Historic barrel vaults undergoing differential settlements

Antonio Maria D'Altri, Stefano De Miranda, Giovanni Castellazzi, Vasilis Sarhosis, Jamie Hudson, Dimitris Theodossopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A principal reason of damage in historic masonry vaults consists in relative displacements of the vaults’ abutments. Excluding the case of seismic-induced damage, cracks are often produced by differential settlements generated by the lateral wall instability or soil degradation (e.g., due to stress concentrations, non-uniform soil stratigraphy, flooding phenomena etc.). When dealing with historic vaults, the effects of long-term deformation processes cannot often be linked directly to causes, which may also be unknown. In this article, the effects of differential settlements on historic masonry barrel vaults are investigated. An efficient 3D contact-based model was developed to reproduce experiments on a scaled pointed barrel vault (representative of a typology of late-medieval barrel vaults in Scotland) under non-uniform differential settlement. First, the numerical model is used to simulate the experimental campaign, achieving good agreement in terms of crack pattern (longitudinal shear) and transverse-longitudinal deformation profiles. Then, further analyses are carried out to gain insight on the effects of several plausible uniform and non-uniform settlement patterns on representative historic barrel vaults. Various settlement configurations were analysed and complex failure patterns observed. This study could help analysts in understanding the nature of on-going deformation process in historic masonry vaults and engineers in the design of strengthening strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Architectural Heritage: Conservation, Analysis and Restoration (International Journal of Architectural Heritage)
Issue number8
Early online date3 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Barrel vaults
  • differential settlement
  • Exact solutions
  • Masonry
  • Numerical modeling


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