Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Ross Corotis

Second Advisor

Franck Vernerey

Third Advisor

Petros Sideris

Fourth Advisor

Guido Camata

Fifth Advisor

Michael Schuller


Inspired from the MS thesis that investigated the underlying relationship between the implicit level of risk accepted for natural hazards and the level of economic, social and political development of Haiti, a developing country, this dissertation focuses structurally on the use of low-rise confined masonry (CM) buildings in natural hazard consideration areas. The research emphasizes the responses of the CM shear wall structure as a whole, as well as the material conditions in detail. Key findings are presented from experimental tests, computational modeling procedures, analytical results, and reliability analysis for CM structures followed with the summary of the behavior of CM subjected to in-plane loading.

This project covers behavior and reliability of CM structures subject to earthquake loading and enables informed decisions about risk in earthquake engineering design, including assessment of existing structures and retrofit design. Through experimental tests, development of a finite element analysis algorithm, and reliability analysis, this study found that structural integrity of a CM system is especially sensitive to the compression confining the wall from the surrounding concrete tie-frame and the materials used in the masonry panel. These parameters are addressed through the use of micro and macro modeling concepts, with the final model based on a macro-modeling strategy built by a force-deformation envelope curve prediction, and analysis that shows the structural safety aspect of CM in a recommended reliability index.

Unreinforced masonry contributes significantly to the number of structural failures, value of economic losses, and business disruption associated with natural hazards in the U.S. This study is an initial step towards providing the Masonry Standards Joint Committee (MSJC) with information on the CM system and build guidelines as a variation of the masonry infill system. For regular masonry buildings, this study provides a mechanism to improve the consistency and efficiency of building codes through explicit evaluation of design provisions. This research outcome is applicable to a large number of unreinforced masonry structures throughout the world, and as extension ranging from the vulnerability of lifeline system to historical preservation of masonry structures.


Advisor: Jennifer Tanner Eisenhauer