New method to determine how safe buildings are after an earthquake

Deciding when it's safe for a building's residents to move back in after an earthquake is a major challenge and responsibility for civil engineers. Not only do they have to evaluate whether the building could collapse, but also whether it could withstand aftershocks of the same magnitude. The good news is, some promising research is being carried out in this field.

Scientists at EPFL's Applied Computing and Mechanics Laboratory (IMAC) have come up with a new method that can increase the accuracy of these types of assessments. It is based on taking measurements of a building's ambient vibrations, and can be used to enhance existing methods and speed the process for determining which structures are too fragile to live in. The study – by Yves Reuland (lead author), Pierino Lestuzzi and Ian F.C. Smith – appears in the January issue of Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering.

Los Angeles' Earthquake Early Warning System Could Save Lives, but What About the Rest of California?

(TNS) - With considerable fanfare, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti started the year by trumpeting a cellphone app that will instantly notify users in Los Angeles County when an earthquake of 5.0 or bigger begins to hit.

The pilot program, officially unveiled Jan. 3, can provide crucial seconds — even dozens of seconds — for people to duck and cover or otherwise take potentially lifesaving actions.

Dubbed ShakeAlertLA, it’s the first earthquake early warning system of its type in the country.

L.A.’s Long-Awaited Earthquake Warning App Is Ready for Download

(TNS) — Los Angeles has unveiled its long-anticipated earthquake early warning app for Android and Apple smartphones, which is now available for download.

ShakeAlertLA, an app created under the oversight of Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city, is designed to work with the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake early warning system, which has been under development for years. It’s designed to give users seconds — perhaps even tens of seconds — before shaking from a distant earthquake arrives at a user’s location.

Q&A: California Businesses Prepare for the Next Quake

On October 18, more than 10 million Californians participated in The Great Shakeout to prepare for the next catastrophic earthquake and bring awareness to earthquake preparedness across the state. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) predicts a 99% chance of a magnitude 6.7+ earthquake in the Bay Area within the next 30 years, preparation is essential.

Kate Stillwell is a structural engineer and founder and CEO of Jumpstart, a new earthquake insurance provider which helps families and individuals following a disaster via text. As a business owner and lifelong Californian, Stillwell took part in the Shakeout and shared her experience and insight for earthquake preparedness.

Catastrophic Earthquakes Could Leave 250,000-400,000 Refugees in California

(TNS) - When a catastrophic earthquake hits California, buildings would topple and hundreds of people could be killed.

But what gets less attention is the aftermath of such a huge quake, which could leave whole neighborhoods uninhabitable and hundreds of thousands of people without homes.

Officials are trying to determine where all those refugees would go.

California Bridge Under Construction Gets Sensors to Gather Earthquake Data

A replacement bridge under construction at the second-busiest port in the U.S. isn’t just a crucial route for cargo trucks and Southern California commuters – it’s a concrete-and-steel science experiment for engineers and seismologists.

The new bridge, which will stretch 8,800 feet over the Port of Long Beach, is being built with about 75 seismic sensors that will measure the forces imparted on the span when one of several nearby faults set off an earthquake. It will replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge, though it’s unclear if it will retain that name.

Can Your House Survive the Big Shake?

(TNS) - Would your house survive a massive earthquake?

Emergency management officials say the expected Cascadia subduction zone quake could shake the Rogue Valley so hard that houses could collapse or slide off their foundations, leaving thousands homeless, injured or worse.

Even newer houses built before 1993 could see enough damage that they become uninhabitable.

“We could see sustained shaking for two to five minutes that could cause significant damage,” warned Althea Rizzo, geologic hazards program coordinator for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. “Almost all the older homes need some kind of retrofit.”

2014 Napa Quake Could be Linked to Groundwater Changes, Study Shows

Research suggests the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that rocked California wine country in 2014 may have been caused by an expansion of Earth’s crust because of seasonally receding groundwater under the Napa and Sonoma valleys.

The vineyard-filled valleys flank the West Napa Fault, which produced the quake that killed one person, injured several hundred and caused more than $500 million in losses.

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