There are innumerable situations in life which could make you feel scared to a lesser or greater degree, but only a few can compare with the thought of an earthquake. Just imagine yourself seated peacefully in your house or office with a strong conviction in mind that you are totally safe, when suddenly the ground begins to shake and the very stronghold structure that you relied on becomes a death trap. This is becoming less of a reality with increasing use of earthquake resistant technology in building modern structures.
Well I am not writing this to scare the wits out of you but simply to make you imagine the situation which one is stuck in when an earthquake occurs. Unfortunately human beings cannot fly, otherwise the best bet would be to simply take-off for a few minutes. It is an old and wise saying that – Earthquakes do not kill people, but buildings do.
Apart from the other safety measures which are necessary in order to successfully fight an earthquake situation, the most important part lies in making the very buildings in which human beings live and work, safer and stronger from earthquakes. Traditionally, buildings are built from the climate perspective but it is a different story when it comes to earthquake resistance of a building, or any other structure for that matter.
Firstly we must know the dynamics of an earthquake. Consider it a natural phenomenon which does not occur for the destruction of mankind, although that usually occurs as a side effect. The earth from below is made up of plates which are in perpetual motion and whenever these plates get stuck with each other, they release themselves in a jerk, so to speak, rather than gradual motion in order to break free. This is felt on the surface as tremors which we call earthquake.
Since the buildings or structures are built upon the very earth which gets shaken it may not be possible to totally isolate them from the effects of an earthquake. Certainly some precautions can be taken in the design and structure of the building so that the effect of a possible earthquake is minimized, causing minimal loss of life and property.
There are two main approaches of constructing buildings and structures which are earthquake resistant. The first approach lies in making the building as strong as possible so that it can withstand a lot of ground movement. However later research has shown that this is not a very wise method of earthquake protection. Damage to the building does not only depend on the quantity of displacement of the ground, but more importantly it depends on how fast that displacement takes place or in other words, the acceleration of the same.
This is just the foundation of the earthquake resistant technology and it will be dealt with in more detail in the later articles. As of now just hope that Mother Nature and God are not angry with anyone! We have seen the effects of Tsunami which originated in Indonesia recently; that was also due to earthquake beneath the surface of the ocean.