Performance of Unreinforced Masonry Buildings During the Newcastle Earthquake, Australia

by Michael C. Griffith, Univ of Adelaide, Adelaide,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Lifeline Earthquake Engineering


On December 28, 1989, an earthquake of Richter magnitude 5.6 shook the city of Newcastle. Newcastle is situated on the east coast of Australia only 100km north of Sydney. Eleven deaths and $300-$400 million damage to buildings have been attributed to the earthquake, with the total economic cost to the community estimated to be in excess of $1 billion. This paper presents a summary of the performance of unreinforced masonry buildings in the Newcastle area during the 1989 earthquake. In particular, a 3-storey masonry apartment building which suffered a combined soft-storey and torsional mode of failure is analysed. This example is then used to illustrate several of the short-comings in the current Australian Earthquake Code.

Subject Headings: Earthquakes | Masonry | Failure analysis | Residential buildings | Torsion | Material failures | Building codes | Earthquake resistant structures | Australia | Sydney

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