Should we better prepare for earthquakes?

December 15, 2011

University of Adelaide researchers are leading an international project to help identify buildings most vulnerable to earthquakes and the best ways to strengthen them.

Chief Investigator Professor Mike Griffith, from the University's School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, says the model will help determine priorities for strengthening the more susceptible unreinforced .

The team, including researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and the University of Pavia in Italy, is using data on building damage collected in Christchurch following the earthquakes in February 2011 and September 2010 as part of their work for the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.

"We are taking what we observed and learned from Christchurch to assess the level of risk posed by earthquakes to masonry buildings generally," said Professor Griffith.

"We are also looking at the unreinforced masonry buildings in Christchurch that had some seismic strengthening to see how those buildings behaved in the September and February earthquakes in order to identify which retrofitting schemes were more effective than others."

Professor Griffith said New Zealand and Australia were both settled around the same time with many buildings built before the 1930s with similar styles of construction.

"Hence, the Christchurch earthquakes give us a unique opportunity to learn how to prevent widespread damage to heritage construction in future earthquakes," he said.

New Zealand stopped building masonry buildings after the major 1931 Hawke's Bay , but this style of construction continued in Australia and many people are still renovating and living in this type of building – some are heritage listed.

Work to date has shown that buildings strengthened to about one-third of modern building standards offered no significant protection against the Christchurch earthquake. Buildings that were strengthened to two-thirds of new building requirements showed significant reduction in damage.

"These higher level strengthening schemes are more invasive and obviously come at much higher cost," said Professor Griffith. "We want to be able to calculate how much improvement we can achieve by strengthening schemes and at what cost – a cost/benefit ratio for retrofitting buildings against earthquake damage."

The model will be applicable for different building construction styles used around the world. The research project won funding under the latest round of Australian Research Council Discovery Projects for funding from 2012.

Explore further: Iowa State engineer studies damage caused by New Zealand earthquake

Related Stories

Lessons from the Christchurch earthquake

November 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A leading Infrastructure academic believes an assessment needs to be made of the level of "very rare" earthquake that needs to be considered in structural design, perhaps one with a 10,000 year return period ...

Relationship between two recent New Zealand earthquakes

September 26, 2011

The relationship between two earthquakes that took place near Christchurch, New Zealand, in September 2010 and February 2011 is examined in a paper published in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that the first earthquake ...

Protecting lives, buildings from earthquakes

January 10, 2011

Several major earthquake events around the world over the last few years have led to significant damage and loss of lives. Many of these quakes caused buildings to collapse related to the construction quality of those structures. ...

Recommended for you

Your (social media) votes matter

January 24, 2017

When Tim Weninger conducted two large-scale experiments on Reddit - otherwise known as "the front page of the internet" - back in 2014, the goal was to better understand the ripple effects of malicious voting behavior and ...

Protective wear inspired by fish scales

January 24, 2017

They started with striped bass. Over a two-year period the researchers went through about 50 bass, puncturing or fracturing hundreds of fish scales under the microscope, to try to understand their properties and mechanics ...

'Droneboarding' takes off in Latvia

January 22, 2017

Skirted on all sides by snow-clad pine forests, Latvia's remote Lake Ninieris would be the perfect picture of winter tranquility—were it not for the huge drone buzzing like a swarm of angry bees as it zooms above the solid ...

Singapore 2G switchoff highlights digital divide

January 22, 2017

When Singapore pulls the plug on its 2G mobile phone network this year, thousands of people could be stuck without a signal—digital have-nots left behind by the relentless march of technology.

Making AI systems that see the world as humans do

January 19, 2017

A Northwestern University team developed a new computational model that performs at human levels on a standard intelligence test. This work is an important step toward making artificial intelligence systems that see and understand ...

0 comments

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.