Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Buildings and Earthquakes

This afternoon a small tremor was felt in our area. My wife was in the fifth floor of an office building at the time, while I was on the ground floor of the college. She noticed the curtains shaking and could feel the tremor in her feet. I did not notice anything. Actually, nobody in my class noticed anything.

So, my wife, 5 stories up, felt more tremors then I did at ground level. That meant that the building she was in amplified the tremor to a level that it was noticeable, while environment did not do any amplification because I was on ground level.

Does that mean that we are designing buildings that amplify the vibrations experienced by earthquakes? The higher up in a building, the more potential for damage there is due to buildings collapsing. Are we exasperating this danger by designing buildings with certain mass/stiffness characteristics that increase the changes of vibration and the subsequent damage?

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