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How do vortex-induced vibrations affect the stability of long bridges?

When wind flows around a bridge, it would be slowed down when in contact with its surface and forms boundary layer. At some location, this boundary layer tends to separate from the bridge body owing to excessive curvature. This results in the formation of vortex which revises the pressure distribution over the bridge surface. The vortex formed may not be symmetric about the bridge body and different lifting forces are formed around the body.

As a result, the motion of bridge body subject to these vortexes shall be transverse when compared with the incoming wind flow. As the frequency of vortex shedding approaches the natural frequencies of the bridges, resonant vibrations often occur, the amplitude of which depends on the damping in the system and the motion of the wind relative to the bridges. Such oscillations may “lock-on” to the system and lead to hazardous amplification and fatigue failure.


This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

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