Kiwi scientist's research may shake up field of seismic engineering

Kiwi scientist's research may shake up field of seismic engineering | Insurance Business New Zealand

Kiwi scientist's research may shake up field of seismic engineering

New Zealand could become a world leader in low-cost and low-damage seismic engineering, according to Dr Shahab Ramhormozian (pictured above), winner of the 2022 Ivan Skinner Award.

For several years, Ramhormozian has been fine-tuning the sliding hinge joint technology that was initially developed by his New Zealand research mentors. According to the Earthquake Commission (EQC), the award will help demonstrate the technology’s viability across a wide range of building types.

“This technology was developed many years ago, but we are at a critical stage now to be able to finish the work, so we need to do more so it can be eventually adopted into building codes,” said Ramhormozian, who received the award at the annual conference of the New Zealand Society of Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE), held from April 27 to 29.

Ramhormozian is a senior lecturer at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), and he built on the work of Dr Charles Clifton of the University of Auckland and Dr Gregory MacRae of the University of Canterbury, the developers of the sliding hinge joint technology.

Clifton and MacRae’s work was in direct response to the Northridge and Kobe earthquakes in the mid-1990s, in which buildings suffered much more damage than expected.

“Up until then, buildings were designed to save lives, but [were] not able to deal with stronger earthquakes, which had a huge economic impact, like we also saw in Christchurch,” Ramhormozian said. “Traditional designs were simply not working if the earthquake demand on building was higher than expected, so Charles Clifton started work on a low-damage sliding hinge joint system, which dissipates the seismic energy and is also able to be partially replaced or repaired like an electrical fuse when an earthquake exceeds the maximum load it was designed for.”

The Ivan Skinner Award is presented by EQC and NZSEE, with an aim to promote research on reducing the impacts of earthquakes on New Zealand communities. The award was named after the renowned earthquake scientist and former EQC research director who passed away in 2014.