Assessment of masonry arch bridges 

Load-carrying and seismic capacity of masonry arch bridges


Multi-span masonry arch bridges are modelled with a fibre beam-based approach, which both allows for a detailed description of the nonlinear material properties of the materials and ensures limited ocmputational efforts. This method is used to assess the load-carrying capacity of masonry bridges and the dynamic behaviour under earthquake base motion.

The former (load-carrying capacity) includes (i) the validation against limit-analysis based approaches, (ii) the evaluation of the influence of different constitutive assumptions, (iii) the study of the collapse mechanisms involving adjacent spans, (iv) the analysis of the influce of bridge geometry (shape of the arch, height of the piers and number of spans), and (v) the assessment of a sample of 50 historic railway bridges, dating to the 19th and 20th centuries and including single-span and multi-span bridges, shallow and deep arches, viaducts with slender and stocky piers, for which the reliability of historic design method is also discussed.

The latter (dynamic behaviour) includes (i) the validation of the fibre beam based approach by comparisons against analytical results for a free standing arch under pulse base motion, (ii) the evaluation of the seismic capacity through pushover analyses under different load distributions, and (iii) incremental dynamic analyses (IDAs) under natural accelerograms, which is also useful to identify a suitable representation of inertial forces arising under earthquake ground motion to be used in static analyses.


Key publications in this topic

  • de Felice G. Assessment of the load-carrying capacity of multi-span masonry arch bridges using fibre beam elements. Engineering Structures, 2009;31(8):1634-1647. DOI: 10.1016/j.engstruct.2009.02.022.
  • de Felice G., De Santis S. Experimental and numerical response of arch bridge historic masonry under eccentric loading. International Journal of Architectural Heritage, 2010;4(2):115-137. DOI: 10.1080/15583050903093886.
  • De Santis S., de Felice G. A fibre beam based approach for the evaluation of the seismic capacity of masonry arches. Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, 2014;43(11):1661-1681. DOI: 10.1002/eqe.2416.
  • De Santis S., de Felice G. Overview of railway masonry bridges with safety factor estimate. International Journal of Architectural Heritage, 2014;8(3):452-474. DOI: 10.1080/15583058.2013.826298.
  • De Santis S. Load carrying-capability and seismic assessment of masonry bridges. PhD Thesis. Roma Tre University, 2011. DOI: 10.13140/2.1.3972.0006. [download]

  • Sarhosis V., De Santis S., de Felice G. A review of experimental investigations and assessment methods for masonry arch bridges. Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, 2016;12(11):1439-1464. DOI: 10.1080/15732479.2015.1136655.