The definition of the term abutment can be a structure in engineering meant to support the pressure of a bridge. It is also used for arches or spans in the construction of buildings. The essential function of an abutment is to provide support for the pressure of massive structures and ensure that the weight of the structure does not crumple or fail. It is most commonly used for bridges and is built at the ends of bridges, in its foundation. It can also be built on top of the bridges to anchor cables for a suspension bridge.
Abutment is also related to the term abutting. It is a structure that provides support while abutting stands for a structural element that works as a boundary between two homes, for example, a wall shared by the two houses. Abutting is a term that suggests two structures that join each other, or it could be borders or boundaries that join together. For example, the term “adjacent properties” is used to describe properties that are close to each other but not actually touching and might be separated by common boundaries. The term abutting implies even closer proximity between the properties than the term adjacent. Abutting properties have no intervening land between them, and they are immediately contiguous or physically touching.
The abutment definition, as mentioned above, is a structure that works to support another structure and is mostly used in bridges, arches, or spans. The reason why abutments are necessary for those structures is that each of the structures previously mentioned carries an immense amount of weight and, except for some types of bridges, don’t have pillars to support their weight. Consider a gothic church with a tall ceiling made of only arches or a bridge with no pillars, or few pillars to support its weight. Without abutments, the whole structure would collapse.
The purpose of an abutment is to take all the weight from the structure it supports and transfer it into the ground. They are typically built out of mass concrete, but they can also be made out of brick or stone masonry, precast concrete, or reinforced concrete that contains steel bars for added strength.
The most vulnerable part of any type of abutment is the abutment seat, as it is the part where the whole weight of the structure falls on, and its location underground can collect moisture and affect the entire structure in time. For different kinds of uses, there are different kinds of abutments. There are four main types, and they all share that one weakness.