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Survey of Bridges and Their Damage Mitigation Provision in Recent Tsunamis

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Transportation Research Board Business Office

500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001 USA
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A tsunami consists of a series of ocean waves generated mostly by an earthquake which causes a sudden sea floor displacement. The tsunami waves may cause enormous devastation— destroying entire towns and taking everything in its path. When a tsunami hits, bridges located on the affected area are subjected to harmful effects such as flooding and wave impact; while torrents from tsunami may cause erosion in the bridge’s foundation. Drag forces and floating objects may further sweep away untied superstructures and induce large impact forces. In addition, most of the time, these bridges have already sustained some shaking due to the earthquake itself. In recent tsunamis, several bridges that were designed to mitigate some level of damage caused by both earthquakes and tsunamis were severely damaged, collapsed, or were simply swept away. The main objective of this paper is to review the vulnerability of bridges and the provisions to mitigate tsunamis effects. This document presents information on bridge vulnerability and failure mechanisms due to tsunami-induced forces. It summarizes bridge damage in recent tsunamis, and includes a review of current practices and protection measures. This information can help to identify additional provisions that may be necessary to improve the resilience of bridges, and it intends to call the attention for reviewing and reinforcing current practices for dual earthquake and tsunami protection of bridges in tsunami prone-zones. This document is based on available information from reconnaissance reports of the recent tsunamis in Japan (March 2011), Chile (February 2010) and the Indian Ocean (December 2004).

Supplemental Notes:

This paper was sponsored by TRB committee AFF50 Seismic Design and Performance of Bridges

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Corporate Authors:

Transportation Research Board

500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001 USA


Lamichhane, Samrakshak
Marin-Artieda, Claudia C



Publication Date:



Transportation Research Board 91st Annual Meeting

Location: Washington DC
Date: 2012-1-22 to 2012-1-26
Sponsors: Transportation Research Board

Media Type:



Figures; Photos; References; Tables

Subject Areas:

Bridges and other structures; Design; Highways; Planning and Forecasting; I21: Planning of Transport Infrastructure; I24: Design of Bridges and Retaining Walls

Source Data:

Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting 2012 Paper #12-3007



Created Date:

Feb 8 2012 5:13PM