Rocking behaviour of multi-block columns subjected to pulse-type ground motion accelerations

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Ancient columns, made with a variety of materials such as marble, granite, stone or masonry are an important part of the
European cultural heritage. In particular columns of ancient temples in Greece and Sicily which support only the architrave are
characterized by small axial load values. This feature together with the slenderness typical of these structural members clearly
highlights as the evaluation of the rocking behaviour is a key aspect of their safety assessment and maintenance. It has to be noted
that the rocking response of rectangular cross-sectional columns modelled as monolithic rigid elements, has been widely investigated
since the first theoretical study carried out by Housner (1963). However, the assumption of monolithic member, although being
widely used and accepted for practical engineering applications, is not valid for more complex systems such as multi-block columns
made of stacked stone blocks, with or without mortar beds. In these cases, in fact, a correct analysis of the system should consider
rocking and sliding phenomena between the individual blocks of the structure. Due to the high non-linearity of the problem, the
evaluation of the dynamic behaviour of multi-block columns has been mostly studied in the literature using a numerical approach
such as the Discrete Element Method (DEM). This paper presents an introductory study about a proposed analytical-numerical
approach for analysing the rocking behaviour of multi-block columns subjected to a sine-pulse type ground motion. Based on the
approach proposed by Spanos (2001) for a system made of two rigid blocks, the Eulero-Lagrange method to obtain the motion
equations of the system is discussed and numerical applications are performed with case studies reported in the literature and with a
real acceleration record. The rocking response of single block and multi-block columns is compared and considerations are made
about the overturning conditions and on the effect of forcing function’s frequency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-157
Number of pages8
JournalThe Open Construction and Building Technology Journal
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Invited contribution o to the Special Issue on "Seismic analysis and risk mitigation of existing constructions"


  • rocking, multiple blocks

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