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Some modeling aspects in the nonlinear nite element

analysis of cable supported bridges


Raid Karoumi
Department of Structural Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology, S-100 44, Stockholm, Sweden
Received 2 December 1997; accepted 12 November 1998
Abstract
This paper presents a method for modeling cable supported bridges for nonlinear nite element analysis. A two-
node catenary cable element, derived using exact analytical expressions for the elastic catenary, is proposed for the
modeling of cables. The cable element tangent stiness matrix and internal force vector are evaluated accurately and
eciently using an iterative procedure. The reliability and eciency of the formulations used are demonstrated by
studying the behavior of the Great Belt suspension bridge during girder erection and the behavior of a cable-stayed
bridge. Eigenfrequency analyses are also conducted and the results show good agreement when compared with
previously published data. # 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Cable element; Beam element; Finite element method; Nonlinear analysis; Cable-stayed bridges; Suspension bridges;
Great Belt suspension bridge
1. Introduction
Due to their esthetic appearance, ecient utilization
of structural materials and other notable advantages,
cable supported structures, such as suspended roofs,
guyed towers, cable-stayed bridges or suspension
bridges, have gained much popularity in recent dec-
ades. Among bridge engineers the popularity of cable-
stayed bridges has increased tremendously. Bridges of
this type are now entering a new era with main span
lengths reaching 1000 m [1,2,41]. This fact is due, on
one hand to the relatively small size of the substruc-
tures required and on the other hand to the develop-
ment of ecient construction techniques and to the
rapid progress in the analysis and design of this type
of bridge.
The increasing attention on cable structures is not
only due to their inherent beauty but also to their
stubborn nature in not easily revealing the secret of
their nonlinear behavior. Cable structures exhibit
highly geometrically nonlinear behavior, they are very
exible and undergo large displacements before attain-
ing their equilibrium conguration. Due to this inher-
ently nonlinear behavior, conventional linear analysis
which assumes small elastic deformations and displace-
ments is often not applicable [3,4].
A brief early history of the research into the beha-
vior of cables has been published in [5], as well as a
more recent history in [6]. Methods of static and
dynamic analysis and the behavior of cable structures
are thoroughly presented in [1,3,5,7]. In [6,8,9], trial-
and-error search procedures have been proposed for
the nonlinear computer analysis of simple cable pro-
blems. For cable roof structures, analysis methods and
several very illustrative design details, e.g. details of
connections, are presented in [10].
For cable supported bridges, i.e. suspension and
cable-stayed bridges, the trend today is to use more
shallow or slender stiening girders combined with
increasing span lengths. For that reason, it is highly
desirable in bridge engineering to develop accurate
procedures that can lead to a thorough understanding
Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412
0045-7949/99/$ - see front matter # 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S0045- 7949( 98) 00244- 2
and a realistic prediction of the structural response.
Although several investigators [4,1118] have studied
the nonlinear behavior of cable supported bridges,
very few [16,17] have tackled the problem of using
cable elements for modeling the cables.
Commercial nite element programs used in civil en-
gineering today cannot be readily used for the model-
ing and analysis of modern cable structures as they
lack suitable cable elements that can accurately model
the actual cable curvature. As the cable represents a
exible member with virtually no resistance to applied
moments, the idea of replacing each cable by a bar el-
ement with equivalent cable stiness or by several
beam elements with negligible moment of inertia has
found wide acceptance and has been adopted by many
investigators and designers using commercial codes.
As the popularity of cable structures has increased,
the search for more ecient methods has intensied
and today various other cable modeling techniques
than the crude modeling with a bar element mentioned
above can be found in the literature. In [19], a two-
node curved nite element was developed, using cubic
polynomial interpolation functions, and used for the
static and dynamic analysis of three-dimensional (3-D)
prestressed cable nets. In [20], another two-node
curved nite element was developed using Lagrangian
functions for the interpolation of element geometry. In
[3,21], derivations of isoparametric cable elements,
which includes the element curvature, are presented,
and in [16] a four-node isoparametric cable element
was used for modeling cables in cable-stayed bridges.
An iterative analysis procedure for cables, based on
using exact analytical expressions for the elastic caten-
ary, was suggested in [22,23]. This approach was later
adopted by other investigators, developed and used for
the analysis of very simple cable structures [24,25] and
of power transmission lines [26]. In [5], the same
approach was also suggested for the analysis of cable
structures with appreciable sag and the applicability of
this method was later demonstrated in [17] on numeri-
cal examples of cable supported bridges.
The cable element used in this study is derived using
the exact analytical expressions for the elastic catenary
given in [25]. The procedure presented later on in this
paper, to drive this cable element, is similar to that
described in [5,17]. However, the analytical expressions
for the elastic catenary adopted here are somewhat
simpler and therefore easier to handle. This element
can be used for modeling large sag cables such as sus-
pension bridge main cables, cables in long span cable-
stayed bridges, cables in large cable roofs, etc., where
straight elements are not readily applicable.
The study presented in this paper emphasizes the
modeling aspects of cable supported bridges. Accurate
and ecient cable and beam nite elements, found in
the literature, are adopted for modeling the bridge
structures. The formulation of these elements is
included in this paper for the sake of clarity and also
for the purpose of having a paper as self-contained as
possible. Despite the fact that the cable modeling tech-
nique, based on the expressions given in [25], has been
available for many years now, it has, to the author's
knowledge, not yet been used for analysis of cable-
stayed and suspension bridges. It is also believed that
the beam element adopted here has not been used ear-
lier for analysis of this type of structures.
The expressions of the internal force vectors and
