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Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

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Engineering Structures
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/engstruct

Inverse analysis of masonry arch bridges for damaged condition


investigation: Application on Kakodiki bridge
B. Conde a, G.A. Drosopoulos b, G.E. Stavroulakis c, B. Riveiro a,, M.E. Stavroulaki d
a

University of Vigo, School of Industrial Engineering, Department of Engineering Materials, Applied Mechanics and Construction, ES-36208 Vigo, Spain
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Department of Civil Engineering, South Africa
c
Technical University of Crete, School of Production Engineering and Management, Institute of Computational Mechanics and Optimization, GR-73100 Chania, Greece
d
Technical University of Crete, School of Architecture, Applied Mechanics Laboratory, GR-73100 Chania, Greece
b

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 26 March 2016
Revised 3 August 2016
Accepted 30 August 2016
Available online 15 September 2016
Keywords:
Masonry arch bridges
Inverse analysis
Optimization
Genetic algorithm
Unilateral contact-friction

a b s t r a c t
In this paper a novel approach for the investigation of pathological problems in masonry arch bridges
using inverse analysis procedures is proposed. A real case study located in Kakodiki village on the island
of Crete (Greece) is considered for the application of the proposed computational scheme. The method
uses the damaged condition of the bridge as starting point and seeks the potential load cases that led
to its development. The damage identification is transformed into a parameter identification problem
which is studied by comparing numerical predictions and existing damage pattern. A global optimization
approach by means of a genetic algorithm is adopted within the inverse problem, aiming at adjusting the
parameters of the mechanical model of the structure so that an error function that measures the differences between the real and the numerically predicted damage pattern is minimized. The outcome of the
methodology might provide a valuable information regarding to the planning of maintenance actions as
well as to the design of retrofitting measures.
2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Masonry arch bridges are historic and traditional civil engineering constructions with an important presence in many countries
around the world. Many of these infrastructures still play an
important role in the railway and road networks [1], while others
have been gradually relegated by the most modern steel and concrete structures. In a context where the preservation of cultural
heritage is a major concern of the modern societies, masonry
bridges also represent an invaluable cultural legacy. Built according to the knowledge and to the means of the time, they personify
the signs and memories of our past generations [2].
Pathological conditions may arise in masonry bridges as a consequence of the diverse and intense loading scenarios which
appear throughout their service life. Usually, small or large deformations and damage remain after these phenomena [3].
Approaches based on the formulation of an inverse analysis problem might contribute to the successful identification of the loading
scenarios that led the structure to the current damaged condition.
In this framework, the initial consideration would be the present
damaged state of the bridge, whilst the final state under investiga Corresponding author.
E-mail address: belenriveiro@uvigo.es (B. Riveiro).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.engstruct.2016.08.060
0141-0296/ 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

tion would be both the initial undamaged geometry as well as the


scenarios of damage loading. A theoretical initial geometry of the
bridge is adopted and the implementation of different hypothetical
loading cases is carried out. The comparison of the predictions of
these scenarios with the measured state, will allow us determining
which one most probably occurred in the given structure [4]. Thus,
the obtained conclusions might provide a valuable information for
the adoption of adequate maintenance and strengthening
measures.
From the mathematical point of view, the problem can be seen
as a parameter identification problem [5], in order to adjust the
parameters of the mechanical model of the structure so that existing damage and deformations are reproduced with the highest
accuracy. The solution of the problem can be addressed by combining a parameterized mechanical model with an iterative optimization algorithm, with the aim of minimizing the differences
between the real measured data and the numerical predictions.
As for the accurate geometric characterization of the current
shape of the bridge, it no longer represents a problem. The availability of conventional remote sensing surveying techniques or
even the more advanced photogrammetry [6] and laser scanning
technologies [7] enables us to easily overcome this stage. Regarding to the initially intended design geometry, it could be estimated
from existing design drawings; in their absence the geometric

B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

rules used in the past by the roman or mediaeval constructors


allow us to assume regular or parametric shapes [8,9], even though
these might have been affected by the process of construction.
Indeed, as in the inverse problem, the original geometry is one of
the aspects under investigation a detailed information is not
needed.
An additional benefit of the inverse analysis procedure comes
from using an optimization algorithm. This ensures that a much
more systematic and efficient investigation is carried out in comparison with common direct approaches, where only a limited
set of numerical models and loading scenarios are explored to
obtain a rough estimation of the causes of damage.
Therefore, in the present paper an inverse analysis procedure
applied to a real masonry arch bridge is presented. A global optimization approach by means of a genetic algorithm is adopted
within the inverse problem aimed at minimizing an error function
that measures the differences between the real and the numerically predicted damage pattern. The genetic algorithm, which is a
stochastic global search technique, is a well-known optimization
method due to its ability to find the optimum solution in complex
nonlinear problems in conjunction with its robustness and
efficiency.
Nonlinear finite element models based on the principles of nonsmooth mechanics [10] were used to represent the mechanical
performance of the bridge, either considering the isolated arch
within a unilateral contact-friction approach or by means of a more
refined model, where the fill material is explicitly modeled through
a suitable plasticity law accounting for arch-infill interaction
effects.

389

Fig. 1. Overall image of Kakodiki bridge, shown from the downstream side [4].

