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  •  The Chinese Quake was a bit more complicated (6+ / 0-)

    As the New Zealand quake also demonstrates. I'd like to elaborate a bit because it is consistent with the theme of this diary.

    In the Chinese, we can say there were the following types of buildings destroyed:

    :: Old, unreinforced brick buildings, mainly farmhouses

    :: Newer, poorly build brick buildings mainly multistory famhouses and village town houses typically build by workers from ad hoc plans with inadequate reinforcement and poor quality concrete framing

    :: Older mid-rise buildings that sustained heavy damage or collapsed depening on location and contruction.

    :: New, properly engineered and built strutures that were up to code but sited in bad locations or designed in such a way that they were unable to survive due to unique and previously unconsidered problems.

    The first two are common problems in poor and developing countries and large areas affected by this quake are exactly that. The systematic problem is too many people making do and not enough resources such as structural engineers inspectors and qualified builders, and inadequate supervision or neglect of laws by the people building (owners and workers).

    The second is a problem everywhere except those places where there is systematic review and inspection of old buildings, and even in affluant countries it is usually a matter of hindsight - upgrading old buildings in Los Angeles only came after so many were damaged in the 1970/whatever quake.

    The third is a matter of knowledge and practice. Example:

    One of the major buildings that collapsed was a multistory school. There was much speculation that it was improperly bult, but review of plans and inspections of the remains suggested ortherwise.  However, a Japanese expert who was one of the international consultants recognized the problem from experience with similar school building colapses in Japan which has the world's strictist building codes. The problem is schools are often bulit in open areas where the surrounding land has weak soil that liquifies during a sever quake and regardless how strong the building structure itself is, the local trust will tear it from the foundation. The solution is to cluster buildings together or build a perimeter fundation surrounding the building to diffuse the force.

    Needless to say there were many lessons learned and much attention brought to bear, including a decision to not rebuild in some areas and to move entire villages to other sites. Building codes are being revised and procedures reinforced, but as I said this is another case of hindsight.

    It's difficult to understand how powerful and devistating this quake was unless you see some of the areas where town were leveled and, literally, the geography of some mountians and rivers changed.

    And that brings us full circle; regulations exist for a reason and we must remember that of history repeats. And where we lack regulations we should ask if we need them, not assume they are unnessary simply beause they don't exist.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 06:15:18 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Correction! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, dsteffen

      Counting error

      "Second" ase should be "Third".

      "Third" case should be "Fourth".

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 06:19:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In Cailfornia, I don't believe we're allowed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dsteffen, brein

      to build new schools or hospitals on soils that are vulnerable to liquefaction.

      Locally, this means that often considerable excavation has to be done on a site to replace it with new soils that will compact firmly and completely.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Mar 07, 2011 at 10:26:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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