Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Civil Engineering

First Adviser

Naito, Clay J.

Other advisers/committee members

Suleiman, Muhannad; Pakzad, Shamim N.; Riggs, H. Ronald; Cox, Daniel


Impact of debris generated during extreme events such as floods, tsunamis, and hurricane storm surge and waves can cause severe structural damage. It is necessary to be able to estimate debris impact forces properly in order to design the structures to resist typical water-borne debris. The objective of this study is to characterize the impact demands generated during debris impact on structures and to develop a model that can estimate impact force and duration accurately. To quantify the forces generated during transverse and axial debris impact an experimental study was conducted on a full-scale wood utility pole, steel tube, solid bar, and standard shipping container subjected to in-air impacts. Effect of nonstructural mass on debris impact demands was assessed by considering payload for shipping containers. A nonlinear dynamic finite element model of a standard shipping container including contents is developed and validated by comparing with the full-scale impact experiments. Parametric studies are carried out to investigate the effects of impact velocity, nonstructural mass attachment, and magnitude of payload mass during both elastic and inelastic axial impact of a shipping container.Simplified analytical models are developed and validated with data from full-scale impact experiments and simulated results. The simplified models are found to provide an accurate estimate of debris impact demands. The results show that impact forces estimated by current design guidelines are not accurate and can lead to over or under prediction of the design force levels. The models presented in this dissertation are developed for use in design guidelines to define debris impact forces and durations for design.