tangent stiness matrices for the elements used were
derived using the Maple software package for symbolic
computations [27]. Samples of these Maple procedures
are given in Appendix A.
2. Structure modeling
The cable-supported structures considered in this
paper are cable-stayed and suspension bridges. Such
bridges consist of cables, pylons and girders (bridge
decks) and are usually modeled using beam and bar el-
ements for the analysis of the global structural re-
sponse [14,37]. In the following, an alternative
approach is presented where accurate and ecient
cable and beam elements are used for the modeling.
All sources of geometric nonlinearity, such as change
of cable geometry under dierent tension load levels
(cable sag eect), change of the bridge geometry due
to large displacements, and axial forcebending
moment interaction in the bridge deck and pylons (P
d eect), are considered in the present analysis.
For simplicity the derivation and the modeling pre-
sented in this study are only in two dimensions.
Consequently, torsional eects and torsional modes of
vibration are disregarded. As modern cable supported
structures are exible three-dimensional structures,
two-dimensional models are of course not adequate
when studying the response of such structures under
the action of environmental loads like wind, trac and
earthquakes [37,39]. However, simplied two-dimen-
sional bridge models are still very useful for bridge
designers in the preliminary design stage, e.g. for inves-
tigating the feasibility of alternative structural sol-
utions. For the interested reader, accurate three-
dimensional cable and beam elements can be found in
[25,31].
The formulation of cable and beam element matrices
will be described later in this paper, where these will
be given in the element local coordinate system. For
each individual element in the model, the evaluated el-
ement matrices in the local coordinate system are
transformed to global coordinate system by the usual
coordinate transformation technique [21]. The struc-
ture matrices (i.e. the global tangent stiness matrix
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 398
K
t
, global mass matrix M, and global internal force
vector p) are constructed from the transformed
matrices of the individual elements of the structure by
the general assembly procedure [21].
2.1. Modeling of cables
The problem of analyzing cables under dierent con-
gurations and loading conditions is very complex.
This is because stress/strain relationships for cables are
highly nonlinear and also because large displacements
introduce nonlinearities in the geometric sense.
There are mainly three approaches to the nonlinear
behavior of cable elements. In the rst approach each
cable is replaced by one bar element with equivalent
cable stiness. This approach, often adopted when
modeling cables in cable-stayed bridges, is referred to
as the equivalent modulus approach and has been used
by several investigators [2,4,11,12,15,18,28,29]. The
equivalent tangent modulus of elasticity, used to take
account of the sag eect, is derived in [1] and can be
written as:
E
bar
eq
=
E
cable
1
(rgL
x
)
2
12s
3
E
cable
(1)
where E
cable
is the cable modulus of elasticity, r is the
density of the cable material, g is the acceleration of
gravity, L
x
is the horizontal projected length of the
cable, and s the tensile stress in the cable. It can be
noticed that increasing the tensile stress in the cable
will, as the sag decreases, lead to an increase in the
apparent axial stiness of the cable. It has been shown
in [16] and will be shown in Section 2.1.2 of this paper
that the equivalent modulus approach results in softer
cable response as it accounts for the sag eect but
does not account for the stiening eect due to large
displacements. Still, for some cases, e.g. for short span
cable-stayed bridges, linear analysis utilizing the equiv-
alent modulus approach is often sucient [1,2,14], es-
pecially in the feasibility design stage, whereas, as
mentioned in the introduction, long span cable-stayed
bridge structures built today or proposed for future
bridges are highly exible, undergo large displace-
ments, and should therefore be analyzed taking into
account all sources of geometric nonlinearity.
The second approach is to divide each cable into
several straight elements, as done in [30], to adequately
model the curved geometry of the cable. This would
introduce many added degrees of freedom with a con-
sequent increase in computer storage requirements and
computational cost. In addition, numerical problems
can occur and spurious results can be obtained if equi-
librium conditions, at those nodes, are not fullled.
The third approach to model cables is to use iso-
parametric elements. In [3,16,21], derivations of iso-
parametric cable elements, which include the element
Fig. 1. Catenary cable element.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 399
curvature, are presented. Using such elements one can
model the curved geometry of a cable with fewer el-
ements compared to using straight elements and obtain
a better convergence [3]. However, those elements are
stier and require numerical integration to formulate
the element stiness matrix [3].
The alternative approach presented in this paper is
based on exact analytical expressions for the elastic
catenary. In contrast to other modeling techniques
mentioned above, each cable may be represented by a
single two-node catenary element, which exactly con-
siders the curved geometry of the cable, making this
method very attractive for static response calculations.
Even if each cable must be divided into several caten-
ary cable elements, to include cable modes of vibration
in the dynamic analysis or external loads acting
between cable ends, the author still believes that this
approach is more ecient to adopt. This is mainly
because fewer internal nodes need to be dened for
each cable in the model. Thus, the main advantages of
the proposed cable element are the reduction of
degrees of freedom, the simplicity of nding the dead
load geometry of the cable system, the exact treatment
of cable sag, the exact treatment of cable weight as it
is included in the equations used for element formu-
lation, and the simplicity of including the eect of pre-
tension of the cable by simply giving the unstressed
cable length.
2.1.1. Cable element formulation
The procedure presented in this section determines
the complete geometry of the cable, the cable element
internal force vector, and its tangent stiness matrix
from a given unstressed cable length and given pos-
itions of the ends of the cable.
Consider an elastic cable element, stretched in the
vertical plane, with an unstressed length L
u
, modulus
of elasticity E, cross section area A, and weight per
unit length w, as shown in Fig. 1. The exact relations
between the element projections and cable force com-
ponents at the ends of the element are [25]:
L
x
= P
1
_
L
u
EA

