Published in Engineering Failure Analysis, Vol. 97, pp. 534–555, 2019
The out-of-plane response is a complex and at the same time key aspect of the seismic vulnerability of masonry structures. It depends on several factors, some of which are the material properties, the quality of the walls, the geometry of the structure, the connections between structural elements and the stiffness of the diaphragms.
During the last years, a wide variety of numerical methods has been employed to assess the out-of-plane behaviour of unreinforced masonry structures. Finite element macro-modelling approaches are among the most famous as they allow modelling large structures at a reasonable computational cost. However, macro-modelling approaches may result in a non-realistic representation of localized cracks and a dependency of the numerical solution on the finite element mesh.
Mixed strain/displacement finite elements have been recently proposed as a remedy to the above numerical pathologies. Due to the independent interpolation of strains and displacements these finite element formulations are characterized by an enhanced accuracy in strain localization and crack propagation problems, being at the same time practically mesh independent. For these reasons, mixed finite elements are employed in this work for the out-of-plane assessment of unreinforced masonry structures, being at the same time their first real-scale application. A full-scale experimental campaign of two masonry structures, a stone and a brick one, subjected to shaking-table tests is chosen as reference benchmark. Their structural response under seismic actions is numerically assessed through nonlinear static analysis. The proposed approach is validated through the comparison of the numerical results with the experimental ones, as well as with the results obtained using standard irreducible finite elements.
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