A Thornton Tomasetti team of engineers, architects and risk assessment specialists has mobilized in Chile, to assist clients in evaluating property damage resulting from the February 27 earthquake that measured 8.8 on the Richter scale.
“The scope and degree of damage we are seeing is quite sobering,” said Mark Ellis, Thornton Tomasetti vice president, who arrived in Santiago March 7. “However, given the size and type of earthquake it is fortunate that there were relatively few fatalities.”
So far, our team has been focused on the Santiago area, where many services have been restored. Many buildings, however, bear scars of the earthquake in their interior walls and other nonstructural components. There are also some pockets of severe structural damage within the city. Aftershocks have been common. A magnitude 6.9 event on Thursday is being characterized as a separate but related earthquake rather than an aftershock.
The south area around Concepción has more extensive damage than Santiago, however it is only in the last few days that damage assessments have begun there. Prior to that the focus has been on emergency response, and providing food and water to the people.
There will be many lessons that the worldwide engineering community will learn from this event. Unlike the last major Chilean earthquake, in 1985, the recent earthquake was a subduction zone event, which creates lower frequency but wider ranging ground motions. This affects high-rise buildings more than low rise. And it is the type of event that could affect the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.
Chilean seismic codes and engineering practices are among the best in the world. However, over the last decade the designs have become more aggressive, with an effort to minimize the construction cost. “When everything gets done right in construction the buildings perform well,” Ellis said. “However, these very efficient designs leave little margin for error.”
About Thornton Tomasetti (www.ThorntonTomasetti.com)
Thornton Tomasetti provides engineering design, investigation and analysis services to clients worldwide on projects of every size and level of complexity. We fulfill the needs of our clients at every stage in the building life cycle through seven integrated practices in Structural Engineering, Façade Engineering, Forensics, Renewal, Construction Engineering, Property Loss Consulting and Sustainability. Founded in 1956, today Thornton Tomasetti is an 800-person organization of engineers, architects and other professionals collaborating from offices across the United States and in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
Great Ink Communications – 212.741.2977
Eric Gerard/Lindsay Church
Thornton Tomasetti – 917.661.7800
James M. Kent, JKent@ThorntonTomasetti.com
Follow these topics: