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Analytical modeling of masonry load-bearing walls

Yi Liu and J.L. Dawe

Abstract: An analytical technique was developed and encoded for computer application to study the behaviour of con-
crete masonry load-bearing walls under various loading conditions. Both geometrical and material nonlinearities to ac-
count for the moment magnification effect and the degradation of material stiffness are included in the development.
Effects of vertical reinforcing steel, masonry tensile cracking, and compressive crushing are included directly in the
momentcurvature relationship, which is used in the determination of element stiffnesses at successive load increments.
A parametric study was conducted following verification of the analytical model by comparing results with experimen-
tal test data. Effective flexural rigidity (EI
) values at failure were obtained analytically and compared with values
suggested in the Canadian masonry code CSA-S304.1-M94. It was concluded that CSA-S304.1-M94 tends to underesti-
mate EI
values for reinforced walls and thus leads to a conservative design over a range of parameters. Based on ap-
proximately 500 computer model tests, a lower bound bilinear limit for the effective rigidity of reinforced masonry
walls was established. This limit is believed to provide an accurate and realistic estimate of EI
Key words: walls, load bearing, masonry, analytical, nonlinear, rigidity, stressstrain, momentcurvature.
Rsum : Une technique analytique a t dveloppe et encode pour application sur ordinateur afin dtudier le com-
portement de murs porteurs en maonnerie de bton sous diverses conditions de charge. Les non-linarits gomtri-
ques et matrielles sont incluses dans le dveloppement afin de tenir compte de leffet damplification du moment et de
la dgradation de la rigidit du matriel. Les effets des aciers darmature verticaux, de la fissuration en traction de la
maonnerie et de lcrasement en compression sont directement inclus dans la relation momentcourbure qui est uti-
lise pour dterminer les rigidits des membrures lors dincrments de charges successifs. Une tude paramtrique a t
effectue la suite dune vrification du modle analytique en comparant les rsultats aux donnes de tests exprimen-
taux. Les valeurs EI
la rupture ont t obtenues par analyse et compares aux valeurs suggres dans la norme
CSA-S304.1-M94 de le code canadien de maonnerie. Il a t conclu que la norme CSA-S304.1-M94 tend sous-
estimer les valeurs EI
pour les murs arms et mne donc une conception conservatrice sur une large gamme de pa-
ramtres. Un limite infrieure bilinaire de la rigidit effective de murs en maonnerie arms a t tablie base sur en-
viron 500 tests de modles informatiques. Nous croyons que cette limite estime EI
de faon prcise et raliste.
Mots cls : murs portants, maonnerie, analytique, non-linaire, rigidit, contraintedformation, momentcourbure.
[Traduit par la Rdaction] Liu and Dawe 806
Masonry load-bearing walls are frequently required to
transmit concentric or eccentric gravity loads in combination
with lateral loads due to wind or earthquakes. The strength
of these members is compromised by a secondary moment
caused by the axial load acting through a deflected shape.
Because of the low tensile strength of masonry, this situation
is further complicated by tension cracking, which leads to
variations of effective sectional properties over the member
height. Because the reduction in the load-carrying capacity
of walls can be significant, the design of slender walls must
include the secondary moment effects in a rational way.
A moment-magnifier method is presented in the current
Canadian masonry design code, Standard CSA-S304.1-M94
(CSA 1994), to account for the secondary moment effect in
a single calculation by applying a magnification factor to an
equivalent uniform primary moment. To account for ma-
sonry tensile cracking, an effective flexural rigidity, EI
, is
employed to modify the critical Euler buckling load used in
the method. This method is strictly valid only for walls un-
der symmetric eccentric compression. Nevertheless, a so-
called virtual eccentricity is applied using the maximum pri-
mary moment divided by the axial load to take into account
the effect of combined compressive and lateral loading
cases. With the recognition that the moment-magnifier
method is advantageous to use because of its simplicity,
there is some conservatism and uncertainty as to how to in-
corporate the various effects of slenderness, tensile cracking,
reinforcement, and loading conditions into the calculation of
critical buckling load to reflect realistic conditions.
To refine the expressions for EI
and the critical buckling
load, a considerable amount of research has been conducted
on the subject of stability of masonry members subjected to
eccentric compressive loads for specific loading conditions
Can. J. Civ. Eng. 30: 795806 (2003) doi: 10.1139/L03-036 2003 NRC Canada
Received 30 September 2002. Revision accepted 15 April
2003. Published on the NRC Research Press Web site at
http://cjce.nrc.ca on 1 October 2003.
Y. Liu. Department of Civil Engineering, Dalhousie
University, Halifax, NS B3J 1Z1, Canada.
J.L. Dawe.
Department of Civil Engineering, University of
New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada.
Written discussion of this article is welcomed and will be
received by the Editor until 29 February 2004.
Corresponding author (e-mail: dawe@unb.ca).
September 25, 2003 10:30:11 AM
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and for particular mechanical properties of masonry. Yokel
and Dikkers (1971) developed an analytical solution for the
case of a cracked vertical member loaded in compression
with equal end eccentricities. Frisch-Fay (1975) proposed a
solution for partially cracked compressive members and in-
cluded the effect of self-weight. A solution to the differential
equation that defines the buckling load capacity of un-
reinforced masonry walls subjected to eccentric gravity
loads has been utilized by Sahlin (1971). Hatzinikolas and
Warwaruk (1978) proposed an empirical equation for evalu-
ating the buckling capacity of masonry walls based on the
results of an extensive test program that included eccentri-
cally loaded plain and reinforced concrete masonry walls.
Maksoud and Drysdale (1993) proposed equations for calcu-
lating the critical load of reinforced masonry walls bent in
single curvature.
In the case of masonry elements undergoing axial and lat-
eral deformations, geometrical and material nonlinearities
coexist and interact throughout most of the loading history.
The level of difficulty in dealing with the complexities asso-
ciated with the interaction of material and geometric nonlin-
ear responses has resulted in simplified approaches with
limited application. In most cases, equations were derived
for walls bent in single curvature under eccentric compres-
sive loads. The applicability of equations for walls bent in
double curvature or for walls under combined axial and lat-
eral loads has apparently not yet been fully investigated. The
effect of using a virtual eccentricity, where moment is a
maximum, to equate a wall under combined axial and lateral
loading with a wall under eccentric compressive loading is
not fully supported by the test results and deserves addi-
tional attention.
As a result of these observations, a computerized numeri-
cal technique was developed to investigate the behaviour of
masonry walls with a wide range of physical characteristics
and subjected to various loading conditions. Effects of the
interaction of geometrical and material nonlinearities are in-
cluded in the analytical model, and a numerically modeled
momentcurvature relationship is used to include the effects
of vertical reinforcing steel and the effects of tensile crack-
ing and compressive crushing of the masonry. Following
confirmation of the analytical model by comparison of re-
sults with test data obtained from this research and other re-
search reported in the literature, the computer model was
implemented to conduct a detailed parametric study to inves-
tigate the effects of various parameters on the strength and
behaviour of masonry walls.
Loaddeflection histories, ultimate load and moment ca-
pacities, and EI
values at the time of failure were obtained
using the analytical method. These results are compared
with those based on the moment-magnifier method currently
recommended by the Canadian masonry design code (CSA
Analytical model
A combined incremental and iterative technique based on
a finite element method was used to analyze member behav-
iour under various loading combinations, and a moment
curvature generator was used repeatedly to assess the effects
of stress deterioration and cracking of the wall as loads in-
creased. Considering individual two-node, four-degrees-of-
freedom beam elements along the height of a wall, it was
possible to track cracking development and to provide real-
istic predictions of member behaviour as compressive or lat-
eral loading increased. Element matrices as developed by
Cook (1974) for both flexural and geometric effects were
employed in the analysis described in the following sections.
Although a wall is essentially a plate structure, its analysis
can be carried out advantageously by idealizing it as a wide
beamcolumn with appropriate kinematic boundary condi-
tions. Most walls are long enough that a moderately wide
vertical segment analyzed as a beamcolumn with vertical
edges free can satisfactorily represent its behaviour under
various loading conditions. The numerical method as devel-
oped herein proved to give valid results when compared with
available experimental findings.
Stressstrain relationship
The stressstrain curve shown in Fig. 1 was proposed by
Priestly and Elder (1983) for grouted concrete masonry and
has been adopted for this study. According to their experi-
mental results, this model showed good agreement with ex-
perimental data for unconfined masonry and for masonry
confined by 3.1 mm thick steel plates in the bed joints.
Priestly and Elder also concluded that the presence of verti-
cal reinforcing bars in the grout cells did not significantly
influence masonry behaviour. In the experimental portion of
this research (Liu 2002), five partially grouted prism speci-
mens measuring 600 mm 400 mm 140 mm were tested
under axial compression. The stressstrain curves were ac-
curately obtained and compared with the model proposed by
Priestly and Elder. Good agreement between experimental
data and the proposed relationship was obtained. The au-
thors feel that it is acceptable to adopt the model for this
research and to represent the masonry assemblage as a con-
tinuum with an average stressstrain relationship. The fol-
lowing equations developed by Priestly and Elder define the
, in masonry at any given compressive strain,

