Tougher codes kept California quake damage down

An expert with the U.S. Geological Survey said tough buildings codes enacted after the deadly Northridge, Calif., quake in 1994 is the reason Tuesday's earthquake caused only minor damage.

08/01/2008


One reason the California earthquake caused only minor damage was new, tough building codes enacted since the deadly Northridge quake in 1994, according to an expert with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Tuesday's quake "was located in an area that's been almost completely built since about 1995," seismologist Lucy Jones said. "We had major changes in the building codes because of what we learned in Northridge. And the most modern construction is really much, much better to withstand earthquakes than earlier buildings. There weren't many older buildings nearby."

 

The magnitude-5.4 earthquake in metropolitan Los Angeles, California, caused no serious damage or injuries, but experts say it's a reminder that the "Big One" could happen at any time.

 

Seismologist Jones heads a U.S. Geological Survey team working on earthquake preparedness.

 

She says it should be possible to set up a warning system that would send out an alert after an earthquake begins, giving people a few seconds' warning that could be a lifesaver.

 

"We could do some very simple things like bringing alarms into operating rooms, so the surgeon pulls the scalpel out of your chest," she said.

 

"You could have all elevators in the city connected to this so that they move to the nearest floor and open the door and you don't get caught in the elevator during the earthquake. You could stop handling of toxic materials."

 

Tuesday's earthquake was "a sample, a small sample" of what earthquakes can do, said Kate Hutton, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology. iReport.com: Cameras capture drama unfolding.

 

"Every earthquake relieves some stress," Hutton said. "It's usually only a drop in the ocean. In other words, the amount of stress released by this earthquake is minuscule compared to the amount that's built up and is building up for the Big One when it happens some day in the future."

 

And when will that be?

 

"From a geologist's point of view, the answer has to be soon," she said. "But geologists are used to thinking on millions of years and thousands of years time scale, so I don't think that gives any useful information for people, except be prepared at any time because it could happen at any time."

 

There is a 99% chance of California experiencing a quake of magnitude 6.7 or more within the next 30 years, according to the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, the California Geological Survey and the Southern California Earthquake Center in a report published in Science Daily in April.

 

The largest earthquake in recent years in California was a magnitude 7.1 in 1999, Hutton said. But it was centered in the desert, near Twentynine Palms, in a sparsely populated area

 

The Northridge earthquake in 1994 was magnitude 6.7. It killed 60 people and caused major damage in the Los Angeles area.

 

 

Tuesday's quake struck about 11:42 a.m., according to the USGS. Its epicenter was about 2 miles southwest of Chino Hills and about 5 miles southeast of Diamond Bar.

 

Los Angeles police said a downtown hotel sustained some structural damage, but no one was injured, and the building was not evacuated. There were some unconfirmed reports of minor injuries.

 

Despite the absence of serious damage or injuries, some Los Angeles-area residents were left rattled. The quake was felt as far south as San Diego, and the Usaid it received reports of light shaking as far away as Rosamond, California, about 55 miles north-northeast of Los Angeles

 

The quake knocked out a ground radar system at Los Angeles International Airport, but that did not interfere with operations, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Tiles fell from the ceiling in one terminal as water flowed from a burst pipe.
Submit your building project for CSE's ARC Awards !





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Leaders Under 40 program features outstanding young people who are making a difference in manufacturing. View the 2013 Leaders here.
The new control room: It's got all the bells and whistles - and alarms, too; Remote maintenance; Specifying VFDs
2014 forecast issue: To serve and to manufacture - Veterans will bring skill and discipline to the plant floor if we can find a way to get them there.
2013 Top Plant: Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Bring focus to PLC programming: 5 things to avoid in putting your system together; Managing the DCS upgrade; PLM upgrade: a step-by-step approach
Balancing the bagging triangle; PID tuning improves process efficiency; Standardizing control room HMIs
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.