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Earthquake engineering is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering that designs and analyzes structures, such as buildings and bridges, with earthquakes in mind. Its overall goal is to make such structures more resistant to earthquakes. An earthquake (or seismic) engineer aims to construct structures that will not be damaged in minor shaking and will avoid serious damage or collapse in a major earthquake. Earthquake engineering is the scientific field concerned with protecting society, the natural environment, and the man-made environment from earthquakes by limiting the seismic risk to socio-economically acceptable levels.[1] Traditionally, it has been narrowly defined as the study of the behavior of structures and geo-structures subject to seismic loading; it is considered as a subset of structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, applied physics, etc. However, the tremendous costs experienced in recent earthquakes have led to an expansion of its scope to encompass disciplines from the wider field of civil engineering, mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering, and from the social sciences, especially sociology, political science, economics, and finance.[2]

The main objectives of earthquake engineering are:

  • Foresee the potential consequences of strong earthquakes on urban areas and civil infrastructure.
  • Design, construct and maintain structures to perform at earthquake exposure up to the expectations and in compliance with building codes.[3]

A properly engineered structure does not necessarily have to be extremely strong or expensive. It has to be properly designed to withstand the seismic effects while sustaining an acceptable level of damage.

Reinforced hollow masonry wall

A construction system where steel reinforcement is embedded in the mortar joints of masonry or placed in holes and after filled with concrete or grout is called reinforced masonry.[56]

The devastating 1933 Long Beach earthquake revealed that masonry construction should be improved immediately. Then, the California State Code made the reinforced masonry mandatory.

There are various practices and techniques to achieve reinforced masonry. The most common type is the reinforced hollow unit masonry. The effectiveness of both vertical and horizontal reinforcement strongly depends on the type and quality of the masonry, i.e. masonry units and mortar.

To achieve a ductile behavior of masonry, it is necessary that the shear strength of the wall is greater than the flexural strength.[57]

The devastating 1933 Long Beach earthquake revealed that masonry construction should be improved immediately. Then, the California State Code made the reinforced masonry mandatory.

There are various practices and techniques to achieve reinforced masonry. The most common type is the reinforced hollow unit masonry. The effectiveness of both vertical and horizontal reinforcement strongly depends on the type and quality of the masonry, i.e. masonry units and mortar.

To achieve a ductile behavior of masonry, it is necessary that the shear strength of the wall is greater than the flexural strength.[57]

Reinforced concrete is concrete in which steel reinforcement bars (rebars) or fibers have been incorporated to strengthen a material that would otherwise be brittle. It can be used to produce beams, columns, floors or bridges.

Prestressed concrete is a kind of reinforced concrete used for overcoming concrete's natural weakness in tension. It can be applied to beams, floors or bridges with a longer span than is practical with ordinary reinforced concrete. Prestressing tendons (generally of high tensile steel cable or rods) are used to provide a clamping load which produces a compressive stress that offsets the tensile stress that the concrete compression member would, otherwise, experience due to a bending load.

To prevent catastrophic collapse in response earth shaking (in the interest of life safety), a traditional reinforced concrete frame should have ductile joints. Depending upon the methods used and the imposed seismic forces, such buildings may be immediately usable, require extensive repair, or may have to be demolished.

Prestressed structures

Prestressed structure is the one whose overall integrity, stability and security depend, primarily, on a prestressing. Prestressing means the intentional creation of permanent stresses in a structure for the purpose of improving its performance under various service conditions.