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Fragility Curves of Regular and Irregular

Moment-Resisting Concrete and Steel


Fadzli Mohamed Nazri, Chee Ghuan Tan

& Siti Nur Aqilah Saruddin

International Journal of Civil


ISSN 1735-0522

Int J Civ Eng

DOI 10.1007/s40999-017-0237-0

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DOI 10.1007/s40999-017-0237-0


Fragility Curves of Regular and Irregular Moment-Resisting

Concrete and Steel Frames
Fadzli Mohamed Nazri1 • Chee Ghuan Tan2 • Siti Nur Aqilah Saruddin1

Received: 2 September 2016 / Revised: 5 May 2017 / Accepted: 13 June 2017

Ó Iran University of Science and Technology 2017

Abstract This study presents the fragility curves of regular 1 Introduction

and irregular moment-resisting frames using different
heights, materials, and ground motion records. The con- When an earthquake strikes, seismic loss is mainly char-
crete and steel frames used in this study differed in terms of acterized by building damage. Buildings constructed before
height, namely, 3, 6, and 9 stories. Each type of frame was seismic resistance design has been introduced are the ones
designed based on Eurocode 2 and Eurocode 3 with the aid most susceptible to damage. Building damage will have a
of Eurocode 8 for earthquake loading. Incremental major impact on both country/region and its citizens,
dynamic analysis (IDA) was conducted for the three because sudden earthquakes can immediately cause mas-
selected ground motion records using SAP2000 software as sive destruction. Thus, an evaluation of the seismic per-
the main tool. The IDA curves were compared to the five formance of these buildings can provide some practical
levels of the limit state of FEMA 356: operational phase reference in reducing any loss brought by earthquakes. In
(OP), immediate occupancy, damage control, life safety, addition, most buildings in Malaysia are designed using
and collapse prevention (CP). Based on the analysis of irregular shapes. Hence, the criterion for regularity is also
fragility curves, irregular frames exhibited a higher prob- discussed by referring to Eurocode 8 [1], as shown in
ability of reaching OP and CP levels compared with regular Fig. 1.
frames. Setback irregularity is the most common type of irreg-
ular frames. Previous earthquake records show that irreg-
Keywords Regular frame  Irregular frame  Incremental ular frames (with setback) suffer greater damage than
dynamic analysis (IDA)  Limit state  Fragility curve regular buildings [2]. Thachampuram [3] investigated
6-story irregular RC frames and developed fragility curves
in relation to Indian seismic zone V with medium soil
conditions. The frames were designed as ordinary moment-
resisting frames (MRFs) using the Indian Standard 1893
(2002) and Indian Standard 456 (2000). Habibi and Asadi
[4] performed an inelastic dynamic time-history analysis
& Fadzli Mohamed Nazri on 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-story reinforced concrete MRFs with;
different types of setback subjected to various earthquake
Chee Ghuan Tan records. The relationship between the damage and drift
were derived by applying irregularity indices to account for
Siti Nur Aqilah Saruddin setback effects. Chintanapakdee and Chopra [5] investi-
gated the effect of vertical irregularity on the seismic
School of Civil Engineering, Engineering Campus, Universiti demands for 12-story frames using rigorous nonlinear
Sains Malaysia, 14300 Nibong Tebal, Penang, Malaysia response history analysis using various ground motions.
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Forty-eight irregular 12-story frames with strong columns
University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and weak beams were designed with three types of

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member or the system reaching or exceeding a specific

damage state [8]. The fragility curve has been conceptu-
alized by many researchers to assess different types of
structure [6, 7, 9–12]. Finally, fragility curves can be used
as a decision-making tool for both pre- and post-earthquake
situations, and for crafting future local code provisions.
However, studies on the development of fragility curves for
steel and RC frames with the irregularity setback located in
low seismic region are still limited, such as in Malaysia. In
this study, the 3-, 6-, and 9-story steels and RC frames were
designed based on the sizes of Malaysian buildings and the
Eurocode. The selection of ground motion records was also
based on the local conditions in Malaysia.

