This paper presents a unique approach to analyze the steady-state buckle propagation phenomenon in underwater pipelines. In previous work, we restudied the buckling of a very long pipeline subjected to external pressure and found that buckling happens only over a certain length of the pipeline. In this paper, the collapse mode of the pipeline obtained in previous studies is taken as the transition zone during steady-state buckle propagation. Kinematics in the transition zone is analyzed based on von Kármán–Donnell type of nonlinearity. Assuming linear elastic rigid plastic material properties, the mechanical responses in the transition zone are examined using the deformation theory. Two parameters, the yield coefficient and the membrane stretching factor, are introduced to depict the effects of transversal bending and the membrane stretching, respectively. Analytical solution of buckle propagation pressure is derived by considering the energy conversation calculated from shell theory. It is found that the buckle propagation performance is governed by the transversal bending, including the circumferential bending and longitudinal bending. The membrane stretching is significant only for thick wall pipeline, in particular when the ratio of radius-to thickness is small than ten. The analysis is in effect by comparing the obtained solutions with the well-established predictions and the experimental results.

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