1
w
ln
P
4
T
j
T
i
P
2
_
(2)
L
y
=
1
2EAw
(T
2
j
T
2
i
)
T
j
T
i
w
(3)
where T
i
and T
j
are the cable tension at the two nodes
of the element. For the above expressions it is assumed
that the cable is perfectly exible and Hooke's law is
applicable to the cable material. The expressions above
for L
x
and L
y
may be written, in terms of the end
forces P
1
and P
2
only, as:
L
x
= L
x
(P
1
,P
2
); L
y
= L
y
(P
1
,P
2
) (4)
because P
1
, P
2
, P
3
, P
4
, T
i
and T
j
are related by the fol-
lowing equations:
P
4
= wL
u
P
2
; P
3
= P
1
(5)
T
i
=

P
2
1
P
2
2
_
; T
j
=

P
2
3
P
2
4
_
(6)
Dierentiating Eq. (4) and rewriting the results using
matrix notation gives:
dL
x
=
@L
x
@P
1
dP
1

@L
x
@P
2
dP
2
;
dL
y
=
@L
y
@P
1
dP
1

@L
y
@P
2
dP
2
(7)
_
dL
x
dL
y
_
=
_
_
_
_
_
@L
x
@P
1
@L
x
@P
2
@L
y
@P
1
@L
y
@P
2
_

_
_
dP
1
dP
2
_
= F
_
dP
1
dP
2
_
(8)
where F is the incremental exibility matrix. The sti-
ness matrix K is given by the inverse of F as:
K = F
1
=
_
k
1
k
2
k
3
k
4
_
(9)
The tangent stiness matrix K
t
and the corresponding
internal force vector p for the cable element can now
be obtained in terms of the four nodal degrees of free-
dom as (noting that k
2
=k
3
):
K
t
=
_
_
_
_
k
1
k
2
k
1
k
2
k
4
k
2
k
4
k
1
k
2
sym: k
4
_

_
; p =
_

_
P
1
P
2
P
3
P
4
_

_
(10)
The element tangent stiness matrix K
t
relates the
incremental element nodal force vector {DP
1
, DP
2
,
DP
3
, DP
4
}
T
to the incremental element nodal displace-
ment vector {Du
1
, Du
2
, Du
3
, Du
4
}
T
. The Maple soft-
ware package for symbolic computations [27] was used
to perform the above mentioned operations and pro-
duce the necessary Fortran code. This Maple pro-
cedure is listed in Appendix A. However, if this
package is not available the following expressions,
obtained by derivation of Eq. (4), may be used to
evaluate the matrices K, K
t
, and p:
k
1
=
1
det F
_
L
u
EA

1
w
_
P
4
T
j

P
2
T
i
__
(11)
k
2
= k
3
=
1
det F
_
P
1
w
_
1
T
j

1
T
i
__
(12)
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 400
k
4
=
1
det F
_
L
x
P
1

1
w
_
P
4
T
j

P
2
T
i
__
(13)
det
F =
_

L
u
EA

1
w
_
P
4
T
j

P
2
T
i
___
L
x
P
1

1
w
_
P
4
T
j

P
2
T
i
__

_
P
1
w
_
1
T
j

1
T
i
__
2
(14)
To evaluate the tangent stiness matrix K
t
, the end
forces P
1
and P
2
must be determined rst. Those
forces are adopted as the redundant forces and are
determined from given positions of cable end nodes,
using an iterative stiness procedure. This procedure
requires starting values for the redundant forces. Based
on the well-known catenary relationships the following
expressions will be used for the starting values [25]:
P
1
=
wL
x
2l
; P
2
=
w
2
_
L
y
cosh l
sinh l
L
u
_
(15)
where
l =

3
_
L
2
u
L
2
y
L
2
x
1
_

_
(16)
In cases where Eq. (16) cannot be used because the
unstressed cable length is less than the chord length, a
conservative value of 0.2 for l is assumed [25].
Another diculty arises in Eq. (16) for vertical cables.
In that case an arbitrary large value of 10
6
for l is
used. Using Eqs. (5) and (6), new cable projections
corresponding to the assumed end forces P
1
and P
2
are now determined directly from Eqs. (2) and (3) and
the misclosure vector {DL
x
, DL
y
}
T
is evaluated as the
positions of the end nodes are given. Corrections to
the assumed end forces can now be made using the
computed misclosure vector as:
_
DP
1
DP
2
_
= K
_
DL
x
DL
y
_
;
_
P
1
P
2
_
i1
=
_
P
1
P
2
_
i

