Discretization effects in the finite element simulation of seismic waves in elastic and elastic-plastic media

Kohei Watanabe, Federico Pisanò, Boris Jeremi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Presented here is a numerical investigation that (re-)appraises standard rules for space/time discretization in seismic wave propagation analyses. Although the issue is almost off the table of research, situations are often encountered where (established) discretization criteria are not observed and inaccurate results possibly obtained. In particular, a detailed analysis of discretization criteria is carried out for wave propagation through elastic and elastic-plastic media. The establishment of such criteria is especially important when accurate prediction of high-frequency motion is needed and/or in the presence of highly non-linear material models. Current discretization rules for wave problems in solids are critically assessed as a conditio sine qua non for improving verification/validation procedures in applied seismology and earthquake engineering. For this purpose, the propagation of shear waves through a 1D stack of 3D finite elements is considered, including the use of wide-band input motions in combination with both linear elastic and non-linear elastic-plastic material models. The blind use of usual rules of thumb is shown to be sometimes debatable, and an effort is made to provide improved discretization criteria. Possible pitfalls of wave simulations are pointed out by highlighting the dependence of discretization effects on time duration, spatial location, material model and specific output variable considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519
Number of pages545
JournalEngineering with Computers
Volume33 (2017)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Wave propagation
  • Seismic
  • Discretization
  • Elastic
  • Elastic-plastic
  • Verification

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