How We Prepare (Or Don’t) For Earthquakes April 14, 2011


While the world watches Japan, many in earthquake zones are looking for ways to prevent and prepare for similar disasters at home. Activist group California Watch released a bombshell report earlier this week, saying that the governing bodies regulating structural integrity and seismic retrofitting of California schools are corrupt – and have failed to enforce safe structural standards in a huge percentage of CA schools.

The terrifying news caused us to look more closely at the notion of seismic retrofitting, and what things like base isolation and mass dampers are (not to mention how much retrofitting will cost the budget-stricken state).

Click through for what we found in easily-digested infographic form.

As an aside, there is a whole spectrum of ways to go about preparing an existing building for an earthquake. Old structural connections can be reinforced (or weakened), and additional cross-bracing can be added to withstand strong lateral forces. We looked at two of the more pro-active strategies, one specifically for taller buildings, and the other an across-the-board method. Both mass dampers and base isolation are often integrated into a sound retrofitting strategy as well as in new construction in earth-quake prone zones.

Click to enlarge.

Full image available here.

Note: These calculations are based on FEMA’s retrofitting cost estimator, available here. Average square footage calculations were taken from national surveys regarding school and home size in the last three years.

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