Static and dynamic testing of adobe-mudbrick structures

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Structural Engineering, 2008, 8 (2), pp. 159 - 170
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Each decade major earthquakes highlight the vulnerability of traditional adobemudbrick houses, especially in developing countries. This paper describes two series of tests (static and dynamic) designed to investigate simple and effective methods of improving the structural capacity of adobe-mudbrick buildings. The static tests presented in this paper include compressive, shear and flexural bond strength testing, and consider a variety of simple modifications to the brick laying technique (effects of brick surface moisture content, mortar thickness and curing load). Results show that a significant improvement in the shear and flexural bond strength of adobe-mudbrick masonry can be practically achieved by wetting the surface of each brick prior to laying, using a thin mortar joint and applying a normal load during curing. The dynamic testing component of this paper provides a summary of the shake table testing of 10 u-shaped adobe wall units, and details the preparation and testing of a 1:2 scale model house that was retrofit-strengthened with vertical bamboo poles, horizontal wire and a timber ring beam. Results confirm that these additions, when securely tied together, create an integrated matrix that restrains movement and enhances the overall strength of the structure. The model house performed extremely well, even during repeated high intensity shake table testing, with catastrophic failure and collapse prevented in all cases. © Institution of Engineers Australia, 2008.
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