In seismically active areas of the world an offshore jacket structure has to be designed for seismic loads. Since the structure must meet both strength and ductility requirements, a two stage design for Strength Level Earthquake (SLE) and Ductility Level Earthquake (DLE) is generally used. Normal procedure for designing such a structure for SLE condition is to use Response Spectrum method of analysis (RSA). The main advantage of RSA is that it is computationally very efficient. Time Domain Analysis (TDA) is used mostly to analyze DLE condition.

A response spectrum depicts the maximum response to a ground motion of a single degree of freedom system having different natural periods but the same degree of damping. A design response spectrum is a smoothened average of several earthquake motions. It is a property of the ground motion with a given recurrence interval at the particular region of interest.

RSA is a frequency domain analysis technique based on mode superposition approach. API RP 2A specifies that the modal responses be combined using a Complete Quadratic Combination (CQC) of modal responses. For the directional response combination, API RP 2A recommends applying 100% of the spectral acceleration for the two orthogonal lateral directions and 50% for the vertical and using the Square Root of Sum of Squares (SRSS) combination to obtain the maximum response. With this approach it is possible to conduct only one analysis, with any reference system, and the resulting structure will have all members that are designed to equally resist earthquake motions from all possible directions.

RSA based on mode superposition is valid strictly for a linear system. A jacket structure with its pile-soil system is not truly a linear system due to soil nonlinearity. Therefore, linearization of the pile-soil system is necessary. The stiffness of a pile is dependent on the pile head loads. Thus the response from the RSA will be very much load or deformation dependent for the pile-soil stiffness. Software used here for the analyses has an iterative analysis option for obtaining the appropriate linearized stiffness.

TDA is a step by step time integration procedure for the entire system including the piles and there is no linearization involved for the foundation stiffness as the pile-soil stiffness at discrete points of the pile are calculated at each time instant within the program. The TDA is more precise for the given time history but more time consuming as a series of ground acceleration time histories are normally required for the TDA approach.

The results from RSA are expected to be conservative especially for the design of piles. However, this can only be confirmed from a series of TDA performed using ground acceleration time histories.

This paper demonstrates that more accurate and less conservative results can be obtained by using a combination of RSA and TDA even for SLE condition. However, several simulations for TDA are required for confidence in the design to ensure that all structural elements have achieved the maximum conditions. Essentially, RSA can be used for jacket member design and TDA can be used specifically for pile design. Thus the authors believe the design of an entire jacket could be more economical if this combined approach is judiciously used.

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