Structural Engineering Documents 16

Characteristic Seismic Failures of Buildings

Stephanos E. Dritsos (editor), V. J. “Jon” Moseley, Andreas Lampropoulos, Eftychia Apostolidi and Christos Giarlelis


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Summary: Earthquakes can cause considerable fatalities, injuries and financial loss. The forces of nature cannot be blamed, as the problem lies with the structures in seismic regions that may not have been designed or constructed to a sufficient degree to resist earthquake actions or they may have design flaws. This Structural Engineering Document (SED) concerns reinforced concrete and masonry buildings together with geotechnical aspects and presents in a concise and practical way the state of the art of current understanding of building failures due to earthquakes. It classifies the different types of seismic failure, explains the reasons for each failure, describes good practices to avoid such failures and also describes seismic retrofitting/upgrading procedures for pre-earthquake strengthening and post-earthquake repair and/or strengthening techniques for deficient buildings. Carefully selected photographs and diagrams illustrate the different failure types. This document could be considered as quite unique, as this is the first time such material concerning characteristic seismic failures of buildings has been presented together in one single document. It is intended to be a valuable educational reference textbook aimed at all levels of experience of engineers. It provides background information, ideas, guidance and reassurance to engineers in earthquake regions faced with the task of building a safer future for the public and to protect lives.

Contributing Authors (listed as per chapter sequence)

    Stephanos E. Dritsos (editor) is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Patras, specializing in earthquake engineering and seismic retrofitting of structures. He is the Chairman of the committee for the Greek code for seismic assessment and retrofitting of masonry structures and the revision of the corresponding code for concrete structures. He was the inaugural Chairman of IABSE WG7: Earthquake Resistant Structures (2009-2013).   


    Dr V. J. “Jon” Moseley worked on large scale civil engineering projects before attending university as a mature student. At the University of Sheffield, he obtained a M.Eng (Mappin Medal) and a PhD (research assistant) in Civil and Structural Engineering. He has his own earthquake engineering office andis also a part-time consultant at the University of Patras.

    Dr Andreas Lampropoulos is a Principal Lecturer and Course Leader for the BEng/MEng Civil Engineering courses at the University of Brighton. His main research interests span the areas of novel construction materials and seismic strengthening/retrofitting of existing structures. He currently serves as the Chairman of IABSE Task Groups 1.1 and 5.5, dealing with seismic resilience and seismic strengthening/retrofitting.

    Eftychia Apostolidi received her civil engineer diploma (M.Eng) from the University of Patras, Greece. She is about to receive her PhD from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria, where she works as a research associate. Her research interests include the seismic assessment and retrofitting of masonry structures. She is also involved in numerous Austrian and European projects.

    Christos Giarlelis is a structural engineer with expertise in the fields of seismic design, soil-structure interaction, and seismic isolation and damping systems, both as a consultant and as a researcher. He is the co-founder of EQUIDAS Consulting Engineers and anadjunct lecturer at the University of West Attica, Greece.