New Zealanders can be more confident that new buildings built in New Zealand can stand up to earthquakes of a greater intensity than those that recently hit Christchurch and Kaikoura, experts say.
According to researchers from the University of Auckland and Canterbury, buildings built using state-of-the-art design practice in these shaky isles have a robust future ahead of them and will perform exceptionally well in an earthquake.
Generally, engineers design buildings to resist earthquakes based on numerical models and design standards that have been validated by testing individual components of buildings such as a wall or a beam. Now, University of Auckland engineers have built a two-storey concrete building (10m x 6m x 8m), put it on one of the largest shake tables in the world, and subjected it to the same seismic demands that could shake New Zealand.
The idea is that the building was rattled by different types of earthquakes that have affected New Zealand, such as the sudden, intense earthquake generated by the Wellington fault line, or the long-duration subduction earthquake generated by a rupture off the East coast of New Zealand.
“All of the details we used were based on existing buildings constructed in Wellington and Christchurch and showed excellent performance,” University of Auckland Senior Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Dr Rick Henry said. “Tests of this scale are extremely valuable and the data you can gather from what is a quick test but on a large scale, and what you can learn from it, is huge.”
The quake testing project was led by Auckland engineers, in collaboration with QuakeCoRE and Tongji University, China.