Saturday, July 16, 2011

What we can learn from earthquakes

Joplin, Mo., Tuscaloosa, Ala., Oklahoma City, Okla., Springfield, Ill., Boston, Mass., the list goes on.
Tornadoes, as well as earthquakes, are forces of nature that we cannot stop from happening. But there is much we can do to prevent these hazards from becoming disasters.
Consider, for example, that the most common cause of damage to a structure during an earthquake is strong ground shaking. The first line of defense against such shaking is the design and construction of structures to withstand the shaking. Great strides have been made in adopting earthquake-resistant building standards.
Scientists have worked with engineers and architects to translate the strong ground motions expected during earthquakes into design features that result in buildings that can ride through earthquake shaking without falling down. They have taken the further step of mapping out what level of strong ground motion is to be expected in what regions of the country and worked with local planners to incorporate earthquake resistance into model codes for new and existing buildings. Over time, state and local adoption of carefully developed building codes has resulted in a steady upgrading of building resilience against earthquake risk.

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