Dynamic discrete element modelling for seismic assessment of rammed earth walls

A. Limam, Q. B. Bui, T.T. Bui
Engineering Structures
Discrete element modelling, rammed earth, seismic behaviour, Time history analysis

Rammed earth (RE) is a construction material which is manufactured by compacting the soil within a formwork, in superimposed layers. RE is attracting scientific studies because of its sustainable properties : a very low embodied energy and an advantageous living comfort due to a particular benefic hygro-thermal behaviour. Numerous studies have been conducted to investigate RE material and RE structures, however, a lack of knowledge on the seismic performance of RE buildings is noticed. This paper presents an advanced numerical study to investigate the in-plane seismic behaviour of RE walls. First, a numerical model of an in-situ RE wall was constructed by using discrete element modelling (DEM). The relevancy of the numerical model was verified by comparing dynamic properties of the model with that measured on the in-situ wall. Then, a real earthquake excitation was applied to the model, in order to evaluate the seismic performance of the RE wall studied. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a dynamic discrete explicite analysis was performed for a RE wall. The excitation was scaled at different amplitudes to assess the damages following different earthquake intensities. The results showed that for seismic excitations lower than 2.3 m/s2, RE walls studied had satisfying in-plane earthquake performance.

Keywords: Rammed earth, Seismic behaviour, Time history analysis, Discrete element modelling,

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