• New California tremor map shows 50 new faults

    California has an estimated 15,000 faults; many of those are short, and experts have found no evidence that they have generated sizable temblors; others, though, can produce major quakes; the state’s geological agency have placed fifty new faults — all of them surface faults that have been discovered over the last two decades — on one map which will help educate the public and aid in planning and quake readiness

  • Laptops to serve as roaming earthquake detectors

    Newer models of laptops contain accelerometers — motion sensors meant to detect whether the computer has been dropped; if the computer falls, the hard drive will automatically switch off to protect the user’s data; researchers say this motion sensing ability allows laptop to serve as roaming earthquake detectors — even though laptop accelerometers are not as sensitive as professional-grade seismometers, so they can only pick up tremors of about magnitude 4.0 and above

  • Critical surge barrier on New Orleans's eastern flank completed ahead of schedule

    A 7,490 ft.-long storm-surge protection wall that is the central part of a roughly two-mile long surge barrier in New Orleans is being completed several months ahead of schedule; the placement of a significant portion of the barrier, well ahead of the start of the 2010 hurricane season, adds a welcome level of defense on the city’s eastern flank

  • Louisiana officials to visit the Netherlands to learn Dutch flood protection methods

    The Dutch are widely hailed as having the best investment in flood protection in the world; much of the country’s densely populated areas are below sea level, and after a storm struck in 1953 and flooded 80 percent of the Netherlands, the Dutch became even more serious about flood protection

  • Fiber polymer replaces steel bars in major building projects

    UAE University researchers have developed an inexpensive alternative to demolishing damaged buildings and rebuilding them: using FRP (fiber reinforced polymer); FRP can be used in strengthening and repair instead of concrete or steel jacketing, which are labor intensive; moreover, concrete and steel jacketing systems are also often vulnerable to the same deterioration mechanism that caused the problem in the first place

  • Studies agree on a rise in sea levels of between 0.7 and 1.2 meters during the next 100 years

    A joint study by universities and research institutions from England, China, and Denmark finds that IPCC 2007 estimates that sea level would rise by less than half a meter in the next 100 years were too low; the researchers now estimate that sea levels will rise between 0.7 and 1.2 meters during the next 100 years; instead of using temperature to calculate the rise in sea levels, the researchers have used the radiation balance on Earth — taking into account both the warming effect of greenhouse gasses and the cooling effect from the sulfur clouds of large volcanic eruptions, which block radiation

  • Troubled bridges: remote monitoring of bridges' health nears

    As with people, bridges start getting sick long before they develop obvious symptoms; researchers develop remote-sensing technologies for monitoring the health of bridges; with on-site inspections occurring only once every two years, remote monitoring a bridge’s condition is the best way to assure the health of bridges

  • Protecting structures by tracking down rust

    Damage to concrete bridges caused by rust can have fatal consequences, at worst leading to a total collapse; now, researchers have developed an early-warning system for rust; sensor-transponders integrated in the concrete allow the extent of corrosion to be measured

  • The lessons of Chile earthquake to California building code

    Since the Chile earthquake, many U.S. engineers have visited Santiago and other affected cities to study the failures and successes of building codes here; Chile is of particular interest to American engineers because it employs similar building codes to those in California and also has widespread use of reinforced concrete; one observation from Chile’s earthquake that could find its way into U.S. building code concerns confining reinforcement; confining reinforcement is meant to keep vertical bars from bucking, but the design proved insufficient in Chile; one solution: requiring confining reinforcement along a greater length of the wall

  • Detecting structural defects with wind and water

    Bridges, aircraft, and wind turbines are in constant movement; natural forces and pedestrians all create vibrations; previously, time-consuming tests were needed to determine how building components would react to vibrations; now, researchers have developed a simpler method

  • Chile's concrete code for buildings called into question

    Since 1985, some 10,000 buildings three stories or higher were built in Chile — constructed in compliance with a strict building code introduced after a power earthquake which rocked the country; only 1 percent will have to be demolished as a consequence of the magnitude-8.8 earthquake that struck on 27 February; still, engineers who inspected the damage in many of the bearing-wall concrete frames of 12- to 26-story buildings say the damage calls into question the effectiveness of Chile’s building code, which does not require confinement reinforcing steel for concrete members

  • Washington State, federal officials in dam-related disaster resilience exercises

    Officials from the Tri-Cities area of Washington State, neighboring areas, and federal agencies participate in a exercise aiming to develop a strategy to improve disaster resilience and preparedness in the event of severe flooding along the Columbia River, flooding which leads to overtopping and subsequent breaching of levees in the Tri-Cities area

  • 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