WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue University civil engineers studying the effects of Haiti’s earthquake have concluded that a simple system could be used to quickly decide how to modify existing buildings and build new ones that would better withstand future quakes.
The system uses a priority index to rank reinforced concrete buildings according to their seismic vulnerability. The system was created in Japan and adapted for use in Turkey by researchers at Purdue.
“As far as I know, this method is the most efficient way to classify large numbers of buildings by seismic vulnerability,” said Santiago Pujol, assistant professor of civil engineering at Purdue.
Purdue researchers surveyed 170 buildings damaged in the January earthquake. About 40 percent were heavily damaged and findings shows that 90 percent of those damaged would have been classified as vulnerable if the system had been in use.
Pujol and other researchers presented their findings earlier this month during a meeting of officials from the National Science Foundation’s Rapid Response Research program. The information is being shared with Haiti’s Ministry of Public Works.