Seismic Vulnerability Assessment of a Stone Arch Using Discrete Elements

Corneliu Cismaşiu, Pedro B. S. Silva, José V. Lemos, Ildi Cismaşiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Conservation of the European-built heritage is nowadays closely related to interventions in masonry construction. Since a significant part of these structures are located in earthquake prone zones, designing protective measures that ensure their preservation requires the assessment of the associated seismic vulnerability and the understanding of their degradation mechanisms. However, due to the presence of discontinuities between its constituent elements, the numerical simulation of the non-linear response of masonry structures subjected to strong earthquakes is a cumbersome task, especially when performed using the traditional finite element method. As an alternative, the discrete element method is particularly suitable for the numerical analysis of such structures under large, damaging loads. By allowing discrete displacements/rotations of individual bodies, and by automatically recognising new contacts between bodies, while eliminating obsolete ones, this numerical approach can simulate the complete detachment of discrete bodies initially in contact. The present paper illustrates the use of the discrete element method to assess the seismic vulnerability of stone arches. A probabilistic approach allows to consider the variability of the seismic action and the uncertainties in the definition of the material properties. First, an un-reinforced masonry arch is considered. Based on non-linear multi-directional incremental dynamic analyses, five damage states are proposed and the respective fragility curves are elaborated. To improve the arch’s seismic performance, two reinforcing solutions using steel elements are considered and analysed comparatively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730–744
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Architectural Heritage
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • discrete element method
  • fragility curves
  • incremental dynamic analysis
  • reinforced stone arch
  • seismic vulnerability
  • stone arch


Dive into the research topics of 'Seismic Vulnerability Assessment of a Stone Arch Using Discrete Elements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this