2. Description of Kakodiki bridge


The case study considered in this investigation is a real masonry
arch bridge located in Kakodiki village, on the island of Crete in
Greece. The bridge was built in 1903 by the Cretan State and has
been used for decades as the main means of communication for
pedestrians from the eastern and western parts of the Kakodiki
region [11]. Moreover, being one of the few masonry bridges still
surviving in the area, and even on island of the Crete, it is a valuable example of the traditional construction techniques employed
in that region. According to this fact, in 2005 the Greek government
officially recognized its heritage importance. In Fig. 1, an overall
picture of the structure is shown.
Nevertheless, at the present time the bridge presents an important overall damaged state. The on-site inspections allowed us to
focus our attention on two main issues. First, the presence of three
main cracks (hinges) was revealed: one on the outer surface of the
ring at the top of the arch (Hinge 2) and two on the inner surface of
the ring, placed approximately a quarter of the span from both
sides of the abutments (Hinge 1 and 3). The pattern of hinges is
highlighted in more detail in Figs. 25 and 7.
Second, the presence of extreme floods in the area occurred due
to the fact that important damage to the abutments of the bridge
was observed. This damage, although severe in both supports
(see Figs. 5 and 6), is more pronounced in the right abutment, with
some stones even being completely removed from its bottom part.
Aiming to obtain more comprehensive knowledge about the
current damaged state of the bridge, the in-situ visual inspections
were complemented with a topographic survey. Neither information about the original designs of the structure, nor previous surveys were available, so before proceeding further, this step was
crucial. Accordingly, in Fig. 7 the geometric data acquired are
depicted, with a representation of the elevation plan from the
upstream side, the main dimensions of the arch, as well as a schematic description of the hinges.

Fig. 2. Pattern of three hinges developed in the arch, shown from the upstream
side [4].

Fig. 3. Hinge 1, shown from the downstream side.

3. Least squares global optimization and parameter


identification
In order to explain the methodology and the difficulties of the
inverse analysis, let us assume that the mechanical model of the
bridge depends on a number m of unknown parameters included
in vector w 2 Rm . These parameters could be the material of the
structure, the geometric quantities, etc. In a linear structural analysis problem approximated by the finite element method, the
mechanical model reads:

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B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

For further reference we mention that the solution of system (1)


is a non-linear mapping from Rm to Rn , i.e.

uw K 1 wp

Therefore, even in the case of continuous parameters w, the


structural mapping (2) is non-linear.
In more complicated problems arising in case of non-linear
material models, such as elastoplastic behavior, or even unilateral
contact models, the previously mentioned mapping may become
discontinuous or non-differentiable [12].
On the other hand, solving an inverse analysis problem can be
seen as a parameter identification problem for a suitably parametrized model of the structure. Provided that displacements at certain measurement points are measured, the inverse problem can
be solved by the equivalent least squares minimization problem:
Fig. 4. Hinge 3, shown from the downstream side.

minw Euw

Fig. 5. Damage in the abutment below hinge 3 (right abutment), shown from the
upstream side [4].

1
uw  u0 T Auw  u0
2

where vector u0 denotes the measured displacements and matrix A


contains suitably defined weights (for the classical least squares
problem A I, with I being the identity matrix).
The convexity of the error measure described in (3) cannot be
guaranteed in general. In fact, the composite function is convex
under very restricted assumptions related to the monotonicity of
the mapping (2), which cannot be expected to hold true in reallife problems [13]. Therefore, solving the parameter identification
problem (3) is in general a global optimization problem, with local
minima that must be avoided. This fact justifies the usage of
genetic algorithms, which represent a class of applicable and powerful global optimization algorithms. Of course, if the appropriate
initial values for the unknown parameters w exist, the appearance
of local minima could be avoided, and every classical non-linear
optimization algorithm could solve the problem. Further information related to non-linear least squares and inverse problems can
be found, among others, in [1416].
4. Numerical modeling
4.1. Description of the computational models

Fig. 6. Damage in the abutment below hinge 1 (left abutment), shown from the
upstream side [4].

Kwu p

with the usual notation for the stiffness matrix K, the displacement
vector u 2 Rn , with n degrees of freedom, and the loading vector p.

Unilateral contact effects arise in masonry structures due to the


absence of mortar or its low quality. Furthermore, much of the
damage which takes place in masonry bridges can be described
by loss of contact, sliding or, rarely, compressive yield of the
masonry. In this scenario, techniques from non-smooth mechanics
and mathematical programming, especially complementarity
problems, can be used for structural analysis and the calculation
of the limit load and collapse mode [17].
Accordingly, in this research non-linear finite element models
based on the principles of non-smooth mechanics were adopted
to represent the mechanical performance of Kakodiki bridge. In a
first approximation to the problem, only the structural behavior
of the isolated arch was considered by means of a unilateral
contact-friction approach. Then, in a second assumption, the fill
material was also included in the numerical model, and thus its
strengthening effect over the arch was accounted for.
In both approaches, a two-dimensional finite element discretization was adopted. In particular, the geometry of the arch
was divided into a discrete number of interfaces perpendicular to
the center line of the arch ring. These interfaces, uniformly distributed, simulate potential cracks or predefined planes of weakness. Unilateral contact law governs the behavior in the normal
direction of the interface, indicating that no tension forces can be
transmitted in that direction. The behavior in the tangential direction takes into account that sliding may or may not occur.

B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

391

Fig. 7. Geometry of the current damaged state of the structure (in meters).

