New numerical model to predict the deformation subjected to earthquake loading

Three researchers from the Resilient Steel Structures Laboratory (RESSlab) beat 11 other teams to win an international computer simulation contest on earthquake engineering. They will present their work on 13 April at a conference in Baltimore (USA).


EPFL’s Resilient Steel Structures Laboratory (RESSlab) team developed the most accurate numerical model, as measured by 11 criteria, predicting the deformation of three steel columns subjected to earthquake loading.

Through this work, the team has beat 11 other teams to win an international computer simulation contest on earthquake engineering. The researchers will receive their prize and present their work on 13 April at a special session dedicated to the blind analysis prediction contest as part of the AISC Steel Conference (NASCC) in Baltimore.

Scientists just used the geometry and the imposed load conditions, the EPFL researchers were able to demonstrate with a high level of accuracy that it is possible to simulate material and geometric instabilities in steel components undergoing cyclic loading similar to that of an earthquake loading.

Dimitrios Lignos, an associate professor, and director of RESSlab said, “We used simulation models and a methodology that we developed in the scope of a research project financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The aim of this project is to use computer simulations validated by carefully designed physical experiments to deepen our understanding of the complex deterioration processes associated with geometric instabilities observed in steel structures as a result of earthquake-induced loading. We plan to share these tools with the scientific community.”

Thanks to RESSlab’s models, researchers can also forecast the dynamic behavior of steel buildings subjected to earthquakes of different magnitudes and predict if these buildings would suffer major deterioration in strength and stiffness. The researchers plan to publish an article about their method soon.

The EPFL team, comprising Alexander Hartloper, a Ph.D. student, and Ahmed Elkady, a post-doc, was led by Lignos Dimitrios, the director of RESSlab. They won the blind analysis competition over 11 other teams from around the world, coming in just ahead of Pennsylvania State University. Thornton Tomasetti, a civil engineering firm based in Chicago, won top honors in the simple category. The International Blind Analysis Contest is run by two US-based organizations: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Applied Technology Council (ATC).

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