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Energy Dissipation Devices for Bridges with Steel Superstructures



Michael A. Riley


Recent earthquakes have clearly demonstrated the seismic vulnerability of bridges constructed with steel superstructures. The relative flexibility of these bridges, especially in the transverse direction, may result in overstressing or even failure of components; including trusses, end diaphragms, beams, bearings, piers, and columns. For the case of slab-on-girder steel bridges, weak end diaphragms may experience large deformations leading to buckling or brittle fracture during seismic excitations. However, if the end diaphragms are too stiff, the forces transmitted through the diaphragms to the bearings and substructure may lead to damage or failure in the supporting system. Structural dampers and other energy dissipation techniques are viable options to enhance the ductility and energy dissipation capacities of the diaphragms, thereby increasing the safety and reliability of these bridges. Prior research has clearly shown that ductile end diaphragms can greatly improve the response of steel slab-on-girder bridges; however, the past research has looked at only a limited number of the many possible energy dissipation devices that are available. This research effort has focused on analyzing the response of steel slab-on-girder bridges that incorporate a wide variety of passive energy dissipation devices in a number of different configurations. The results of this work show what devices and bracing configurations can best improve the response of slab-on-girder bridges to strong seismic loads.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6937
Report Number


bridges, ductile diaphragms, energy dissipation, seismic response, seismic retrofit, structural dampers


Riley, M. (2003), Energy Dissipation Devices for Bridges with Steel Superstructures, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created April 1, 2003, Updated November 10, 2018