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Engineering Structures 25 (2003) 1515–1523

Comparative inelastic pushover analysis of masonry frames

T. Salonikios a,∗, C. Karakostas a, V. Lekidis a, A. Anthoine b
Institute of Engineering Seismology and Earthquake Engineering, P.O. Box 53, GR-55102 Finikas, Thessaloniki, Greece
Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, ELSA, I 21020 Ispra, Italy

Received 22 July 2002; received in revised form 15 May 2003; accepted 16 May 2003


In the present paper, the methodology, suggested in FEMA 273 guidelines for the evaluation of the seismic capacity of existing
structures, is applied for the case of unreinforced masonry-type plane frames. Results from comparative pushover analyses of
masonry plane frames are presented. Calculations are carried out by the SAP2000 Nonlinear and CAST3M programs. For the
analysis by the SAP2000 Nonlinear program, linear elements with appropriate plastic hinges are used for the modelling. For the
analysis by the CAST3M program, two different types of models are examined, using either homogenous plane elements or discrete
brick and joint elements. From the analytical results, useful conclusions are drawn on the strength and inelastic behaviour of masonry
frames under three different distributions of the seismic lateral loads.
 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Unreinforced masonry walls; Profile of lateral loads; Pushover analysis; Frame elements; Homogenous elements; Discrete brick elements

1. Introduction buildings. Using such methodologies, a more reliable

and realistic evaluation of the damage distribution can
Unreinforced masonry structures are found in many be achieved.
earthquake prone countries. For example, many monas- In recent codes [5], the use of such nonlinear displace-
teries of mount Athos in northern Greece, that were built ment-based methods is extended to the case of unre-
at the beginning of the previous millennium, have been inforced masonry (URM) buildings. It was found that
repeatedly stricken by destructive earthquakes in 1366, such structures may exhibit ductile inelastic behaviour
1511, 1572, 1776 and 1797 with magnitudes of about under combined vertical and horizontal loads [6]:
6.5–6.7 [1]. In most cases, however, only some cracks according to the Mohr–Coulomb criterion, in the high
on the walls or partial collapses were observed, with no inelastic deformation range, where cohesion ceases to
total collapse ever reported. In contrast to this actual exist, satisfactory ductility is provided by the friction.
behaviour, analytical computations based on conven- The in-plane resisting mechanism activated in URM
tional force-based methods indicate that total collapse buildings is provided by the piers and spandrels. In
should have followed such seismic actions. addition to the normal force due to the dead loads (in
Such incompatibilities between the actual structural the piers only), these resisting elements are subjected to
behaviour and the predictions stemming from conven- shear and bending due to the imposed seismic action at
tional analytical methods led to the need for using more the base of the structure. Depending on the width to
refined and realistic computational approaches. In recent height ratio of the element and on the respective values
years, displacement-based methodologies, such as the of the normal force, bending moment and shear force,
pushover analysis [2–4], have been proved more suitable three failure mechanisms might be observed [2]:
for cases of retrofitting and rehabilitation of existing
앫 Flexural (rocking) failure consisting the initial crack-
ing of the masonry in tension (in the bed joints for

Corresponding author. Tel.: +30-31-047-60814; fax: +30-31- piers, in both head joints and bricks in spandrels), and
047-6085. the subsequent crushing of the diagonally opposite
E-mail address: (T. Salonikios). compressed corners of the element.

0141-0296/03/$ - see front matter  2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1516 T. Salonikios et al. / Engineering Structures 25 (2003) 1515–1523

