Crack initiation and propagation in unreinforced masonry specimens subjected to repeated in-plane loading during light damage

Paul A. Korswagen*, Michele Longo, Edwin Meulman, Jan G. Rots

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
222 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, gas extraction in the northern part of the Netherlands has been causing low-magnitude, induced, shallow earthquakes. Besides safety, the prediction and evaluation of ‘light’ damage due to these induced ground motions is important, as it is related to economic and serviceability losses, and societal unrest. An experimental and numerical campaign is ongoing at Delft University of Technology, aiming to improve the knowledge of the underlying physics of crack initiation and propagation in unreinforced masonry (URM) structures typical in the Netherlands. A damage scale and damage parameter are defined herein in order to objectively quantify cracking damage as a function of the number, length, and width of cracks in masonry walls. The cracking mechanisms are studied for URM walls and spandrels subjected to in-plane loading. Displacements, strains, and loads under which cracking starts and propagates are evaluated and correlations are sought. The Digital Image Correlation measuring system is used to accurately detect crack formation and the evolution of the cracking pattern. This is also utilised to validate and calibrate non-linear finite element models. From the experiments, drift values are obtained for the light damage state of the masonry walls. A range between 0.3‰ and 1.1‰ is set as belonging to light damage. Moreover, a damage accumulation or material degradation was observed during cyclic testing. Additionally, fracture-mechanics based, micro and macro finite element models are capable of reproducing the repetitive behaviour of the tests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4651-4687
Number of pages37
JournalBulletin of Earthquake Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Crack analysis
  • Damage scale
  • Digital Image Correlation
  • Earthquake damage
  • Material degradation
  • Unreinforced masonry structures


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