_
DP
1
DP
2
_
(17)
where the stiness matrix K is given in Eq. (9) and i is
the iteration number. For the present study, this iter-
ation process continued until DL
x
and DL
y
are less
than 110
5
. As will be demonstrated later in this
paper, this iterative procedure converges very rapidly.
To determine the unstressed cable length, L
u
, for
cases where the initial cable tension is known instead,
a similar iteration procedure can be adopted. A start-
ing value for the unstressed cable length is assumed,
e.g. equal to the cable chord length, and cable end
forces P
1
and P
2
are computed using the iterative pro-
cedure described above. Using Eq. (6), cable tension
can now be computed. This is then compared with the
given initial tension to obtain a better approximation
for L
u
for the next iteration step.
If the complete geometry of the cable is to be deter-
mined, coordinates for a number of points along the
cable must be computed. This is very simple because
P
1
and P
2
are now known, so Eqs. (2) and (3) can be
used to compute the coordinates of any new point
along the cable by simply replacing L
u
by any fraction
of L
u
.
For the frequency analysis, mass discretization is
simply done by static lumping of the element mass at
both ends giving the following lumped mass matrix (r
is the mass density of the cable element):
M =
rAL
u
2
_
_
_
_
1 0 0 0
0 1 0 0
0 0 1 0
0 0 0 1
_

_
(18)
2.1.2. Analytical verication
A cable hanging under its own weight and subjected
to a tensile force at both ends along its chord, as
shown in Fig. 2, was studied to verify the cable el-
ement and the analysis procedure described in Section
2.1.1. This problem was earlier studied in [16] using
isoparametric cable elements and the published results
can now be compared to results obtained here.
A cable with an unstressed length L
u
=312.7 m,
modulus of elasticity E=1.3110
11
N/m
2
, cross sec-
tion area A=5.48 10
4
m
2
, and weight per unit
length w=46.11 N/m, was studied using three dier-
ent models. For the three models: the cable was
Fig. 2. Cable under its own weight subjected to tensile force at both ends.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 401
replaced by one catenary cable element, one bar el-
ement with an equivalent modulus of elasticity, and by
20 beam elements with negligible moment of inertia.
The beam element used is described in the next sec-
tion.
To span the distance of 304.8 m, using a cable with
the above given properties, a horizontal force of
T
o
=1.7794 10
4
N was needed at both ends. This
force gave a mid point cable sag of 30.48 m and was
adopted as the initial force when calculating the curves
in Fig. 3.
Using the dierent models, the sag and the longi-
tudinal displacement along the chord of the cable were
determined for dierent values of the tensile force T
and the results are plotted in Fig. 3. Good agreement
is observed when comparing the curves, in Fig. 3, for
the proposed catenary cable element with those for the
isoparametric cable element presented in [16]. In Fig.
3(a), a signicant dierence can be observed when
comparing the one bar equivalent modulus curve with
the proposed catenary cable element curve. This dier-
ence is ascribed to the fact that the equivalent modulus
approach accounts for the sag eect but does not
account for the stiening eect due to large displace-
Fig. 3. Response of the cable dened in Fig. 2.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 402
ments [16]. This leads to a softer cable model. Fig. 3
shows also that the replacement of the curved cable by
several beam elements with negligible exural stiness
can give acceptable results. As the number of beam el-
ements increases and the moment of inertia decreases,
the results should converge to those of the catenary
cable element model. One should only bear in mind
that replacing the cables by several straight elements
will give a stier structural model and consequently an
underestimation of the displacements.
The results from this simple numerical experiment
provide condence in the application of the proposed
catenary cable element for nonlinear modeling of cable
supported bridges.
2.2. Modeling of bridge deck and pylons
The pylons and the bridge deckgirder or stiening
girder as it is also calledare modeled using beam el-
ements able to resist bending, shear and axial forces.
For the present study, the simplest 2D beam element
introduced in [31] is adopted and the treatment given
there will be followed below when deriving the element
matrices. This nite element is developed following the
total Lagrangian approach and using a linear interp-
olation scheme for the displacement components.
Previous studies, reported in [31], have shown that the
element is ecient and accurate. This element is also
chosen because it can handle large displacements and
shear deformations and because it is very simple to
formulate the element matrices.
Referring to Fig. 4, the current deformed congur-
ation of the beam axis is described by a regular curve
dened by the position vector:
r
o
(x) = [x u(x)]i w(x)j (19)
where the abscissa x$ [0, L] is measured on the
straight reference conguration of the beam, u(x),
w(x) represent the axial and transversal displacement
components, and i and j are unit axis vectors. By intro-
ducing the angle y(x) as the rotation of the cross sec-
tions (S') in the deformed conguration, the unit
vectors orthogonal and parallel to the cross sections
for each point on the deformed beam are obtained as:
a(x) = cos yi sin yj; b(x) = sin yi cos yj (20)
Further, dening the deformation measures E, g, k
according to:
r
o,x
=
dr
o
dx
= (1 E)a gb; k =
dy
d x
= y
,x
(21)
and using Eqs. (1920), the following expressions are
obtained:
E = (1 u
,x
)cos y w
,x
sin y 1 (22)
g = w
,x
cos y (1 u
,x
)sin y (23)
k = y
,x
(24)
Fig. 4. Deformed and undeformed conguration of the beam element.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 403
If the constitutive relations are assumed as linear, the
strain energy can be written as:
P
i
(u) =
1
2
_
L
0
(EAE
2
GAg
2
EIk
2
) d x (25)
where EA, GA and EI represent the axial, shear and
exural rigidities. For u, w and y a linear interpolation
scheme is used according to:
u = h
i
(x)q
i
h
j
(x)q
j
(26)
where u
T
={u, w, y }, q
T
i
={u
1
, u
2
, u
3
} and q
T
j
={u
4
, u
5
,
u
6
} contain the corresponding values of the displace-
ments at the two nodes of the element, and h
i
(x) =
1 x/L; h
j
(x) =x/L are the interpolation functions.
Finally, the expressions for the internal force vector
p and the element tangent stiness matrix K
t
are
obtained through successive dierentiation of the ex-
pression for the strain energy according to:
p =
@P
i
@q
; K
t
=
@p
@q
=
@
2
P
i
@q
2
(27)
where q is the nodal displacement vector {u
1
, u
2
, u
3
, u
4
,
u
5
, u
6
}
T
. The Maple procedure which performs the
above mentioned operations and produces the necess-
ary Fortran code for p and K
t
, is listed in Appendix A.
The kinetic energy is expressed as the integral over
the volume V:
P
k
=
1
2
_
V
r r(x)
T
r(x)dV (28)
where r is the mass density and r (x) represents the vel-
ocity in a general point of the beam. The position of
this point is dened by the vector r(x), as shown in
Fig. 4. For this element, the nal expression for the
kinetic energy becomes [40]:
P
k
=
r
2
_
L
0
A_ u(x)
2
dx
r
2
_
L
0
A _ w(x)
2
dx
r
2
_
L
0
I
_
y(x)
2
dx
(29)
Using the interpolation functions, as in Eq. (26), the
kinetic energy is written as a function of the velocity
components in the nodal degrees of freedom of the el-
ement. From the resulting expression for the kinetic
energy, the consistent element mass matrix is evaluated
as:
M =
@
2
P
k
@ q
2
=
rL
6
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
2A 0 0 A 0 0
0 2A 0 0 A 0
0 0 2I 0 0 I
A 0 0 2A 0 0
0 A 0 0 2A 0
0 0 I 0 0 2I
_

