This paper summarizes results from a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) sponsored study of the uncertainties associated with extreme (1000 to 10,000-yr return periods) environmental loadings acting on offshore structures (Bea, 1991). The evaluations of the loadings addressed loading effects that resulted from dynamic and nonlinear interactions of the structures. Loading uncertainties were organized and characterized in two categories: 1) inherent randomness (aleatory uncertainty), and 2) analytical variability (epistemic uncertainty). The study addressed the global ultimate limit state performance of three structures designed according to the provisions of the draft CSA guidelines (1989a, 1989b) for offshore structures: 1) a concrete Gravity Base Structure (GBS) located off the East coast of Canada (Hibernia), 2) a steel pile template located on the Scotian Shelf off Sable Island, and 3) a caisson retained island located in the Mackenzie Delta area of the Beaufort Sea (Amuligak). The results of this study indicate that, based on presently available information and data, it is often not possible to develop unambiguous characterizations of uncertainties. The different technical communities that background environmental conditions and forces (storms, earthquakes, ice) recognize and integrate these uncertainties into loading characterizations in different ways. In many cases, major sources of uncertainty are not included in probabilistic characterizations. Because of the needs for design code information sensitivity and consistency in demonstrating compliance with target reliability goals, there is a need for well-organized and definitive evaluations of uncertainties in extreme environmental loadings and load effects (Bitner-Gregersen et al., 1993).

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