District-scale numerical analysis of settlements related to groundwater lowering in variable soil conditions

Dario Peduto, Alfonso Prosperi, Gianfranco Nicodemo*, Mandy Korff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
85 Downloads (Pure)


This study presents a novel framework in which numerical modelling contributes to the performance of district-scale, subsidence-induced damage assessment in cities where ground settlements affect entire quarters. Therein, the implementation of expeditious procedures offers geotechnical engineers the possibility of contributing beyond the typical site scale. For this purpose, several “typified” hydro-geomechanical-loading (HGL) models, which represent (simplified) scenarios of masonry buildings undergoing settlements, were set up to account for different predisposing or triggering factors (i.e., soil heterogeneity, loading conditions, and groundwater variations) of settlement occurrence in built-up areas. These models exploit multi-source, wide-area input datasets encompassing the hydro-mechanical properties of geomaterials, in situ investigations and measurements (e.g., groundwater levels in wells), and innovative remote sensing data (i.e., DInSAR techniques). With reference to a district in Rotterdam City (the Netherlands), which was built on “soft soils”, the numerical simulations of different scenarios (i) provide an overview of the comparative role of predisposing or triggering factors on settlement occurrence and (ii) allow assessments of the expected induced damage to masonry buildings over 30 years with the exploitation of fragility curves. Considering the widespread diffusion of such geohazards, the proposed approach could help prioritise (rather expensive) maintenance work to the built heritage within sustainable strategies for subsidence risk mitigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)978-993
Number of pages16
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • building damage assessment
  • groundwater lowering
  • settlement modelling
  • soft soils
  • soil variability


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