Subject Area

Civil Engineering


This thesis presents a microscale framework for investigating the seismic stability of bridge pier structures using the discrete element method (DEM), with a focus on rocking isolation mechanisms and addressing the limitations of traditional methodologies in capturing the complex dynamics of earthquake-structure interactions. The study expands on a careful assessment of an experimental data from a granite stone to a single-bridge-pier model, revealing structural instabilities when subjected to seismic excitation. DEM simulations and analytical approach are systematically validated capturing the complex dynamics of bridge pier interaction. The study demonstrates the effectiveness of rocking isolation through a comparative analysis of acceleration and angular velocity under varying seismic intensities and frequencies, with acceleration reductions up to 70% for piers and 60% for decks in high-intensity scenarios aiming the potential of rocking isolation as a viable seismic mitigation strategy. The study monitors the structural response, contact mechanics and energy dissipation of the pier deck system. The application of the DEM Hertz contact model advanced the analysis of bridge pier and deck interactions under seismic loads, providing new insights into the detailed behavior of rocking bridge piers and their potential for seismic isolation. This work contributes to seismic analysis techniques and predictive models that captures the complex dynamics of earthquake in seismically active areas.

Degree Date

Spring 5-11-2024

Document Type


Degree Name



Civil and Environmental Engineering


Usama El Shamy


I would like to express my deep and sincere gratitude to my advisor, Professor Usama El Shamy, for his guidance and support throughout the course of this study. He has truly been a mentor during my graduate studies and I am incredibly grateful for his academic, professional, and personal guidance over the past Five years. His detailed and constructive comments were extremely helpful in the writing of this thesis. His energy and enthusiasm for research not only motivated me during this research, but also serve as a motivation in my own career. It has been a great learning experience to pursue my Ph.D. under his supervision.\\ I would like to extend a special thanks to my committee members, Professor Nicos Makris, Professor Yildirim Hurmuzlu, Professor Brett Story, and Professor Xin-Lin Gao for providing me with valuable comments and feedback on this research. I owe a debt of gratitude to the numerous departmental professors who have instructed me throughout the years, and my colleagues in the department. I would also like to appreciate Alexander Brandt for his collaboration.\\ This research was supported by the US Army Corps of Engineers. This support is gratefully acknowledged. Special thanks to my colleagues and friends for their friendship and encouragement.\\ I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my parents who have always stressed the importance of education and given their endless support. To my father for his helpful discussions and many words of wisdom and to my late mother for her continued love. To each and everyone of you, this thesis is dedicated.

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Sunday, May 09, 2027