Recent earthquakes have highlighted the vulnerability of existing structure to seismic loading. Current seismic retrofit strategies generally focus on increasing the strength/stiffness in order to upgrade the seismic performance of a structure or element. A typical drawback of this approach is that the demand on the structural and sub-structural elements can be increased. This is of particular importance when considering the foundation capacity, which may already be insufficient to allow the full capacity of the existing wall to develop (due to early codes being gravity load orientated). In this thesis a counter intuitive but rational seismic retrofit strategy, termed "selective weakening" is introduced and investigated. This is the first stage of an ongoing research project underway at the University of Canterbury which is focusing on developing selective weakening techniques for the seismic retrofit of reinforced concrete structures. In this initial stage the focus is on developing selective weakening for the seismic retrofit of structural walls. This is performed using a series of experimental, analytical and numerical investigations. A procedure for the assessment of existing structural walls is also compiled, based on the suggestions of currently available code provisions. A selective weakening intervention is performed within an overall performance-based retrofit approach with the aim of improving the inelastic behaviour by first reducing the strength/stiffness of specific members within the structural system. This will be performed with the intention of modifying a shear type behaviour towards a flexural type behaviour. As a result the demand on the structural member will be reduced. Once weakening has been implemented the designer can use the wide range of techniques and materials available (e.g. use of FRP, jacketing or shotcrete) to ensure that adequate characteristics are achieved. Whilst performing this it has to be assured that the structure meets specific performance criteria and the principles of capacity design. A target of the retrofit technique is the ability to introduce the characteristics of recently developed high performance seismic resisting systems, consisting of a self centring and dissipative behaviour (commonly referred to as a hybrid system). In this thesis, results of experimental investigations performed on benchmark and selectively weakened walls are discussed. The investigations consisted of quasi-static cyclic uni-directional tests on two benchmark and two retrofitted cantilever walls. The first benchmark wall is detailed as typical of pre-1970's construction practice. An equivalent wall is retrofitted using a selective weakening approach involving a horizontal cut at foundation level to allow for a rocking response. The second benchmark wall represents a more severe scenario where the inelastic behaviour is dominated by shear. A retrofit solution involving vertically segmenting the wall to improve the ductility and retain gravity carrying capacity by inducing a flexural response is implemented. Numerical investigations on a multi-storey wall system are performed using non linear time history analysis on SDOF and MDOF lumped plasticity models, representing an as built and retrofitted prototype structure. Calibration of the hysteretic response to experimental results is carried out (accounting for pinching and strength degradation). The sensitivity of maximum and residual drifts to p-delta and strength degradation is monitored, along with the sensitivity of the peak base shear to higher mode affects. The results of the experimental and analytical investigations confirmed the feasibility and viability of the proposed retrofit technique, towards improving the seismic performance of structural walls.