Time has witnessed earthquakes take the lives of thousands of people from all over the world. The actual shaking of the Earth’s tectonic plates is not the main culprit for these deaths, rather, it is the debris from the collapsing buildings and infrastructures.
No building is perfectly immune to the effects of seismic shocks on its structure. But today, experts are consistently researching on methods that can improve how buildings withstand earthquakes. With the use of modern technology and advanced engineering and architecture, they have identified some techniques that structural engineers can employ when designing buildings to make them earthquake-resistant.
Anchoring buildings properly to the ground is the most basic consideration that structural engineers should have. Soft soils that have very high moisture levels would not be strong enough to do this. Hence, the first thing to do when starting the construction of a building should be digging deep until they reach solid earth or the bedrock. This is the safest part of the ground to anchor a building on.
Earthquakes usually knock the buildings off their foundations. There are two techniques that could be applied to the foundation that will help keep the entire structure intact during seismic waves.
The first technique is using layers of foundational plates that enable the building to slide from side to side with the foundation. These plates provide a stable base for the structure, even during movement and will allow the entire structure to absorb and withstand the shock as a whole. This is the best way to prevent the building from breaking off from the foundation and falling sideways.
The second technique is installing flexible cushions in the foundation. It absorbs sideways movement and energy during earthquakes. This reduces the building’s horizontal acceleration, thereby reducing the shock that the building should withstand.
Structural engineers use materials that can bend without breaking. It helps increase the resistance of buildings to seismic waves. Steel is one of the best examples of this material, which is why it is widely used as the main material or as reinforcement of buildings made out of concrete and bricks.
The roof should also be made of the lightest material possible. Since it is located on the topmost part of the building, it can easily bring the entire structure down if it is heavy. According to experts, the best material for roofing is profiled steel cladding on light gauge steel and sloped between 3 and 15 degrees. If the roof needs to be flat, there should still be a slope of at least 2 degrees.
Nothing can prevent tectonic plates from moving, and there is no easy answer to the question of how buildings withstand earthquakes. Technology is still continuing to evolve and improve, and experts are using these to develop better techniques that can be implemented by architects and engineers to ensure that the next buildings they construct can be more resistant to earthquakes.
But for now, constructing buildings that are resistant to seismic waves is the best thing that people can do to preserve lives, property, and livelihood in times when earthquakes strike.