Earthquake soil-structure interaction of nuclear power plants, differences in response to 3-D, 3 × 1-D, and 1-D excitations

José A. Abell*, Nebojša Orbović, David B. McCallen, Boris Jeremic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In soil-structure interaction modeling of systems subjected to earthquake motions, it is classically assumed that the incoming wave field, produced by an earthquake, is unidimensional and vertically propagating. This work explores the validity of this assumption by performing earthquake soil-structure interaction modeling, including explicit modeling of sources, seismic wave propagation, site, and structure. The domain reduction method is used to couple seismic (near-field) simulations with local soil-structure interaction response. The response of a generic nuclear power plant model computed using full earthquake soil-structure interaction simulations is compared with the current state-of-the-art method of deconvolving in depth the (simulated) free-field motions, recorded at the site of interest, and assuming that the earthquake wave field is spatially unidimensional. Results show that the 1-D wave-field assumption does not hold in general. It is shown that the way in which full 3-D analysis results differ from those which assume a 1-D wave field is dependent on fault-to-site geometry and motion frequency content. It is argued that this is especially important for certain classes of soil-structure systems of which nuclear power plants subjected to near-field earthquakes are an example.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1478-1495
Number of pages18
JournalEarthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work presented in this paper was partially supported by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the United States Department of Energy (US DOE). This support is gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • domain reduction method
  • soil-structure interaction
  • wave propagation


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