Numerical Modelling of Vehicle Loads on Buried Orthotropic Steel Shell Structures
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An investigation was performed for live load forces applied to soil-steel structures under shallow backfill depths, specifically a long span deeply corrugated box culvert. The work was also relevant to other types of flexible buried structures and loading scenarios. The investigation involved the application of both a robust experimental testing process and the development of 3-D finite element models. Full scale live load tests, performed in Dorchester NB, were executed to obtain a large sample of experimental data. The testing program was designed specifically to fully characterize the structural response of a long span box culvert to CHBDC design truck live loads. The program included live load testing at six different backfill depths with 21 unique truck positions per lift, with instrumentation at four separate rings. The experimental data was used to assess and calibrate the finite element models being developed to predict structural effects. The finite element software package ADINA was used to model the test structure in 3-D. The basics of model development, such as element types, boundary conditions, loads, and other analysis options were discussed. An orthotropic shell modeling approach to accurately describe the corrugated plate properties was developed. A number of soil constitutive models, both linear and nonlinear, were examined and evaluated. The data obtained from experimental testing was compared to the results obtained by the finite element modeling and the various soil models were evaluated. A parametric study was performed examining the sensitivity of modeling parameters. The impact of various assumptions made regarding the model was quantitatively established. The thesis provided guidance on the 3-D modeling of soil-steel structures allowing future researchers to study the factors which were significant to their design and field applications.