_
(30)
For more details concerning the formulation of the
kinetic energy and mass matrix and the performance
of this element in dynamic problems, the reader is
referred to [40,41].
3. The nonlinear analysis procedure
For a nonlinear structural system, the stiness
matrix K
t
is a function of nodal displacements and el-
ement forces, and therefore the matrix K
t
should be
reformulated as the structure deforms. There are sev-
eral procedures for solving the nonlinear nite element
equations and the most frequently used are the
NewtonRaphson iteration schemes [4,21,32]. In the
present study, an incremental/iterative procedure using
full NewtonRaphson iterations is adopted. This pro-
cedure is generally expected to give quadratic conver-
gence [32]. For the frequency analysis, the eigenvalue
problem of the system is solved based on the utiliz-
ation of the tangent stiness matrix K
t
of the bridge in
the dead load deformed state.
The nonlinear nite element code for the static and
dynamic analysis of cable supported structures has
been developed using Matlab [33].
4. Numerical examples
Two numerical examples are presented to demon-
strate the applicability of the catenary cable element
for modeling cables in cable supported structures. In
the rst example the erection procedure for the Great
Belt suspension bridge girder sections was simulated
and in the second example the nonlinear behavior of a
medium-long symmetric cable-stayed bridge was stu-
died. Eigenfrequency analyses were also conducted for
both examples. To illustrate the eciency of the pre-
sented method, the results obtained are compared to
those reported by other researchers.
4.1. Erection of the Great Belt suspension bridge
In this numerical example, the behavior of the Great
Belt suspension bridge during girder erection was stu-
died and a frequency analysis for the completed bridge
was also conducted using the cable and beam elements
described earlier.
The Great Belt (Storeblt) suspension bridge in
Denmark has, with its 1624 m main span, the second
largest span in the world (Akashi Kaikyo suspension
bridge in Japan holds currently the world record with
a main span length of 1990 m. Both suspension bridges
were opened for trac in 1998). The bridge deck is a
31 m wide and 4 m deep steel box. This girder is con-
tinuous over the full cable supported length of 2694 m,
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 404
i.e. without expansion joints at the pylons. Like many
other modern suspension bridges, the girder section is
streamlined (almost wing shaped) to resist strong wind
action. The two main cables, each including a total of
18,648 high strength galvanized steel wires 5.38 mm in
diameter with a nal diameter of 0.85 m, were erected
in the autumn of 1996 by the air-spinning method [1].
Much the same method was used for suspension
bridges more than 100 years ago, e.g. for the Brooklyn
Bridge in New York dating from 1883. To minimize
deections under asymmetric trac load, the main
cables are xed to the stiening girder through rigid
clamps at mid span. The ratio of cable sag to main
span length was chosen to be 1/9, as this was found to
be economically favorable. This gives higher pylons
than usual and therefore a more exible structure. The
total height of the concrete pylons, including cable and
cable saddle, is approximately 258 m.
Erection of a suspension bridge involves many chal-
lenging problems, especially aerodynamic stability pro-
blems, which relate to the fact that the bridge structure
is incomplete, thus various structural components do
not receive or render the kind of support intended in
the complete structure. The erection of the girder may
proceed in a number of dierent ways [3436]. For the
analysis presented in this paper it was assumed that
the erection proceeded simultaneously from mid span
and anchor blocks towards the pylons. To study the
erection of the Great Belt suspension bridge and calcu-
late the initial prole for the free hanging cables, i.e.
the initial cable lengths, the cable sag at mid span, and
the pylon tops horizontal displacement, a simple bridge
model consisting of 126 elements, 89 nodes and a total
of 215 active degrees of freedom, was used. The bridge
geometry shown in Fig. 5 and the properties given in
Table 1 were taken from [34,37]. The section properties
for the pylons were assumed by the author to give the
rst and second pylon frequencies 0.147 and 0.803 Hz,
which are acceptable when compared to the measured
pylon frequencies reported in [38]. In the bridge model,
the girder was assumed to be pinned at the ends, i.e.
only rotations were allowed, and every third hanger
from the original bridge was included and modeled
using catenary cable elements. The main cables were
assumed to be xed at the pylon tops and the pylons
were rigidly xed to the piers. Further, the shear mod-
ulus of all beam elements in the model was evaluated
as G=E/2(1+n ); n =0.3. To simplify the data input
process, all internal cable nodes were vertically posi-
tioned at the same level as the girder, and the congur-
ation of the main cable under dead load was
determined accurately, during analysis, after few iter-
ations.
To start the analysis, the initial side span and main
span cable lengths were determined using a trial and
