James D. Finnegan1, Phillip Z. Geist1, and Sara Ganzerli1
1)  Gonzaga University, Department of Civil Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science,
502 East Boone Avenue, Spokane, WA 99258-0026
e-mail: ganzerli@gonzaga.edu

Keywords: Unreinforced masonry, Earthquakes, Corner failure.

Abstract. This research focuses on unreinforced masonry buildings subject to earthquake forces, specifically failures at a top corner. In geographical locations prone to earthquakes, unreinforced masonry buildings are vulnerable to damage which could result in injury or loss of life. A literature review on the topic reveals that there is a further need to investigate how the mechanism of failure occurs at these corners. The specific issue investigated in this research is the shearing failure of the corner. When failure at a corner occurs, a three dimensional- triangular wedge separates from the building. This study attempts to predict the width and the depth of the wedge using a trial and error procedure. This is based on principles of structural mechanics by comparing the driving and resisting forces acting on the failure surface. Results obtained indicate that it is possible to predict a failure path. However, the problem is subject to many variables, ranging from the material properties to the dimensions of the building. Therefore, an experimental investigation would help to validate the results. This research is of interest to structural engineers. It could provide an important contribution to the deeper understanding regarding the behavior of unreinforced masonry buildings.