Designing for and mitigating earthquakes
Scawthorn, Charles SPA Risk LLC, Oakland, California.
- Additional Readings
Earthquakes cause loss and suffering every year in large parts of the world. Most of this loss and suffering is due to lack of, or inadequate, structural design for the forces that earthquakes impose on buildings and other structures. Earthquakes impose vertical and lateral forces on structures, due to the inertia of the structure. While vertical forces are significant, most structures have substantial capacity to resist vertical forces, since their primary structural design is for the force of gravity. Therefore, the primary problem for most structures is force in the horizontal, or lateral, direction, which tends to subject buildings to large horizontal distortion (Fig. 1). When these distortions get large, the damage can be catastrophic. Therefore, most buildings are designed with lateral-force-resisting systems (or seismic systems) to resist the effects of earthquake forces. In many cases, seismic systems make a building stiffer against horizontal forces and thus reduce the amount of relative lateral movement and consequently the damage. Seismic systems are usually designed to resist forces that result from horizontal ground motion, as well as from vertical ground motion.
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