Research Activities: 2002

Post-Earthquake Damage Evaluation of Bridge Structures




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Sequential Number


Matching Research Agency

Missouri Department of Transportation

Principal Investigator

Genda Chen, Ph.D., P.E.
Associate Professor
University of Missouri-Rolla
328 Civil Engineering Bldg.
1870 Miner Circle
Rolla, MO 65409-0030

Student Involvement

Stephen Eads

Project Objective

Although many different nondestructive evaluation (NDE) methods can be found in literature, those that are suitable for the examination and evaluation of the bridge damage level resulted from a major earthquake have not been identified nor have they been, for the most part, validated against large scale retrofitted bridge components. The objectives of this study are to briefly review and identify various NDE methods that have potential for rapid post-earthquake evaluation of reinforced concrete (RC) bridges and, more importantly, to evaluate and improve, as appropriate, the identified NDE methodologies. Since earthquake damage most likely occurs in the vertical components of structures such as bridge piers, this study is mainly focused on the condition assessment of RC beam-column assemblies in bridge constructions. For superstructures, this study only addresses how to visually inspect cross frames or diaphragms since they are widely used in existing bridges in Missouri and quite vulnerable to earthquake effects (Anderson et al., 2001).

Project Abstract

This study addresses three issues that either can not be resolved with visual inspection alone or visual inspection procedure is currently not available. They are the detection of damage in column-footing connection (vibration tests and GPR), plastic deformation in steel rebars within the plastic hinge zone (vibration test and microwave technique), and damage in cross frames (visual inspection).

Anticipated Benefits

The developed and/or validated techniques in this study will provide viable tools for the rapid evaluation of bridge conditions immediately after an earthquake so that emergency vehicles can be assured to pass bridges safely. These techniques are also applicable in the assessment of structural condition of truck- or ship-impacted bridges.

Modal Orientation

(Example) bridge assessment


Project Start Date:01/01/2003
Project End Date:12/31/2004

Relationship to other Research/Projects

Matching to the MODOT project ($58,723 awarded)

Technology Transfer Activities

The research results will be disseminated at the national and international conferences.

Transportation Research Board Keywords

Nondestructive evaluation, bridge assessment