Out-of-Plane Seismic Response of Unreinforced Masonry Walls: Conceptual Discussion, Research Needs, and Modeling Issues

Daniel P. Abrams, Omar AlShawa, Paulo B. Lourenço, Luigi Sorrentino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modeling unreinforced masonry walls, subjected to seismic loads applied normal to their plane, has received much attention in the past. Yet, there is a general lack of conformance with regard to what aspects of seismic response a computational model should reflect. Boundary conditions are certainly an important aspect, as the response can involve two-way bending or just one-way bending and, in the second case, along vertical or horizontal directions. In this respect, flexural restraint of wall intersections can be significant in addition to size and placement of openings. Moreover, in-plane damage can modify the boundary conditions and the overall out-of-plane performance. Proper modeling of actions is also relevant, as they can be a result of distortions imposed upon wall elements and/or inertial forces along the span of a wall. Axial forces can markedly affect the out-of-plane response of the wall, particularly vertical compressive forces, which can enhance out-of-plane strength. The outcome of static verifications can be more conservative than that of dynamic analyses, but the latter are much more complex to carry out. These topics are discussed with reference to previous research, observations in the field and in the laboratory, as well as numerical analyses on three-dimensional models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Architectural Heritage
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017


  • boundary conditions
  • finite-discrete elements
  • in-plane mechanisms
  • out-of-plane mechanisms
  • unreinforced masonry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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