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Assessing Seismic Performance of Integral bridges for improved Resilience and lifecycle in Earthquake-prone areas

Project description

Building bridges to withstand earthquakes

From very simple structures built from logs, stone and dirt to the introduction of stone arches that revolutionised bridge building techniques during the Roman Empire, bridges have come a long way. Today’s bridges are constructed to be stronger and bigger than ever before. While bridges offer faster travel routes, they also need to be safe – especially in an earthquake. The EU-funded ASPIRE project will assess the seismic performance of integral abutment bridges, a particular class of structures characterised by the absence of bearing supports and expansion joints (elements commonly used in bridges). Compared to traditional bridges, integral abutment bridges are more cost-effective. By studying behaviour under seismic loads, the project will shed light on the use of integral abutment bridges in quake-prone areas.


The ASPIRE project aims at assessing the feasibility to construct Integral Abutment Bridges in earthquake-prone areas. In the last years in Europe there was an increasing interest on this particular class of structures, characterized by the absence of bearing supports and expansion joints, elements commonly used in bridges which are subjected to deterioration due to ageing and thermal effects, thus requiring expensive periodic maintenance. Integral Abutment Bridges have very low costs of maintenance and improved durability while their increased redundancy can result to superior behavior during an earthquake. Still, there are high uncertainties and a lack of standard procedures to systematically evaluate their seismic performance. As a consequence, no indication is given in Structural Eurocodes as well as in other major seismic codes worldwide. The project proposes an innovative multi-disciplinary procedure including: (a) the evaluation of structure-specific seismic hazard; (b) experimental investigation on the shaking table of the University of Bristol Earthquake Lab (c) the calibration of numerical models including their complex Soil-Structure Interaction; (d) the development of novel fragility curves tailored to the salient features of integral bridges, and (e) the development of Risk and Resilience metrics for the estimation of the improved lifecycle associated with the better durability and lower damage of integral bridges due to earthquakes. The project will be implemented at the University of Bristol, integrating and extending the experimental and numerical capabilities of the Earthquake Laboratory on Integral Abutment Bridges, improving at the same time the skills and competences of the researcher. The results of the project will provide a robust scientific basis to justify the use of Integral Abutment Bridges in seismic areas, with a special attention to European countries and Road Networks.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
Beacon house queens road
BS8 1QU Bristol
United Kingdom

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South West (England) Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area Bristol, City of
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00