m m
c c
0.002 0.002


< f
, 15
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796 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 30, 2003
Fig. 1. Stressstrain curve for masonry in compression.
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m m c
1.0 0.0015 f Z [ ( )],
c 20u

m c 20u
0.0, >
where f
is the masonry prism compressive strength at 28 d
and Z = 0.5/[(3 + 0.29 f
)/(145 f
1000) 0.002]. Z is a
function of f
and defines the slope of the falling branch of
the stressstrain curve. For practical values of f
10 and 25 MPa, the value of Z indicates a highly precipitous
dropping off of the stressstrain curve, which is consistent
with the observed behaviour of masonry. The ultimate strain,
which occurs at a stress of
= f
, is
. The stressstrain
model was calibrated to the current research by incorporat-
ing experimentally determined values of f
based on tests
of partially grouted prisms.
The stressstrain relationship for reinforcing steel was as-
sumed to be linearly elastic up to the yield stress and per-
fectly plastic beyond the yield strain. Values of the modulus
of elasticity, E
, and the yield stress, f
, were established
from standard tensile tests of reinforcing steel (ASTM
Momentcurvature relationship
The determination of a momentcurvature (M) relation-
ship makes it possible to evaluate the effective flexural rigid-
ity as a single quantity, since the flexural rigidity EI = M/.
Because of the nature of the nonlinear stressstrain relation-
ship for masonry in compression and the effects of masonry
tensile cracking, however, the momentcurvature relation-
ship cannot be found in an explicit form and recourse must
be made to numerical iterative methods to obtain it.
In the iterative procedure, a momentcurvature relation-
ship is developed as often as needed at any cross section
subjected to a specific value of axial force acting on the
wall. Figure 2 depicts a wall cross section with double-layer
reinforcement subjected to an axial force, P, where X is the
depth of the compression zone,
is the compressive strain
at the extreme fiber, and =
/X. The compression zone of
a wall cross section is divided into n layers, each having a
thickness of X/n and strain
. The distance from mid-
thickness of the wall to the centroid of layer i is d
At each increment of curvature, values of
are calculated
on the basis of an assumed value for
. Stresses
are then
calculated using the nonlinear stressstrain relationship ex-
pressed by eqs. [1][3]. Applying axial equilibrium require-
ments to the wall cross section results in
[4] P b
i 1


