Implementation of a probabilistic based framework for safety assessment of existing timber elements


Sousa, Hélder S.; Branco, Jorge M.; Lourenço, Paulo B.

Probabilistic framework; Existing elements; Correlation; Bayesian methods

The assessment of existing timber structures is often limited to information obtained from non or semi destructive testing, as mechanical testing is in many cases not possible due to its destructive nature. Therefore, the available data provides only an indirect measurement of the reference mechanical properties of timber elements, often obtained through empirical based correlations. Moreover, the data must result from the combination of different tests, as to provide a reliable source of information for a structural analysis. Even if general guidelines are available for each typology of testing, there is still a need for a global methodology allowing to combine information from different sources and infer upon that information in a decision process.In this scope, the present work presents the implementation of a probabilistic based framework for safety assessment of existing timber elements. This methodology combines information gathered in different scales and follows a probabilistic framework allowing for the structural assessment of existing timber elements with possibility of inference and updating of its mechanical properties, through Bayesian methods.The probabilistic based framework is based in four main steps: (i) scale of information; (ii) measurement data; (iii) probability assignment; and (iv) structural analysis.In this work, the proposed methodology is implemented in a case study. Data was obtained through a multi-scale experimental campaign made to old chestnut timber beams accounting correlations of non and semi-destructive tests with mechanical properties. Finally, different inference scenarios are discussed aiming at the characterization of the safety level of the elements.