Discussing current issues in engineering
Earthquakes like this month’s 7.1 magnitude quake can be devastating. But new ways of planning and building now exist to take into account these disasters, particularly in urban cities along fault lines. For engineers in these areas, this adds an important dimension to civil and structural design.
Buildings are already built to withstand vertical stress on a day-to-day basis; anything from heavy weight bearing to strong winds are always considered when designing a structure. However, major quakes put horizontal stress on buildings—a stress for which earlier buildings weren’t designed, making old buildings far more likely to collapse or suffer damage during an earthquake.
Earthquake simulators are one way engineers can assess potential seismic behavior in vulnerable regions. For example, researchers at Lehigh University established a real-time multi-directional simulation facility to develop models of large-scale structures to replicate seismic events. The data collected from sensors are then processed by a team, ultimately enabling them to accurately test the nature of structural collapse. This helps to make sure any new structures are adequately designed and built in case of another fault-line disaster.
To read more about earthquakes and their impact on the way civil engineers have shaped design strategies around them, check out this graphic from Norwich University.
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