2 Methodology

This section discusses the methodology for developing the

fragility curve based on incremental dynamic analysis
(IDA). Figure 2 shows the general flowchart of developing
fragility curves.
Fig. 1 Criterion for building regularity with BSI setback [1]
MRFs can be classified as either regular or irregular.
irregularity (i.e., stiffness, strength, and combined stiffness Based on the Eurocode design, the frames can be catego-
and strength). rized as low-, mid-, and high-rise frames for 3 stories, 6
Typically, the story drift ratio is used as a damage stories, and 9 stories, respectively (Figs. 3, 4).
parameter for estimating the performance levels of building
structures. The story drift ratio can then be compared with
Select a case of
the performance levels suggested by Xue et al. namely, ground motion
operational phase (OP), immediate occupancy (IO), dam- records
age control (DC), life safety (LS), and collapse prevention
(CP), with 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5% of story drift ratio,
respectively [6]. Ibrahim and El-Shami [7] described the IDA Analysis
performance levels as follows:

Repeat the analysis with different storey height,

OP The building is safe to occupy with minimal or

type of structure and ground motion

IDA Curve
state no damage to the structural and non-structural
IO The building has minimal or no damage to the
Drift Limit State
state structural but minor damage to the non-structural
components. Cleaning and repairs are needed
before the building can function again. Standard Deviation,
LS The structural and non-structural components Mean, μ
state have suffered extensive damage and should be
CP The building has encountered total collapse with
state probable complete economic loss. ⎛ ln(PGA) − μ ⎞
P[D / PGA] = Φ ⎜ ⎟
⎝ σ ⎠
Another method for evaluating the performance level of
a structure is by developing the fragility curve, also known
as the seismic vulnerability curve. Fragility curves are
critical in representing the probability of damage state at Fragility Curve
different levels given a specific ground motion intensity.
Accordingly, fragility is the conditional probability of a
Fig. 2 General flowchart of fragility curve development

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By contrast, the moment-resisting steel frame (MRSF)

was designed following Eurocode 3 (EC3) [14] and EC8
standards. Steel grade fy was assumed as S275 for the steel
frame structure. Table 4 and Table 5 present the dimen-
sions of the frame designs for regular and irregular MRSF,
As a process, fragility curves were developed from IDA
curves. IDA, a method for dynamic analysis, was used to
estimate the performance of structures under seismic loads.
3m The most important process of an IDA is the selection of
6m ground motions. Najafi and Tehranizadeh [15] explained
several methods for selecting records and recommended
Fig. 3 Regular MRFs processes for scaling ground motions.
However, choosing the appropriate number of motions
is still a major issue and requires further research. Based on
UBC 1997, IBC 2000, FEMA-356, EC8, and ASCE 2006,
the recommended lowest ground motion is 3 or 7 for
obtaining the mean and median values. Thus, for this study,
three sets of ground motion records were used, as shown in
Table 6.
The most damaging earthquake experienced by Malay-
sia is the Ranau earthquake, which occurred on June 5,
2015. The Ranau earthquake was described by the United
States Geological Survey as a 10-km deep strike-slip
earthquake with 6.0 magnitude. To simulate similar ground
6m motions, three other strike-slip earthquakes with varying
magnitudes (5.5–6.61 Mw) and depths (10.21–17.22 km)
Fig. 4 Irregular MRFs
were selected for the IDA, as shown in Table 6.
Ground motion records were sourced from the websites
In this study, soil class A with peak ground acceleration
of the NGA database of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering
(PGA) was considered where agr was assumed as 0.5 g or
Research Center, Consortium of Organizations for Strong-
5 m/s2. For the regular MRF with medium ductility class,
Motion Observation Systems, and K-Net. Other records
importance value was set to 1 and behavior factor q was 4.
were obtained from the websites cited by Silva et al. [16],
For the irregular frame, EC8 was used for the behavior
such as from the European Strong-Motion Database,
factor, the value of which was 80% of that for the regular
French Accelerometric Network, and Swiss Seismological
Service. From these databases, the appropriate ground
For the moment-resisting concrete frame (MRCF), the
motions were selected. Different elastic response spectra
designs were based on the Eurocode 2 (EC2) [13] and EC8
(i.e., 0.4–2.0 g at 0.4 g increments) were then developed
[1] standards. Several assumptions were made during the
based on the type of ground motion.
design: the compressive strength of the concrete was 30 N/
Subsequently, the ground motion records were scaled for
mm2; the yield stress of the reinforcing steel was 460 N/
each developed elastic response spectrum to match the ground
mm2; and the damping ratio was 5%. Table 1 shows the
motion characteristics with soil type, as shown in Fig. 5.
fundamental periods of the three frames.
Scaling was based on frame fundamental period T1, and PGA
Tables 2 and 3 list the sizes of the beams and columns
was increased by 0.4 g until it reached 2.0 g for all ground
for both regular and irregular MRCFs.
motions (i.e., the ‘‘increment’’ part of the dynamic analysis).
The scaling process is important when observing struc-
tural performance, from original form to collapse or fail. In
Table 1 Fundamental period
this study, the IDA was stopped at 2.0 g, because structures
No. of stories Regular frame Irregular frame have already become unstable or have collapsed at this
stage. The scale factor used for the IDA was based on
3 0.39 0.31
6 0.66 0.57
Based on the IDA result, the PGA–story drift ratio curve
9 0.89 0.70
was then plotted. Imperial Valley, San Fernando, and

