After all of the earthquakes that have taken place in the past few months, much emphasis is being put on the idea of building earthquake proof buildings. Some wonder if it’s possible. The answer lies somewhere between yes and no. There are techniques that engineers are going to be able to use to create buildings that are structurally sound and that will be able to stand up to some of the stronger earthquakes. However, the truth is that even the best engineered building on the planet is going to have some damage after an earthquake, especially if the earthquake is large. So what engineer strive to do is create a building that is going to be able to withstand as much of the side to side motion created by earthquakes with the minimal amount of damage.
The reason why it’s tricky to create an earthquake proof building, even when you use strong materials including aluminum alloys, is that a building is designed to withstand vertical pressure. That means buildings are designed to withstand the pressure of the many floors and the roof above it. However, during an earthquake, there is a lot of lateral pressure put on the building. And so design changes need to be made in order to account for this. One of the options that engineers look at when designing earthquake resistant buildings is to create a rigid box that holds together even when an earthquake shakes it.
As can be seen in some of the recent earthquakes that have taken place, some of the worst materials to use when building earthquake resistant buildings include concrete bricks and concrete block. This type of construction is great when trying to build something that is going to stand and resist downward pressure. However, this style of construction does not work well when it is submitted to lateral force. Lateral force will cause the bricks that are stacked on top of each other to eventually give way. As has been seen in multiple instances, brick houses fall like a deck of cards.
Proper construction techniques can save lives. Buildings that have been constructed to withstand earthquakes produce a significantly less amount of casualties than those that are not prepared for this type of disaster. Thankfully, after every earthquake builders and scientists are learning more to to design buildings that are adequately able to stand up to these force of nature.