error procedure. Thus the initial cable lengths were
estimated and the nal dead load prole, i.e. cable sag
at mid span and pylon top displacements, were deter-
mined and compared with the desired dead load prole
shown in Fig. 5. The estimated values were then
improved and the calculation was repeated until the
required dead load prole was obtained. It was found
that if the initial lengths of the side span and main
span cables were chosen as 564.8 and 1672.7 m, the
Fig. 5. Geometry of the Great Belt suspension bridge.
Table 1
Parameters for the model of the Great Belt suspension bridge
E (N/m
2
) A (m
2
) I (m
4
) w (t/m)
Girder (314 m) 2.110
11
1.00 3.32 14.78
Pylons, 075.5 m 0.410
11
237.5 2750 290
Pylons, 75.5257.6 m 0.410
11
2(32.5, 30, 25) 2(275, 200, 150) 2(78, 72, 60)
Cable side spans 2.110
11
20.41 23.45
Cable main span 2.110
11
20.40 23.36
Hangers 2.110
11
20.025
a
a
Mass of hangers and clamps is considered distributed uniformly along the main cable and included in the cable mass.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 405
calculated mid span cable sag and pylon tops horizon-
tal displacements would be 180.09 and 0.04 m. Those
initial cable lengths were therefore considered to be
good enough and were used for all the following
results presented for this example.
When the initial cable lengths were known, dierent
erection stages were analyzed and the results are
plotted in Fig. 6. Studying this gure one can notice
that, to arrive at the desired dead load prole, the
pylon tops must be displaced about 0.85 m outwards
and the cable sag should be about 173 m, for 0%
erected girder. This pylon top displacement is needed
to counteract the displacement caused by the
elongation of the side span main cable during the sub-
sequent erection of the girder. Consequently, to com-
pensate for the later erection of the girder, the saddles
at the pylon tops must therefore, prior to cable erec-
tion, be horizontally displaced in relation to the verti-
cal pylon axis. This is done either by displacing the
saddles in relation to the pylon tops or by pulling back
the pylons with so called tie-back cables or a combi-
nation of the two methods [36]. It is therefore necess-
ary to specify this displacement of the saddles to arrive
at vertical pylons with zero bending in the nal dead
load condition. During the constructing of the Great
Belt suspension bridge, tie-back cables running from
each pylon top to the nearest anchor block were used,
pulling back each pylon 1.24 m [37] prior to main
cable erection. When the main cables were erected and
the tie-back cables were dismantled, the pylon tops
Fig. 6. Cable sag variation (a) and horizontal displacement of pylon tops (b) during erection of the bridge girder.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 406
moved back about 0.20 m [37]. Thus, the remaining
displacement before erecting the girder was about 1 m.
Acceptable agreement is found, according to the
author's opinion, when comparing this value with the
one obtained from the present analysis, i.e. 0.85 m. It
is worth noting that the aim of this study and the
essential goal of this example was to check the e-
ciency and applicability of the presented elements for
modeling cable supported bridges. For this reason
some simplications and assumptions were made when
modeling the bridge structure and not much emphasis
was put on using the exact properties etc. for each
bridge member. This is believed to be the major expla-
nation for the dierences in the results.
Frequency analysis was also conducted for the com-
pleted bridge and the rst three natural frequencies
and mode shapes are given in Fig. 7. In [34,35], ana-
lytical frequency results from a 3D nite element
model and results from a 1:200 scale aeroelastic bridge
model, made for wind tunnel testing, are presented.
These results are also given in Fig. 7 within brackets
and, as can be seen, the agreement is very good when
comparing with the result obtained from the present
analysis.
The CPU time used by the MATLAB process, to
nd the tangent stiness matrix at the dead load
deformed state and to solve the system eigenvalue pro-
blem determining all 215 modes of vibration, was
about 200 s. The calculations were performed on a
Pentium Pro 200 MHz system.
4.2. Nonlinear behavior of a fan-shaped cable-stayed
bridge
A 2D model of the cable-stayed bridge described in
[4] was adopted for this investigation. The bridge geo-
metry is shown in Fig. 8 and the properties are given
in Table 2. This bridge is similar in conguration to an
Fig. 7. Natural frequencies and mode shapes for the lowest three vertical bending modes of vibration. Values inside brackets are
reported in [35].
Fig. 8. Geometry of the cable-stayed bridge studied in example 2.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 407
existing bridge in Japan (The Meiko-Nishi Bridge in
Nagoya) with a few modications in dimension. The
static and dynamic behavior of this bridge has been
studied earlier by several other investigators [4,13,39].
For the model, it was assumed that the girder was
pinned at the ends, i.e. only rotations were allowed,
and it was connected to the pylons by vertical links.
The pylons were assumed to be rigidly xed to the
