3D finite element analysis of integral abutment bridges subjected to thermal loading


Integral Abutment Bridges (IABs) are Jointless Bridges whereby the deck is continuous and monolithic with abutment walls. IABs are outperforming their non-integral counterparts in economy and safety. Their principal advantages are derived from the absence of expansion joints and sliding bearings in the deck, making them the most cost-effective system in terms of construction, maintenance, and longevity. The main purpose of constructing IABs is to prevent the corrosion of structure due to water seepage through joints. The simple and rapid construction provides smooth, uninterrupted deck that is aesthetically pleasing and safer for riding. The single structural unit increases the degree of redundancy enabling higher resistance to extreme events.

However, the design of IABs not being an exact science poses certain critical issues. The continuity achieved by this construction results in thermally induced deformations. These in turn introduce a significantly complex and nonlinear soil-structure interaction into the response of abutment walls and piles of the IAB. The unknown soil response and its effect on the stresses in the bridge, creates uncertainties in the design. To gain a better understanding of the mechanism of load transfer due to thermal expansion, which is also dependent on the type of the soil adjacent to the abutment walls and piles, a 3D finite element analysis is carried out on a representative IAB using state-of-the-art finite element code ABAQUS/Standard 6.5-1. A literature review focusing on past numerical models of IABs is presented followed by details of the numerical model developed in this study using the interactive environment ABAQUS/CAE 6.5-1 along with the analysis details. A discussion of results for the analysis of the IAB with three different soil conditions and each experiencing three different temperature change scenarios is presented. Conclusions of the study and recommendations for future research wrap up the thesis. The advancement of knowledge enabled by this research will provide a basis for introduction of new guidelines in Kansas Bridge Design Manual.



Finite element analysis, Integral abutment bridges, Soil structure interaction, Thermal loading

Graduation Month



Master of Science


Department of Civil Engineering

Major Professor

Dunja Peric