Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Quake Damage Teaches Lessons About Mexico's Critical Buildings

Date:
September 23, 1999
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
A report published this month detailing damage from a June 15 earthquake in Mexico illustrates the need to enforce special seismic design standards for critical buildings such as schools, hospitals and fire stations.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A report published this month detailing damage from a June 15 earthquake in Mexico illustrates the need to enforce special seismic design standards for critical buildings such as schools, hospitals and fire stations.

The magnitude 6.5 quake was centered about 12 miles southwest of the city of Tehuaca, in the state of Puebla. It killed 17 people, damaged more than 1,000 schools, nine hospitals and more than 14,000 homes, displacing about 20,000 people. Some of the hospitals were forced to close just when they were most needed for surgeries and emergency services.

"Hospitals, fire stations and schools should meet higher standards specifically because of their special roles," says Julio Ramirez, a civil engineer from Purdue University who led a research team sent to the quake site by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (http://www.eeri.org), an international organization that aims to reduce the impacts of future earthquakes through research and public education.

A similar problem might exist within certain regions of the United States, such as the Midwest, where, because strong earthquakes are infrequent, the number of schools, other critical buildings and bridges with deficient seismic designs has increased over time, Ramirez says.

The issue is more urgent in Mexico than it is in the United States, in part because builders there construct roofs with heavier materials than the more expensive steel joists and girders preferred by American builders. Higher weight increases the forces exerted on buildings during earthquakes.

The buildings could often be strengthened with additional walls so that they better withstand earthquakes. In the case of one apartment building that collapsed, it is likely that just a few extra walls would have protected the building, Ramirez says.

The findings were detailed in a report prepared by Ramirez, Purdue graduate student Santiago Pujol and civil engineer James Miller from Degenkolb Engineers in San Francisco. More than 20 other researchers were involved in preparing the report, which appeared in the September issue of a monthly newsletter published by the earthquake research institute.

In addition to concerns about critical buildings, the report also concludes that design standards for low-income residential housing units need to be improved.

The researchers say in the report that "... a more effective public policy for earthquake hazard mitigation needs to be implemented in Mexico. In particular, the construction practices in urban centers do not offer sufficient protection in the case of individual housing units. Approximately 80 percent of these units are built without considerations regarding seismic resistance. It is further questionable that the avenues of reconstruction for the housing units offer sufficient assurances that seismic vulnerability will be reduced."

Meanwhile, the engineers also found evidence that damage from earthquakes accumulated over time, making certain types of old masonry buildings progressively more susceptible to collapse. More than 800 historic buildings in that region of Mexico were far more severely damaged in the June 15 quake than they were in previous, more powerful temblors.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Quake Damage Teaches Lessons About Mexico's Critical Buildings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990923070954.htm>.
Purdue University. (1999, September 23). Quake Damage Teaches Lessons About Mexico's Critical Buildings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990923070954.htm
Purdue University. "Quake Damage Teaches Lessons About Mexico's Critical Buildings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990923070954.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins