There is one other issue I can’t help bringing up again about the Haiti earthquake. It is hard to find specifics, but many are commenting that it is the effect of the earthquake on (concrete/masonry) buildings that kill people, not the earthquake itself. If you are out in the open when it strikes you are unlikely to be hurt.
Please refer to my earlier post if you have not read it. The main thing that causes buildings to fall down is lack of shear walls. Some information suggests that the major movement of the Haiti quake may have been up and down rather than side to side. Shear wall’s main advantage is protection from side forces. Also, an 7.0 quake anywhere is a pretty big one. Then there were other problems such as too little cement (the expensive component) in the concrete and too little steel reinforcement.
OK, make that steel reinforced shear walls made with real concrete. Still, my feeling is that loss of life would have been cut in half, in the Haiti quake if shear walls had been present. If in the near future some engineer states that life loss would have been ten percent or less I would not be surprised. I hope to see some analyses coming out of the disaster in the future that will show this more accurately.
Imagine a Haiti where the buildings in the port, airport, police stations, hotels, government buildings were damaged but not collapsed. We’d have a hundred thousand or so more people to worry about feeding, but we could all live with that. The time is coming very soon when the worry and effort will be on rebuilding. Any aid to that effect must have structural requirement strings attached. We need a force of UN building inspectors to come in after these disasters. Whatever it costs will be saved in the long run.
Some places like Haiti are earthquake prone. Others like Nang Rong are not. Still, since it is so inexpensive to do so, shear walls should be used in all concrete construction.
This may sound like an advertisement, but if you have anything to do with a building project anywhere in the world remember the name “shear wall”. Ask for them by name. Accept no substitute.