s s s s
where P
is an estimate of the applied load P; b
is the effec-
tive width at layer i, which includes the effect of grouted
cells where applicable; A
and A
are the areas of compres-
sion and tension steel, respectively; and
are the
corresponding stresses in the steel. In general, during the
procedure, P
will not be equal to P, and therefore several it-
erations using trial values of
each time are required until
|P P
| , where the tolerance for convergence = 0.001
in this case. Once this convergence has been reached, the re-
sisting moment of the cross section corresponding to the
value of is determined as
[5] M b d
A t d
i i


s s c
( / )
+ A t d
s s c
( / ) 2
where t is the wall thickness and d
and d
are the compres-
sion and tension steel depths of cover, respectively. Using
this value of M and the corresponding value of , a point on
the momentcurvature curve can thus be defined. The com-
pressive depth and the stress and strain distributions of a ma-
sonry cross section corresponding to this specific point can
also be obtained.
The aforementioned procedure is repeated a sufficient
number of times to establish the entire M curve at the ax-
ial load specified. It should be noted that when the compres-
sion strain in a layer exceeds the limit of 0.003 (CSA 1994),
it is assumed that the masonry in the layer is crushed and
therefore this layer is not used in subsequent calculations
and the current value of X is reduced accordingly. Addi-
tionally, when the steel reaches its yield strain, the subse-
quent stress level is set to the yield stress of steel. These
factors result in the falling branch of the M curve, a typi-
cal computer-generated example of which is shown in Fig. 3.
In the numerical analysis, EI for each element along the wall
height is determined from the M curve for a particular ax-
ial load and for the particular cross-section characteristics
existing at that instant in the overall analysis.
Nonlinear wall analysis
In this method, a wall with free vertical boundaries is di-
vided along its height into an appropriate number of finite
beam elements as determined from a convergence study. The
concept of reduced stiffness matrix is incorporated into the
analysis to account for geometric nonlinearity. A combined
2003 NRC Canada
Liu and Dawe 797
Fig. 2. Stress distribution on a wall cross section.
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incremental and iterative approach is then employed to es-
tablish the complete loadresponse history of a wall sub-
jected to concentric or eccentric axial compression only or
axial and lateral loading combined.
Load increments of approximately 5% of the estimated ul-
timate load are used and are decreased appropriately as the
ultimate load is approached. Following a modified Newton
Raphson procedure (Cook 1974), current tangent stiffness
properties are used to determine incremental nodal deflec-
tions and the corresponding updated total deflection profile
of a wall. Individual wall element moments are then calcu-
lated and corresponding values of the tangent stiffness, EI,
as found from the appropriate M curve for the specified
axial compression, are used to reformulate updated stiffness
matrices. A deflection convergence criterion in conjunction
with a force convergence criterion is applied in the analysis.
The iterative process is repeated until current and updated
deflections converge to within 0.1%, whereas unbalanced
forces are required to converge within 0.1% of the applied
load increment. Element moments calculated at each step are
compared with the maximum moment on the M curve to
ensure that the maximum moment has not been exceeded. If
it is exceeded, back-stepping and re-approach are imple-
mented until the calculated and maximum moments differ by
no more than 0.1%.
Beyond the ultimate load, further increase in loads cannot
be sustained because the state of equilibrium cannot be
reached at a higher load level. To overcome this difficulty so
that the descending portion of the curve can be obtained, lat-
eral deflection, rather than lateral load, is incremented. This
technique recognizes the fact that the established moment
curvature relationship consists of a rising and a falling
branch, which indicates that cross-section equilibrium condi-
tions can be satisfied at lower axial load levels as the curva-
ture increases beyond ultimate. The deflected profile is
incremented by 5% of that existing at the previous step, and
corresponding nodal curvatures are calculated by means of a
finite difference technique. Nodal curvatures are used to de-
termine nodal moments from the M curve. These moments
are then used to back-calculate the now reduced applied
load, taking into account moment magnification effects. In
this manner, the entire loaddeflection response of a wall is
Buckling load
The buckling capacity of the wall is obtained by solving
an associated eigenvalue problem defined as follows:
[6] {[K] P
}{} = {0}
where [K] is the structure stiffness matrix, [K]
is the struc-
ture geometric stiffness matrix, P
is an eigenvalue repre-
senting the critical load for a wall, and {} is the
corresponding eigenvector defining the buckled shape under
compression. In the formulation of structure stiffness matrix
[K] at each load increment, the effect of masonry tensile
cracking, compressive crushing, and yielding of reinforce-
ment is included in the calculation of flexural rigidity EI as
determined from the momentcurvature relationship.
Failure criteria
During wall analysis, two criteria are used to identify fail-
ure of walls with various material and geometric parameters.
Material failure occurs when the applied moment including
the moment magnification effect exceeds the moment capac-
