Vibration characteristics of vaulted masonry monuments undergoing differential support settlement

Sezer Atamturktur, Luke Bornn, François Hemez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


This paper assesses the feasibility of vibration testing to detect structural damage caused by the settlement of buttresses in the Beverley Minster, a Gothic church located in the UK. Over the past eight centuries, the accumulated support settlements of the buttresses of Beverley Minster have pulled the main nave walls outward, causing severe separation along the edges of the masonry vaults. Bays closer to the main crossing tower have remained intact; however, at the west end of the Minster, the crack width between the walls and vaults has reached about 150 mm, leading to approximately 200 mm of sag at the crown of the vaults. Due to uneven settlement of buttresses along the nave of the church, the Minster now has ten nominally identical vaults at different damage states. In this work, two of these vaults representing the two extremes, the most damaged and undamaged structural states, are subjected to vibration testing with impact hammer excitation. From these vibration measurements, damage indicators are extracted in the modal, frequency, and time domains. In the modal domain, the differences between modal parameters are observed to be comparable to measurement uncertainty and hence insufficient to reach conclusions about the presence of vault damage. However, the amplitudes of frequency response functions in the frequency domain are observed to indicate a clear difference between the damaged and undamaged states of the structure. A time domain autoregressive model, support vector machine regression, is also found to be successful at indicating the differences between the two structural states of the vaults. We conclude that vibration measurements offer a practical solution to detect wall-vault separation in historic masonry monuments, provided that multiple damage indicators are evaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2472-2484
Number of pages13
JournalEngineering Structures
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Vibration characteristics of vaulted masonry monuments undergoing differential support settlement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this