Seismic performance and financial risk of masonry houses
Seismic behaviour of typical unreinforced masonry (URM) brick houses, that were common in early last century in New Zealand and still common in many developing countries, is experimentally investigated at University of Canterbury, New Zealand in this research. A one halfscale model URM house is constructed and tested under earthquake ground motions on a shaking table. The model structure with aspect ratio of 1.5:1 in plan was initially tested in the longitudinal direction for several earthquakes with peak ground acceleration (PGA) up to 0.5g. Toppling of end gables (above the eaves line) and minor to moderate cracking around window and door piers was observed in this phase. The structure was then rotated 90º and tested in the transverse (short) direction for ground motions with PGA up to 0.8g. Partial out-of-plane failure of the face loaded walls in the second storey and global rocking of the model was observed in this phase. A finite element analysis and a mechanism analysis are conducted to assess the dynamic properties and lateral strength of the model house. Seismic fragility function of URM houses is developed based on the experimental results. Damping at different phases of the response is estimated using an amplitude dependent equivalent viscous damping model. Financial risk of similar URM houses is then estimated in term of expected annual loss (EAL) following a probabilistic financial risk assessment framework. Risks posed by different levels of damage and by earthquakes of different frequencies are then examined.