Numerical Simulation of the Response of an Unreinforced Brick-Masonry Cross Vault Subjected to Seismic Loading

César Chácara, Bartolomeo Pantò, Francesco Cannizzaro, Davide Rapicavoli, Ivo Caliò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents the numerical evaluation of the seismic response of a masonry cross vault using the Discrete Macro-Element Method (DMEM). The case study corresponded to a full-scale unstrengthened cross vault that was experimentally investigated within the scope of the SERA Project — Seismic Response of Masonry Cross Vaults: Shaking table tests and numerical validations. The cross vault was subjected to repeated shaking table and dynamic identification tests until reaching significant damage. The numerical simulations involved the calibration of the Young’s modulus of the masonry material aiming at reproducing the cross vault’s experimental natural frequencies and mode shapes. The comparison of frequencies was carried out by estimating the difference between experimental and numerical results, whereas the correspondence between mode shapes was studied using the Modal Assurance Criterion. Subsequently, a sensitivity analysis was performed to identify the influence of nonlinear properties on the seismic response of the cross vault (displacement and acceleration time histories and failure mechanism). The accuracy of the numerical time histories was evaluated by estimating magnitude and phase discrepancies. The results aimed at demonstrating the applicability of the DMEM for assessing the seismic response of masonry cross vaults with an acceptable degree of accuracy and low computational cost.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Architectural Heritage
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Calibration procedure
  • HiStrA software
  • fiber calibration
  • sensitivity analysis
  • time history analysis


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