Reviewing the uncertainties in seismic experimentation following the unexpected performance of RC structures in the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes
The performance of conventionally designed reinforced concrete (RC) structures during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake has demonstrated that there is greater uncertainty in the seismic performance of RC components than previously understood. RC frame and wall structures in the Christchurch central business district were observed to form undesirable cracks patterns in the plastic hinge region while yield penetration either side of cracks, and into development zones, were less than theoretical predictions. The implications of this unexpected behaviour: (i) significantly less available ductility; (ii) less hysteretic energy dissipation; and (iii) the localization of peak reinforcement strains, results in considerable doubt for the residual capacity of RC structures. The significance of these consequences has prompted a review of potential sources of uncertainty in seismic experimentation with the intention to improve the current confidence level for newly designed conventional RC structures. This paper attempts to revisit the principles of RC mechanics, in particular, to consider the influence of loading history, concrete tensile strength, and reinforcement ratio on the performance of ‘real’ RC structures compared to experimental test specimens.