Physical and Computational Discrete Modeling of Masonry Vault Collapse

Van Mele T., McInerney J., DeJong M. and Block P.
Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Structural Analysis of Historical Constructions
Wroclaw, Poland

Masonry structures have demonstrated remarkable capacity to withstand large displacements and remain stable. For structures with single curvature (e.g. barrel vaults), which can be readily simplified to two dimensions, stability under large support displacement has been well described using analytical, numerical and physical methods. Structures with double curvature, however, have typically been analysed in two-dimensions in a similar fashion, despite their truly three-dimensional behaviour. In this paper, the three-dimensional mechanisms formed during large support displacements of a doubly curved masonry groin vault are investigated using physical and computational models. The study focuses on three aspects: 1) evaluation of three-dimensional mechanisms, 2) determination of the displacement magnitudes that lead to collapse, and 3) evaluation of the ability of computational methods to predict the experimental results. The collapse of a 3D-printed groin vault scale model under actuator-controlled support displacements was captured with an optical measuring system, and the measured displacement capacities were compared with Discrete Element Modelling results. The physical and computational results both predict the expected large displacement capacity, and the sensitivity of the discrete element results to a variety of parameters is quantified. In addition, a more complete understanding of the stability of masonry vaults is obtained, particularly of the relation between support movements and three-dimensional collapse mechanisms. More generally, the research methodology introduces new, promising improvements in the analysis of complex masonry structures.


    author    = "Van Mele, T. and McInerney, J. and DeJong, M. and Block, P.",
    title     = "Physical and Computational Discrete Modeling of Masonry Vault Collapse",
    booktitle = "Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Structural Analysis of Historical Constructions",
    year      = "2012",
    editor    = "",
    volume    = "",
    number    = "",
    pages     = "",
    publisher = "",
    address   = "Wroclaw, Poland",
    month     = "October",
    doi       = "",
    note      = "",

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