Dr Michael Griffith

 Position Professor
 Org Unit School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering
 Email michael.griffith@adelaide.edu.au
 Telephone +61 8 8313 4316
 Location Floor/Room 2 33 ,  Engineering North ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    Dr Griffith is a Professor in the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering at the University of Adelaide where he has been since completing his PhD at the University of California at Berkeley in 1988.  He has authored or co-authored 2 book chapters and over 140 refereed papers in the field of earthquake engineering and structural dynamics and has attracted over $4 million competitive funding since 1990 for his research.  His professional interests are in the field of earthquake engineering and include training practising engineers to work with Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams throughout Australia.


    His current research activity is on trying to develop improved methods for seismic assessment of unreinforced brick masonry (URM) buildings and seismic strengthening/retrofit of seismically vulnerable URM buildings.  He is also currently involved with specialist consultant work for engineering firms in the field of earthquake engineering, is a member of the joint Australia-New Zealand Standards Earthquake Loading committee, and previously worked as a structural engineer in Berkeley, specialising in the earthquake analysis and design of piping systems in nuclear power plants.

  • Qualifications

    1988                Ph.D. in Engineering               University of California, Berkeley

    1983                M.Sc. in Civil Engineering      Washington State University (WSU), Pullman, WA

    1982                B.Sc. in Civil Engineering      Washington State University, Pullman, WA

  • Awards & Achievements

    2019                John B Scalzi Research Award, The Masonry Society, United States

    2018                Visiting Erskine Fellowship, The University of Canterbury, New Zealand

    2017                Charles Bubb Medal (AEES) for outstanding contribution to earthquake engineering

    2012                Telford Medal, Best Paper across all ICE Journals in 2012, UK

    2011                TMS Journal Outstanding Paper Award, The Masonry Society (USA)

    2010                Awarded Honorary Life Membership to Australian Earthquake Engineering Society

    2000                Adelaide University PGSA, nominated for Postgraduate Supervisor of the Year

    1995                Master Builders Association Commendation for Excellence in R & D

    1992                The University of Adelaide PGSA, Post-Graduate Supervisor of the Year Award

  • Teaching Interests

    During my 31 years at Adelaide, I have taught subjects to students at all year levels of the BE(Civil) degree course as well as some subjects in the Bachelor of Architecture degree course.  I take great pride in my teaching and regard this aspect of university work to be very important.  Indeed, I enrolled in and completed the ACUE (as it was then) course for new university lecturers in 1988 long before it was a requirement for newly appointed lecturers.  I believe that students consider me to be a very good teacher – as evidenced by the anecdotal feedback I receive from them and from the “scores” I receive from them on the SELTs.  For example, only once since 2002 have I received less than 6 out of 7 for their response to “All things considered, how would you rate Dr Griffith’s effectiveness as a university lecturer”. 


    While my teaching has been primarily in the area of structural engineering, I have also taught Construction and Surveying to our students and regularly assist with the running of group projects in the 1st year introductory subject Engineering Planning and Design. 


    Significantly, I was invited to give the “Seismic design of masonry buildings” course to the post-graduate students at the European School for the Reduction of Seismic Risk at the University of Pavia in northern Italy, in January 2007.  This is a very high honour as the lecturers for all the courses in this programme are international experts from highly regarded universities around the world (see school website: http://www.roseschool.it/index.php?option=com_lecturers&Itemid=84).



  • Research Interests

    Associate Professor Griffith has nearly 20 years research experience in the area of earthquake resistant design and analysis of structures, beginning with his PhD research at the University of California at Berkeley.  During this time he has published over 140 refereed papers in this area and attracted over $4 million dollars in competitive research funding in Australia. In the field of earthquake engineering, Dr Griffith has been closely involved with the development of new technologies to improve the seismic resistance of both new and existing structures.  His initial work in this field, based on his PhD research, was to demonstrate experimentally and theoretically the feasibility and reliability of seismic isolation as an effective seismic design strategy for a wide range of building heights and earthquake ground motions.  His research at the University of Adelaide has focussed on developing methods to prevent earthquake induced damage, including collapse, of unreinforced masonry buildings and non-seismically designed reinforced concrete frames.  Recent outcomes and progress in these areas are described below.


    Masonry Research:

    His research on masonry walls has led to the development of a displacement-based analysis technique for assessing the earthquake resistance of existing and the design of new masonry walls in vertical bending.  Currently he is working with colleagues to extend this innovative design technique to walls subject to bi-axial (two-way) bending.  In addition, some of his results from shaking table tests on typical wall connections in masonry buildings have already been incorporated into the Australian Masonry Structures Code in the form of amendments to allow friction to be considered as part of the seismic load path.  Two projects that are currently in progress involve (1) establishing deemed-to-comply design guidelines for masonry buildings under 15m tall with respect to earthquake loading; and (2) developing an innovative technique for earthquake strengthening of masonry walls using fibre reinforced polymers in such a way that it does not alter the normal, aesthetic appearance of masonry.


    Concrete Frame Research:

    Earthquake related research on concrete structures at Adelaide has focussed on the seismic performance of concrete frames whose design is dominated by gravity-load considerations and methods for their seismic upgrade.  Experimental research has consisted of shaking table tests of 1/5-scale concrete frame structures, quasi-static cyclic testing of ½-scale concrete frames with and without masonry infill panels, and monotonic static and quasi-static cyclic testing of concrete columns.  Non-linear dynamic modelling procedures have now been developed that can accurately model the dynamic behaviour observed during experiments.  Current research is focussed on developing practical methods to improve the strength and ductility of such concrete columns and frames using composite plating techniques that fully accounts for the partial-interaction behaviour between the concrete sections and the plates.


