Susceptibility of low cost housing to seismic activity in South Africa

Maybery, Gregory (2017-03)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In South Africa, certain regions are susceptible to low to moderate intensity seismicity, i.e. the South Western region of the Western Cape Province and areas around Johannesburg. Unreinforced masonry (URM) structures within these regions are regarded as the most vulnerable types of infrastructure when subjected to seismicity. Based on past experience, these types of infrastructure have performed poorly during past earthquake of low to moderate seismicity. The low cost housing developments provided by the South African government is of highest concern, since URM structures built at minimal cost are extremely susceptible to seismicity. The structural integrity of these types of infrastructure is further questionable since they experience structural damage due to normal loading conditions. This is due to poor material quality and poor supervision. In this study, a Finite Element (FE) model was developed of a typical single story URM low cost housing unit built to minimum standards which is commonly found in the South Western region of the Western Cape Province. This FE model was used to investigate the behaviour of the URM when subjected to seismic activity. By using the meso-modeling approach in this investigation it was possible to capture the three dimensional behaviour of the URM structure. This allows the FE model to be a more accurate representation of the physical structure as it allows earthquake records to be applied in any direction, which results in both in and out of plane seismic loading of the walls. The results obtained from this investigation illustrate that a large percentage of the single story URM low cost housing units in South Africa will be able to withstand the maximum seismic loading that they could possibly experience in their lifetime. The findings of this investigation are reinforced with experimental tests.

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