ity of the corresponding cross section as defined by the
momentcurvature relationship. Stability failure, on the
other hand, occurs when the applied axial load equals or ex-
ceeds the critical buckling load of the wall, including stress-
degraded wall. Material failure is checked at every iterative
step, and stability failure is checked after the displacement
convergence criterion is satisfied at any stage.
Confirmation of the analytical model
The numerical technique was assessed by comparing ana-
lytical computer model findings with experimental results
obtained from wall specimens tested during the present
study and from tests performed by several other researchers
as noted in the following.
For walls tested during the present study, both single- and
double-layer reinforced specimens were included in the
comparison. Limitations of laboratory facilities dictated the
use of 800 mm long by 1200 mm high by 140 mm thick
specimens. The authors feel that the test results of 36 such
specimens, which included several varied effects, along with
the results of tests performed by other researchers were ade-
quate to demonstrate the efficacy of the analytical method
before beginning a general parametric study. Figures 4 and 5
compare analytical results and corresponding experimental
results for walls tested under simultaneous vertical compres-
sive loading and lateral out-of-plane loading. Complete de-
tails of these tests are available elsewhere (Liu and Dawe
2001). The effects of various material and geometric param-
eters on masonry wall behaviour were included in studies re-
ported by Aridru (1997), Hatzinikolas and Warwaruk (1978),
and Suwalski and Drysdale (1986). Typical graphical com-
parisons of these test results with results predicted using the
analytical model described herein are shown in Figs. 69 for
wall specimens tested under symmetric eccentric loading
with specific eccentricities. Although the analytical method
is capable of including the effects of any eccentricity, analyt-
ical results are compared with test results only at these spe-
cific eccentricities. Detailed characteristics of all wall
specimens are available in the aforementioned studies.
2003 NRC Canada
798 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 30, 2003
Fig. 3. Typical momentcurvature curve for masonry walls.
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2003 NRC Canada
Liu and Dawe 799
Fig. 4. Comparison of results for single-layer reinforced walls
with two No. 10 reinforcing bars and h/t = 8.6 under combined
axial and lateral loading. Experimental data from Liu (2002).
Fig. 5. Comparison of results for double-layer reinforced walls
with two No. 10 reinforcing bars per layer and h/t = 8.6 under com-
bined axial and lateral loading. Experimental data from Liu (2002).
Fig. 6. Comparison of results for walls with two No. 10 re-
inforcing bars and h/t = 8.6 under eccentric compressive loading.
Experimental data from Aridru (1997).
Fig. 7. Comparison of results for walls with three No. 9 re-
inforcing bars and h/t = 18 under eccentric compressive loading.
Experimental data from Hatzinikolas and Warwaruk (1978).
Fig. 8. Comparison of results for walls with two No. 15 re-
inforcing bars and h/t = 16.8 under eccentric compressive load-
ing. Experimental data from Suwalski and Drysdale (1986).
Fig. 9. Comparison of results for walls with one No. 5 reinforc-
ing bar and h/t = 20.2 under eccentric compressive loading. Ex-
perimental data from Suwalski and Drysdale (1986).
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The analytical procedure was thus confirmed by compar-
ing results with those available for a wide range of tests per-
formed by independent researchers for an array of wall
characteristics and loading conditions.
Parametric study
An extensive computer simulation study incorporating the
effects of a wide range of parameters is aimed at providing
additional information on the overall strength and behaviour
of masonry walls, including the determination of appropriate
values for use in design. Load cases included axially
concentric compressive loading, eccentric compressive load-
ing, and concentric compressive loading combined with out-
of-plane lateral pressure loading. Plain, single-layer
reinforced and double-layer reinforced walls are included in
the study. Other parameters included h/t ratios of 6, 12, 18,
24, 30, and 36, where h is the effective height; eccentricity
ratios e/t of 0.11.0 in increments of 0.1 for reinforced walls
and 0.10.3 in increments of 0.05 for plain walls, where e is
the virtual eccentricity; e
ratios of 1.0, 0.0, and 1.0,
where e
and e
are the smaller and larger eccentricity of the
applied axial load, respectively; and reinforcement ratios of
0.0013, 0.0018, 0.0027, 0.0036, 0.005, 0.01, and 0.02. A
wall 1000 mm in length with a thickness of 200 mm and
varying height was used for the computer model. When not
otherwise indicated, a ratio of steel area to gross cross-
section area of = 0.0018 was used for reinforced speci-
mens. Simple support conditions were used at the top and
base of the wall model, and the compressive strength of ma-
sonry was taken as 15 MPa. A Poissons ratio of 0.02 was
used throughout. The h/t ratios, eccentricity ratios, loading
parameters, and reinforcement configurations used in the
study are intended to be representative of the most com-
monly encountered cases in the design of load-bearing walls.
Analytical results are expressed in tabular and graphical nor-
malized form.
Results and discussion
Compressive loading only
Wall compressive capacities normalized by the cross-
sectional strength, P
, are listed in Table 1 for various values
of the ratios e
and e/t for single-layer reinforced walls.