At each point of an interface the basic unilateral contact


mechanism can be described by the following set of relations:
The non-penetration inequality, the non-tension inequality and a
complementarity either-or relation, which indicates that either
separation with zero contact force, or a compressive contact force
with zero gap appears. For a discretized structure, the previous
relations are written for every point of a unilateral boundary or
interface by using the appropriate vectors. The arising nonsmooth structural analysis problem has the form of a non-linear
complementarity problem. More details can be found, among
others, in [18].
The behavior in the tangential direction is ruled by the Coulomb
friction model, which exhibits a similar either-or variable structure, and unilateral behavior: No-slip is enforced if the frictional
force is within the limits, and slip with a constant friction force
is allowed at the limits. As with the contact problem, a complementarity problem also arises for friction.
The one-sided (unilateral) behavior, due to contact, and the
stick-slip mechanism of friction transform the usual variational
equality formulation of the mechanical problem into a variational
inequality [18]. In this study, for the enforcement of the contact
constraints, the penalty method has been chosen. The friction
problem can in principle be approached by using a similar method.
Finally, the coupled problem was solved by the Newton Raphson
incremental iterative procedure.
4.2. Model 1: isolated arch
In order to simplify the procedure, and to reduce the computational effort involved within the optimization problem, in the first
approximation the fill material was not explicitly simulated. This is
a safe side assumption (although it might be extremely conservative in some cases) since the beneficial contribution of the infill
disposed over the arch is neglected. The beneficial effects are
mainly the following [19]: First, the self-weight of the fill material
increases the stability of the arch by inducing additional compression forces. Second, the presence of infill allows a smoother distribution of the concentrated forces over the road surface up to the
extrados of the arch, and finally the infill effectively restrains the

lateral movements of the arch through the mobilization of passive


earth pressures.
Therefore, in this model the contribution of the infill over the
stability of the arch was restricted to the vertical load corresponding to its self-weight. The lateral stiffening effect was accounted for
posteriorly in the second modeling approach. For the discretization
of the arch, 31 contact-friction interfaces connecting the linear
elastic bodies of the stone units were considered. This assumed
division is a close approximation of the number of interfaces
between the voussoirs used in the real arch. In [10] it is shown that
for a large number of interfaces, the limit load of the structure
asymptotically converges to one value, denoting that the exact
number of interfaces along the bridges geometry tends to be
meaningless in the case of many interfaces being used.
Meshing was based on the use of quadrilateral, eight-node
plane stress elements with two translational degrees of freedom
per node. A maximum global size of 0.20 m for the length of each
finite element was considered. The width of the bridge assumed in
the analysis was 3.00 m. Regarding the adopted material properties, they are shown in Table 1. The Youngs modulus of masonry
has been considered equal to 5 GPa, Poissons ratio 0.2 and density
2000 kg/m3.
For the contact interfaces, a friction coefficient of 0.60 in the
tangential direction with no tensile strength in the normal direction was assumed. As previously discussed, the Coulomb friction
model governs the behavior in the tangential direction, while the
normal direction obeys a unilateral contact law. The penalty
method was considered to enforce both the non-penetration constraint as well as the sticking conditions.
The analysis was carried out following two consecutive steps; at
the first step only the self-weight of the bridge was applied, and
the achieved equilibrium solution was then used as a set of initial
conditions for the second step, where the considered loading scenario was imposed. In applying boundary conditions in this first
model, only the two translational movements at the base of the
arch were restricted at the first step. These boundary conditions
were then modified at the second step to accommodate the variables of the optimization problem. The loading scenarios, boundary
conditions and geometry of the bridge will be further discussed in

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B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

Table 1
Mechanical properties adopted in the non-linear finite element models of the bridge.
Model

Density masonry
(kg/m3)

Density infill
(kg/m3)

Youngs modulus
masonry (GPa)

Youngs modulus
infill (GPa)

Poissons
ratio

Cohesion
(kPa)

Friction
angle ()

Model 1
Model 2

2000
2000

1800

5
5

0.5

0.2
0.2

30

30

the next section, when the details of the inverse problem will be
exposed.
4.3. Model 2: arch-infill interaction effects
In a second modeling strategy, to get a better insight into the
real mechanical behavior of the bridge, a non-linear finite element
model with the explicit representation of the fill material was
considered.
For the discretization of the arch, the same modeling approach
previously discussed was assumed, that is, a discrete finite element
approach with contact-friction interfaces. Moreover, the unilateral
contact-friction problem was extended to also model the arch-fill
interaction effects at the stones-infill boundary. A zero tensile
strength and a friction coefficient equal to 0.60 were respectively
used to model the normal and transversal behavior of the interfaces. The constraints at the interfaces were imposed by means
of a penalty formulation.
Stone blocks were modeled according to a linear elastic behavior with the same material properties indicated in the previous section. The infill was modeled according to the classical MohrCoulomb yield criterion. The values of the mechanical properties
assumed to model the fill material needs special attention. These
material data are usually unknown, or if available they are determined with some degree of uncertainty. In this study, these data
were not available. Consequently, the mechanical properties of
both the masonry and the infill were established based on a review
of the existing literature [2022], taking into account the type of
construction and the on-site inspections. Accordingly, the mechanical properties which were assumed in the non-linear finite element models of the bridge are shown in Table 1. Moreover, the
fixed values of the material parameters were assumed in the optimization process. The reason behind this assumption was to focus
the problem in the investigation of finding the theoretical initial
geometry of the bridge together with the most likely scenarios of
damage loading, as well as to reduce the search space, size and
complexity of the problem when a reduced number of optimization parameters are considered.
Both the arch and infill were discretized using two-dimensional
elements under the assumption of a plane strain state. The out-ofplane width of the bridge was the same as previously mentioned;
3.00 m. Meshing of the arch voussoirs was carried out considering
quadrilateral, eight-node elements with two translational degrees
of freedom per node, and with a maximum global size of 0.30 m
for the length of each finite element. For the infill discretization,
triangular six-node elements with two translational degrees of
freedom per node, and with a maximum global size for the length
of each finite element about 40% smaller with respect to the mesh
of the arch, were used. The size mesh was selected based on
obtaining a sufficient precision in the simulations, while the computational effort remains enclosed at reasonable times. Parametric
investigations were performed and in agreement the indicated values were chosen.
As for the loads, the same considerations discussed above for
the model without fill material were replicated here. With respect
to the boundary conditions, at the bottom part of the arch and the
infill, fixed conditions were imposed. On both sides of the infill,
only the longitudinal movements were restricted.