앫 Diagonal cracking shear failure involving the bed and bay (1B) and a seven-bay (7B) model (Fig. 1). The
head joints and/or the bricks depending on their rela- choice of the models is dictated from the fact that URM
tive strength. buildings in earthquake prone Southern Europe countries
앫 Shear sliding failure along a bed joint at one end of such as Greece are usually low-rise (in most cases one
the structural element (only for piers). or two storeys high), but may be smaller or larger
depending on the use (private or collective). In addition
This is fully coherent with what have been observed to the self-weight of the masonry, extra masses are con-
during several damage surveys of masonry buildings sidered at the floor levels. For the 1B frame, a uniformly
subjected to earthquake excitations. Two main types of distributed mass of 6 tons/m is assumed for the first
cracks have been observed: either horizontal at the ends floor, and of 4 tons/m for the second floor. The corre-
of the pier (or vertical at the ends of the spandrels), or sponding values for the 7B frame are assumed to be 3
diagonal in both element types. and 2 tons/m, respectively, so as to obtain the same mass
When an URM building is subjected to a seismic base (and associated axial load) on the piers of the 1B frame
excitation, both bending and shear resisting mechanisms and on the internal piers of the 7B frame (the mass on
may be activated and failure will first appear at the the two external piers of the 7B is smaller).
location with the smallest strength. To reliably describe For the analysis, three types of modelling are investi-
the inelastic behaviour of an URM building, a model gated. In the first, the linear frame elements of the
should allow both flexural and shear mechanisms to be SAP2000 Nonlinear program are used, while in the two
activated. others, a continuous and discrete modelling is applied
Methods of displacement-based or pushover inelastic using suitable plane and joint elements of the
analysis for the seismic evaluation of URM buildings CAST3M program.
possess the advantage that loads are applied in a static The basic mechanical characteristics of the masonry
way and hence the results can be easily verified. Also, material are not a parameter for this study and are there-
structural elements are checked using deformation and fore the same for all computations (thickness of the
displacement values, which are the actual result of the walls t = 0.60 m, volumetric mass r = 2 t / m3, Young
earthquake excitation on the building [4]. Irrespective of modulus E = 1650 MPa, Poisson ratio n = 0.2, tension
the design methodology to be used (displacement-based strength f t = 0.1 MPa, compression strength f c = 3.0
or simplified pushover analysis), there is always a need MPa). Additional parameters required for a specific
for inelastic modelling of the building and for appropri- modelling option have been chosen on the basis of exist-
ate distribution of lateral loads along the height. Among ing guidelines [5], engineering judgment and/or experi-
the models suggested in the literature for the simulation ence acquired from previous use of the model.
of URM walls, most prominent are the discrete brick and
joint [7], the continuum [8] and the frame element [9] 2.1. Linear (S) model (SAP2000)
models. A comparative study using all three proposed
models is presented in this paper. In the computations, The structures are considered as an assemblage of lin-
three different lateral load distributions are also assumed, ear elements (beams) available in the SAP2000 Nonlin-
since in URM buildings the appropriate lateral loads pro- ear program [9]. These beams have an elastic–plastic
file is not always obvious. This problem arises from the behaviour based on the plastic hinge concept. In this
fact that, in such buildings, an important fraction of the case, a necessary prerequisite is the definition of the
total mass is distributed along the wall height and in possible locations and types of the plastic hinges that
many cases there are flexible wooden floors that do not might develop along the span of each element. These
provide sufficient diaphragm constrain at their level. plastic hinges should be able to accurately describe the
possible failure mechanisms observed in the actual struc-
tures (flexural or shear). Here, a suitable moment–
2. Modelling assumptions rotation (M–⌰) plastic hinge is provided at both ends
of each element (flexural mechanism), while a shear–
The resistance of URM buildings to seismic exci- displacement (V–d) plastic hinge is located at the mid
tations relies on the in-plane and out-of-plane resistance span of the element (shear mechanism), as shown in
of several load-bearing masonry walls arranged in Fig. 2.
orthogonal planes. Out-of-plane failure may be pre- The constitutive laws of the plastic hinges are defined
vented by an appropriate connection between perpen- according to the guidelines of FEMA 273, Table 7.2 [5]:
dicular walls. In-plane failure is governed by the geo- the initial linear elastic branch is followed by a horizon-
metric arrangement of the openings that defines a series tal one after the first cracking. At a higher inelastic
of piers and spandrels (plane frame) expected to sustain deformation, a sudden drop of the strength to 60% of
the gravity and lateral loads. In the present work, two its maximum value is assumed, and then kept constant
different, two storey frames are examined, namely a one- afterwards. For the case of structural components with
T. Salonikios et al. / Engineering Structures 25 (2003) 1515–1523 1517

Fig. 1. Geometry of the frames and value of the added masses.

