EEFIT Mission to Maule Chile 27th February earthquake

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Architecture and 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.

Planned Impact

The Maule Chile Earthquake of 27th February 2010 is the second greatest earthquake in the recorded history if earthquake in Chile, and one of the greatest earthquakes ever recorded. This notwithstanding the damage and death toll appear relatively confined, while substantial damage was caused by the triggered tsunami. Given the magnitude of this earthquake there is only once chance in a generation to witness such event. The outcome of this event will influence future development in earthquake engineering code development and hence it is essential to collect and disseminate the lesson learned from such earthquake as wide as possible. The EEFIT mission stands, together with similar missions from other countries and the Chilean efforts, to have substantial impact in future code developments. Progress in earthquake mitigation is mainly achieved by informing researchers of gaps in our earthquake engineering knowledge, informing designers of the flaws in existing design practices, informing disaster management planners and policy makers of how to ensure safer systems, and teaching local communities how they can best prepare for the next event. Failures in all these aspects have been reported to different degrees in the Chilean earthquake and the reconnaissance report will provide valuable lessons that can be disseminated to the UK and international engineering community. An important part of EEFITs work is the training of people in both field collection techniques and practical aspects of earthquake engineering design. Two younger members will be trained as result of the mission. Will update the structural engineering community on the performance of isolated buildings and bridges, on the performance of confined masonry as a viable alternative economic residential self built housing in developing countries, and on the limits of design of shearwall highrise structures. Reporting on the economic impact to industry and lifelines will provide researchers and authorities in countries with situations similar to Chile to develop better resilience systems. The VDV facility in improving dissemination will also improve self training and professional development of a larger community of practicing engineers but also other professions involved in the build up of community's resilience and help in community rebuild. The EPSRC past good record of reviewing these grant applications quickly, means that teams are able to conduct a field investigation, perform a preliminary analysis and make public presentations within a matter of months. This is close enough to the event for it to still be fresh in everyone's minds and partly explains the tremendous success that EEFIT has had at disseminating information