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Nonlinear Seismic Stability Evaluation of Salinas Dam, California


Salinas Dam is a concrete arch structure located on the upper Salinas River near town of Santa Margarita, California. The dam is of unusual design and was constructed with great speed in 1941. It consists of a thin arch structure, left and right thrust blocks, service spillway on the right abutment, overflow spillway along the arch dam crest, and three concrete struts to stabilize the right abutment. The arch structure includes four vertical contraction joints with a peripheral joint that separates the arch from footing and thrust blocks. All joints include shear keys.

The stability of Salinas Dam was assessed using linear and nonlinear three-dimensional (3D) finite-element analyses for static and seismic loading conditions. The 3D finite-element model included the arch dam, gravity thrust blocks, foundation rock, and the impounded water. In addition, the nonlinear model also included nonlinear joint elements to account for opening and closing of the vertical contraction joints and cracking/opening of the lift lines as well as the dam-foundation interface joint.

Quest Structures developed performance criteria for the nonlinear analyses and performed a series of 3D nonlinear time-history analyses including parameter sensitivity studies. The parameter sensitivity studies were conducted to determine the optimum joint configurations that would best capture the nonlinear behavior and joint opening mechanisms. Sensitivity of the nonlinear behavior to characteristics of earthquake ground motion was investigated by performing several nonlinear response analyses using different earthquake acceleration time histories that were selected to represent a wide range of ground motion characteristics.






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