5. Inverse analysis procedure


5.1. Optimization variables: initial geometry of the bridge and loading
scenarios
In the inverse problem various parameters can be considered.
The first group of variables defines the theoretical initial geometry
of the bridge. Furthermore, loading or other external excitations,
such as movement of the abutments that led to the measured damaged condition, must also be considered.
For the estimation of the initial geometry of the structure in the
undamaged configuration, a number of reasonable assumptions
have been considered. From Figs. 1 and 7 it can be clearly deduced
that the original shape of the structure obeyed a pointed arch,
although their respective proportions are unknown, and thus they
are some of the parameters to be obtained. In addition, field
inspections and the geometry acquired from the topographic survey (Fig. 7) show an asymmetric condition of the supports of the
bridge. The left abutment is placed in the middle of the river, while
the right abutment is situated at the edge of the river, next to the
soil material, at different heights with respect to each other. It is
possible that the original geometry of the arch was not already
symmetric, and thus this possibility was taken into account when
defining the geometry of the arch to perform numerical
simulations.
In general, the initial undamaged geometry of the arch was idealized on the basis of a few main measurements (span, principal
rises of the arch and thickness). Once they are estimated, the profile of the arch is defined by means of two perfect arches of circumference. More details are given in the forthcoming paragraphs, as
the strategy followed to define the geometry of the parametrized
numerical model is directly correlated with the estimation of the
possible loading scenarios.
With respect to the load cases, field examinations of the structure again gave rise to some theoretical assumptions. In Fig. 5, the
poor condition of the right abutment of the bridge (edge of the
river) was reported, a condition that was also noticed, although
to a lesser magnitude, in the left abutment (Fig. 6). This fact might
be attributed to the erosion of the foundation material as a consequence of the rivers flow. Under these circumstances, a scenario of
foundation settlements is likely to have occurred. When this situation takes place, the brittle nature of the masonry structures in
conjunction with their small tensile strength leads to the development of cracks that could seriously compromise their integrity.
As significant visible cracks are already present in Kakodiki
bridge, the displacements at the base of the abutments were chosen as variables of the inverse problem. To summarize, the following variables were considered in the optimization problem:
 Three geometrical parameters related to the shape of the arch in
the initial undamaged configuration: rise at 1/2 span, rise at 1/4
span and rise at 3/4 span.
 Four displacements comprising the hypothetical loading scenarios of the structure; the horizontal and vertical displacements at the base of both abutments.
This renders a total of seven variables whose values need to be
obtained. The way in which the geometry of the arch is defined is

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B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

Fig. 8. Graphical description of the optimization variables. The present geometry is depicted in black, and in red a possible solution to the optimization problem. (For
interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

definition of the extrados of the arch ring, we simply draw


two equidistant arches assuming the current thickness of the
arch to be 0.50 m.
 At the end of the simulation, for an optimal fit of geometries, the
left and the right springing of the arch should coincide with the
actual ones (x1, y1 = (0, 0) and x2, y2 = (11.60, 0)) after the variables associated with the displacements at both supports have
been applied.

the following, which is intended to facilitate the computation of


the displacements experimented in the numerical analysis of the
bridge:
 The left springing of the arch in the current damaged shape is
considered to be centered at the point x, y = (0, 0); see Fig. 8.
Variables of the inverse problem will create a new geometry
based on relative measurements to this actual deformed shape.
 We know that in the final state, the span of the arch has to be
11.60 m, the left springing has to be placed at the point
x, y = (0, 0) and similarly, the right springing at the point
x, y = (11.60, 0). Thus, let us assume that we want to apply a
horizontal displacement at the left support equal to a certain
magnitude a (m), a vertical displacement at the left support
equal to b (m) and a horizontal displacement at the right support equal to c (m) to the numerical model of the bridge.
 The theoretical initial geometry of the arch will be based on
these assumptions. Accordingly, the left springing will be placed
at the point x, y = (a, b) and the right springing at the point x,
y = (11.60 + c, 0), being the theoretical initial span of arch equal
to 11.60 + a + c (m).
 Posteriorly, the other variables that define the shape of the
intrados of the arch will be relative to these two points. The rise
at 1/2 span and the rise at 1/4 span are relative to the left
springing, while the rise at 3/4 span is relative to the right
springing. Once the left springing, right springing and rises are
defined, we can create two perfect arches of circumference that
pass by these 3 points, one on each half of the span. As for the

To avoid an unrealistic representation of the geometry of the


arch, the geometric optimization parameters (see Fig. 8) are
restricted to taking values between certain lower and upper
bounds to define the search space. With that aim, the actual geometry of the bridge was taken into account. As can be seen in Fig. 7,
the arch in its current deformed shape presents the following
ratios:
 Rise at 1/4 span to rise at 1/2 span equal to 0.71.
 Rise at 3/4 span to rise at 1/2 span equal to 0.64.
Thus, it is expected that these ratios in the original geometry of
the bridge do not differ greatly. Accordingly, the lower and upper
limits indicated in Table 2 were assumed, where the mentioned
ratios vary between 0.63 and 0.76.
As for the parameters related to the load cases, they were established according to the pattern of hinges already present in the
bridge. Following Heyman [23], when a movement of the abutments takes place decreasing the length of the original span, the

Table 2
Lower and upper bounds considered for the variables of the inverse problem.
Parameter

