Calcium silicate against clay brick masonry: an experimental comparison of the in-plane behaviour during light damage

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The north of the Netherlands is prone to frequent, light earthquakes linked to economical losses and societal unrest due to the induced seismicity in the region. These light earthquakes produce correspondingly low values of in-plane drift on the typical masonry structures of the region, many of which are built with cavity walls composed of an inner, load-bearing calcium-silicate masonry leaf, and an outer, exposed fired-clay masonry veneer. To assess the resulting damage from the lighter earthquakes, it is thus necessary to understand the difference in behaviour of the inner and the outer masonry leaves when exposed to the same drift values. Experimental tests of replicated, full-scale calcium-silicate brick walls and spandrels are detailed herein and compared to previously tested clay masonry samples. A purposely developed, scalar damage parameter is used to assess the width, number and length of the cracks to objectively quantify damage. High resolution digital image correlation is used to accurately monitor the initiation and propagation of cracks. The experiments reveal that calcium-silicate samples exhibit slightly greater damage than clay samples when subjected to the same in-plane drift. From the tests, drift values for light damage or ‘damage state one’ are set between 0.15 and 0.65‰ for the type of wall tested. Moreover, in these tests, cracks in calcium-silicate samples were significantly more likely to split brick units, whereas cracks in the type of clay samples employed, always followed the masonry joints. This fundamental difference in the light-damage behaviour between the two materials is of importance when considering the perception of damage, the strategies and cost of the repairs, and the strategies for strengthening of masonry structures with cavity walls resembling the type of masonry tested herein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2759–2781
Number of pages23
JournalBulletin of Earthquake Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Calcium silicate
  • Clay masonry
  • Cracks
  • DIC
  • Light damage

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