Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete Mat Foundations

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Seismic design of reinforced concrete mat foundations has advanced significantly in the last twenty years. As
analytical capabilities have improved, primarily in the form of finite element analysis, the mathematical modeling of
these continuous structural elements has led to seemingly more precise designs. Yet, fundamental questions still remain regarding the seismic performance of these thick foundation systems.

This Technical Brief attempts to address what is known and what is unknown about this subject, so that a structural
engineer can proceed with a seismic design in an informed manner. Because many of the parameters associated with a
mat foundation design can be highly variable, designs that consider this variability are encouraged.

This Technical Brief is organized to lead the reader through the following sequence of topics:
• What is a Mat Foundation?
• Historical Perspectives
• Soil Properties
• Soil-Structure Interaction
• Load Combinations
• Proportioning
• Analysis
• Design
• Mats Supported on Deep Foundation Elements
• Detailing
• Constructability Issues


Type of resource text
Date created August 2012


Author Klemencic, Ron
Author McFarlane, Ian S
Author Hawkins, Neil M
Author Nikolaou, Sissy


Subject Plate Mechanics
Subject Material Properties
Subject Soil Properties
Subject Demand levels
Subject Embedment of Reinforcing Steel
Subject Soil-Structure Interaction
Genre Technical report

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Preferred Citation
Klemencic, Ron and McFarlane, Ian S and Hawkins, Neil M and Nikolaou, Sissy. (2012). Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete Mat Foundations. CUREE - NIST NEHRP Seismic Design Technical Brief Number 7. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


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