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Table 2 Size of beams and

No. of stories 3 6 9
columns for regular MRCFs
Section Beam Column Beam Column Beam Column

Size (mm) 350 9 500 500 9 500 350 9 500 500 9 500 350 9 500 500 9 500
Reinforcement 5T16 5T32 5T16 5T32 5T16 6T32
Shear link 8 mm @ 150 c/c 8 mm @ 150 c/c 8 mm @ 150 c/c

Table 3 Size of beams and

No. of stories 3 6 9
columns for irregular MRCFs
Section Beam Column Beam Column Beam Column

Size (mm) 350 9 500 400 9 400 350 9 500 400 9 400 350 9 500 400 9 400
Reinforcement 4T16 3T20 5T16 4T20 5T16 4T20
Shear link 8 mm @ 150 c/c 8 mm @ 150 c/c 8 mm @ 150 c/c

Table 4 Size of beams and columns for regular MRSFs

No. of stories 3 6 9
Section Beam Column Beam Column Beam Column

Size (mm) 254 9 146 9 37 203 9 203 9 86 254 9 146 9 37 203 9 203 9 86 254 9 146 9 37 203 9 203 9 86

Table 5 Size of beams and columns for irregular MRSFs

No. of stories 3 6 9
Section Beam Column Beam Column Beam Column

Size (mm) 254 9 146 9 37 203 9 203 9 86 305 9 127 9 37 203 9 203 9 86 305 9 127 9 37 203 9 203 9 86

Table 6 Selected records for

Earthquake Year Station Magnitude (Mw) Rjb (km) Mechanism
ground motion
Imperial valley 1953 El-Centro Array #9 5.50 15.11 Strike-slip
San Fernando 1971 Lake Hughes 6.61 17.22 Strike-slip
Coyote Lake 1979 Gilroy Array #1 5.74 10.21 Strike-slip

Coyote Lake were labeled RSN18, RSN71, and RSN146,

respectively. As mentioned earlier, fragility curves can be
developed from IDA curves. The curve for the story drift
ratio can also be obtained from the IDA curves; specifi-
cally, the story drift ratio can be calculated by dividing the
displacement by the total height of a building [17].
Finally, the IDA curves were compared with the Per-
formance-based Seismic Design, where performance is
classified into five categories (i.e., OP, IO, DC, LS, and
CP). In the design, every load limit has its maximum story
drift ratio limit. Xue et al. [6] suggested the associated
Fig. 5 Scaling of ground motion records maximum story drift ratio limit for the respective cate-
gories (Table 7).

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Table 7 Maximum story drift ratio limit (%) [3] 3 Results and Discussion
Limit state Story drift ratio (%)
3.1 IDA Results
OP 0.5
IO 1.0 Figure 6 shows the IDA curves for MRCF. As mentioned
DC 1.5 earlier, three types of ground motion were used in this
LS 2.0 study, namely, Imperial Valley, San Fernando, and Coyote
CP 2.5 Lake, which were labeled RSN18, RSN 71, and RSN146,
Once all PGA values for each limit state were obtained, The mean IDA was calculated to evaluate the perfor-
the corresponding mean and standard deviations were mance of the structures (Fig. 7). Based on the graphs, the
calculated. For this study, Eq. (1), which has already been patterns for the 3-, 6-, and 9-story MRCFs were similar.
simplified by Ibrahim and El-Shami [5], was used to obtain However, in the DC state, the PGA differences of the
fragility curves. regular and irregular frames for the 3- and 9-story struc-
  tures were slightly small at 7 and 1%, respectively; for the
lnðPGAÞ  l
P½D/PGA ¼ U ; ð1Þ 6-story MRCF, the difference was relatively large at
approximately 27%. The PGA values indicate that the
where D damage, U standard normal cumulative distribu- regular frame performs better than the irregular frame,
tion, l mean, and r standard deviation of the natural log- which might be related to the selected size and ground
arithm of PGA. motion. For example, a regular frame for a 3-story MRCF
All the calculated parameters for Eq. (1) are tabulated in will need 1.50 g to achieve the DC limit state, whereas
Tables 8 and 9. only 1.40 g is required for an irregular 3-story MRCF.