Each value of e/t is equal to the maximum absolute value of
/t or e
/t. A ratio of e
of 1.0 indicates that the eccen-
tricities of loads applied at the ends of a wall are equal and
in the same direction, causing the wall to be bent in single,
symmetric curvature. A ratio of e
= 1.0 implies that ec-
centricities are numerically equal but in opposite directions,
causing the wall to deform in a reverse curvature mode. Wall
specimens with e
= 0.0 are bent in asymmetric single
curvature, where e
is zero and e
varies from 0.1t to 1.0t.
Table 1 shows that for a given eccentricity ratio, e/t, and
end loading eccentricity ratio, e
, the capacities of walls
decrease as h/t increases. This decrease in strength reflects
the effect of slenderness and associated moment magnifica-
tion in reducing wall capacities. Capacities also decrease
with an increase in e/t while h/t and e
are held constant.
For walls with constant e/t and h/t ratios, the capacity in-
creases as the deflected shape of the wall changes from sin-
gle curvature to double curvature. For example, for h/t = 18
and e/t = 0.5, the normalized capacities corresponding to
= 1.0, 0.0, and 1.0 are 0.334, 0.419, and 0.506, re-
2003 NRC Canada
800 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 30, 2003
h/t 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50 0.60 0.70 0.80 0.90 1.00
= 1
6 0.886 0.733 0.623 0.531 0.449 0.381 0.328 0.284 0.249 0.222
12 0.781 0.661 0.557 0.466 0.386 0.325 0.282 0.244 0.213 0.191
18 0.691 0.581 0.488 0.411 0.334 0.290 0.243 0.211 0.189 0.172
24 0.605 0.521 0.443 0.371 0.306 0.262 0.224 0.190 0.174 0.151
30 0.527 0.444 0.374 0.324 0.270 0.232 0.205 0.178 0.152 0.130
36 0.464 0.385 0.321 0.277 0.235 0.205 0.175 0.151 0.134 0.111
= 0
6 0.944 0.845 0.731 0.618 0.527 0.442 0.375 0.322 0.281 0.248
12 0.874 0.752 0.641 0.545 0.459 0.388 0.332 0.288 0.250 0.221
18 0.781 0.680 0.586 0.497 0.419 0.349 0.303 0.264 0.225 0.194
24 0.711 0.613 0.522 0.451 0.381 0.321 0.275 0.243 0.206 0.177
30 0.636 0.551 0.466 0.392 0.334 0.278 0.249 0.211 0.183 0.155
36 0.538 0.463 0.394 0.346 0.290 0.245 0.223 0.189 0.163 0.134
= 1
6 0.991 0.922 0.817 0.702 0.594 0.494 0.416 0.352 0.309 0.268
12 0.917 0.859 0.763 0.644 0.550 0.459 0.388 0.327 0.278 0.239
18 0.860 0.779 0.691 0.591 0.506 0.430 0.359 0.301 0.252 0.221
24 0.799 0.706 0.629 0.533 0.449 0.374 0.326 0.272 0.230 0.201
30 0.715 0.639 0.569 0.473 0.407 0.339 0.293 0.248 0.216 0.186
36 0.606 0.565 0.511 0.423 0.353 0.298 0.257 0.216 0.187 0.156
Table 1. Normalized capacities, P/P
, for single-layer reinforced walls ( = 0.0018).
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For walls with e/t = 0.2, typical graphical representations
based on Table 1 are illustrated in Figs. 10, 11, and 12 for
eccentricity ratios, e
, of 1.0, 0.0, and 1.0, respectively. It
is noted herein that different scales are used in Figs. 11 and
12 for illustration purposes. Maximum out-of-plane deflec-
tions are normalized by the wall thickness, and gravity loads
are normalized by the cross-section capacity, P
. The curves
in each of Figs. 10, 11, and 12 increase monotonically up to
the peak loads while wall capacities decrease and ductility
increases with increasing values of h/t. At h/t = 6, the wall
response is essentially linear up to the ultimate load, with lit-
tle or no subsequent ductility. In the case of more slender
walls, response becomes increasingly nonlinear and ductility
increases significantly as h/t increases from 12 to 36.
Comparing Figs. 1012, it is evident that the increase
in ductility as h/t increases is most significant for walls
bent in single curvature where the combination of moment-
magnifier effect and material nonlinearity is most critical.
Observations similar to those described previously also ap-
ply to walls with values of e/t and other than those used in
generating Figs. 1012. Although all salient conclusions are
presented herein, a more detailed parametric study is avail-
able elsewhere (Liu 2002).
A study of the effect of e/t is presented in Fig. 13, which
shows a family of curves of normalized gravity load capacity
versus normalized maximum out-of-plane deflection for
single-layer reinforced walls with equal end eccentricities
= 1.0) and e/t ratios varying from 0.1 to 1.0. The fam-
ily of curves characterizes how the gravity load bearing ca-
pacity is compromised as the load eccentricity increases. At
larger eccentricities, wall capacity is lower but the response
is more ductile in the region where tensile failure prevails,
corresponding to a reduced rigidity, EI
. Specimens with
smaller eccentricities tend to fail by crushing, resulting in re-
duced ductility as compared with walls with higher eccen-
tricity ratios.
Normalized capacity, P/P
, versus normalized maximum
out-of-plane deflection, /t, is graphed in Fig. 14 for walls
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Liu and Dawe 801
Fig. 10. Normalized load versus deflection curves for walls with
= 1.0.
Fig. 11. Normalized load versus deflection curves for walls with
= 0.0.
Fig. 12. Normalized load versus deflection curves for walls with
= 1.0.
Fig. 13. Normalized load versus deflection curves for varying ec-
centricity ratios.
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with e
ratios of 1.0, 0.0, and 1.0. Typical values of
h/t = 24, e/t = 0.2, and = 0.0018 are used here. The mini-
mum capacity and maximum ductility occur for e
= 1.0,
whereas for e
= 1.0 the capacity is higher by approxi-
mately 30% but the ductility is dramatically reduced, with a
post-peak load ductility of practically zero. For e
= 0.0,
the maximum primary moment occurs at the end of the wall
corresponding to e
and the maximum deflection is less than
