Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Shideh D. Dashti

Second Advisor

Abbie B. Liel

Third Advisor

John S. McCartney


Underground structures have generally performed well during past earthquakes. Yet, there are notable exceptions that indicate the need for their proper seismic design. There are currently considerable uncertainties in the magnitude and distribution of seismically induced lateral earth pressures acting on underground structures. Analytical design methods, such as Mononobe-Okabe (1929) and Wood (1973), assume yielding or rigid conditions, respectively. Relatively stiff, buried, reinforced concrete water reservoir structures, which are planned to be constructed in Southern California, cannot be classified purely as yielding nor rigid. The available advanced numerical tools have also not been properly validated against case histories or experiments with similar conditions. A centrifuge experiment was conducted on a model buried structure in dry, medium-dense Nevada Sand. The experimental results were compared with numerical simulations and analytical methods. The seismic earth pressure increments acting on the structure studied here were found to fall between the Mononobe-Okabe and Wood solutions.