The purpose of this joint contribution is to study the maximum dynamic load concrete dams can withstand. The so-called “dynamic capacity functions” for these infrastructures seems now technically and commercially feasible thanks to the modern finite element techniques, hardware capabilities, and positive experiences collected so far. The key topics faced during the dynamic assessment of dams are also discussed using different point of view and examples, which include: the selection of dynamic parameters, the progressive level of detail for the numerical simulations, the implementation of nonlinear behaviors, and the concept of the service and collapse limit states. The approaches adopted by local institutions and engineers on the subject of dam capacity functions are discussed using the authors’ experiences, and an overview of time and resources is outlined to help decision makers. Three different concrete dam types (i.e., gravity, buttress, and arch) are used as case studies with different complexities. Finally, the paper is wrapped up with a list of suggestions for analysts, the procedure limitations, and future research needs.
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