Environmental Vibration

2D and 2D ½ ground-foundation configuration with railway excitation (MEFFISTO software)

Emission Propagation and Impact on buildings

Environmental vibration is often generated by railway traffic and construction sites. Vibration are transmitted through ground to nearby buildings and, depending on their magnitudes and frequencies, can affect the building structures (potential damage) and the residents (body perception of vibration and/or hearing of ground borne noise radiated by the vibrating building structures, and associated annoyance).
Emission (source), Propagation (ground) and Immission (building) are considered.


 CSTB-DAE knows how to characterize/calibrate source and ground by comparing ground vibration level spectra measured on site and spectra calculated by a BEM FEM model (MEFISSTO software developed at CSTB). The source is usually represented by a proper force distribution (Fig.1); the ground is usually calibrated from ground vibration levels measured at different distances from the source and compared to levels calculated by MEFISSTO for a few simplified ground types (ref. [1], [2]).


MEFISSTO is used for modeling ground structure vibration interactions (ref. [3], [4]) and for estimating vibration levels in the building (Fig.2); another module estimates the ground borne noise radiated in rooms through a simplified energy based approach. This software is mainly used for estimating the effects of changes in the ground or in the building structure, on the vibration and ground borne noise levels generated, from measured reference cases.


Because of the complexity of the ground-structure vibration interaction models, CSTB-DAE has developed a method allowing a separate study  of the coupled ground and building foundations (using MEFISSTO) on the one hand, and of the isolated building superstructure (using any purely structural model) on the other hand (Fig.3); the two separate systems are then reconnected using a mobility approach (ref. [5]).


Vibration and sound levels measured (CSTB is expert in ground and structure vibration measurement) or calculated are then expressed in terms of descriptors and compared to limit values defined in different standards and regulations, in force in France or abroad (the French set of standards and regulations related to vibration is very poor). The relevant quantities are vibration levels at the building foundations for structural damage and on floors for vibration annoyance, as well as sound levels in rooms for noise annoyance. CSTB is a partner in the European project RIVAS (ref.[6]) on mitigation of railway vibration at source level; CSTB’s task is focused on evaluating the mitigation measures developed in terms of decrease of vibration and ground borne noise exposure in buildings and   associated annoyance.


Concerning vibration mitigation measures at track level, CSTB-DAE has developed a simplified 2D track system model (CASC.voie software) for estimating the insertion loss of resilient track systems (Fig.4). A test rig for track systems has also been developed with the help of the French manufacturer SATEBA and implemented on the SATEBA site (Fig.5). Track model and test rig have been used in the French project VIBSOLFRET (ref. [1]) and the test rig is used in the European project RIVAS (ref. [6]). Concerning vibration mitigation measures in the ground (vibration barriers), the MEFISSTO software can be used to predict their efficiency. Concerning vibration mitigation measures at the building interface foundation- superstructure (elastomeric mounts or springs), the mobility approach mentioned before allows a reliable estimation of the insertion loss.

Separate ground-foundation / building modeling when using the mobility approach
Typical 2D ground (BEM) building (FEM) meshing using MEFISSTO ; excitation force in green

References :

  • [1] VIBSOLFRET project, “Comparison between freight and passenger trains in terms of environmental vibrations “, work performed by SNCF, CSTB and SATEBA in 2009-2010, financially supported by ADEME.
  • [2] M. Villot, P. Ropars, P. Jean, E. Bongini, F. Poisson, “Modeling the influence od structural modifications on the response of a building to railway vibration”, Noise Control Eng. J.  59 (6) November-December 2011
  • [3] P. Jean, « Boundary and finite elements for 2D soil-structure interaction problems”, Acta Acustica, 87, 56-66 (2001)
  • [4] P. Jean, C. Guigou, M. Villot, « A 2D ½ BEM model for ground structure interaction », Building Acoustics, 11(3), 157-163, (2004)
  • [5] P. Ropars, « Modélisation des vibrations d’origine ferroviaire transmises aux bâtiments par le sol », PhD dissertation, December 2011, in French (“Modeling railway vibration transmitted to buildings through ground”), Université Paris Est, Ecole doctorale SIE
  • [6] RIVAS project, “Railway Induced Vibration Abatement Solutions “, work performed by 26  European partners from 9 European countries in 2011-2013, financially supported in the frame of FP7
Test rig for vibrational characterization of track systems (on SATEBA site).
2D ground-track model used in software CASC.voie

Contact :

Michel VILLOT

Tel : +33 (0)4 76 76 25 13

Email : michel.villot@remove-this.cstb.fr