piers and all cables were assumed xed to the pylons
and to the girder at their joints of attachment.
Further, the shear modulus of all beam elements in the
model was evaluated as G=E/2(1+n ); n =0.3. The
simplest model analyzed in this example, i.e. the model
with one element per cable, was composed of 66 el-
ements and 43 nodal points.
Fig. 9 shows the nonlinear behavior of the model
under static dead load, described in terms of the verti-
cal displacement at the center of the bridge girder and
the tension in cable 12 and 13. Examining this gure, a
hardening characteristic with respect to the applied
load is apparent. It is also evident that at the start
there is a signicant nonlinear behavior during the sta-
tic application of the dead load. Thus, a nonlinear sta-
tic analysis under dead load is essential to arrive at the
deformed dead load tangent stiness matrix. To the
author's knowledge, this highly nonlinear rst part of
the curve in Fig. 9a has not been presented in any of
the previous studies. For this cable-stayed bridge with
modest main span length, as the nonlinearity is not so
strong above this dead load equilibrium point, one can
assume that this bridge behaves as a linear system,
when aected by live static and dynamic loads, starting
from this dead load deformed state. This means that
inuence lines and superposition technique can be used
in the design process. However, as the span length
increases this nonlinearity will get more pronounced [4]
and linear analysis will no longer be adequate.
For the frequency analysis, to include cable motions,
natural frequencies were also determined replacing
each stay cable by 3, 5 and 7 catenary cable elements.
This was easily done as the preprocessor code devel-
oped can automatically rene the model if it is
requested by the user. For the simplest model, i.e. the
model with one element per cable, the resulting modes
of vibration only include the vibrating girder and
pylons. Thus, cable modes and the dynamic interaction
between the vibrating cables and the bridge were disre-
garded. For the ner models, pure cable modes, i.e.
additional new mode shapes characterized only by
vibrating cables, were obtained between those basic
bending modes. Moreover, it is evident that cable
motions are associated with every mode of vibration,
as can be noticed in Fig. 10. For the four alternative
models, Table 3 presents a comparative frequency
study of the rst 10 vertical bending modes of vi-
bration. The order in which these modes appear is
given inside brackets.
Satisfactory agreement is found when comparing the
results from the static and frequency analysis presented
here with those reported in [4,13,39]. The disagreement
in the frequency results shown in Fig. 10 is believed to
be due to the fact that the catenary cable element used
in the present study is stier, see Fig. 3a, than the one
bar element with an equivalent modulus used in [4,39].
Moreover, the girder and pylons were modeled in
[4,39] using conventional beam elements modied by
the stability functions and a diagonal lumped mass
matrix was adopted for all elements.
Table 2
Parameters for the cable-stayed bridge model dened in Fig. 8
E (N/m
2
) A (m
2
) I (m
4
) w (t/m)
Girder 2.010
11
0.93 0.26 19.64
a
Girder, central part 2.010
11
1.11 1.29 19.64
a
Pylons above deck level 2.810
10
13.01 34.52 30.65
Pylons below deck level 2.810
10
18.58 86.31 43.78
Links, deck to pylons 2.010
11
0.56 0.10 4.38
Cable no. E (N/m
2
) A (m
2
) L
u
(m) w (t/m)
1, 24 2.010
11
0.0362 158.13 0.398
2, 11, 14, 23 2.010
11
0.0232 134.66 0.255
3, 10, 15, 22 2.010
11
0.0204 111.64 0.225
4, 9, 16, 21 2.010
11
0.0176 89.43 0.194
5, 8, 17, 20 2.010
11
0.0139 68.80 0.153
6, 7, 18, 19 2.010
11
0.0113 51.69 0.125
12, 13 2.010
11
0.0372 158.12 0.409
a
Including weight of cross beams.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 408
For the simplest model with a total of 119 active
degrees of freedom, the CPU time used by the
MATLAB process, to nd the tangent stiness matrix
at the dead load deformed state and to solve the sys-
tem eigenvalue problem determining all 119 modes of
vibration, was about 15 s. The calculations were per-
formed on a Pentium Pro 200 MHz system.
5. Conclusions
The paper has presented a method for modeling
cable supported bridges for nonlinear nite element
analysis. A two-node catenary cable element was
adopted for modeling the cables and a beam element
for modeling the bridge deck and the pylons. This
study has shown that the adopted elements are accu-
rate and ecient for nonlinear analysis of cable-stayed
and suspension bridges. It has been established that
the main advantages of the cable element are the sim-
plicity of including the eect of pretension of the cable
and the exact treatment of cable sag and cable weight.
Moreover, the iterative process adopted, to nd the in-
ternal force vector and tangent stiness matrix for the
cable element, was found to converge very rapidly.
According to the author's opinion, linear analysis
utilizing the traditional equivalent modulus approach
is not satisfactory for modern cable-stayed bridges.
Modern long span cable-stayed bridges built today or
proposed for future bridges are, as they are highly ex-
ible, subjected to large displacements. The equivalent
