Uncertainty in Seismic Capacity of Masonry Buildings
Received: 17 April 2012 / Revised: 25 May 2012 / Accepted: 19 June 2012 / Published: 6 July 2012
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Seismic assessment of masonry structures is plagued by both inherent randomness and model uncertainty. The former is referred to as aleatory uncertainty, the latter as epistemic uncertainty because it depends on the knowledge level. Pioneering studies on reinforced concrete buildings have revealed a
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Seismic assessment of masonry structures is plagued by both inherent randomness and model uncertainty. The former is referred to as aleatory uncertainty, the latter as epistemic uncertainty because it depends on the knowledge level. Pioneering studies on reinforced concrete buildings have revealed a significant influence of modeling parameters on seismic vulnerability. However, confidence in mechanical properties of existing masonry buildings is much lower than in the case of reinforcing steel and concrete. This paper is aimed at assessing whether and how uncertainty propagates from material properties to seismic capacity of an entire masonry structure. A typical two-story unreinforced masonry building is analyzed. Based on previous statistical characterization of mechanical properties of existing masonry types, the following random variables have been considered in this study: unit weight, uniaxial compressive strength, shear strength at zero confining stress, Young’s modulus, shear modulus, and available ductility in shear. Probability density functions were implemented to generate a significant number of realizations and static pushover analysis of the case-study building was performed for each vector of realizations, load combination and lateral load pattern. Analysis results show a large dispersion in displacement capacity and lower dispersion in spectral acceleration capacity. This can directly affect decision-making because both design and retrofit solutions depend on seismic capacity predictions. Therefore, engineering judgment should always be used when assessing structural safety of existing masonry constructions against design earthquakes, based on a series of seismic analyses under uncertain parameters.