Mesoscale partitioned modelling of masonry bridges allowing for arch-backfill interaction

Yanyang Zhang, Enrico Tubaldi, Lorenzo Macorini, Bassam A. Izzuddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


Masonry arch bridges exhibit a complex three-dimensional behaviour which is determined by the interaction between different structural and non-structural components, including the arch barrel, the backfill and the lateral walls. This paper presents an advanced finite-element modelling strategy for studying the behaviour of masonry arch bridges under vertical loading which combines a mesoscale description of the arch barrel with a plasticity-based continuum approach for the fill and the spandrel-walls. The proposed modelling strategy is validated against available experimental laboratory test results on masonry arch bridges. Firstly, a bridge specimen with a detached spandrel wall is analysed considering a simplified strip model. Subsequently, the influence on the bridge response of backfill and arch characteristics, loading position, arch shape and abutment movements are investigated through a comprehensive parametric study. In the final part of the paper, the results of full 3D mesoscale simulations of an arch bridge with attached spandrel walls are presented and discussed. The analysis results provide significant information on the complex interaction between the different bridge components along the longitudinal and transverse direction, and can be used to validate and calibrate simplified approaches for practical assessment of masonry arch bridge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)820-842
Number of pages23
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Early online date24 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2018


  • masonry arch bridge
  • arch-soil interaction
  • backfill
  • nonlinear analysis
  • masonry mesoscale description


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