Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Eric M. Hernandez


During strong earthquakes structural systems exhibit nonlinear behavior due to low-cycle fatigue, cracking, yielding and/or fracture of constituent elements. After a seismic event it is essential to assess the state of damage of structures and determine if they can safely resist aftershocks or future strong motions. The current practice in post-earthquake damage assessment relies mainly on visual inspections and local testing. These approaches are limited to the ability of inspectors to reach all potentially damaged locations, and are typically intended to detect damage near the outer surfaces of the structure leaving the possibility of hidden undetected damage. Some structures in seismic prone-regions are instrumented with an array of sensors that measure their acceleration at different locations. We operate under the premise that acceleration response measurements contain information about the state of damage of structures, and it is of interest to extract this information and use it in post-earthquake damage assessment and decision making strategies.

The objective of this dissertation is to show that Bayesian filters can be successfully employed to estimate the nonlinear dynamic response of instrumented structural systems. The estimated response is subsequently used for structural damage diagnosis. Bayesian filters combine dynamic response measurements at limited spatial locations with a nonlinear dynamic model to estimate the response of stochastic dynamical systems at the model degrees-of-freedom. The application of five filters is investigated: the extended, unscented and ensemble Kalman filters, the particle filter and the model-based observer.

The main contributions of this dissertation are summarized as follows: i) Development of a filtering-based mechanistic damage assessment framework; ii) Experimental validation of Bayesian filters in small and large-scale structures; iii) Uncertainty quantification and propagation of response and damage estimates computed using Bayesian filters.



Number of Pages

256 p.