Dynamic characterisation of a historic bell-tower using a sensitivity-based technique for model tuning

  • Massimiliano Ferraioli
  • Lorenzo Miccoli
  • Donato Abruzzese
Original Paper


The most relevant results of the vibration-based investigations performed on a historic masonry tower in Italy namely the Santa Maria a Vico bell-tower is here presented. The first part of the study involves preliminary full-scale ambient vibration measurements in operational conditions and dynamics-based finite element (FE) modelling. At first, a manual tuning of the uncertain parameters of the model was carried out to adjust material properties, soil-structure interaction and constraining effect of the neighbouring structures. Then, based on the sensitivity analysis, only the most sensitive parameters were chosen as updating parameters. Finally, a model updating technique based on a sensitivity-based method was used to minimise the error between experimental vibration data and numerical response values. To this aim, a residual vector defined as the weighted difference between the measured quantities and calculated quantities was used. The uncertain structural parameters of the FE model were identified by minimising a robust penalty function. The calibrated model was used as an important tool for the seismic assessment of the structure using pushover analysis. Since the assumed value of the masonry compressive strength is the most sensitive parameter of non-linear behaviour, a sensitivity analysis was performed considering reference values in the range of interest. The seismic safety corresponding to increasing levels of the seismic hazard was finally investigated.


Masonry tower Ambient vibration measurements Structural identification Model tuning 



The authors wish to express their gratitude to Mr. Pasquale Crisci, Mr. Gennaro Di Lauro, Mr. Salvatore Froncillo and Mr. Alessandro Vari for their important support in the on-site measurements carried out on the tower. Mr. Massimo Romita is also acknowledged for designing and customizing the analogue filter inside the conditioner signal for the accelerometer.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EngineeringUniversity of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”AversaItaly
  2. 2.Division Building MaterialsBundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM)BerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of Civil Engineering and Computer ScienceUniversity of Rome “Tor Vergata”RomeItaly

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