Evaluation of modelling strategies for estimating cumulative damage on Groningen masonry buildings due to recursive induced earthquakes

Vasilis Sarhosis, Dimitrios Dais, Eleni Smyrou, Ihsan Engin Bal

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The majority of houses in the Groningen gas field region, the largest in Europe, consist of unreinforced masonry material. Because of their particular characteristics (cavity walls of different material, large openings, limited bearing walls in one direction, etc.) these houses are exceptionally vulnerable to shallow induced earthquakes, frequently occurring in the region during the last decade. Raised by the damage incurred in the Groningen buildings due to induced earthquakes, the question whether the small and sometimes invisible plastic deformations prior to a major earthquake affect the overall final response becomes of high importance as its answer is associated with legal liability and consequences due to the damage-claim procedures employed in the region. This paper presents, for the first time, evidence of cumulative damage from available experimental and numerical data reported in the literature. Furthermore, the available modelling tools are scrutinized in terms of their pros and cons in modelling cumulative damage in masonry. Results of full-scale shake-table tests, cyclic wall tests, complex 3D nonlinear time-history analyses, single degree of freedom (SDOF) analyses and finally wall element analyses under periodic dynamic loading have been used for better explaining the phenomenon. It was concluded that a user intervention is needed for most of the SDOF modelling tools if cumulative damage is to be modelled. Furthermore, the results of the cumulative damage in SDOF models are sensitive to the degradation parameters, which require calibration against experimental data. The overall results of numerical models, such as SDOF residual displacement or floor lateral displacements, may be misleading in understanding the damage accumulation. On the other hand, detailed discrete-element modelling is found to be computationally expensive but more consistent in terms of providing insights in real damage accumulation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalBulletin of Earthquake Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • masonry
  • cumulative damage
  • induced seismicity


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