Reliability updating for lateral failure of historic quay walls

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The historic canal walls of Amsterdam, stretching 200 km in total, are constructed as a masonry wall on a timber deck supported by vertical timber piles. Understanding the resistance against lateral failure of these quays has been challenging due to uncertainties in their working principles, geometry, soil and structural properties. This paper proposes a Bayesian approach to include evidence from past loading situations and corresponding deformations into the reliability assessment. This approach enables refinement of the reliability predictions and parameter distribution uncertainties, leading to a more accurate prediction of the resistance against the lateral failure of historic quay wall. Depending on the type of evidence, an a-priori reliability prediction for a quay wall that fails to meet safety standards can be updated to any of the three consequence classes outlined in NEN8700. In a case study, a quay wall with an a-priori reliability of β = 1.5 has been increased to β = 3.2 by including evidence of an extreme survived load of 10 kN/m2 that resulted in displacements of less than 4 mm. This is a decrease in failure probability by two orders of magnitude, showing the potential impact of using observational information in combination with Bayesian updating.