Experimental investigation on the structural response of RC slabs subjected to combined fire and blast

Matteo Colombo, Paolo Martinelli, Assis Arano, Jan Arve Øverli, Max A.N. Hendriks, Terje Kanstad, Marco di Prisco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Reinforced concrete (RC) submerged floating tunnels (SFTs) represent a possible solution for crossing wide, deep fjords, and is considered for the E39 highway route along the Norwegian west coast. With regard to SFTs, the specific accidental scenario that is under investigation is the combined action of fire and subsequent internal explosion, as this is a crucial safety design condition for this type of structure. To assess the structural performance of reinforced concrete structures under combined fire and blast actions, gas burner equipment and a shock tube device were used to generate high temperature and blast loading, respectively, on RC circular slabs. A proper set of instruments consisting of thermocouples embedded in the specimens, accelerometers and ultrasonic pulse velocity (UPV) equipment made it possible to capture the behaviour of the slabs under the combined fire and blast actions and to distinguish the specific role of fire and blast. Simplified numerical tools such as an equivalent elastic single degree of freedom (SDOF) model and a linear elastic finite element (FE) model were used to interpret the experimental results. By considering all combinations of three fire exposure times and two shock waves, the effect of damage accumulation from a combined action of fire and subsequent internal explosion was mapped. A reliable benchmark for numerical models was obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1017-1030
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Blast loading
  • Fire exposure
  • Fire-blast interaction
  • High temperatures
  • RC slabs
  • Shock tube

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