Designation

Limits (lower/upper) in meters

Horizontal displacement, left abutment


Vertical displacement, left abutment
Horizontal displacement, right abutment
Vertical displacement, right abutment
Rise at 1/4 span, rise at 3/4 span
Rise at 1/2 span

a
b
c
d
e, g
f

0/0.05 + (x) direction


0/0.05  (y) direction
0/0.125  (x) direction
0/0.125  (y) direction
3.15/3.60
4.75/5.00

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B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

Fig. 9. Set of points in the intrados of the arch used in the simulations.

arch could accommodate itself to this decreased span by forming


three hinges. One of them will be at the crown in the intrados of
the arch (thus opening of the outer surface of the ring will take
place) and the others at each abutment side in the extrados of
the arch (thus opening of the inner surface will occur). This has
also been numerically indicated in [24].
Thereby, after performing several parametric analyses within
the previously outlined parameter identification procedure, the
values indicated in Table 2 were adopted. In this way, the usual
high computational cost associated with optimization procedures
based on a genetic algorithm is also kept within reasonable limits.

5.2. Comparison of geometries for error estimation


To be able to quantify the error obtained when comparing the
current damaged condition of the bridge with the numerical predictions, data about both states as well as a criterion to perform
the comparison are needed. In this research, it was assumed that
the fit of geometries takes place along the points located in the
intrados of the arch ring. The real joint coordinates are compared
with the numerical ones, which are the result of an assumed theoretical initial geometry of the bridge plus the displacements experimented in the non-linear analysis.
For the current condition, the geometric data proportioned by
the topographic survey were used. For the computational models,
similar points placed at the intrados of the arch were considered.
Thus, a set of nodes/points were defined on each parametrized
numerical model in agreement with the number of interfaces considered. As a representative example, in Fig. 9 these points are
highlighted in the intrados line of the arch with a red1 circle.
The final position of the joints in the numerical model and their
respective coordinates, after the implementation of the hypothetical loading scenarios, can be simply computed in this way:
 Coordinates of Final Position (x) = Coordinates of Theoretical
Initial Geometry (x) + Displacements of the Arch (x).
 Coordinates of Final Position (y) = Coordinates of Theoretical
Initial Geometry (y) + Displacements of the Arch (y).

1
For interpretation of color in Fig. 9, the reader is referred to the web version of
this article.

Since the definition of the theoretical initial geometry of the


bridge is relative to its current damaged condition, as well as to
the variables related to load cases (displacements at the abutments), the implementation of possible loading scenarios should
give as a result that both springings on the real arch and on the
numerical model must coincide.
Under this assumption, the comparison of both geometries is
reduced to the best fit between the shapes of the intrados in both
arches. Notwithstanding, this comparison is not straightforward.
The definition of the interfaces in the numerical model was based
on a uniform division along the perimeter of the arch, which contrasts with the irregular division present in the real structure. As a
consequence, the coordinates in the (x) direction of the interfaces
from both geometries differ, and do not allow a direct comparison.
To overcome this limitation, it was decided to define an interpolation function, the Piecewise Cubic Hermite Interpolating Polynomial (PCHIP). This function takes the exact values of the
coordinates in the discrete set of points belonging to the interfaces
of the numerical model. Then, the following procedure is applied:
 All the coordinates in the (x) direction of the real geometry are
normalized to the interval [0, 1], that is, each point in the (x)
direction will be rearranged as: Normalized Coordinate (x)
= Coordinate (x)/span.
 For each point of this vector, we will find the corresponding
point on those resulting from the combination of the theoretical
initial geometry of the arch plus the displacements experimented in the numerical analysis.
 Evaluate the PCHIP function at these points in order to obtain
their corresponding coordinate (y).
Now we can directly compare for the real points of the arch,
their coordinates in the (y) direction with respect to the predictions from the numerical simulations.
Note that if either the theoretical initial geometry of the arch is
not adequate, or the displacements at the base of the abutments
are incorrect preventing the model from completing the simulation
(the structure has not collapsed yet), both springings will not coincide (see Fig. 10). However, this is precisely what we are looking
for, as the deviations between both geometries are computed
and the objective function will penalize these values of the optimization variables, and will continue searching for others that
minimize the error in fit.

B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

395

 During the second phase, Abaqus is directly called from Matlab


for the structural analysis stage on the basis of the information
contained in these python files. The python scripts enable us to
define a completely parametrized finite element model with all
its aspects easily modified from the user requirements. The
python scripts are not only responsible for starting the structural analysis with the geometry and the loading scenarios
defined at each step of the optimization analysis, but also for
managing the results of the simulation to be transferred back
to the Matlab routine.
 During the third stage, the objective function is evaluated and
the genetic algorithm estimates a new set of values for the optimization parameters. The procedure is then repeated iteratively
until the stopping criteria for the algorithm is reached, which in
this investigation consisted of reaching a maximum number of
generations.

Fig. 10. Representative image of the pairing of geometries; error estimation


between the points of the intrados of the arch provided by the FE model and those
belonging to the actual geometry.

5.3. Objective function


The objective function to be minimized is defined as the difference between the estimated geometry after simulation compared
to the current damaged one, or in other words, a scalar measure
of the existing deviations between them. Accordingly, an error
function of the least-squares form, was adopted:

n
1X
^ j  y j 2
y
n j1

!1=2
4

^j = the vector containing the joints coordinates on the vertiwhere y


cal axis resulting from the coupling of the theoretical initial geometry of the arch and the displacements obtained from numerical
simulation; yj = the vector containing the joints coordinates on
the vertical axis from the real measured data; n = number of points
considered along the intrados of the arch ring.

