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Seismic Assessment of Saluda Spillway Structure, South Carolina


The Saluda Spillway Structure consists of six tainter gates supported by five piers and the North and South Abutment walls. The piers and abutment walls also support a six-span roadway bridge just upstream of the tainter gates. The Gates 1 to 4 are located on top of an ogee spillway which is keyed into Piers 1 to 4 and into the North Abutment. The Gates 5 and 6 sections of the spillway were added late with no spillway ogee and are located on top of a 2-foot-thick concrete slab.

Quest Structures was contracted to:

  • Review findings of previous studies conducted by others
  • Perform independent seismic assessment of the spillway structure and gates
  • And if necessary, develop remediation schemes to:
    • Keep one gate operable after the design earthquake
    • Permit other gates to suffer damage but capable of retaining water with acceptable amount of leakage.

The work was accomplished in two phases. The focus of Phase-I efforts was to assess earthquake performance of the spillway structure using linear-elastic time-history analyses and to identify dominant modes of nonlinear behavior (failure modes) for the Phase-II nonlinear evaluations. In Phase-II study the seismic performance was assessed by performing nonlinear time-history analyses that incorporated the effects of potential nonlinear mechanisms identified in Phase-I. These included formation and propagation of tensile cracking at the concrete-rock interfaces and within the concrete sections as well as rocking response that could follow.

This performance-based seismic assessment required nonlinear time-history analyses to quantify the level of damage, amount of sliding displacements, and rocking response of the piers and their impact on operation of the gates.




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