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  • Building Forensics International

Concrete and Earthquakes: A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On!

Lately in Southern California there has been a whole lot of shaking going on. Talk of increased seismic activity. I'm talking earthquakes! 5 point this and 6 point that. Earthquakes! So being involved in the concrete industry all this talk of earthquakes has piqued my interest.

I ran across an article written by H. McWilliams, and C. T. Griffin from the Department of Architectue, Portland State University. The title of the article i

s, "A Critical Assessement of Concrete and Masonary Structures For Reconstruction After Seismic Events in Developing Countries". That title alone could cause some seismic activitiy The first sentence really caught my interest. They stated that, "Haiti is not the only developing nation that have suffered loss due to the poor construction of concrete and masonry structures in an earthquake."

I encourage you to re-read that sentence again. What caught my attention was the phrase poor construction of concrete and masonry. This supports this writer's personal belief that when it comes to the performance of concrete and other construction related materials, poor construction contributes to defect issues more than the materials themselves.

McWilliams and Griffin go on to state that the structures that collapse in the 2010 earthquake was do to poor concrete mix designs. Again not he performance of the concrete itself but the mix design. They promote that developing countries need to be better educated when it comes to construction methods. Once again, when it comes to the performance of concrete and the appearance of concrete defects and damages, the material of concrete is strong and reliable. Construction practices and designs need to be examined and investigated.

The article shares alternatives to building structures with other materials that would perform better in areas where seismic activity is high. I would encourage you to read the entire article to get a good feel for their opinions. The point of this blog is to point out that many times concrete takes a big hit, and I'm not talking about earthquakes.

At Building Forensics Interantional we work with clients who are constantly being faced with what happened to my concrete? Why did it crack, what is causing this moisture, How did those stains suddenly appear. In many cases it's not the concrete. It's faulty craftsmanship or design.

BFI Staff Writer -

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