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Seismic Design Of Piers And Wharfs: A Capstone Course Application Of A New Standard For Designing Port Structures In The United States

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Ocean, Marine, and Coastal Engineering Topics

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1261.1 - 12.1261.6



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Paper Authors

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Timothy Mays The Citadel

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Kevin Bower The Citadel

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Robert Dullanty ATM

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Kelly Rutkowski Applied Technology and Management

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Seismic Design of Piers and Wharfs: A Capstone Course Application of a New Standard for Designing Port Structures in the United States


Pier and wharf structures are governed by the International Building Code1 if and only if the pier and wharf structure provides the foundation for a building with public occupancy. Otherwise, the design is outside the scope of the aforementioned document. A uniformly recognized standard has never been available to engineers and most engineers reference various documents including building codes for lateral loads, bridge standards for truck traffic, and marine oil terminal documents for special provisions when designing such structures. ASCE is in the final phases of the development of the first national standard for the seismic design of pier and wharf structures. This paper presents the background information behind the document’s development. As part of a structural engineering capstone course at The Citadel, students are designing a pier structure to meet the requirements of the new national standard and the steps of the design are presented as a case study application. In addition, multidisciplinary student work that includes environmental concerns relevant to marine oil terminals is also presented.


Although other countries (e.g., England, Australia) have well established design standards for pier and wharf type structures, the United States currently has only a few regional standards and no national standard that covers the design of these structures. The Navy2 has developed some of their own standards for ships moored to pier and wharf structures. Seismic Criteria for California Marine Oil Terminals3 was released in 1999 and served as the forerunner MOTEMS4 to the most comprehensive standard developed for use in the United States to date. According to MOTEMS:

“The purpose of this Code is to establish minimum engineering, inspection and maintenance criteria for MOTs in order to prevent oilspills and to protect public health, safety and the environment. This Code does not, in general, address operational requirements. Relevant provisions from existing codes, industry standards, recommended practices, regulations and guidelines have been incorporated directly or through reference, as part of this Code.”

MOTEMS specifications vary based on risk. However, risk is a function of exposed oil, making the standard at least somewhat non applicable to piers and wharfs that are not a part of the marine oil terminal industry. Harn5 describes one of the first published applications of this standard and illustrates its application for a large wharf structure.

Mays, T., & Bower, K., & Dullanty, R., & Rutkowski, K. (2007, June), Seismic Design Of Piers And Wharfs: A Capstone Course Application Of A New Standard For Designing Port Structures In The United States Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1686

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