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Thread: The Canterbury Earthquakes: Answers to critical questions about buildings

  1. #1
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    Exclamation The Canterbury Earthquakes: Answers to critical questions about buildings

    Just received an email on this from our professional body IPENZ:

    'Please find attached a new fact sheet, The Canterbury Earthquakes: Answers to critical questions about buildings, for your information and for you to distribute among friends and family should you wish.

    Working with the Royal Society, the New Zealand Geotechnical Society, the Structural Engineering Society and the Society for Earthquake Engineering, we have consolidated our respective expertise and updated our earlier efforts.

    We will continue to work together to help the people of New Zealand understand what is happening in Canterbury, and appreciate the role that each of you play in disseminating this information.

    Our thanks go out to Members who have taken the time to contribute to this important piece of work.'


    This fact sheet can be found here: http://www.ipenz.org.nz/ipenz/forms/...-buildings.pdf

  2. #2
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    quoted from the document:
    "
    What are some of the new lessons from the earthquake sequence?
    There is more to learn but so far:
    Modern buildings on good foundations, constructed according to the building code in force now, protected lives even though shaken to a greater extent than the code design level."

    If that is true, how do you explain the cause of the collapsed buildings that killed people on Feb 2011?
    Last edited by ricktee; 8th July 2011 at 04:47 AM.

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    ricktee, I keep wondering, when you return so regularly to this subject, why you are asking these questions here? This forum isn't a body responsible for the NZ building code! Early on, Ralf began kindly sharing information which was of interest to people in the affected zone - information he knew about because of his professional connections. If you have learning and experience in this area of study, and what you consider to be relevant facts that the IPENZ might not be aware of, why don't you share them there? The way you keep questioning the information provided makes it sound as if you're trying to make Ralf, or us, responsible for every aspect of the situation in Christchurch.

  4. #4
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    I think with the level of earthquakes Chch has experienced, the building code is still pretty damn good compared to the # of lives lost. You can be sure if this were to happen in other developed cities in the western world, more lives would be lost. One place that comes to my mind is Vancouver, the older historic buildings are taller and in specific suburbs like Richmond entirely sit on a delta. For years everyone has talked that if such a quake will hit, all of Richmond will be under water.

    Exceptions like the CTV building are not a good example, there's always exceptions. But you can be sure that such a building design may never be built again without sufficient earthquake proofing.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktee View Post
    quoted from the document:
    "
    What are some of the new lessons from the earthquake sequence?
    There is more to learn but so far:
    Modern buildings on good foundations, constructed according to the building code in force now, protected lives even though shaken to a greater extent than the code design level."

    If that is true, how do you explain the cause of the collapsed buildings that killed people on Feb 2011?
    I understand this to be just a rhetorical question, isn't it?!

    Else I just like to refer you to the posts and information I provided previously where this has been answered IMHO.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JandM View Post
    ricktee, I keep wondering, when you return so regularly to this subject, why you are asking these questions here? This forum isn't a body responsible for the NZ building code! Early on, Ralf began kindly sharing information which was of interest to people in the affected zone - information he knew about because of his professional connections. If you have learning and experience in this area of study, and what you consider to be relevant facts that the IPENZ might not be aware of, why don't you share them there? The way you keep questioning the information provided makes it sound as if you're trying to make Ralf, or us, responsible for every aspect of the situation in Christchurch.
    I ask questions about the subject because I want to learn about the effects of earthquakes to buildings in Christchurch. I appreciate Ralf and other members sharing information and explaining to me what are the causes and effects.

    I'm not trying to make Ralf, or other members responsible for every aspect of the situation in Christchurch. I think the responsibility should fall on the engineers and the government.

    I will no longer post any message about this subject in this forum. You are right, I should ask these questions to IPENZ. Thanks.

  7. #7
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    Ricktee - I think the answer is in the bullet. The buildings that collapsed weren't built to current standards. If you're in a modern building, or one strengthed to modern standards (and stndards here means Standards with a defined meaning) then the probability of there not being a catastrophic collapse are greatly improved.

    But there's no guarantees. Even in amodern building a bit of bad luck (ie a monitor falling on you or you falling and hitting your head on the corner of a desk can be fatal in a quake like this). Even Bob Parker cracked a disk in his spine falling on the corner of his desk in City Hall during the Feb Quake.

    What I'd take out of that note is that you should have confidence in modern buildings, and that the assessments being undertaken on existing buildings with reference to the standards should give you confidence. At the same time, if the assessment says not to enter, then even if the building looks fine, there will be a good reason which may not be immediately visible. The engineers are generally a fairly cautious bunch when it comes to safety, and given the ages of the buildings accross the city, and the size of the shaking then as a whole the performance of man made structures versus immense natural forces was outstanding. Clearly any fatality / injury is a tragedy. But going forward then you should take confidence in the majority / the modern standards, and not focus on the small minority not representative of the remaining / future buildings.

  8. #8
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    I and many others took comfort in our modern building in Ferrymead following the February earthquake mainly because it remained structurally intact and expediated our return to work the following Monday.

    I took ricktee's question to be of a generalist nature rather than one directed at the forum or in anyone in particular.

    Like Duncan says, there's no guarantee what can happen to any building even if it's built to the highest standards, especially given the violent and particular nature of February's quake - there's a lot of things to be taken into consideration and not just the level of the build.

    Thanks for the info Ralf.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktee View Post
    ... the situation in Christchurch. I think the responsibility should fall on the engineers and the government.
    and the clients (principals), builders/contractors and foremost the general public! They allow the other parties to act as they do by choosing this engineer and that contractor and by voting for this political candidate and that political party.

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