Earthquake-Proof Skyscrapers?

Earthquake engineering is getting a lot more exposure recently, with websites like Gizmodo reporting on research into testing light wooden frames for large buildings – traditionally a material only used in small residential buildings in the Western world. It’s nothing new, of course, and with the world’s tallest timber building already residing in Melbourne we have a great opportunity to monitor real-world building response. It will be interesting to see how structures like these perform relative to their concrete counterparts when an earthquake eventually gives them a shake, and with strong motion accelerographs readily available we hope that building authorities start to look at instrumenting more buildings to monitor actual structural response and compare the data to the theoretical models used in the design process.

Structural Health Monitoring

Here is an interesting article from Queensland University of Technology about a structural health monitoring system embedded in one of its buildings. Buildings are typically noisy locations for seismic monitoring, but the recent earthquakes off Fraser Island were sufficiently large to be detected by this building monitoring system, although it should be noted that the earthquakes were also visible on dam monitoring seismographs operating as far away as Tasmania.

The Australian water industry, mainly driven by ANCOLD, is the most proactive in monitoring structures for earthquake response in Australia. AEES encourages other asset owners, including building owners and operators, to monitor their structures to better understand building performance during an inevitable earthquake.

A strong motion accelerograph mounted in an Australia dam

A strong motion accelerograph installed in an Australian dam