Finite difference modelling of soil-structure interaction for seismic design of moment resisting building frames

S. Hamid Reza Tabatabaiefar, Behzad Fatahi and Bijan Samali


The importance of Soil-Structure Interaction (SSI) both for static and dynamic loads has been well established and the related literature spans at least 30 years of computational and analytical approaches for solving soil–structure interaction problems. Since the 1990s, great effort has been made to substitute the classical methods of design by new ones based on the concept of performance-based seismic design. Also, the necessity of estimating the vulnerability of existing structures and assessing reliable methods for their retrofit have greatly attracted the attention of engineering communities in most seismic zones throughout the world. In the present study, in order to draw a clear picture of soil characteristics effects on seismic response of moment resisting building frames, a ten storey moment resisting building frame, resting on shallow foundation, is selected in conjunction with three soil types with shear wave velocities less than 600m/s, representing soil classes Ce, De and Ee, according to Australian Standard AS 1170.4. The structure is modelled considering the three mentioned types of the soil deposits employing Finite Difference approach using FLAC 2D software. Fully nonlinear dynamic analyses under influence of different earthquake records are conducted, and the results of the different cases are compared and discussed. The results indicate that as shear wave velocity and shear modulus of the subsoil decrease, interstorey drifts and subsequently the necessity of considering SSI effects in seismic design of moment resisting building frames increase. In general, by decreasing the subsoil stiffness, the effects of soil-structure interaction become more dominant and detrimental to the seismic behaviour of moment resisting building frames. These effects substantially alter performance level of the building model resting on soil classes De and Ee from life safe to near collapse. Consequently, structural safety for the mentioned building frames could not be ensured by employing the conventional design procedure excluding SSI.