Journal of Seismology

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 331–343 | Cite as

Seismic vulnerability: theory and application to Algerian buildings

  • Ahmed Mebarki
  • Mehdi Boukri
  • Abderrahmane Laribi
  • Mohammed Farsi
  • Mohamed Belazougui
  • Fattoum Kharchi
Original Article


When dealing with structural damages, under the effect of natural hazards such as earthquakes, it is still a scientific challenge to predict the potential damages, before occurrence of a given hazard, as well as to evaluate the damages once the earthquake has occurred. In the present study, two distinct methods addressing these topics are developed. Thousands (∼54,000) of existing buildings damaged during the Boumerdes earthquake that occurred in Algeria (Mw = 6.8, May 21, 2003) are considered in order to study their accuracy and sensitivity. Once an earthquake has occurred, quick evaluations of the damages are required in order to distinguish which structures should be demolished or evacuated immediately from those which can be kept in service without evacuation of its inhabitants. For this purpose, visual inspections are performed by trained and qualified engineers. For the case of Algeria, an evaluation form has been developed and is still in use since the early 80s: Five categories of damages are considered (no damage or very slight, slight, moderate, major, and very severe/collapse). This paper develops a theoretical methodology that processes the observed damages caused to the structural and nonstructural components (foundations, roofs, slabs, walls, beams, columns, fillings, partition walls, stairways, balconies, etc.), in order to help the evaluator to derive the global damage evaluation. This theoretical methodology transforms the damage category into a corresponding “residual” risk of failure ranging from zero (no damage) to one (complete damage). The global failure risk, in fact its corresponding damage category, is then derived according to given combinations of probabilistic events in order to express the influence of any component on the global damage and behavior. The method is calibrated on a set of ∼54,000 buildings inspected after Boumerdes earthquake. Almost 80 % of accordance (same damage category) is obtained, when comparing the theoretical results to the observed damages. For pre-earthquake analysis, the methodology widely used around the world relies on the prior calibration of the seismic response of the structures under given expected scenarios. As the structural response is governed by the constitutive materials and structural typology as well as the seismic input and soil conditions, the damage prediction depends intimately on the accuracy of the so-called fragility curve and response spectrum established for each type of structure (RC framed structures, confined or unconfined masonry, etc.) and soil (hard rock, soft soil, etc.). In the present study, the adaptation to Algerian buildings concerns the specific soil conditions as well as the structural dynamic response. The theoretical prediction of the expected damages is helpful for the calibration of the methodology. Thousands (∼3,700) of real structures and the damages caused by the earthquake (Algeria, Boumerdes: Mw = 6.8, May 21, 2003) are considered for the a posteriori calibration and validation process. The theoretical predictions show the importance of the elastic response spectrum, the local soil conditions, and the structural typology. Although the observed and predicted categories of damage are close, it appears that the existing form used for the visual damage inspection would still require further improvements, in order to allow easy evaluation and identification of the damage level. These methods coupled to databases, and GIS tools could be helpful for the local and technical authorities during the post-earthquake evaluation process: real time information on the damage extent at urban or regional scales as well as the extent of losses and the required resources for reconstruction, evacuation, strengthening, etc.


Algeria Structures Seismic vulnerability Damage Elastic spectrum 



Part of this collaborative work has been developed within the framework of the cooperation program Tassili Egide PHC (CMEP11MDU847). The database of the post-earthquake observed damages has been provided mainly by the Algerian official technical offices and research centers (CGS Algiers, CTC Chlef, and CNERIB Souidania). The authors are also grateful to those who have helped by their valuable comments, suggestions, and support: Pr D. Benouar (USTHB University, Algeria), Mr H. Azzouz (Technical office CTC-Center, Algeria), and Pr H. Afra (Research Center CNERIB, Algeria).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed Mebarki
    • 1
  • Mehdi Boukri
    • 2
    • 3
  • Abderrahmane Laribi
    • 4
  • Mohammed Farsi
    • 2
  • Mohamed Belazougui
    • 2
  • Fattoum Kharchi
    • 4
  1. 1.Université Paris-Est, Laboratoire Modélisation et Simulation Multi Echelle, MSME UMR 8208Marne-la-ValléeFrance
  2. 2.National Earthquake Engineering Research Center (CGS)Rue Kaddour Rahim ProlongéeAlgiersAlgeria
  3. 3.Civil Engineering DepartmentUniversity Saad DahlabBlidaAlgeria
  4. 4.Université des Sciences et Technologie Houari Boumediène, Laboratoire Bâti dans son EnvironnementUSTHB/FGC/LBEBab EzzouarAlgeria

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