Table 8 Parameters of the log-

No. of stories OP IO DC LS CP
normal distribution for MRCFs
l r l r l r l r l r

Regular frame
3 -0.14 0.39 0.21 0.20 0.42 0.11 0.51 0.08 0.59 0.05
6 -0.32 0.11 0.29 0.04 0.45 0.03 0.48 0.01 0.50 0.02
9 -0.40 0.14 0.13 0.32 0.47 0.05 0.53 0.03 0.06 0.03
Irregular frame
3 -0.28 0.42 0.08 0.20 0.35 0.04 0.48 0.06 0.56 0.05
6 -0.34 0.07 -0.01 0.15 0.13 0.16 0.51 0.03 0.53 0.02
9 -0.37 0.23 0.18 0.41 0.32 0.19 0.51 0.03 0.53 0.02

Table 9 Parameters of the log-

No. of stories OP IO DC LS CP
normal distribution for MRSFs
l r l r l r l r l r

Regular frame
3 -1.11 1.32 -0.44 0.94 -0.17 0.71 -0.12 0.61 0.23 0.59
6 -0.23 0.05 0.47 0.15 0.51 0.10 0.56 0.09 0.61 0.09
9 -0.40 0.41 0.27 0.21 0.42 0.13 0.50 0.10 0.63 0.09
Irregular frame
3 -0.65 1.23 -0.26 0.84 -0.05 0.53 -0.10 0.66 0.24 0.47
6 -0.14 0.13 0.33 0.13 0.48 0.10 0.58 0.08 0.64 0.04
9 0.04 0.42 0.36 0.28 0.39 0.23 0.52 0.12 0.59 0.06

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Fig. 6 IDA curves for MRCF

Figure 8 shows the IDA curves for the regular and for each ground motion, such that the pattern for the
irregular MRSFs, whereas Fig. 9 shows the mean IDAs. 3-story curve was a slightly wavy compared with those for
From the graphs, the regular MRSFs show better perfor- the 6- and 9-story curves. Dissimilar patterns suggest that
mance compared with the irregular frames. The story drift controlling damage is less probable for stronger ground
ratio difference at 0.8 g PGA for the 3-story MRSF shows motion (i.e., decreased DC for increased intensity), which
a larger difference of 38% between the regular and irreg- contradicts the lower intensity measures obtained by Kirçil
ular frames. Overall, the pattern of the IDA curves differed and Polat [18].

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Fig. 7 Mean IDA for MRCFs: a 3-story frame, b 6-story frame, and c 9-story frame

The 6-story regular and irregular frames in the LS state In the example, the probability for the OP level is 0%
exhibited the same 1.80 g PGA. For the 9-story regular and when the PGA is 0.2 g, which is considered as a weak
irregular frames in the CP state, the frame obtained the ground motion; in contrast, probability is 98% when
same 1.90 g PGA. exposed to a strong ground motion at 1.8 g. For the CP
level, probability starts at 1.6 g and reaches 100% when
3.2 Fragility Curve PGA is more than 2.0 g. The fragility curve can thus
provide insights about the condition of the structure from
Fragility is defined as a member of a system’s conditional 0.2 to 2.0 g based on the percentage of story drift ratio. The
probability exceeding a certain limit state under the given loss of damage can also be predicted using the fragility
demand variables. Accordingly, a fragility curve esti- curve.
mates the extent of the damage of a system. Fragility In this study, the fragility curves were compared
curves are based on two aspects, namely, intensity mea- according to the different types of regularity. Figures 11,
sure [spectral acceleration (Sa) and PGA] and damage 12 and 13 show the fragility curves of MRCFs for the 3-,
measure (story drift ratio, plastic hinges, and cracks). 6-, and 9-story regular and irregular frames, respectively.
Geometry and type of analysis of the structure are also The aforementioned figures compare regular frames
considered in fragility curve development. Consequently, with irregular frames. When weak ground motions were
the different types of structure and ground motion affect exposed to 0.2 g, the damage probability was 0% for both
the shape of the curve. the regular low rise and the irregular frame. At the CP
In this study, seismic fragility was presented as the level, the probability was 100% when ground motion was
damage probability curve (fragility curve). After all fragi- more than 2.0 g for the regular frame and 1.9 g for the
lity curves were plotted, the performance of structures was irregular frame.
determined for damage probability. A fragility curve for a For the OP level of the 6-story frame, the probability
low-rise regular MRCF is shown in Fig. 10. was 100% for both regular and irregular frames when

