Publication Details

This article was originally published as Bradford, MA, Uy, B and Pi, YL, In-plane elastic stability of arches under a centra concentrated load, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, 128(7), July 2002, 710. Copyright American Society of Civil Engineers.


This paper is concerned with the in-plane elastic stability of arches with a symmetric cross section and subjected to a central concentrated load. The classical methods of predicting elastic buckling loads consider bifurcation from a prebuckling equilibrium path to an orthogonal buckling path. The prebuckling equilibrium path of an arch involves both axial and transverse deformations and so the arch is subjected to both axial compression and bending in the prebuckling stage. In addition, the prebuckling behavior of an arch may become nonlinear. The bending and nonlinearity are not considered in prebuckling analysis of classical methods. A virtual work formulation is used to establish both the nonlinear equilibrium conditions and the buckling equilibrium equations for shallow arches. Analytical solutions for antisymmetric bifurcation buckling and symmetric snap-through buckling loads of shallow arches subjected to this loading regime are obtained. Approximations for the symmetric buckling load of shallow arches and nonshallow fixed arches and for the antisymmetric buckling load of nonshallow pin-ended arches, and criteria that delineate shallow and nonshallow arches are proposed. Comparisons with finite element results demonstrate that the solutions and approximations are accurate. It is found that the existence of antisymmetric bifurcation buckling loads is not a sufficient condition for antisymmetric bifurcation buckling to take place.

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