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Analysis and Design of Dams for Earthquakes

Jeffrey Havelin, PE

This course is based on the FEMA guidelines, which provide a basic framework for the earthquake design and evaluation of dams. The general philosophy and principles for each part of the framework are described in sufficient detail to achieve a reasonable degree of uniformity in application among the Federal agencies involved in the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and regulation of dams. The guidelines deal only with the general concepts and leave the decisions on specific criteria and procedures for accomplishing this work up to each agency. Because these guidelines generally reflect current practices, it will be necessary to make periodic revisions, additions, and deletions to incorporate state-of-the-practice earthquake engineering.

The scope of the seismic hazard study at a site depends on the seismicity of a region or site-specific considerations, the types of structures involved, and the consequences of failure. The design and evaluation of dams for earthquake loading should be based on a comparable level of study and analysis for each phase of the study (seismotectonic, geological, site, geotechnical and structural investigations). That level of study should reflect both the criticality of the structure and the complexity of the analysis procedures.

Dams in zones of low seismicity generally should not require extensive seismic investigations and analyses unless failure would result in an unacceptable threat to life, property, or environment. Previous studies, as well as the performance of and experience with existing dams, suggest that concrete dams in regions of low to moderate seismicity, when adequately designed to withstand the appropriate static forces, have been competent to also withstand historic earthquakes. The same is true of well-constructed fill-type dams of conventional geometry placed on sound foundations, such as well-compacted rolled fill dams on rock foundations. Extensive investigations and design analysis may be required if the consequences of failure are unacceptable where the seismic hazard is high.

This course is based entirely on Federal Guidelines for Dam Safety - Earthquake analyses and design of Dams May 2005 published by FEMA. This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of course materials. You will be quizzed on the attached document in its entirety.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.