CAST3M [11]: it is an isotropic scalar damage model

suitable for concrete structures under monotonic loading.
The damage variable varies from 0 (virgin material) to
1 (fully destroyed material). This model is known to suf-
fer from a strong mesh-dependency in the post-peak
range, which can be eliminated through appropriate
numerical techniques (e.g. non-local or viscous
regularization). However, this was not necessary in the
present work, since the post-peak response of the struc-
tures (softening branch) is never derived. The size of the
mesh elements thus had little influence on the results and
has been chosen on a purely geometrical basis (small
enough to describe the different members but larger than
a single brick).
The elastic characteristics and the
tension/compression strengths have been set to the same
values chosen for the simplified analysis (E = 1650
MPa, n = 0.2, f t = 0.1 MPa, f c = 3.0 MPa). The para-
meters governing the post-peak behaviour of the model
have been chosen so as to obtain a brittle softening in
tension and a more ductile softening in compression
(Fig. 4).

2.3. Discrete (D) model (CAST3M)

Masonry is considered as a two-dimensional hetero-

Fig. 2. Modelling details for piers and spandrels in the SAP2000 pro-
gram. geneous material under the plane stress assumption: the
bricks are modelled separately (elastic material) and the
mortar joints are represented by elastic–plastic interface
a height to width ratio equal to 1 (which can be con- elements [7,12]. The plastic yielding of the interface is
sidered to satisfactorily apply, from an engineering point governed by a composite yield locus featuring a usual
of view, to the frames examined here) the shape of the Mohr–Coulomb criterion, a tension cut-off and a com-
constitutive law is the same for both the flexural and pression cut-off. The post-peak regime is controlled by
shear mechanisms. The corresponding models are shown three uniaxial evolutions featuring, respectively, the
in Fig. 3. behaviours in pure shear, pure tension and pure com-
2.2. Continuous (C) model (CAST3M) The elastic characteristics of the brick and mortar joint
are usually very different (the former are much stiffer
Masonry is considered as a two-dimensional homo- than the latter). The Young moduli of the two materials
geneous material under the plane stress assumption (2400 MPa for brick and 400 MPa for mortar) have been
(homogenized media) so that bricks and mortar joints chosen so as to give on average (owing to the bond pat-
are not represented separately. The numerical model tern, masonry is orthotropic) a value around 1650 MPa.
chosen is the model of Mazars [10] existing in the code The friction angle of the interface was 30° and the
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Fig. 3. Linear (S) model.

Fig. 4. Continuous (Mazars) model: (a) meshes and (b) uniaxial stress–strain curves of the material in tension and compression.

cohesion 0.09 MPa. The tension/compression strengths such a force-controlled loading makes inaccessible the
of the masonry (0.1 and 3.0 MPa) have been affected to possible softening branch of the response. In the com-
the tension/compression cut-offs of the interface. The parative analyses, three different lateral load distri-
post-peak behaviour was again chosen very brittle in ten- butions were used:
sion and more ductile in compression and shear (Fig. 5).
Furthermore, in order to maintain a reasonable size of 앫 Load case ACC: The lateral force applied at each
finite element problem, especially for the 7B frame, the node is proportional to the mass tributary to that node.
dimensions of the bricks have been overvalued (0.50 × When all nodes have the same mass, this load case
0.25 m instead of 0.20 × 0.10 m). results in a uniform distribution of the lateral loads.
앫 Load case LOAD: The lateral force applied at each
2.4. Distribution of lateral loading node is proportional to the product of the height of
the node times the mass tributary to that node. When
The loading is imposed on the structures in a two-step all nodes have the same mass, this load case results in
sequence. In the first step, the vertical (permanent) loads an inverse triangular distribution of the lateral loads.
are applied and, in the second step, the lateral loads are 앫 Load case MODE: The lateral force applied at each
imposed. The values of the latter are then increased mon- node is proportional to the product of the displace-
otonically step by step [13]. The analysis is carried out ment of the node in the first mode shape times the
until a prescribed displacement value at a prescribed mass tributary to that node. This load case results in
(control) node is achieved or until any further increment lateral loads proportional to the inertial forces applied
of the lateral load becomes impossible. In particular, to the structure when vibrating freely according to its
T. Salonikios et al. / Engineering Structures 25 (2003) 1515–1523 1519

Fig. 5. Discrete (elastic bricks, nonlinear joints) model: (a) meshes and (b) failure criterion of the joints with the corresponding stress–displacement
curves in tension, shear and compression.

