Flood-fragility analysis of instream bridges–consideration of flow hydraulics, geotechnical uncertainties, and variable scour depth

Touhid Ahamed, Jennifer G. Duan, Hongki Jo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Floods, bridge scour, and flood-associated loads have caused over sixty percent of bridge failures in the U.S. Current practices for the vulnerability assessment of instream bridges under the effect of such flood largely rely on qualitative methods, such as visual inspection, without considering uncertainties associated with structural behaviors and flood loads. Recently, numerical methods have been investigated to quantitatively consider such uncertainty effects by adapting fragility analysis concept that has been well established in the earthquake engineering area. However, river hydraulics, geotechnical uncertainties of foundation, variable scour-depth effects, and their significance in structural fragility of bridges have rarely been systematically investigated. This study proposes a comprehensive fragility analysis framework that can effectively incorporate both flow hydraulics and geotechnical uncertainties, in addition to commonly considered components in flood-fragility analysis of bridges. The significance of flow hydraulics and geotechnical uncertainties has been demonstrated through a real-bridge case study. Conventional fragility curves with maximum scour depth may not represent actual vulnerability during floods, as the scour may not reach to the maximum in many cases. Therefore, fragility surface with two intensity measures, i.e. flow discharges and scour depths, is introduced for real-time vulnerability assessment during floods in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1494-1507
Number of pages14
JournalStructure and Infrastructure Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2021


  • Fragility analysis
  • bridge scour
  • first-order reliability method
  • flood vulnerability
  • fragility surface
  • geotechnical uncertainties
  • river hydraulics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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