This paper compares the seismic demands obtained from an intensity-based assessment, as conventionally considered in seismic design guidelines, with the seismic demand hazard. Intensity-based assessments utilize the distribution of seismic demand from ground motions that have a specific value of some conditioning intensity measure, and the mean of this distribution is conventionally used in design verification. The seismic demand hazard provides the rate of exceedance of various seismic demand values and is obtained by integrating the distribution of seismic demand at multiple intensity levels with the seismic hazard curve. The seismic demand hazard is a more robust metric for quantifying seismic performance, because seismic demands from an intensity-based assessment: (i) are not unique, with different values obtained using different conditioning intensity measures; and (ii) do not consider the possibility that demand values could be exceeded from different intensity ground motions. Empirical results, for a bridge-foundation-soil system, illustrate that the mean seismic demand from an intensity-based assessment almost always underestimates the demand hazard value for the exceedance rate considered, on average by 17% and with a large variability. Furthermore, modification factors based on approximate theory are found to be unreliable. Adopting the maximum of the mean values from multiple intensity-based assessments, with different conditional intensity measures, provides a less biased prediction of the seismic demand hazard value, but with still a large variability, and a proportional increase the required number of analyses. For an equivalent number of analyses, direct computation of the seismic demand hazard is a more logical choice and provides additional performance insight. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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