Applications of Hilbert-Huang transform to structural damage detection

Dung Jiang Chiou, Wen Ko Hsu, Cheng Wu Chen, Chih Min Hsieh, Jhy Pyng Tang, Wei Ling Chiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This study investigates the feasibility of detecting structural damage using the HHT method. A damage detection index, the ratio of bandwidth (RB) is proposed. This index is highly correlated or approximately equal to the change of equivalent damping ratio for an intact structure incurring damage from strong ground motions. Based on an analysis of shaking table test data from benchmark models subjected to adjusted Kobe and El Centro earthquakes, the damage detection index is evaluated using the Hilbert-Huang Transform (HHT) and the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) methods, respectively. Results indicate that, when the response of the structure is in the elastic region, the RB value only slightly changes in both the HHT and the FFT spectra. Additionally, RB values estimated from the HHT spectra vs. the PGA values change incrementally when the structure response is nonlinear i.e., member yielding occurs, but not in the RB curve from the FFT spectra. Moreover, the RB value of the top floor changes more than those from the other floors. Furthermore, structural damage is detected only when using the acceleration response data from the top floor. Therefore, the ratio of bandwidth RB estimated from the smoothed HHT spectra is an effective and sensitive damage index for detecting structural damage. Results of this study also demonstrate that the HHT is a powerful method in analyzing the nonlinear responses of steel structures to strong ground motions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalStructural Engineering and Mechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Jul 2011


  • Damage detection index
  • HHT
  • Half-power bandwidth
  • Inter-story drift


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