The Failure of Masonry Walls by Disaggregation and the Masonry Quality Index

Antonio Borri, Marco Corradi, Alessandro De Maria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The visual method for assessment of the structural behaviour of historic masonry walls, known by the acronym MQI (Masonry Quality Index) was introduced in 2002 by a team of researchers from the University of Perugia, Italy. This is based on a visual survey of the faces and the cross section of a wall panel, and it aims at verifying if a wall complies with the “rules of the art”. Based on this analysis, it is possible to calculate a numerical index: Numerous tests, carried out on site by the authors to validate the method, have demonstrated that the index is able to provide useful information about the mechanical characteristics and structural response, in general, of the analysed wall panel. The failure mode of a wall panel under the action of an earthquake is a critical aspect. In general, the failure modes can be categorized in two classes: Masonry disaggregation and the development of a local or global mechanism of wall elements (macroelements). Several theoretical models and numerical simulations only consider the latter. In this paper, application of the MQI method is further investigated, with particular emphasis to those masonry typologies which are more prone to collapse by disaggregation during a seismic event. Under the action of an earthquake, some types of masonry are typically unable to deform and to split in macroelements, and another type of failure occurs: This is the so-called “masonry disaggregation” or “masonry crumbling”. This type of failure anticipates the ones resulting from macroelement methods or stress analysis. As a conclusion, these latter methods become completely inappropriate and potentially hazardous, as they overestimate the seismic capacity of the building under investigation. The MQI method has been adapted to assess the structural response of different types of masonry under the action of an earthquake. In detail, the aim was to verify when the phenomenon of masonry disaggregation is likely to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1162-1198
Number of pages37
Issue number4
Early online date22 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

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