modulus approach however accounts only for the sag
Fig. 9. Nonlinear behavior of the cable-stayed bridge dened by Fig. 8: (a) vertical displacement; (b) cable tension.
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 409
eect and not for the stiening eect due to large dis-
placements. It is concluded that the catenary cable el-
ement is simple to formulate, accurate, and can
correctly model the geometric change of the stay cable
at any tension level. This makes the element very
attractive, especially for static response calculations,
and the author strongly recommends the use of this el-
ement. However, one drawback is when using commer-
cial nite element codes for analysis, as only few
commercial codes, e.g. ABAQUS, enable the users to
dene their own elements. This disadvantage applies
also to the one bar element equivalent modulus
approach.
It is apparent that cable supported bridges have a
hardening characteristic with respect to the applied
load. Furthermore, the highly nonlinear behavior
during the static application of the dead load requires
a nonlinear static analysis to arrive at the deformed
Table 3
Comparison of the rst 10 natural frequencies for vertical bending modes of vibration. Each cable was modeled using 1, 3, 5 and 7
catenary cable elements
Natural frequencies (Hz) and mode order
Vertical bending mode no. 1 element/cable 3 elements/cable 5 elements/cable 7 elements/cable
1 0.332 (1) 0.334 (1) 0.334 (1) 0.334 (1)
2 0.436 (2) 0.437 (2) 0.437 (2) 0.437 (2)
3 0.692 (3) 0.700 (7) 0.702 (7) 0.703 (7)
4 0.734 (4) 0.739 (8) 0.741 (8) 0.741 (8)
5 0.867 (5) 0.873 (13) 0.874 (13) 0.874 (13)
6 1.044 (6) 1.051 (18) 1.052 (18) 1.053 (18)
7 1.211 (7) 1.217 (27) 1.219 (23) 1.219 (23)
8 1.213 (8) 1.219 (28) 1.221 (24) 1.221 (24)
9 1.378 (9) 1.387 (33) 1.385 (29) 1.387 (29)
10 1.669 (10) 1.687 (42) 1.679 (38) 1.685 (38)
Fig. 10. Natural frequencies and mode shapes for the lowest three vertical bending modes of vibration. Values inside brackets are
reported in [39].
R. Karoumi / Computers and Structures 71 (1999) 397412 410
dead load tangent stiness matrix. Starting from this
dead load deformed state, a linear static and dynamic
analysis can sometimes be sucient for short and med-
ium span cable supported bridges [11,39].
Replacing each cable by several catenary cable el-
ements has demonstrated that, in addition to obtaining
new pure cable modes of vibration, cable motions are
also associated with every bending mode of vibration.
For dynamic analysis, this multi-element cable discreti-
zation should always be utilized, instead of the one-el-
ement cable discretization. This is essential in order to
include the dynamic interaction between the vibrating
cables and the bridge and to realistically predict the re-
sponse to dynamic loads such as earthquake, wind and
trac. To simplify the data input process when utiliz-
ing the multi-element cable discretization, one can start
from a straight cable conguration and during analysis
the cable conguration under its own weight is deter-
mined accurately after few iterations.
Finally, this work has only focused on two-dimen-
sional modeling of cable supported bridges. However,
the catenary cable element used in this study is also
applicable for modeling cables in other types of cable
structures [2426] such as: suspended roofs, guyed
masts, electric transmission lines, moored drilling plat-
forms, etc. Moreover, with some minor modications
of the cable element matrices this element can also be
used for modeling cables for three-dimensional analy-
sis. For such analysis, three-dimensional catenary cable
element and beam elements can be found in [25,31].
Acknowledgements
The author wishes to acknowledge Professor Ha kan
Sundquist and Dr Costin C. Pacoste at the Royal
Institute of Technology in Stockholm for many helpful
discussions. The author also wishes to thank Professor
Niels J. Gimsing at the Technical University of
Denmark, Professor Hiroshi Tanaka at the Danish
Maritime Institute, and Mr Sren Esdahl at
COWIconsult A/S, Denmark for their help on provid-
ing information on the Great Belt suspension bridge.
Appendix A
The Maple procedures used to generate the Fortran
code for the elements presented in Sections 2.1 and
2.2, are given below.
A.0.1. Cable element
# Tanget stiness matrix Kt for;
# the catenary cable element;
readlib(fortran);
with(linalg);
Ly: =1/(2+E+A+w)+(Tj U2Ti U2) +(Tj Ti)/w;
Lx: =P1+(Lu/E/A+1/w+ln((P4 +Tj)/(Ti P2)));
P3: =P1;
P4: =w+LuP2;
Ti: =sqrt(P1 U2 +P2U2);
Tj: =sqrt(P3 U2 +P4U2);
f11: =di(Lx,P1):
f12: =di(Lx,P2):
f21: =di(Ly,P1):
f22: =di(Ly,P2):
f: =matrix(2,2,[f11,f12,f21,f22]):
k: =inverse(f):
k1: =k[1,1]:
k2: =k[1,2]:
k4: =k[2,2]:
Kt: =matrix(4,4,[k1, k2,k1,k2, k2, k4,k2,k4,
k1,k2, k1, k2,k2,k4, k2, k4]):
fortran(Kt,optimized):
A.0.2. Beam element
# Internal force vector p and;
# tanget stiness matrix Kt for;
# the beam element;
readlib(fortran);
with(linalg);
ux: =(u4 u1)/L; wx: =(u5 u2)/L;
t: =(u3+u6)/2; tx: =(u6 u3)/L;
e: =(1 +ux)+cos(t) +wx+sin(t) 1;
g: =wx+cos(t) (1+ux)+sin(t);
k: =tx;
Fie: =1/2+L+E+A+e U2;
Fig: =1/2+L+G+A+g U2;
Fik: =1/2+L+E+I+kU2;
Fi: =Fie +Fig +Fik;
p: =grad(Fi,[u1,u2,u3,u4,u5,u6]);
Kt: =hessian(Fi,[u1,u2,u3,u4,u5,u6]);
fortran(p,optimized);
fortran(Kt,optimized)
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