Probabilistic seismic assessment of multispan RC highway bridges considering soil-structure interaction and chloride-induced corrosion

Francisco Pinto*, Rodrigo Astroza*, Ramiro Bazáez, Francisco Hernández, Nibaldo Navarro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Deterioration mechanisms, such as chloride-induced corrosion, affect bridges in aggressive environments, making them more vulnerable to extreme events like earthquakes. Although many studies have assessed the impact of chloride-induced corrosion on the seismic vulnerability of reinforced concrete (RC) highway bridges, several gaps still need to be addressed. Accordingly, this research primarily focuses on evaluating the seismic performance of RC highway bridges in aggressive environments susceptible to chloride-induced corrosion and earthquakes. To achieve this, a probabilistic framework is employed, which incorporates uncertainties associated with corrosion progression, seismic events, and the impact of different modeling approaches for boundary condition. The framework considers the time-dependent effects of corrosion on the physical and material properties of steel and concrete in bridge columns. Monte Carlo Simulations (MCS), probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA), and record selection strategies are utilized to address the uncertainties in corrosion and seismic demand. Nonlinear dynamic models and multiple stripe analysis (MSA) are employed to obtain fragility surfaces and curves for main bridge components and the entire system under different boundary conditions. The study focuses on a five-span highway bridge with simply-supported prestressed concrete I-girder and RC multi-column bents located in Chile. The results reveal that elastomeric bearings are the most vulnerable components, exhibiting varying vulnerability levels under different corrosion exposure and boundary conditions. Abutments, although the second most susceptible, are unaffected by corrosion uncertainty in terms of seismic fragility. Bridge columns are identified as the third most vulnerable components, with the probability of exceeding slight damage state consistently increasing with more prolonged corrosion exposure. It is noted that only flexure failure mode in column is analyzed and possible shifting to shear or flexure-shear modes is not accounted for. The findings of this study underscore the exceptional resilience of Chilean highway bridge columns to seismic demand and corrosion uncertainties, contrasting with the situation in US regions where columns are more vunerable. Additionally, the study indicates that Soil-Structure Interaction (SSI) tends to reduce bridge vulnerability under combined corrosion and earthquake effects. The insights obtained from this study and the proposed framework can inform the development of maintenance programs based on bridge performance expectations and enhance the seismic resilience of bridge systems worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117257
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalEngineering Structures
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bridges
  • Corrosion
  • Fragility analysis
  • Seismic response
  • Soil-Structure-Interaction
  • Uncertainty


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