6. Implementation of the procedure


The implementation of the inverse problem involves the use of
two software packages, Matlab [25] and Abaqus [26]. A code developed in Matlab executes the main core of the procedure (overall
definition of the parameters that compose the structural models,
implementation of the optimization problem resorting to a genetic
algorithm, connection between both computer software packages,
etc.), while Abaqus was used mainly for structural analysis purposes. The details of the sequence of the iterative process are given
below:
 At the first step the search space for the optimization variables
is established. The other parameters, which are considered fixed
during the optimization process such as the material properties,
modeling of the unilateral contact and friction and the size of
the mesh, are also defined. In each iteration, and on the basis
of the values of the optimization variables, Matlab generates
both a text and dxf file with the geometric data concerning
the definition of the bridge. A set of python files with all the
information regarding the finite element model definition,
which allows the scripting of the analysis and the automatic
execution of the simulations, are also updated according to
the values taken by the optimization parameters.

A flowchart illustrating the stages of the whole process can be


seen in Fig. 11.
As for the details of all the optimization runs, the genetic algorithm was based on a population size of 25 individuals with a maximum number of generations equal to 75. As previously reported,
each chromosome consists of 7 genes corresponding to the 7
parameters of the inverse problem. The initial population was generated randomly with real numbers between 0 and 1.
For the sequence of creating new populations, 1 individual (elitism) was chosen to automatically pass to the next generation. The
fraction of new individuals (children), other than elite, created by
the crossover was established as being 75% and the remaining percentage was assigned to the mutation children. The selection of
parents attended to the stochastic uniform method [23] and the
scaling of the fitness value to a rank-based method [23]. For both
of the adopted structural models, Model 1 considering the isolated
arch and Model 2 including the fill material, three independent
optimization runs considering different initial populations were
carried out. All the simulations were run on a computer with
quad-core Intel Core i7-4702HQ at 2.20 GHz and 16 GB RAM.
The computational time needed in each individual was approximately 35 s for the analysis of the bridge considering Model 1
and 95 s for Model 2.
7. Results and discussion for the inverse analysis
In this section the results of the parameter identification problem are given. First, the results when a heavy but no resistant infill
is considered are presented, followed by the results when the infill
is explicitly included in the non-linear finite element model.
7.1. Results for Model 1
For Model 1, Table 3 summarizes the results obtained from the
inverse analysis procedure. In Fig. 12 the three optimization runs
performed are plotted, the evolution of the optimization process
in terms of objective function value versus population generation
number. Additionally, Fig. 13 shows for the parameters estimated
in the second optimization run, the deformed (damaged) shape
of the bridge at the end of the finite element analysis.
As the fill material is not considered, the output of the model is
focused on the developing and positioning of the pattern of hinges
in the body of the arch. Two cracks have opened at the intrados of
the arch, one at the left springing and the other one at 78% of the
span; a third crack is also located at the extrados of the ring at
the top of the arch.
Finally, in Fig. 14, and also considering the three optimization
runs performed, the deviations between the predicted values of

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B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

Fig. 11. Flowchart of the proposed inverse problem.

Table 3
Values of the identified parameters for Model 1.
Run

a (m)

b (m)

c (m)

d (m)

e (m)

f (m)

g (m)

1
2
3

0.041
0.050
0.048

0.043
0.050
0.042

0.087
0.094
0.083

0.088
0.072
0.082

3.46
3.44
3.46

4.93
4.91
4.93

3.26
3.26
3.25

7.2. Results for Model 2

Fig. 12. Objective function value versus population generation number (Model 1).

the (y) coordinates along the intrados of the arch with respect to
the real ones are presented. Note that in this figure, the coordinates
of the joints along the (x) direction are normalized to values in the
interval [0, 1], in agreement with the exposed in Section 5.2.

For Model 2, Table 4 summarizes the results obtained from the


inverse analysis procedure. In Fig. 15 the three optimization runs
performed are plotted, the evolution of the optimization process
in terms of error function value versus population generation
number.
In Fig. 16, along with the map of the plastic strains in the infill,
the deformed (damaged) shape of the bridge after the finite element simulation of Model 2 is depicted with the optimal values
yielded by the first run of the genetic algorithm. Three hinges have
developed, two cracks at the intrados of the ring (at 31% and 76% of
the span, respectively) and the other one at the extrados of the
ring, at the top of the arch.
In addition, the damaged condition of the infill is observed in
those areas close to the appearance of the cracks, as well as in
two additional areas where the damage spreads from the springings of the arch to the bottom parts of the abutments. Overall,
the picture is a significantly good approximation with respect to
the real, damaged condition of the bridge, as reported in Section 2.
Fig. 17 shows, from the values of the identified parameters in
the first optimization run, the theoretical initial geometry of the
bridge against the present deformed shape. Finally, Figs. 18 and
19 show a comparison between the intrados line of the arch after
simulation with respect to the real one. Fig. 18 represents a visual
fit between both geometries, while Fig. 19 gives quantitative

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B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

Fig. 13. Damaged shape of the bridge (Model 1) from the parameters estimated in the second optimization run.

Fig. 15. Objective function value versus population generation number (Model 2).
Fig. 14. Deviation between the (y) coordinates of the joints along the span of the
arch (Model 1).

information about the deviations in absolute value between the (y)


coordinates of the joints.

material data, have been used for the sensitivity analysis. From
the results summarized in Tables 5 and 6, one clearly recognizes
that the sensitivities of the last group of parameters are much
lower than the sensitivities of the first group. Therefore, the choice
of important parameters is fully justified.

