An explanation is provided for the earthquake-induced damage observed at the top of liquid storage tanks. An analysis is developed and the results are compared with experimental work. The basic steps of the analysis, which is developed for the general dynamic response of fluid-filled tanks under horizontal ground excitation, are first presented. In this analysis, the structural displacements are expanded in appropriate series forms which involve both rigid body and flexible components. The latter components are expressed as linear combinations of terms, each of which is a product of a function with assumed spatial dependence and an unknown time-dependent function. These time functions are then determined from the solution of the fluid/structure system equations, which are set up by employing Hamilton’s principle. In the present work, results are obtained and compared with model tests carried out at Caltech, during which buckling was observed at the top of the tank under a known base excitation history. Computing analytically the corresponding pressure distribution and using the BOSOR computer code for the buckling computations, a value for the amplitude of the ground acceleration which results in buckling at the top of the tank is calculated. Good correlation with the test work is obtained.

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