first mode shape. When the first mode shape is shear Each of the 18 analysis cases described above leads
or even bending dominated as in the case of the build- to the pushover curve, i.e. the base shear versus displace-
ings studied here, this load case results very close to ment at the control point (middle point at the top of the
the previous one (i.e. LOAD) because the lateral building) curve, as well as to the failure mechanism cor-
forces have a fairly small vertical component even in responding to the maximum shear achieved (peak or
a bending mode. plateau). As mentioned earlier, the probable softening
branch could not be obtained because the loading was
3. Comparative presentation of the numerical The base shear–displacement curves obtained by the
results simplified (S) analyses are presented in Fig. 6, for each
frame and each load case considered. As can be easily
A preliminary analysis (computation of the first mode seen, the lateral load distribution does not seem to gre-
shapes and frequencies) was necessary in order to define atly affect the pushover curves of the S models (same
the distribution of the lateral forces for the MODE load ultimate strength). The only difference seems to be a
case. This was also an opportunity to check the possible higher stiffness of the frames under the ACC load case,
differences already existing between the different model- which is clearly due to the distribution of the lateral
ling strategies in the linear elastic domain. All three loads: independently of the load case considered, the
modelling approaches (S, C and D) have been found to piers of the first storey are subjected to the same shear
yield the same fundamental frequency and very similar (i.e. the total base shear V), whereas the shear applied
mode shapes. to the piers of the second storey is much lower in the
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Fig. 6. Pushover curves for the linear model: (a) 1B frame and (b)
7B frame.

ACC load case than in the LOAD or MODE ones, thus

resulting in a lower total displacement at the con-
trolled point.
Also of interest are the mechanisms of the creation of
the plastic hinges, which are presented in Fig. 7.
Although the spatial and temporal activation of the Fig. 7. Plastic hinges formation history for the linear models.
hinges generally depends on the load case, the final fail-
ure mechanism is always determined by the shear failure
of all piers of the first storey, resulting in a lateral (quasi) corresponding displacement, failure mechanisms), the
rigid translation of the upper part of the building (same results of the C and D analyses present common features
displacement at both floors). This explains why the lat- not observed on the results of the S analyses. To begin
eral ultimate strength does not depend on the distribution with, the LOAD and MODE load cases always yield
of the lateral loads: only the horizontal resultant force is similar results (same pushover curves, similar failure
working (not the resultant bending moment). This also mechanism), whereas the ACC load case always results
explains why the ultimate lateral strength is approxi- in a greater stiffness and a much higher ultimate load.
mately the sum of the shear strengths of the piers of the This is again due to the fact that the shear applied to the
first storey, i.e. 2 × 90 = 180 kN for the 1B frame and piers of the second storey is much higher in the LOAD
8 × 90 = 720 kN for the 7B frame. and MODE load cases than in the ACC one. Under the
The results for the continuous (C) models (pushover LOAD/MODE load case, not only the total displacement
curves and failure mechanisms) are presented in Figs. 8 at the controlled point is higher (lower stiffness as in the
and 9 for the 1B and 7B frames, respectively, while the simplified analyses), but also the failure mechanism is
corresponding results for the discrete (D) models are not restricted to the shear failure of the piers of the first
presented in Figs. 10 and 11, with the exception of the storey. For the 7B frame, the failure largely involves the
7B model under the MODE load case (early interruption second storey where most piers undergo a rocking fail-
of the computations due to lack of convergence). ure, whereas, under the ACC load case, the failure is
Despite significant differences (ultimate strength and mainly concentrated in the first storey (as in all simpli-
T. Salonikios et al. / Engineering Structures 25 (2003) 1515–1523 1521

Fig. 8. (a) Pushover curves and (b) failure patterns for the 1B con-
tinuous model.