7.3. Sensitivity analysis

7.4. Discussion

For the determination of the really important parameters and


the subsequent reduction of the model by ignoring the ones that
do not influence the results, a sensitivity analysis study has been
performed by using finite differences around the solution of the
inverse problem (the mean of the three optimizations runs). Both
the parameters already presented in Section 5.1, as well as the

Concerning the evolution of the optimization process (Figs. 12


and 15), in both Models 1 and 2 the smallest error function value
was similar. The best solution of Model 1 was equal to 0.0158 (second run of the genetic algorithm), while for Model 2 it was 0.0155
(first run of the genetic algorithm). For Model 1, convergence
seems to be attained around the 40th generation of population

Table 4
Values of the identified parameters for Model 2.
Run

a (m)

b (m)

c (m)

d (m)

e (m)

f (m)

g (m)

1
2
3

0.035
0.031
0.029

0.015
0.030
0.013

0.046
0.041
0.052

0.054
0.038
0.031

3.49
3.49
3.49

4.95
4.94
4.93

3.27
3.28
3.28

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B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401

Fig. 16. Damaged shape of the bridge (Model 2) from the parameters estimated in the first optimization run.

Fig. 17. Theoretical initial geometry of the bridge against the actual geometry.

Fig. 18. Visual fit between the intrados guideline after simulation and the real
measured data.

Fig. 19. Deviation between the (y) coordinates of the joints along the span of the
arch (Model 2).

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B. Conde et al. / Engineering Structures 127 (2016) 388401


Table 5
Sensitivity analysis: geometric parameters.
Model

1
2

0.0688
0.1312

0.0654
0.1300

0.0102
0.0206

0.0379
0.0423

0.0451
0.0540

0.0153
0.0091

0.0248
0.0182

Table 6
Sensitivity analysis: material parameters.
Model

Youngs modulus masonry

Youngs modulus infill

Cohesion

Friction angle

1
2

1.0217e10
1,2787e11

3,1537e09

2,5842e05

3,1134e06

individuals, while for Model 2 it is achieved later, around the 50th


generation. In general, the results of the three optimizations runs,
based on different initial populations, led to similar values of the
parameters. For the geometric variables in particular, the range
of variation in each model is almost negligible. The horizontal
and vertical displacements at the abutments were identified with
less accuracy using the available measurement points. Different
combinations of these parameters leads to similar values of the
error function. Nonetheless, the variability is of less importance if
we consider the absolute displacement at the base of each
abutment, which might indicate that it is only this parameter that
matters for the solution. In Model 1, the absolute displacement at
the left abutment varies between 6.00 cm and 7.00 cm, while at the
right abutment the range of variation is from 11.50 cm up to
12.50 cm. As for Model 2, at the left abutment the absolute displacement varies between 3.00 cm and 4.00 cm, and from
5.50 cm up to 7.00 cm for the right abutment.
As a matter of fact, limitations arise when using Model 1 for the
inverse analysis procedure. For the predicted damaged shape of the
bridge (Fig. 13), although a relatively good fit between the real
geometric data and the numerical predictions is shown in Fig. 14,
a proper final pattern of hinges is not achieved through the use
of this model.
Hinge 2 at the crown of the arch and hinge 3 at 78% of the span
are relatively well predicted. Nonetheless, hinge 1 is developing at
the left springing of the arch, far away from its real position.
Regarding the optimization variables, in general, Model 1 in comparison with Model 2 predicts lower values for all the parameters
associated with the original geometry of the bridge. The greater
differences are associated with the rises at 1/2 span and 1/4 span.
Additionally, the theoretical initial span (11.7311.74 m) presents
a relatively high value in comparison with the actual state
(11.60 m), as well as with the results provided by Model 2
(11.6711.68 m). However, the major discrepancies occur for the
predicted loading scenarios, where large displacements at the base
of both abutments were received from all the optimizations runs.
These values, in spite of the poor condition of the abutments, are
unlikely to be realistic.
The shortcomings of Model 1 are overtaken by adopting a more
sophisticated approach in Model 2. As expected, when the infill is
explicitly considered in the structural model, a significant impact
in the structural response of the bridge was observed. Note in
Fig. 16 the damaged shape of the bridge at the end of the inverse
analysis procedure when considering Model 2. Here, a more similar
picture to the real damaged state was achieved. The pattern of
hinges is well reproduced with good precision even in their positioning inside the body of the arch. Hinge 1 is located at 31% of
the span, hinge 2 at the crown of the arch and hinge 3 at 76% of
the span. The fit between geometries, as shown in Figs. 18 and
19, from the yielded values of computational model and the real
measured data of the bridge, also reveals a satisfactory agreement.

