Seismic design of a stone vault

Matthew J. DeJong, Giorgia Giardina, William Plunkett, John Ochsendorf

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding


This paper describes the seismic design of a contemporary stone vault supported by slender buttress walls. Initially, the potential for out-of-plane overturning collapse of the buttress walls was assessed using analytical dynamics and a suite of scaled earthquake time histories. Results informed design decisions related to wall slenderness. Subsequently, discrete element modelling and time history analysis were used to evaluate the seismic response of the entire structure. The structure is found to remain stable for a suite of design earthquake time histories, and the residual displacements after the earthquake are quantified. The effect of initial vault spreading, due to large lateral thrusts, on the dynamic response is also considered. The magnitude of residual displacements due to the earthquake is shown to increase with the presence of relatively small initial spreading prior to a potential earthquake event. The paper closes with a discussion of potential measures considered to resist seismic loading. The extent to which these measures were incorporated was largely based on construction methods and constraints. Construction of the vault was completed in 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSECED 2015 Conference: Earthquake Risk and Engineering towards a Resilient World
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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