Seismic Performance, Analysis and Design of Wharf Structures: a Comparison of Worldwide Typologies

Student: Randolph Borg
Supervisors: Dr Carlo Lai, Dr Rui Pinho


The economies of many industrialised Nations are based on the export and import of merchandise and for the flow of travellers in the tourism industry. A relevant portion of this trade takes place and relies on the efficiency of seaports, many of which are situated in seismic zones. Ports from worldwide countries namely Italy, Greece, Turkey, USA, China, Japan and New Zealand were studied for their seismic hazard in relation to their economical importance. Different worldwide wharf typologies and their related damages are identified. An assessment was made to identify the most vulnerable wharf structural typology using a probabilistic approach. The failure modes that contribute most to this vulnerability are also identified. Analyses and design methodologies were then assessed and related to performance requirements for both open-type and closed–type wharf typologies. The contribution and relevance of various national seismic design codes was reviewed. Soil liquefaction was identified as a major contributor to wharf failure under seismic action. Susceptibility to liquefaction was reviewed as approached by some of the studied seismic codes. Design procedures as used in different parts in the world particularly North America, Japan and Europe were identified for the two groups of port typologies. These were applied to a case study in Italy referring to a pile-wall wharf structure (Gioia Tauro seaport). Another case study in Italy referring to a pile-supported wharf (Catania seaport) was used to compare traditional methodologies based on force, with new approaches based on displacement.

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