Experts fear New Zealand type earthquake could destroy any modern city in the world.

February 23, 2011LOS ANGELES – Jason Ingram studies earthquake building standards. His group safely evacuated to a motel about a mile outside the city center before the quake did most of the damage. Based on initial observations and reports, Ingham said he believed this quake was very different from the previous one he studied. Although it had a lower magnitude, it occurred closer to the city, and ground acceleration was much higher. And though most of the damage last time occurred to unreinforced-masonry buildings, many modern buildings were damaged Tuesday, Ingham said. “Our instinct is that this exceeded the loads that even the modern buildings were designed for. We are almost certain,” said Ingham, who is an associate professor of civil engineering. “The assumption is that an earthquake of this size would have caused damage in any modern city anywhere.” He and the other researchers planned to travel back into Christchurch Wednesday morning. He said there was a chance they would be turned away due to the ongoing search-and-rescue efforts within the city. Whereas after the last quake he researched unreinforced-masonry buildings almost exclusively, he said this time the biggest question would be how newer buildings fared. In the last 30 or so years, New Zealand engineers have followed the same guidelines used in other quake-vulnerable regions such as California and Japan, Ingham said. “The thing that will attract a very large amount of attention from people all over the world is the performance of the modern buildings that have been designed to current standards that still received damage,” Ingham said. “At least in the city center, almost every building suffered some sort of damage.” Ingham noted in previous research that, compared with other cities and towns in New Zealand, Christchurch had taken a more passive approach to updating its building codes. He said that about half of all the buildings in Christchurch were unreinforced masonry. Many of the older buildings were completely destroyed Tuesday, he said. He believes a greater portion of the modern buildings will be recoverable. “With some modern buildings … there will be cosmetic damage,” he said, “but the structural integrity is still OK.” Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center at USC, said Tuesday’s quake also provided a reminder that the most destructive quake can be an aftershock to the main quake. Aftershocks since the September main quake, which was centered in rural farmland, have been moving eastward in recent months, closer to Christchurch. “Earthquakes don’t happen individually, but in sequences. We have to be prepared that when we get large earthquakes in California that we recognize that that means the seismic hazard has gone up, not down. One earthquake does not mean the end of story,” Jordan said. In California, the southern San Andreas fault, which is ripe for a large earthquake, could buckle in a series of quakes, Jordan said. –Los Angeles Times
Ground turns to liquid in New ZealandBuildings crumble like paper
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1 Response to Experts fear New Zealand type earthquake could destroy any modern city in the world.

  1. Jamie says:

    23 aftershocks and more damage than what is being reported outside of the city of Christchurch.


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