  • Research Funding

    RESEARCH support/grants held (2002 onwards)

    Funding Organisation

    Project Title


    National Disaster Resilience Program  (2019 -21) York, WA earthquake building mitigation implementation project $250,000

    ARC Discovery (2019 – 21)

    1st CI with Visintin et al.
    Improved seismic resilience against life-safety hazards of masonry buildings $320,000

    ARC Discovery (2016 – 18)

    1st CI with Masia and Ingham
    Safeguarding Australia’s heritage masonry buildings from earthquake attack $380,000

    ARC LIEF (2015)

    6th CI with B Cazzaloto
    Development of a world-class facility for three dimensional dynamic testing $400,000
    ARC Discovery (2014 – 16) DP140102695.  1st CI with P. Visintin FRP retrofitted brick masonry buildings – are they reliable over the long term? $241,130

    DSTO Salisbury (2013), 1st CI with M. Ali & Visintin

    UHPC – material testing and modelling


    ARC LIEF (2013), jointly with Univ. Queensland

    Performance level structural testing facility


    ARC Discovery (2012 – 14), 1st CI with Masia et al.

    Improved analysis techniques for seismic assessment of URM buildings with flexible floor/roof diaphragms


    DSTO Salisbury (2011)

    Vulnerability assessment of Defence buildings


    ARC LIEF (2010), jointly with Swinburne

    Hybrid Testing Facility for Structures under Extreme Loads”


    ARC Discovery (2009 – 11), 2nd CI with Oehlers and Ali.

    A unified reinforced concrete model for flexure and shear


    ARC Discovery (2008 – 10), 1st CI with Masia & Ingham

    Earthquake protection of masonry buildings using fibre reinforced polymer strengthening


    Industry – CBPI (2006-07)

    Earthquake design criteria for low-rise unreinforced clay brick masonry buildings


    Industry – CBPI (2005-06)

    Earthquake reliability of low-rise unreinforced clay brick masonry construction


    ARC Discovery (2005-07), 2nd CI with D Oehlers

    Ductile FRP retrofit of concrete frames subject to static and earthquake loading


    ARC Linkage-Int’l (2005-07), 1st CI with Magenes (Italy)

    Displacement-based assessment of the seismic resistance of unreinforced masonry buildings


    ARC Discovery (2004-06), 1st CI with J Wilson & N Lam

    Displacement-based earthquake design of unreinforced masonry walls in two-way bending


    Adelaide Univ. SRG (2003)

    Displacement-based design of unreinforced masonry walls in bending


    Adelaide Univ. SRG (2002)

    Dynamic analysis of critical failure modes in brick masonry buildings


  • Publications

    LIST OF PUBLICATIONS (2002 onwards)

    1.         Books/Monographs/Symposia

    Oehlers, DJ, Griffith, MC and Seracino, R (editors) (2009).  “Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on fiber-Reinforced Polymer Reinforcement for Concrete Structures,” 13 – 15 July, Sydney, Australia, 287p.

    McCue, K, Griffith, MC and Butler, B (editors), (2004).  “Australian earthquake engineering in the new millennium – where to from here?” Proceedings of the 2004 Australian Earthquake Engineering Society Conference, held at Mt. Gambier, South Australia, AEES publisher.

    Griffith, MC, Love, D, McBean, P, McDougall, A and Butler, B (editors), (2002). “Total risk management in the privatised era,” Proceedings of the 2002 Australian Earthquake Engineering Conference, held at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australian Earthquake Engineering Society publisher.


    2.         Journal Articles

    Derakhshan, H, Nakamura, Y, Griffith, MC & Dhanasekar, M (2020).  “Simplified calculation of roof accelerations in existing low-rise symmetric unreinforced masonry buildings with flexible diaphragms,” Bulletin of Earthquake Engineering, (2020) 18:3383–3400, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10518-020-00823-1

    Howlader, MK, Masia, MJ and Griffith, MC (2020).  “In-plane response of perforated unreinforced maonsry walls under cyclic loading – experimental study,” ASCE, Journal of Structural Engineering, 146(6): https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-541X.0002657.

    Howlader, MK, Masia, MJ and Griffith, MC (accepted 2/2/2020).  “Numerical Analysis and Parametric Study of Unreinforced Masonry Walls with Arch Openings under Lateral In-Plane Loading,” Engineering Structures,Vol. 208, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.engstruct.2020.110337.

    Howlader, M.K., Masia, M. and Griffith, M.C. (2020).  “In-plane shear testing of unreinforced masonry walls and comparison with FEA and NZSEE predictions,” International Journal of Masonry Research and Innovation, 5(1):47–66.

    Derakhshan, H., Nakamura, Y., Griffith, M.C. and Inghan, J. (2020). “Suitability of height amplification factors for seismic assessment of existing unreinforced masonry components,” Journal of Earthquake Engineering, https://doi.org/10.1080/13632469.2020.1716889

    Vaculik, J, Visintin, P, Lucas, W and Griffith, MC (2020).  “Durability of near-surface-mounted FRP-to-clay brick masonry retrofits under environmental exposure,” ASCE, Journal of Composites for Construction, 24(1): 04019058

    Derakhshan, H., Walsh, K.Q., Ingham, J.M., Griffith, M.C. and Thambiratnam, D.P. (2019).  “Seismic fragility assessment of non-structural components in unreinforced clay brick masonry buildings,” Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics, 2019;1–16.

    Setiawan, B., Jaksa, M., Griffith, M. and Love, D. (2019).  “Estimating near surface shear wave velocity using the SPAC method at a site exhibiting low to high impedance contrast,” Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, 122:16-38 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soildyn.2019.03.036