January 2022 Chapter Meeting

Regional-scale seismic risk assessment of building structures using physics-based earthquake simulations

Speaker: Maha Kenawy, PhD | Engineering Consultant | Exponent

When: January 20, 2022 | 6:00 – 7:00 PM

Where: Virtual – Online Link Coming Soon

Engineers have studied the occurrence of earthquakes and their impacts on civil structures for  decades. Despite our increased knowledge and level of preparedness for earthquake events,  there is significant uncertainty surrounding our understanding of the potential impacts of large and  rare earthquakes, for which we do not have sufficient observational data. Such rare events may  cause significant damage to structures, and incur substantial economic losses due to interruption  of community functions. Because the timely recovery of communities following natural disasters  is a national priority, the 2018 U.S. Congress reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards  Reduction Program called for improving the seismic safety and recovery standards of critical  infrastructure. To achieve this goal, structural engineers must predict the performance of infrastructure under the expected ground shaking in future earthquakes. This seminar will discuss  the use of physics-based earthquake fault rupture simulations and high-performance computing  tools to assess the expected risks to building structures over entire geographical regions. 

Such assessments require highly parallelized simulations, advanced nonlinear modeling techniques to  predict extreme limit states of structures, and efficient computational workflows. The regional scale simulations reveal complex spatial variability in the ground shaking intensity and distribution  of risk to structures close to the rupturing faults, and underline the impacts of seismic wave  propagation patterns, local soil conditions and fault rupture slip distribution on the expected  demands on engineered systems. These findings impose several challenges on design  engineers, and prompt important questions regarding the appropriate selection of earthquake  records for engineering analysis of structures located near active faults. The results of this work  provide recommendations and numerical tools to improve the existing guidelines for analyzing  and designing earthquake-resistant structures in seismically active areas. Because of the sparsity  of field observations of large earthquakes in dense urban areas, this work promises to fill critical  gaps in our knowledge of the impacts of earthquakes on engineered systems, and support the  preparedness of communities against natural hazards.