Investigation of Culvert Joints Employing Large Scale Tests and Numerical Simulations
Becerril García, David
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The performance of joints in buried gravity flow pipelines are important since failure of these elements can affect the structural capacity of soil-pipe systems and reduce their longevity. Currently, there are no clear guidelines to design joints for gravity flow pipelines and therefore their design is based on semi-empirical methods. It is necessary to identify and quantify the demands that act across joints when subjected to service loading conditions to establish adequate design guidelines. Such demands will vary depending on the type of joint, type of pipe, burial and loading conditions. Therefore work is needed to investigate the influence of these conditions on the performance of joints. Full-scale laboratory tests have been performed on rigid (reinforced concrete) and flexible (corrugated steel and thermoplastic) pipelines to investigate the response of their joints when buried and subjected to surface loading. The joints investigated are either ‘moment-release’ joints (those that accommodate rotation and reduce the longitudinal bending moments close to zero), or ‘moment-transfer’ joints (those that limit rotation and transfer longitudinal bending moments from one pipe to the next). These experiments evaluate the influence of different cover depths, loading locations, and installation conditions on the response of the joints. Additionally, the performance of each joint when the pipeline was buried with shallow cover and subjected to surface loads up to and beyond fully factored loads were also investigated. Furthermore, three-dimensional finite element analyses of a gasketed bell and spigot joint in a buried reinforced concrete pipeline subjected to surface loading have been developed employing material properties and joint rotational characteristics experimentally obtained. The data obtained from the experimental and computational studies are used to evaluate joint performance and to identify key demands (shear force and rotation or moment) acting across them. In addition, the different patterns of vertical displacement along rigid and flexible pipes were established. It was found that the stiffness of the pipeline, the geometry of the joint, the loading and burial conditions influence the response (and therefore the demands) of the joints examined. Finally, recommendations are provided regarding development of structural design methods for these pipeline and joint systems.