Method for detecting moment connection fracture using high-frequency transients in recorded accelerations

Journal of Constructional Steel Research
By:  and 



The 1994 Northridge earthquake caused brittle fractures in steel moment frame building connections, despite causing little visible building damage in most cases. Future strong earthquakes are likely to cause similar damage to the many un-retrofitted pre-Northridge buildings in the western US and elsewhere. Without obvious permanent building deformation, costly intrusive inspections are currently the only way to determine if major fracture damage that compromises building safety has occurred. Building instrumentation has the potential to provide engineers and owners with timely information on fracture occurrence. Structural dynamics theory predicts and scale model experiments have demonstrated that sudden, large changes in structure properties caused by moment connection fractures will cause transient dynamic response. A method is proposed for detecting the building-wide level of connection fracture damage, based on observing high-frequency, fracture-induced transient dynamic responses in strong motion accelerograms. High-frequency transients are short (<1 s), sudden-onset waveforms with frequency content above 25 Hz that are visually apparent in recorded accelerations. Strong motion data and damage information from intrusive inspections collected from 24 sparsely instrumented buildings following the 1994 Northridge earthquake are used to evaluate the proposed method. The method’s overall success rate for this data set is 67%, but this rate varies significantly with damage level. The method performs reasonably well in detecting significant fracture damage and in identifying cases with no damage, but fails in cases with few fractures. Combining the method with other damage indicators and removing records with excessive noise improves the ability to detect the level of damage.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Method for detecting moment connection fracture using high-frequency transients in recorded accelerations
Series title Journal of Constructional Steel Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jcsr.2010.11.002
Volume 67
Issue 3
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Description 15 p.
First page 293
Last page 307
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