fied analyses). This is particularly clear in Fig. 9. For

the 1B frame, however, this explanation does not hold
true since, independently of the load case, the final fail-
ure always occurs through an overall rocking of the
structure. The increased strength under the ACC load
case is then attributable to the differential horizontal dis-
placement along the height: the resultant bending
moment then contributes substantially to the failure but Fig. 9. (a) Pushover curves and (b) failure patterns for the 7B con-
less in the ACC case. tinuous model.
Another significant difference with the simplified
analysis is the fundamental influence of the number of more extensive in the C analysis (the junction zones
bays on the behaviour of frames: for a given modelling between piers and spandrels are also involved) than in
and a given load case, the failure mechanism of the 7B the D analysis where only one (top or bottom) joint is
frame is far from being the spatial repetition of the fail- opening. This could explain why the strength and stiff-
ure mechanism of the 1B frame. Consequently, the ulti- ness of the models are higher in the C analysis,
mate strength of the 7B frame is not approximately four especially for the 7B frame: the progressive and final
times the ultimate strength of the 1B frame, as found in failure of the 7B frame requires much more energy in
the simplified analyses, but much more (five or six the C analysis (extensive failure of the piers and/or
times). neighbour junctions) than in the D analysis (localized
All the pushover curves obtained in the C analysis failure of few horizontal joints).
reach higher shear values and exhibit a slower stiffness From the whole discussion it appears that the differ-
degradation before failure than their analogues in the D ences between the results obtained by the three types of
analysis. However, the differences are substantial only analysis are clearly linked to a modelling strategy more
for the 7B frame. Indeed, the failure mechanisms of the or less able to adequately describe the inelastic behav-
1B frame are similar in both modelling (overall rocking), iour of the masonry, even if the material data are chosen
whereas the failure mechanisms of the 7B frame exhibit in a consistent way. These differences are more accentu-
major differences. In the C analysis, the shear failure ated in the case of the multi-bay frames and for the ACC
observed on the piers always occurs by diagonal crack- load case. For example, under the MODE load case, the
ing, whereas in the D analysis, a clear shear sliding takes shear strength of the 1B frame is 180 kN both for the
place in one (or two) joint(s) at the bottom of the simplified (S) and discrete (D) models but is reached at
element. Similarly, the rocking failure of the piers is different top displacement values (6 and 15 mm,
1522 T. Salonikios et al. / Engineering Structures 25 (2003) 1515–1523

respectively), whereas the continuous model reaches a

slightly higher shear strength (210 kN) at 40 mm. Con-
versely, for the 7B frame under the ACC load case, the
strength and corresponding top displacement values for
the S, D and C models are 700 kN at 2 mm, 950 kN at
6 mm and 1600 kN at 10 mm, respectively.

4. Conclusions

It should be noted that the existing literature on the

inelastic modelling of masonry frames is rather limited,
and very few guidelines are available for the analytical
simulation of the stress–strain laws of the materials
involved (e.g. bricks, mortar and/or masonry). So, in this
work, the assumptions used were based on engineering
judgment and previous experience of the authors. A syn-
opsis of the comparative study of the results obtained
Fig. 10. (a) Pushover curves and (b) failure patterns for the 1B dis- Depending on the modelling strategy adopted, the
crete model. results differ not only quantitatively (shear strength
value and corresponding displacements) but also quali-
tatively (failure mechanism). As far as the maximum
developed strength is concerned, the lower estimates are
obtained by the S models, followed by the D models (up
to 40% higher) and the C models (up to 130% higher),
the differences being much more accentuated in the case
of the multi-bay frames under the ACC load case. The
type of structure (single bay or multiple bays) is also
decisive (excepted in the S analyses), since the failure
mechanism is quite different in each case (overall rock-
ing for the 1B frame, shear failure of the piers in first
storey and rocking failure of the piers in the second sto-
rey for the 7B frame). Even the load case has a notice-
able influence: the ACC load case leads to a consistently
higher strength (excepted in the S analysis) and a differ-
ent failure mechanism whereas the LOAD and MODE
load cases are always equivalent.
The simplified (S) approach appears over-simplified
for not being able to predict different types of failure
mechanisms according to the type of structure and/or
loading. Probably, the hinges (location, type, and above
all, constitutive law) need to be refined in order to better
describe the inelastic behaviour of the masonry elements.
Nevertheless, since it systematically leads to conserva-
tive results (underestimate of the ultimate strength), the
simplified approach may always be used as a first step
for the assessment of existing masonry frames.
From the whole research effort, significant scattering
in the results was observed, depending on the modelling
approach and the assumptions used. This fact indicates
the need for further research towards a proper calibration
of the various modelling techniques, which should ide-
Fig. 11. (a) Pushover curves and (b) failure patterns for the 7B dis- ally be based on combined experimental/numerical
crete model. efforts in this direction.
T. Salonikios et al. / Engineering Structures 25 (2003) 1515–1523 1523

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