Numerical Modeling of Crack Propagation in Masonry Structures

Rebecca Napolitano, Michael Hess, Rachel Coe-Scharff, Branko Glisic

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Before implementing permanent monitoring systems or reinforcements on a historic structure with identified cracks, it is imperative to understand how cracking patterns may have originated and how they affect the current state of the structure. This work outlines a mixed numerical approach for understanding the causes of masonry cracking and the resulting effects on structural performance. By combining Finite Element Modeling and Distinct Element Modeling, the structural response of an undamaged version of a building can be calculated for a combination of loading scenarios (including dead load, lateral loads, and differential settlement). The results of the loading scenarios can be compared to the current state of the building for a probabilistic understanding of potential causes. This combined approach was used to examine the large cracks running longitudinally on the subterranean walls of the Florence Baptistery. Various combinations of loading scenarios were run for an undamaged model of the wall. Additionally, various geometries of the joints were simulated to understand how the accuracy of input geometries can affect simulation results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRILEM Bookseries
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRILEM Bookseries
ISSN (Print)2211-0844
ISSN (Electronic)2211-0852

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanics of Materials


  • Crack propagation
  • Distinct element modeling
  • Finite element modeling
  • Florence Baptistery
  • Foundations
  • Masonry


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