Since the development of the design parameters for the Confederation Bridge in early 1990s, there have been significant advances in the understanding of the seismic hazard in Canada.
New source models, and most updated software have been used for the assessment of the seismic hazard. It should be mentioned, however, that there are still significant uncertainties in the estimation of seismic hazard. As pointed out by , the ground motion attenuation relations for eastern Canada are the major source of uncertainty in the seismic hazard estimations. This is because of lack of recordings of ground motions from strong earthquakes in eastern Canada for use in the calibration of the attenuation relations. It is noted that the ground motion attenuation relations for eastern Canada may change significantly as new events are recorded as reported in .
The seismic hazard in Canada is currently represented by uniform hazard spectra rather than by peak ground motions. A uniform hazard spectrum represents an acceleration spectrum with spectral ordinates that have the same probability of exceedance. Uniform hazard spectra can be computed for different probabilities and different confidence levels.
Confidence levels of 50% (median) and 84% are typically used for uniform hazard spectra.
These levels represent the confidence (in %) that the spectral values will not be exceeded for the specified probability.
For the purpose of this study, Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) computed the uniform hazard spectrum for the bridge location for an annual probability of exceedance of 0.00027 and confidence levels of 50% and 84%. Among the two confidence levels, the uniform hazard spectrum at the 84% confidence level was used in this study. The 84% (rather than 50%) level was chosen since the spectral amplification factors used in the development of the design spectrum are for that level. The 84% level uniform hazard spectrum (UHS) is shown in Fig. 3. The spectral values for periods below 2.0 s were provided by GSC. For periods between 2.0 s and 4.0 s, the spectrum was extended assuming a constant spectral velocity with the same value as that at 2.0 s. This is the same as assumed in the defining of the spectral values in the intermediate period range of the design spectrum. It can be seen in Fig. 3 that the uniform hazard spectrum is somewhat higher than the design spectrum for periods below 1.5 s. As will be discussed later, this difference does not have significant effects on the seismic response of the bridge.