• The city of Concepción moved 10 feet to the west; rebuilding infrastructure will cost $1.2 billion

    Chile’s earthquake was the fifth most powerful quake ever measured; the powerful temblor shifts one city to the west — and rearranges others parts of South America as well; cost of rebuilding Chile’s infrastructure estimated at $1.2 billion

  • Engineering earthquake-resistant buildings

    Chile’s 8.8-magnitude earthquake was much more powerful that Haiti’s 7.0-magnitude tremor; yet, Haiti’s quake claimed an estimated 300,000 dead, while Chile’s quake claimed around 800; the reason: Chile enforced building codes for earthquake-resistant structures after the 1960 9.0-magnitude earthquake; the corrupt, indifferent, and ineffective governments of Haiti never bothered to develop a meaningful building code, let alone enforce one

  • A bridge ready for the Big One

    On 17 October 1989, a 7.1 earthquake nearly caused the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to collapse; scientists say that just one or two seconds more of shaking and the whole bridge would have come down; the seismic innovations being incorporated into the construction of the new Bay Bridge will make the bridge secure enough to survive a massive level earthquake — the largest we would see in 1,500 years

  • Designing terror-proof buildings

    Terrorists attack high-profile building for the symbolism such attacks carry; students at Purdue University test methods to make buildings terror-proof, and the research results could be used in high-profile construction projects

  • New method of sensing concrete corrosion

    Researchers develop a novel sensor system to monitor the early signs of concrete corrosion, which could reduce expensive, long-term maintenance costs; the sensors measure the key parameters related to concrete corrosion — pH, chloride, and humidity — in highly alkaline environments

  • Engineers group gives Illinois infrastructure low marks

    The ASCE says that the dilapidated Illinois infrastructure is endangering the state’s future prosperity; the group examined nine infrastructure elements; the two that got the highest grade – C+ — are aviation and bridges; the others fared worse

  • Haiti earthquake a reminder that disasters are preventable

    While earthquakes are inevitable in earthquake zones, and hurricanes and tornadoes are inevitable under certain weather conditions — “there are no inevitable disasters,” a University of Colorado expert says; “There is no such thing as a natural disaster”; the scope of death and injury, the magnitude of damage to buildings and infrastructure, are the result not of nature – but of man-made decisions; what we see in Haiti is the result of decades of corrupt and ineffective Haitian governments, indifferent to the welfare of the Haitian people

  • Haitian architects, urban planners say the need is to build a better Haiti

    A group of Haitian architects, engineers, and urban planners has met every day since the devastating quake, discussing not how to rebuild the country, but how to start anew; they should start with the country’s building code; one high government official participating in the meetings says dismissively: “There is a two-page building code [in Haiti]… that nobody used”

  • Cities say new FEMA flood maps contain many errors

    In 2004 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) started the $200 million-per-year project as a way to utilize advances in mapping technology better to identify areas susceptible to flooding; FEMA officials say the new maps will allow for better zoning and help prevent future catastrophes like the June 2008 flood in Iowa, which caused an estimated $10 billion in damage; cities, developers, and residents say new FEMA flood plain maps are full of mistakes that could prove costly

  • Engineers urge overhaul of Haiti's archaic, anarchic building practices

    In Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, building codes, if they even exist, exist on paper only; all governments in Haiti, including the present one, have been corrupt, predatory, and utterly indifferent to the welfare of the people; a recent OAS report detailed a litany of flaws in Haiti’s attitude to buildings: weak or missing reinforcement, structures on steep slopes with unstable foundations, inadequate or nonexistant inspections, poor designs, materials, and techniques; Kit Miyamoto, a California structural engineer who went to Haiti last week: “No code, no engineering, means death”

  • Army engineers: Haiti's bad roads not damaged by quake

    Engineers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say that many of Haiti’s roads are not any worse than they were before because they have always been in poor condition; 80 percent of the major destruction is around the city’s capital; 200 million cubic yards of debris will need to be removed from Port-au-Prince

  • Quake-proofing U.S. buildings

    An Indian civil engineer has invented a sleeved column braces which help buildings withstand earthquakes; the sturdy brace apparatus surrounds a core of high-performance steel, but is spaced from the sides of the core; the sleeve thus absorbs and dissipates energy, but does not buckle under pressure; several large buildings in California, built in the last few years, have adopted the technology

  • U.S. structural engineers begin on-site damage assessments in Haiti

    U.S. engineers are going to Haiti to study the earthquake and its ramifications for structural engineering; the structural engineers emergency response committee (SEER) of the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA) — the SEER consists of volunteer structural engineers trained in the structural engineering aspects of emergency response to earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters — is in talks with the U.S. government and the private sector to identify ways in which the structural engineering community can lend its talents, skills and experience

  • Scientists anxious about other big quakes

    The Haitian earthquake may have increased the chance of a future quake in the neighboring Dominican Republic and other parts of the Caribbean; during the Haitian quake, only 30 to 60 miles of the 300-mile fault near Port-au-Prince ruptured and slid; the rest of it stayed stuck, still glued together by friction; the area that ruptured is likely to have increased the amount of strain — and the risk of quake — in other parts of the fault

  • Haiti’s lack of building standards major contributor to scope of disaster

    One of the major contributors to the magnitude of the disaster in Haiti was the fact that there were no building codes in the country – a study done by the Organization of American States (OAS) concluded last month that many of the buildings in Haiti were so shoddily constructed that they were unlikely to survive any disaster, let alone an earthquake like the one that devastated Port-au-Prince last Tuesday