Learning from the 2010 Chile Earthquake



BCIT’s Dr. Svetlana Brzev stands next to a concrete wall damaged in the Chile earthquake of February 2010.

The BCIT Student Chapter of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) was proud to sponsor a special lecture by BCIT Civil Engineering faculty Dr. Svetlana Brzev, P.Eng., on the topic of the 2010 Chile earthquake.

A magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck the Maule region of Central Chile on February 27, 2010, resulting in 521 deaths and billions of dollars of damage.  The earthquake exposed all types of building structures to severe ground shaking and provided an opportunity to study their performance.

Dr. Brzev visited Chile in July 2010 as part of a special reconnaissance team from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) with a mandate to document the performance of masonry buildings in the seismic event. She also visited a few damaged reinforced concrete buildings, and buildings equipped with base isolation devices and tuned mass dampers. 

Civil Engineering students learn from Dr. Brzev’s Chilean experience.

At her October 13, 2010 lecture to BCIT CSCE Chapter attendees Dr. Brzev shared key findings from her visit to Chile. By and large, confined masonry buildings performed well in the earthquake. However, a few of these building types suffered severe damage and two three-storey buildings collapsed in the earthquake, resulting in 10 deaths. This earthquake was the first time three- or four-storey confined masonry building types have been "tested" by a significant earthquake and so represented a valuable opportunity to learn from their performance. 

The powerful images of damage shown by Dr. Brzev were a reminder of what could potentially hit British Columbia, as the Chile earthquake was a subduction type of earthquake – similar to that expected in the western British Columbia region due to the Cascadia subduction zone off the west coast of Vancouver Island. The event concluded with a reception for all attendees and a chance for everyone to discuss the lessons learned with the speaker and others in attendance.
 

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