In engineering, abutment refers to the substructure at the ends of a bridge span or dam whereon the structure's superstructure rests or contacts. Single-span bridges have abutments at each end which provide vertical and lateral support for the bridge, as well as acting as retaining walls to resist lateral movement of the earthen fill of the bridge approach. Multi-span bridges require piers to support ends of spans unsupported by abutments. Dam abutments are generally either side of a valley or gorge but may be artificial in order to support arch dams such as Kurobe Dam in Japan.
The term may also refer to the structure supporting one side of an arch, or masonry used to resist the lateral forces of a vault. The impost or abacus of a column in classical architecture may also serve as an abutment to an arch.
The word derives from the verb "abut", meaning to "touch by means of a mutual border".
Cream-colored concrete abutment gives vertical support to the small redrail bridge, and to the earthen fill of the bridge approach embankment.
Kurobe Dam rests on artificial concrete abutments.
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