Structural identification of Humber Bridge for performance prognosis

  • Rahbari, R. (Department of Civil Engineering, University of Sheffield) ;
  • Niu, J. (School of Civil Engineering, Southeast University) ;
  • Brownjohn, J.M.W. (College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science, University of Exeter) ;
  • Koo, K.Y. (College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science, University of Exeter)
  • Received : 2014.11.20
  • Accepted : 2015.02.25
  • Published : 2015.03.25


Structural identification or St-Id is 'the parametric correlation of structural response characteristics predicted by a mathematical model with analogous characteristics derived from experimental measurements'. This paper describes a St-Id exercise on Humber Bridge that adopted a novel two-stage approach to first calibrate and then validate a mathematical model. This model was then used to predict effects of wind and temperature loads on global static deformation that would be practically impossible to observe. The first stage of the process was an ambient vibration survey in 2008 that used operational modal analysis to estimate a set of modes classified as vertical, torsional or lateral. In the more recent second stage a finite element model (FEM) was developed with an appropriate level of refinement to provide a corresponding set of modal properties. A series of manual adjustments to modal parameters such as cable tension and bearing stiffness resulted in a FEM that produced excellent correspondence for vertical and torsional modes, along with correspondence for the lower frequency lateral modes. In the third stage traffic, wind and temperature data along with deformation measurements from a sparse structural health monitoring system installed in 2011 were compared with equivalent predictions from the partially validated FEM. The match of static response between FEM and SHM data proved good enough for the FEM to be used to predict the un-measurable global deformed shape of the bridge due to vehicle and temperature effects but the FEM had limited capability to reproduce static effects of wind. In addition the FEM was used to show internal forces due to a heavy vehicle to to estimate the worst-case bearing movements under extreme combinations of wind, traffic and temperature loads. The paper shows that in this case, but with limitations, such a two-stage FEM calibration/validation process can be an effective tool for performance prognosis.


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