Light-damage assessment

Serviceability limit state

When analysing the effect of earthquakes on masonry buildings, two aspects are important: their safety and their overall functionality. While safety should always be considered first; the functionality of buildings including stuck doors or windows that limit the normal use of the buildings, or small cracks that affect their durability and aesthetics or compromise the feeling of safety offered by the building, are all relevant points to look for. The latter is what concerns the Serviceability (limit state - SLS) or Light Damage of the buildings.

The research into ‘light damage’ focuses on characterising the initiation of cracks in masonry due to earthquakes or other causes, but also the propagation of the cracks, how they widen or lengthen due to new earthquakes. The light damage research looks at the potential causes for existing (light) damage in masonry structures, and at how this affects its performance during future loads.

Laboratory tests with high-resolution cameras track invisible cracks in masonry while they grow and become visible, and detailed models of masonry predict the development of light damage.
Also, an extensive analysis of real masonry houses is conducted to find the causes of the damage and attempt to quantify its attributability to earthquakes.

The following publications present the on-going research into light damage of Dutch masonry: