Evaluating the dynamic response of large, aboveground storage tanks exposed to seismic loading is multifaceted. There are foundation-structure and fluid-structure interaction effects that can influence the overall tank behavior and likely failure modes. Additionally, local stresses at anchor bolt support chair attachments and the shell-to-floor junction can be difficult to quantify without detailed finite element analysis (FEA). Often times, performing explicit dynamic analysis with liquid sloshing effects can be time consuming, expensive, and even impractical. The intent of this paper is to summarize simplified analysis techniques that can be leveraged to evaluate aboveground storage tanks subject to seismic loading.

Closed-form calculations to establish a recommended design for a tank, including seismic considerations, are available in storage tank design standards, including API 650 [1] (Appendix E). Seismic design standards have evolved significantly in recent years. Furthermore, for many vintage, in-service storage tanks, explicit seismic considerations were not incorporated into the original design. In Part I of this study, these design equations and other closed-form solutions are used to evaluate the structural integrity of a large, in-service, mechanically-anchored storage tank. The design equations in API 650 [1] are used to form the basis of simplified, equivalent static analysis, where seismic loads are applied to a three-dimensional FEA model via equivalent lateral body forces. These practical results are then compared to explicit dynamic seismic behavior of the same tank with fluid-structure interaction effects considered (in Part II of this study [2]). These comparisons offer insight into the appropriateness of using simplified hand-calculations and equivalent static analysis (and their relative conservatism) in lieu of more rigorous explicit dynamic and fluid sloshing simulations.

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