Model 2 predicts an original geometry of the arch with a rise at


1/2 of the span of about 4.95 m, a rise at 1/4 of the span of about
3.50 m and a rise at 3/4 of the span of about 3.30 m. From these
values, a geometric ratios of e/f equal to 0.70 and g/f equal to
0.66 are derived, which are compared to the real ones of 0.71
and 0.64. The agreement between these geometric ratios in the real
and predicted data is found after the settlement scenario takes
place. Due to the movement of the abutments, with the length of
the span being reduced, the crown of the arch is pushed upwards,
which results in an increase in the rise at mid-span. Accordingly,
hinge number 2 is developed, followed by the formation of hinge
1 and hinge 3. In the shortening of the span, hinge 1 acts as a pivot
point with an increase in the rise at 1/4 of the span as well. For
hinge number 3, a similar reasoning could be applied. In this case,
the asymmetrical nature of the bridge together with the movement
of the right abutment cause a greater part of this side of the arch to
move downwards, developing hinge number 3 at a higher location
than hinge number 1, also leading to a decrease in the rise at 3/4 of
the span. This decrease, in conjunction with the increase in the rise
at mid-span causes the ratio g/f to finally go down up to the value
present in the current geometry of the bridge.
From a comparison of the results provided by both models,
some conclusions can be drawn regarding the study of Kakodiki
bridge. The simplified nature of Model 1 is unable to mimic in a
precise way the structural response of the bridge, and highlights
the importance of choosing an appropriate mathematical model
able to accurately reflect the real systems behavior, to provide satisfactory results in the inverse analysis problem. Directly related to
this, the effect of infill could not be limited to the vertical load corresponding to its self-weight, but the lateral stiffening effect over
the arch should also be considered. In this particular case, the main
consequence of this aspect corresponds with the pushing of hinge
1 from the springing of the arch in Model 1 up to their position in
Model 2, very close to the real one. Nevertheless, it should be taken
into account that this was achieved at the expense of adding more
uncertainties to the problem regarding the constitutive parameters
of the infill, as well as of increasing the computational effort with
respect to the more simplified approach of Model 1.
It is worth pointing out that in general, when applying inverse
analysis techniques to complex real problems, the procedure is
inevitably affected by the measurement uncertainties and the simplified nature of mathematical models. In addition, the use of finite
element simulations typically results in a complex topology of the
objective function, with the possibility that a unique solution to
the problem does not exist. Thus, in these cases, when using a
genetic algorithm-based optimization, although it is a highly efficient technique for searching global minima, there is no guarantee
of converging to a unique optimum solution viewed from a mathematical point of view. Instead, we should expect to obtain a set of
optimum solutions, representative of the real data to be posteriorly
assessed by proper engineering judgment.

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For the case study of Kakodiki bridge, despite the many uncertainties of the problem, as well as the fact that further research is
needed regarding the impact of infill material properties, the
results obtained here could be deemed satisfactory.
The damage pattern is reproduced with reasonable accuracy
even with the consideration of the appraisal of the hinges positions. The dimensions of the theoretical initial geometry of the arch
are in agreement with the a priori expected values, and the
predicted loading scenarios, although exhibiting relatively high
values, also seem to be consistent with the poor condition of the
abutments and the overall damaged state of the bridge.

8. Conclusions
In this paper, a novel methodology based on inverse modeling
was proposed to investigate the causes that led a masonry bridge
to a certain pathological condition. A real case study located in
Kakodiki village on the island of Crete (Greece) was considered
for the application of the proposed computational scheme. The
bridge presents an important damaged condition, with three main
cracks having developed in the body of the arch. Thus, both the initial undamaged geometry of the structure as well as the possible
load cases that cause this damage are under investigation.
The problem can be formulated as a parameter identification
problem and solved by adopting an iterative optimization procedure. Different loading scenarios and undamaged configurations
of the bridge are evaluated at each step until a satisfactory convergence between the real damaged condition and the numerically
predicted one is obtained. Through this process, a completely
parameterized numerical model, able to accommodate a new
geometry and loading conditions at each step of the iterative procedure, is needed. In this study, two non-linear finite element models, based on the principles of the non-smooth mechanics were
adopted to model the mechanical performance of Kakodiki bridge.
In the first model, only the arch was considered as being relevant
in the structural response of the bridge, and a two-dimensional
discrete finite element approach with contact-friction interfaces
was adopted. In the second model, fill material was added to
account for arch-infill interaction effects, and an elastoplastic
material law was adopted to represent its behavior.
To perform the comparison, accurate geometric data about the
current deformed shape of the arch are needed. In this study, the
coordinates of the joints between the voussoirs were used as reference targets for the inverse analysis.
The hypothesis about the likely theoretical initial geometry of
the bridge as well as potential damage loading scenarios were
based on the field examinations of the structure. As such, the arch
was idealized with a pointed profile and the movements at the
base of both abutments were selected as the optimization parameters that most influence the development of the damaged condition of the bridge. In view of the arising complex topology of the
error function, a genetic algorithm was chosen to perform the optimization analysis. Three different optimization runs considering
different initial populations were carried out in each model to
assess the reliability of the parameter identification and the
robustness of the algorithm. The results showed that the simplified
choice of a numerical model neglecting the explicit representation
of the fill material does not provide accurate results. The damage
pattern was not successfully reproduced, the theoretical initial
geometry of the bridge was underestimated and the load cases
were overestimated. For the model including the arch-infill interaction effects, satisfactory results were received if we take into
account the complexity of the problem and the level of the uncertainties present. The damage pattern was reproduced with reasonable accuracy, even with the consideration of the appraisal in the

hinges positions. The identified parameters show negligible variations regarding the geometric dimensions of the arch and acceptable ones for the predicted scenarios of the foundation
settlements. Overall, the dimensions of the theoretical initial
geometry of the arch seem to be in accordance with the a priori
expected values and the predicted loading scenarios, although
exhibiting relatively high values, also seem to be consistent with
the poor condition of the abutments and the overall damaged state
of the bridge. Thus, we can state that the outcome of the proposed
methodology might be of great interest for providing valuable
information regarding the planning of maintenance actions, as well
as to the selection of optimal remedial measures (strengthening).
Further studies could contemplate validation in additional case
studies, as well as exploring surrogate-based optimization strategies to reduce the computational effort. Finally, and for the case
study of Kakodiki bridge, the necessity of immediately commencing restoration works in order to prevent its collapse is indicated.
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge the help of several people from the Municipality of Kandanos who helped them to gather
material from the Kakodiki bridge, namely former Mayor Mr. Eftychios Daskalakis, Mr. Eftychios Korkidakis, Mr. Kostis Petrakis and
Deputy Mayor Mrs Stella Alfieri.
This work has been partially supported by the Spanish Ministry
of Economy and Competitiveness through the project HERMESS3D: Healthy and Efficient Routes in Massive Open-Data based
Smart Cities (Ref.: TIN2013-46801-C4-4-R).
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