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Fig. 8 IDA curves for MRSFs

ground motions were 1.0 and 1.7 g, respectively. Mean- were more than 1.9 and 1.8 g for the regular frame and
while, for the CP level, 100% probability was achieved irregular frame, respectively.
when ground motions were 1.7 and 1.8 g for the regular Overall, the graphs show that irregular frames provide
frame and irregular frame, respectively. For the 9-story poorer performance compared with regular frames when
frame, when the PGA was 0.6 g, the probabilities of OP low-, mid-, and high-rise MRCFs are exposed to weak or
performance were 20% for the regular frame and 24% for strong ground motions. Figures 14, 15, 16 present the
the irregular frame. A 100% probability of reaching and curves for the 3-, 6-, and 9-story regular and irregular
exceeding the CP level was reached when ground motions frames, respectively.

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Fig. 9 Mean IDA for MRSFs: a 3-story frame, b 6-story frame, and c 9-story frame

Fig. 10 Fragility curve for a low-rise regular MRCF Fig. 11 Fragility curves for 3-story regular and irregular MRCFs

When the PGA was 0.4 g, the probabilities for the OP

level was approximately 55% for the regular frame and However, when PGA was increased to 0.8 g for the
40% for the irregular frame (Fig. 14). At the CP level, the 6-story MRSF, the probabilities of the OP level for the
probabilities were 2% for the regular frame and 0% for the regular frame and irregular frame were 40 and 20%,
irregular frame. When the PGA was increased to 1.8 g, the respectively. At the CP level, the probability for both
probabilities of reaching or exceeding the OP level for the frames was 0%. When the PGA was increased to 2.0 g, the
regular frame and irregular frame were approximately 90 probability of reaching and exceeding the OP level was
and 84%, respectively. For the CP level, the probabilities 100% for both frames. For the CP level, the probabilities
were 70% for the regular frame and 76% for the irregular were approximately 84 and 90% for the regular and
frame. irregular frames, respectively. For the 9-story frame, the

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Fig. 12 Fragility curves for 6-story regular and irregular MRCFs Fig. 15 Fragility curve for 6-story regular and irregular MRSFs

Fig. 13 Fragility curves for 9-story regular and irregular MRCFs Fig. 16 Fragility curve for 9-story regular and irregular MRSFs

4 Conclusion

This study was aimed at developing fragility curves for

regular and irregular frames used for concrete and steel low-,
mid-, and high-rise structures. The designs were based on
EC2, EC3, and EC8. In developing the fragility curves, IDA
was initially conducted to obtain the PGA–story drift ratio
curve. Then, three sets of ground motion records were used
for the analysis. Subsequently, the IDA curves were com-
pared with the limit state to obtain the mean and the standard
deviation of the PGAs. The fragility curves for both regular
and irregular frames were developed. The following con-
clusions can be drawn from this research:
Fig. 14 Fragility curve for 3-story regular and irregular MRSFs
1. The IDA curve for regular frames was compared with
probability of reaching the CP level was 100% when the that of irregular frames. The IDA curve under NF
PGA was increased further to 2.1 g for both the regular and ground motions shows that regular frames perform
irregular frames. better compared to irregular frames for low-, mid-, and
Based on observations, the patterns of the fragility high-rise structures for both concrete and steel mate-
curves differed for the concrete frames. For the steel rial. A regular 3-story MRCF can sustain up to 1.70 g
frames, the regular frames showed higher probability per- before collapsing compared to irregular frames, which
centages at the OP and CP levels compared with the can only sustain 1.80 g. For 6-story MRCF, regular
irregular frames. and irregular frames require 1.50 and 1.10 g to achieve

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