Analysis of underground concrete pipelines subjected to seismic high-frequency loads

Abstract: Buried pipelines are tubular structures that are used for transportation of important liquid materials and gas in order to provide safety for human life. During an earthquake, imposed loads from soil deformations on concrete pipelines may cause severe damages, possibly causing disturbance in vital systems, such as cooling of nuclear power facilities. The high level of safety has caused a demand for reliable seismic analyses, also for structures built in the regions that have not traditionally been considered as highly seismically active. The focus in this study is on areas with seismic and geological conditions corresponding to those in Sweden and Northern Europe. Earthquakes in Sweden for regions with hard rock dominated by high-frequency ground vibrations, Propagation of such high-frequency waves through the rock mass and soil medium affect underground structures such as pipelines.The aim of this project is investigating parameters that affect response of buried pipelines due to high-frequency seismic excitations. The main focus of the study is on reinforced concrete pipelines. Steel pipelines are also studied for comparison purposes. The effects of water mass, burial depth, soil layer thickness and non-uniform ground thickness caused by inclined bedrock are studied. The results are compared to those obtained for low-frequency earthquakes and the relationship between strong ground motion parameters and pipelines response is investigated. It is shown that, especially for high frequency earthquake excitations, non-uniform ground thickness due to inclined bedrock significantly increase stresses in the pipelines. For the conditions studied, it is clear that high-frequency seismic excitation is less likely to cause damage to buried concrete pipelines. However, the main conclusion is that seismic analysis is motivated also for pipelines in high-frequency earthquake areas since local variation in the ground conditions can have a significant effect on the safety.