EEFIT Mission to Maule Chile 27th February earthquake

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Civil Engineering


The Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT) has appointed a group of 7 experts, of which 2 academics and a PhD. student eligible for funding from EPSRC, to conduct a reconnaissance mission to the regions of Chile struck by the Mw8.8 earthquake that occurred on the 27th February 2010, with epicentre 100 miles northwest from the City of Concepcion. The earthquake, the second strongest in the recorded history of Chile, was felt on land as far north as Santiago, where it caused severe damage and collapses, and Ica in Peru', and eastward as far as Sao Paolo, in Brazil. The shock also triggered a tsunami whose waves travelled westward past Hawaii, to Japan and New Zealand. The team will spend approximately 8 to 10 days in the region, surveying structural, infrastructural, geotechnical and seismological evidence and also comparing the Chile event with the recent earthquake in Haiti, which was considerably smaller (Mw7) but resulted in much more death and destruction. This earthquake has raised a number of specific issues which are discussed in greater depth in the following sections. The clearing operation is already underway and this has determined the very short notice with which this proposal is submitted with respect to the departing date. Post mission activities will include analysis of the collected data using high resolution imaging within the Virtual Disaster Viewer (VDV) and other tools specifically developed as part of the project. The findings will be disseminated to both researchers and professional engineers through seminars and publication on lines and in journals. This grant application seeks financial assistance for the three eligible members of the EEFIT group to participate in this mission.


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Escribano D (2011) Performance of pile-supported bridges in liquefiable soils during major earthquakes in Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering

Description Assessment of the damage from this earthquake raised a number of specific issues:

Generally the infrastructure performed well, especially compared to the damage after the Haiti earthquake. This was also evidenced by the relatively small number of fatalities (about 750) considering the size of the earthquake. In particular most modern buildings performed well under roughly code level ground shaking suggesting that the current design codes in Chile are generally adequate. Where problems occurred these appeared to be caused by building irregularities, often as a result of architectural features.

In Santiago and Concepción there were a few unexpected catastrophic failures of new buildings. The reasons for the failures are not completely clear but could have been a result of poor construction or inadequate foundations. The failures of these modern buildings also lead to significant public anger against the companies who had constructed these (apparently) poorly-performing buildings.

There were some notable failures of older bridges in Concepción. The failures were probably caused by poor ground conditions which was visible at the waterfront as lateral spreading, settlement of abutments and liquefaction. The modern bridges performed well.

Throughout the area affected by the earthquake there was significant damage to older masonry and adobe buildings. In several of the smaller towns visited almost every building had been damaged or destroyed with the result that many of the local people had had to leave the area. It was clear that the size of the affected area had meant that even 4 weeks after the event government emergency response teams had been struggling to get to all outlying towns and villages to assess the extent of the damage.
Exploitation Route Some of the more unusual damage noted may be of interest to those who update seismic design codes in the future.
Sectors Construction

Description Information collected in post earthquake reconnaissance missions has been disseminated widely through the earthquake engineering community in the UK and has an effect on the way companies design and detail structures in earthquake prone areas such that errors observed are avoided in the future.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Construction
Impact Types Societal,Economic