California quake points to research advancements in retrofitting older buildings

Sep 02, 2014 by Purdue University

The 6.0 earthquake that rocked Napa, California, on Aug. 24 is placing the spotlight on efforts by property owners and municipalities to retrofit older buildings and improve their ability to withstand earthquakes.

Researchers affiliated with the Purdue University-led George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) have studied ways to strengthen older masonry- and wood-framed buildings to minimize and save lives.

The city of Los Angeles enacted a law in the early 1980s that required brick buildings to be retrofitted. While many of those retrofitted buildings were damaged in the Napa quake, no lives were lost, according to media reports.

Data recently published by the California Seismic Safety Commission indicates that about 70 percent of the 26,000 brick buildings across California have been seismically retrofitted or demolished, with major cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles requiring action. As many as 8,000 remaining brick buildings are at risk of collapse, data published by the state in 2006 shows.

Smaller cities such as Napa have mandatory rules for retrofitting older buildings, and experts have been reported as saying that might have helped prevent widespread destruction during the recent quake.

The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) reports that while damage still occurred in both retrofitted and un-retrofitted buildings in Napa, no retrofitted buildings collapsed.

Some success stories of buildings that implemented cripple wall retrofits were documented, EERI reports. Efforts are underway to collect detailed performance data to understand the effectiveness of implemented retrofits.

Explore further: A look at earthquake's impact on California region

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A look at earthquake's impact on California region

Aug 25, 2014

A strong earthquake rattled a swath of Northern California's wine country in the early hours of Sunday morning, unleashing most of its damage on the city of Napa in the heart of the vineyard-studded region.

Retrofitting earthquake protection could save lives

Jun 05, 2013

Whether or not a building collapses and claims many lives during an earthquake is a matter of structure and statistics, according to researchers in Turkey. Writing in the International Journal of Emergency Management, civil ...

Recommended for you

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

9 hours ago

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

Dec 19, 2014

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

Dec 19, 2014

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

Dec 19, 2014

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.