that which occurs for e
> 0.0. This results in a secondary
moment due to deflection that is less critical in the case of
= 0.0 than for the case where e
> 0.0. For cases
where e
= 1.0, reduced deflections lead to an even
smaller moment-magnifier effect.
Axial compression and uniform lateral pressure
In this part of the parametric study, walls were subjected
to various sustained axial loads of fixed magnitude while a
lateral uniform pressure was incremented to the collapse
load. Axial compressive loads included in this study were 0,
100, 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1000 kN. The total lateral load,
h, on a wall, where
is the lateral pressure, was nor-
malized by a nominal axial force capacity of 1000 f
Graphs of normalized lateral force,
h/ f
t, versus normal-
ized mid-height deflection, /t, are shown in Fig. 15 for
walls with a sustained axial load of 600 kN and an h/t value
varying from 6 to 36. The dramatic effect that the h/t ratio
has on reducing both the lateral load capacity and the flex-
ural stiffness is quite evident. Compared with the lateral load
capacity of walls with h/t = 6, the reductions in lateral load
capacity resulting from moment-magnifier effects alone for
h/t = 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 were determined to be approxi-
mately 9, 19, 27, 34, and 44%, respectively. For example,
the normalized lateral load capacity of a wall with a
1000 mm 200 mm cross section and a slenderness of
h/t = 6 was found to be 0.109 in the presence of a 600 kN
axial load. Considering the ratio of bending moment capaci-
ties at mid-height and excluding moment-magnifier effects,
the lateral load capacity of a similar wall with h/t = 18 can
therefore be determined as 0.109/(18/6) = 0.0363. The value
for h/t = 18 determined analytically with slenderness effects
included, however, was found to be 0.0295. Assuming negli-
gible moment-magnification effects for the wall with h/t = 6,
the reduction in lateral load capacity for a wall with h/t = 18
due to moment-magnifier effects alone is therefore approxi-
mately 19% in the presence of a 600 kN axial load. Similar
findings were made for other values of axial load acting in
combination with lateral pressure.
Normalized lateral load capacity versus normalized mid-
height deflection curves are shown in Fig. 16 for walls with
an h/t value of 18. As indicated, the virtual walls were inves-
tigated for axial loads varying from 0.0 to 1000 kN. With an
increase of axial load from 0.0 to 600 kN, increasing lateral
load capacity corresponds to that range of interaction result-
ing predominantly in tension failure. Beyond 600 kN, lateral
load capacity shows a noticeable decrease as a result of a
change in failure mode from mainly tension failure to pre-
dominantly compression failure. Walls failing under very
high axial loads show less deflection, indicating the possibil-
ity of sudden catastrophic collapse as such loads are ap-
Comparison of analytical and design flexural rigidity
The effective flexural rigidity, EI
, at ultimate load
capacity was obtained using analytical results for different
2003 NRC Canada
802 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 30, 2003
Fig. 14. Normalized load versus deflection curves for varying
Fig. 15. Normalized lateral pressure versus deflection for walls
under combined loading: P = 600 kN.
Fig. 16. Effect of axial load on the lateral capacity of walls:
h/t = 18.
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combinations of parameters as described previously. Fig-
ure 17 illustrates the relationships among EI
, e/t, and h/t
for an e
ratio of 1.0 and single-layer concentrically rein-
forced walls under eccentric compressive loading. A similar
set of curves is presented in Fig. 18 for walls subjected to
concentric axial and lateral uniform loading combined. In
each figure, the lower discretionary and upper mandatory
code limits (CSA 1994) and the transition between them are
indicated as broken lines. In the calculation of code values,
850 f
, as recommended by the code, is used as the modulus
of elasticity of masonry, E. It should be kept in mind that e
in the expression, e/t, is determined as the ratio of maximum
primary moment to axial load. In general, calculations based
on the code and those of the analytical results show that as
e/t increases the ratio of EI
decreases for all h/t ratios
and loading parameters investigated, where EI
is the un-
cracked flexural rigidity.
At a fixed value of h/t, it is evident from the previous
comparisons that Standard CSA-S304.1-M94 underestimates
values at ultimate load for reinforced walls. This under-
estimation increases in significance for walls subjected to
lower primary eccentricities and may be attributed to the
consequence of a particular failure mode on the effective
flexural rigidity. As the failure mode changes from pure ten-
sion failure to combined tension and compression failure and
then to mainly compression failure, the underestimation of
values by CSA-S304.1-M94 tends to increase accord-
ingly. At any eccentricity ratio, e/t, however, the significance
of this underestimation increases as h/t ratios become higher.
For example, referring to Fig. 17, at e/t = 0.6 the ratio of the
underestimation of EI
corresponding to h/t = 6 to that
for EI
corresponding to h/t = 30 is approximately
0.35/0.15, or about 2.3.
The effects of various e
ratios on the relationship be-
tween EI
and e/t for a typical slenderness value of
h/t = 18 are compared in Fig. 19. For e/t up to about 0.50.6,
the decrease in EI
as e/t increases is more rapid for
single-curvature bending than for reverse-curvature bending,
and the rate in reduction of EI
decreases as e
