Modelling of Damage in Historical Masonry Façades Subjected to a Combination of Ground Settlement and Vibrations

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Historical masonry façades are sensitive to various damaging processes. A recent study, looking at the initiation and progression of cracks in masonry, in the range of 0.1 to 5 mm in width and thus corresponding to light damage [1], has allowed for the calibration of finite-element models that include a material model capable of accurately replicating this damage and which is populated with material properties corresponding to existing structures [6]. The models, which also include a soil-structure interaction boundary designed to account for the effect of the soil during earthquake vibrations [7], have been used to determine the fragility of masonry buildings via the proxy of 2D walls [2]. In the study presented herein, the finite element models are employed to replicate the geometry of (historical) masonry facades to determine their sensitivity to light damage as a consequence of the two damaging processes observed to be most common for this type of façade, namely (differential) settlements and (earthquake) vibrations [3]. The masonry façades were first pre-damaged via settlement distortions which generate just-visible cracks in the order of 0.1 mm to 1 mm in width. Then, an acceleration time history corresponding to two different Dutch earthquake events and two recordings of traffic-induced building vibrations [9] were separately applied at the base of the models. In this manner, the effect of existing damage could be assessed in regards to the aggravation generated by vibrations. The settlement part of the study revealed that long façades were more vulnerable to applied soil distortions, for instance. Then, subsequent vibrations further increased damage for intensities measured with a peak ground velocity (PGV) larger than 2 mm/s while the control set of virgin or uncracked façades remained undamaged at this PGV. At 32 mm/s, many pre-damaged façades also exceeded the light damage range. At equal PGV, the traffic vibrations, with a larger number of effective cycles, resulted in increased damage aggravation in comparison to the earthquake recordings.