Centrifugal modelling of dynamic soil‐structure interaction

Karen Weissman, Jean H. Prevost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper presents a centrifuge model that is capable of realistically representing soil‐structure systems subjected to earthquake‐like excitation. The model is validated by performing (i) free field soil tests, (ii) dynamic soil‐structure interaction tests and (iii) a numerical analysis of the experimental results. The free field experiments show that the simulated earthquake, which is generated by the hammer‐exciter plate method, is similar in amplitude and frequency content to a real earthquake. The experiments also demonstrate that a confined soil sample can satisfactorily model a horizontal soil stratum of infinite lateral extent when the containment walls are lined with an absorptive material to attenuate wave reflections that would otherwise occur. Measurements of the acceleration at different locations on the free soil surface indicate that the surface motion is fairly uniform over a relatively large area. This is further confirmed by a comparison made between the measured free and scattered field motions for a surface foundation. Next, a series of soil‐structure interaction tests are performed which examine the dependence of radiation damping on the natural frequencies of the structure relative to the fundamental frequency of the soil stratum. The experimental results are shown to be consistent with established theories. Finally, the experimental results are used to compute the stiffness and damping parameters of a two degree of freedom numerical model of the soil‐structure system. The experimental parameters are shown to be in good agreement with calssical text book formulae. This study demonstrates that the centrifuge model consistently behaves as expected for simple, but realistic, dynamic soil and soil‐structure systems, and can, therefore, be used with confidence to examine more complicated systems that are not yet fully understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1145-1161
Number of pages17
JournalEarthquake Engineering & Structural Dynamics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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