Technological advances have improved pipeline capacity to accommodate large ground deformation associated with earthquakes, floods, landslides, tunneling, deep excavations, mining, and subsidence. The fabrication of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping, for example, can be modified by expanding PVC pipe stock to approximately twice its original diameter, thus causing PVC molecular chains to realign in the circumferential direction. This process yields biaxially oriented polyvinyl chloride (PVCO) pipe with increased circumferential strength, reduced pipe wall thickness, and enhanced cross-sectional flexibility.

This paper reports on experiments performed at the Cornell University Large-Scale Lifelines Testing Facility characterizing PVCO pipeline performance in response to large ground deformation. The evaluation was performed on 150-mm (6-in.)-diameter PVCO pipelines with bell-and-spigot joints. The testing procedure included determination of fundamental PVCO material properties, axial joint tension and compression tests, four-point bending tests, and a full-scale fault rupture simulation. The test results show the performance of segmental PVCO pipelines under large ground deformation is strongly influenced by the axial pullout and compressive load capacity of the joints, as well as their ability to accommodate deflection and joint rotation. The PVCO pipeline performance is quantified in terms of its capacity to accommodate horizontal ground strain, and compared with a statistical characterization of lateral ground strains caused by soil liquefaction during the Canterbury earthquake sequence in New Zealand.

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