National Park Service


Date of this Version



ASCE, ISSN 1076-0431 DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)AE.1943-5568.0000371.


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The authors characterized earthen wall materials and plasters in a mid-fourteenth-century Hohokam great house at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (Arizona) and assessed the seismic susceptibility of its puddled earth walls. Characterization included determining the microstructure, microcomposition, porosity, aggregate mineralogy, and identification of phases in the binding matrix for each of 36 samples and reconstructing plaster technologies, including material selection, preparation, and application sequences. Findings support the ideas that earthen materials were manipulated to optimize their performance to suit the unique site conditions and needs of the ancient people using the structure and included finishes that were unusual in southwestern sites from this time period. By using a new set of tools that integrate the complicated geometry of individual wall segments as captured in light detection and ranging (LiDAR) scans (models were generated in Rhino version 5) with the dynamic analysis of rocking mechanisms (tools for this analysis were developed in Rhino), seismic collapse assessment was used to identify the most vulnerable parts of the building to earthquake loading and provided an initial evaluation of the seismic overturning capacity of these wall segments.