Effects of size and position of openings on in-plane capacity of unreinforced masonry walls

Zhen Liu, Adam Crewe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
102 Downloads (Pure)


In recent earthquakes, unreinforced masonry (URM) structures built of masonry walls containing openings such as doors and windows have been shown to have poor seismic capacity. However, although different sizes and positions of openings are known to reduce the stiffness and strength of URM walls, the relationships between the size and position of openings and seismic capacity of the walls are not clear. Therefore, a series of numerical analyses has, for the first time, explored many possible opening sizes and opening positions under simulated seismic loading to identify their impact on the inplane behaviour of URM walls. The numerical models were built using the code “3DEC” which is based on the Discrete Element Method (DEM). The key feature of the DEM is that it allows the development of large displacements between elements with contacts being recognized automatically during the analysis. Thus, this numerical method can capture the whole degradation progress from the initial cracking of the masonry walls right through to collapse, with the bricks being modelled as rigid blocks and the mortar as Coulomb-slip joints with zero thickness. Both load-based and displacement based quasi-static pushover analysis procedures have been studied and the modelling methodology and the calibration of numerical models is described. The results from the analyses, the crack patterns and collapse mechanisms of the masonry walls are identified and discussed, and a key output from this work is the characterization of the relationships between the sizes and positions of openings and the in-plane performance of URM walls.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalBulletin of Earthquake Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2020


  • URM structures
  • Opening effects
  • Discrete element method
  • In-plane behaviour
  • 3DEC


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