Physical vulnerability of reinforced concrete buildings impacted by snow avalanches
Abstract. This paper deals with the assessment of physical vulnerability of civil engineering structures to snow avalanche loadings. In this case, the vulnerability of the element at risk is defined by its damage level expressed on a scale from 0 (no damage) to 1 (total destruction). The vulnerability of a building depends on its structure and flow features (geometry, mechanical properties, type of avalanche, topography, etc.). This makes it difficult to obtain vulnerability relations. Most existing vulnerability relations have been built from field observations. This approach suffers from the scarcity of well documented events. Moreover, the back analysis is based on both rough descriptions of the avalanche and the structure. To overcome this problem, numerical simulations of reinforced concrete structures loaded by snow avalanches are carried out. Numerical simulations allow to study, in controlled conditions, the structure behavior under snow avalanche loading. The structure is modeled in 3-D by the finite element method (FEM). The elasto-plasticity framework is used to represent the mechanical behavior of both materials (concrete and steel bars) and the transient feature of the avalanche loading is taken into account in the simulation. Considering a reference structure, several simulation campaigns are conducted in order to assess its snow avalanches vulnerability. Thus, a damage index is defined and is based on global and local parameters of the structure. The influence of the geometrical features of the structure, the compressive strength of the concrete, the density of steel inside the composite material and the maximum impact pressure on the damage index are studied and analyzed. These simulations allow establishing the vulnerability as a function of the impact pressure and the structure features. The derived vulnerability functions could be used for risk analysis in a snow avalanche context.