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Performance of buildings with masonry infill walls during the 2011 Lorca earthquake


On Wednesday 11th May 2011 at 6:47 pm (local time) a magnitude 5.1 Mw earthquake occurred 6 km northeast of Lorca with a depth of around 5 km. As a consequence of the shallow depth and the small epicentral distance, important damage was produced in several masonry constructions and even led to the collapse of one of them. Pieces of the facades of several buildings fell down onto the sidewalk, being one of the reasons for the killing of a total of 9 people. The objective of this paper is to describe and analyze the failure patterns observed in reinforced concrete frame buildings with masonry infill walls ranging from 3 to 8 floors in height. Structural as well as non-structural masonry walls suffered important damage that led to redistributions of forces causing in some cases the failure of columns. The importance of the interaction between the structural frames and the infill panels is analyzed by means of non-linear Finite Element Models. The resulting load levels are compared with the member capacities and the changes of the mechanical properties during the seismic event are described and discussed. In the light of the results obtained the observed failure patterns are explained. Some comments are stated concerning the adequacy of the numerical models that are usually used during the design phase for the seismic analysis.

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Correspondence to Lutz Hermanns.

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Hermanns, L., Fraile, A., Alarcón, E. et al. Performance of buildings with masonry infill walls during the 2011 Lorca earthquake. Bull Earthquake Eng 12, 1977–1997 (2014).

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  • Lorca earthquake
  • Masonry
  • Non-linear Finite Element simulation
  • Infill
  • Interaction
  • Column shear demand