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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 9 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 2507-2524, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 19 Sep 2018

Research article | 19 Sep 2018

Assessing fragility of a reinforced concrete element to snow avalanches using a non-linear dynamic mass-spring model

Philomène Favier1,2,4, David Bertrand3, Nicolas Eckert4, Isabelle Ousset4, and Mohamed Naaim4 Philomène Favier et al.
  • 1CIGIDEN, National Research Center for Integrated Natural Disaster Management, CONICYT/FONDAP/15110017, Santiago, Chile
  • 2Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Edificio Hernán Briones – 3er Piso, Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860, Macul, Santiago, Chile
  • 3INSA Lyon, GEOMAS Laboratory, 34 avenue des arts, 69621 Villeurbanne CEDEX, France
  • 4UR ETNA, Irstea / Université Grenoble Alpes, 2 rue de la papeterie BP 76, 38402 Saint-Martin-d'Hères CEDEX, Université Grenoble Alpes, France

Abstract. This paper presents an assessment of the fragility of a reinforced concrete (RC) element subjected to avalanche loads, and more generally to dynamic pressure fields applied orthogonally to a wall, within a reliability framework. In order to obtain accurate numerical results with supportable computation times, a light and efficient Single-Degree-of-Freedom (SDOF) model describing the mechanical response of the RC element is proposed. The model represents its dynamic mechanical response up to failure. Material non-linearity is taken into account by a moment–curvature approach, which describes the overall bending response. The SDOF model is validated under quasi-static and dynamic loading conditions by comparing its results to alternative approaches based on finite element analysis and the yield line theory. Following this, the deterministic SDOF model is embedded within a reliability framework to evaluate the failure probability as a function of the maximal avalanche pressure reached during the loading. Several reliability methods are implemented and compared, suggesting that non-parametric methods provide significant results at a moderate level of computational burden. The sensitivity to material properties, such as tensile and compressive strengths, steel reinforcement ratio, and wall geometry is investigated. The effect of the avalanche loading rate is also underlined and discussed. Finally, the obtained fragility curves are compared with respect to the few proposals available in the snow avalanche engineering field. This approach is systematic and will prove useful in refining formal and practical risk assessments. It could be applied to other similar natural hazards, which induce dynamic pressure fields onto the element at risk (e.g., mudflows, floods) and where potential inertial effects are expected and for which fragility curves are also lacking.

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