Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Victor E. Saouma

Second Advisor

Keith A. Porter

Third Advisor

Abbie B. Liel

Fourth Advisor

Shideh Dashti

Fifth Advisor

Larry K. Nuss


The main objective of this thesis is to develop a framework for performance based earthquake engineering (PBEE) of concrete dams. To pursue this goal, this study first develops an extended and quantitative version of potential failure mode analysis (PFMA) for concrete dams. Different failure modes are investigated for all types of concrete dams.

A Matlab-based code is developed for probabilistic performance assessment of concrete dams (PPACD). This code is used for assessment of concrete dams within the context of PBEE. A probabilistic seismic demand model (PSDM) is proposed for concrete dams based on cloud analysis methodology. The outcome of PSDM is selection of optima intensity measure (IM) parameters for gravity dams. Then, the sensitivity and uncertainty of dam-foundation system is quantified under the mixed-mode fracture of zero-thickness interface joint element. Capacity and fragility curves are derived for most sensitive random variables.

This research also examined the performance of the dam under incremental dynamic analysis (IDA). First, the anatomy of a single-record IDA is studied and contrasted by framed structures. Then, the collapse fragility curves are derived for single and multiple-component ground motions. The impact of epistemic uncertainty is investigated in addition to the aleatoric one.

Finally, a multi-scale damage index (DI) is proposed for gravity dams which is a function of crest displacement, crack ratio, and dissipated energy. Using this hybrid DI, a computationally simple but effective methodology is proposed for progressive failure analysis of dams. In all cases, first the methodology is discussed and then, a numerical example illustrates the details.