creases from 1.0 through 0.0 to 1.0. For walls with single
curvature (e
= 1.0), the computer results show that com-
pressive depth and stress level for the cross section where
the moment is maximum are less than those for walls with
double curvature (e
= 1.0). This indicates that EI
reduced primarily due to cracking for walls bent in single
curvature. For walls bent in double curvature, on the other
hand, deflections are less, axial loads are higher, and conse-
quently reduction in EI
as e/t increases is primarily due to
the reduction in E stemming from the stressstrain relation-
ship of masonry in which the nonlinearity becomes more
pronounced at higher stress levels. The resulting reduction in
the deflection and in the extent of cracking leads to a re-
duced secondary moment effect and therefore to a higher ef-
fective rigidity. Similar trends were noted for other values of
h/t between 6 and 36 (Liu 2002).
The relationship between EI
and the reinforcement ratio,
, for various values of the e/t ratio is shown in Fig. 20 for
= 1.0. The rate of increase in EI
with an increase in
reinforcement is significant when the reinforcement ratio is
within the range of 0.1330.50%, corresponding to condi-
tions resulting in tensile failure. As increases from 0.50%
to 2.0%, the rate of increase in EI
is much more gradual
and even marginal, as indeed is the case also for the rate of
2003 NRC Canada
Liu and Dawe 803
Fig. 17. EI
versus e/t for walls under eccentric compressive
Fig. 18. EI
versus e/t for walls under combined axial com-
pression and lateral loading.
Fig. 19. EI
versus e/t for different end eccentricity ratios
and h/t = 18.
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increase of the load-carrying capacity. At these higher levels
of steel reinforcement, the expected increases in strength and
values are offset by the onset of compression failure of
the masonry. Similar behaviour has been observed for values
of e
= 0.0 and 1.0.
Figure 21 shows the effect that underestimating the effec-
tive flexural rigidity has on the axial load carrying capacities
for walls with h/t = 18 and e
values of 1.0, 0.0, and 1.0.
is the maximum axial load capacity for the eccentricity
configuration as indicated, and P
is the cross-sectional
strength of the wall specimens. The CSA (1994) values are
based on the moment-magnifier method where EI
sponds to the suggested code value. The maximum compres-
sive load capacity obtained using the analytical method
described herein is considerably greater than that predicted
by the CSA (1994) for reinforced walls bent in single curva-
ture. For walls bent in double curvature the disparity be-
tween analytical load capacities and corresponding code
values is greater. For walls subjected to combined axial and
lateral uniform loading, similar underestimations of load-
carrying capacity have been observed (Liu 2002).
Based on these observations, it is difficult to evaluate the
variation of EI
in a single equation that can embody the
complex and interactive effects of various parameters. It is
the authors opinion that it may be helpful to obtain a lower
bound expression for EI
based on theoretical findings as
verified by experimental work. For this purpose, analytical
results of EI
versus e/t were developed for a large
number of virtual specimens. These included single-layer
and double-layer reinforced walls with minimum reinforce-
ment as prescribed by CSA (1994) and plain walls under
both eccentric compressive loading and combined axial and
lateral loading for various values of h/t. In this procedure, an
equivalent EI
is determined for each virtual specimen from
the relationship
[7] EI
eff cr
P h ( / )
where P
is the buckling capacity of a member at ultimate
load and is calculated using the numerical technique de-
scribed earlier, including variable stress deterioration effects
along the height of the member. The results of this extensive
analytical study are plotted in Fig. 22 for a range of slender-
ness values of h/t from 6 to 36. A regression analysis was
performed and an overall lower bound bilinear approxima-
tion for the curves shown in Fig. 22 was determined as fol-
[8a] EI EI 0.80 1.95 1.00 0.01
eff 0
/ ( / ) ( / ), h t e t
0.0 0.4 e t /
[8b] EI EI 0.022 1.00 0.35 0.4
eff 0
/ ( / ), / + > h t e t
In these expressions, the value of e is the maximum end ec-
centricity for end-applied axial loads. For combined axial
and lateral loads, e is equal to M
/P, where M
is the maxi-
mum primary moment and P is the applied axial load.
Although eqs. [8a] and [8b] apply to reinforced speci-
mens, the study presented in Fig. 22 also indicates a lower
bound for plain walls of EI
= 0.44, which is essentially
the same as the presently suggested code value of EI
An average stressstrain relationship for masonry in com-
pression was adopted for the analysis. This generalization
cannot explicitly implement the mechanical and physical in-
compatibility that may exist between grout and units. The
analytical model assumes a perfect bond between grout and
reinforcing bars and between grout and units, which may not
be fully representative of real situations. Usually walls will
be supported along two or more edges. In some cases, de-
pending on the rigidity of the supports, two-way bending or
arching action may develop, resulting in an increase in
strength. The analytical model, in conformity with current
design guidelines (CSA 1994), conservatively neglects any
beneficial strengthening effects of arching or two-way plate
action that may develop in some cases.
An analytical technique for determining the behaviour of
beamcolumn structural elements was programmed for com-
puter production, and its efficacy was confirmed by compari-
2003 NRC Canada
804 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 30, 2003
Fig. 20. Variation of EI
with steel reinforcement ratio, . Fig. 21. Comparison of theoretical axial load predictions with
values based on CSA (1994).
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son with a large number of experimental test results as
reported by a number of researchers. Momentcurvature re-
lationships incorporated in the technique were used to ac-
count for various effects, including those of nonlinear
stressstrain behaviour of masonry in compression, masonry
tensile cracking, compressive crushing of masonry, and ver-
tical reinforcement. An extensive analytical study revealed
the influence of various parameters on the capacity and
flexural rigidity of masonry walls. The relationship and in-
teraction among the h/t ratio, eccentricity ratio, loading con-
ditions, and the capacities and flexural rigidities of masonry
walls have been presented and discussed. For both eccentric
compressive loading and combined axial and lateral loading,
similar trends of variation in flexural rigidity were observed.
2003 NRC Canada
Liu and Dawe 805
Fig. 22. Computer model determination of extreme lower bound for EI
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2003 NRC Canada
806 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 30, 2003
This study indicates that values suggested by Standard CSA-
S304.1-M94 (CSA 1994) result in a generally conservative
result for the effective flexural rigidity of reinforced ma-
sonry walls. It has been demonstrated that the present sug-
gested code values for EI
lead to conservative designs.
Based on a large number of computer model tests, a lower
bound bilinear limit for the effective rigidity of reinforced
masonry walls was established. Additionally, the value of
= 0.40EI
for plain masonry walls, as presently sug-
gested by CSA (1994), was confirmed. These limits are
based on an analysis of stability and material failure, includ-
ing the effects of cracking and stress variation along the wall
height, and it is believed that they provide a realistic esti-
mate for EI
The authors wish to recognize the contribution of finan-
cial assistance by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Re-
search Council of Canada and kind assistance from the Shaw
Group and the International Masonry Institute, Atlantic
Provinces Region of Canada.
Aridru, G.G. 1997. Effective flexural rigidity of plain and reinforced
concrete masonry walls. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Civil Engi-
neering, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.
ASTM. 2000. Standard test methods and definitions for mechanical
testing of steel products (A370-97a). In Annual Book of ASTM
Standards, Sect. 1, Vol. 01.04. American Society for Testing and
Materials, Philadelphia, Pa.
Cook, R.D. 1974. Concepts and applications of finite element anal-
ysis. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York.
CSA. 1994. Masonry design for buildings (limit states design).
Standard CSA-S304.1-M94, Canadian Standards Association,
Rexdale, Ont.
Frisch-Fay, R. 1975. Stability of masonry piers. International Jour-
nal of Solids and Structures, 11(2): 187198.
Hatzinikolas, M.A., and Warwaruk, J. 1978. Concrete masonry
walls. Structural Engineering Report 70, Department of Civil
Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.
Liu, Y. 2002. Beam-column behaviour of masonry structural ele-
ments. Ph.D. thesis, Department of Civil Engineering, Univer-
sity of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.
Liu, Y., and Dawe, J.L. 2001. Experimental determination of ma-
sonry beamcolumn behaviour. Canadian Journal of Civil Engi-
neering, 28(5): 794803.
Maksoud, A.A., and Drysdale, R.G. 1993. Rational moment mag-
nification factor for slender unreinforced masonry walls. In Pro-
ceedings of the 6th North American Masonry Conference,
Philadelphia, Pa., 69 June 1993. Technomic Publishing Com-
pany Inc., Lancaster, Pa. Vol. 1, pp. 443454.
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List of symbols
area of tensile steel
area of compressive steel
width of masonry layer i in compression zone
tensile reinforcement covers
compressive reinforcement covers
distance from centre of cross section to centre of layer i
e virtual eccentricity
smaller eccentricity of applied axial load
larger eccentricity of applied axial load
e/t virtual eccentricity ratio
E modulus of elasticity of masonry
modulus of elasticity of steel
EI flexural rigidity
effective flexural rigidity
uncracked flexural rigidity
compressive strength of masonry at 28 d
yield strength of steel reinforcement
h effective height
h/t height to thickness ratio
i layer number
[K] structure stiffness matrix
geometric stiffness matrix
M moment acting on the cross section of a wall
maximum primary moment
n number of layers
P vertical compressive load
buckling capacity of a member at ultimate load
maximum axial capacity
axial capacity of cross section
estimate of axial load in momentcurvature curve deter-
t wall thickness
X depth of compressive zone
Z slope of the falling branch of the stressstrain curve for
masonry in compression
maximum lateral deflection along the height of a speci-

compressive strain

compressive strain in layer i

strain in tension reinforcing steel

strain in compression reinforcing steel

trial value for extreme fibre compressive strain

strains corresponding to 0.2 f

tolerance for convergence
reinforcement ratio

lateral pressure capacity

compressive stress in layer i

compressive stress

stresses in tension and compression steel, respectively
{} eigenvector defining the buckling shape under compres-
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