Earthquake Technology Today


The recent earthquake that struck California have people thinking about the technology of the buildings they are in today. The designs of these buildings are meant to withhold the shock caused by a tremor. Earthquake resistant buildings are just that, resistant of earthquakes. There is no design out there now that is completely immune to the effects of a powerful earthquake, but with recent seismic activity architecture engineers are as motivated as ever. Recent research has found that seismic activity may have caused ancient civilizations like the Aztecs, and Mayans to crumble. This worry is still present in our modern civilizations today. The sprawl of major cities with their tall, skyscrapers, would be decimated in the event of an earthquake. This could cause the losses of thousands of lives.

Though many cities are not built on major fault lines, there is always a chance that the tremors can be felt. California is a key city to look at because of it’s home on a very active fault line. Fault lines are the places where the earths plates meet and rub against each other. They float around on top of the liquid core of our earth. The friction between these plates is what causes earthquakes to ravage the surface. The problem with building an earthquake proof building is the fact that the ground under it may not be stable. No matter how stable a building that rests on soft soil is, there is still a high chance that it will be destroyed. During an earthquake soft soil acts more like water, and will “splash” around in every direction. This makes it important for architects to use flexible materials and ensure that the building can twist without breaking. For better protection against these elements building designers have come up with suspended foundation, this idea is known as base isolation. The building’s foundation is suspended within a capsule. The building is help to the ground by large spring type pieces that absorb some of the earthquakes energy before it gets to the buildings frame. Though this technology can help to alleviate the destruction of some buildings, there are other technologies that can help people be safer in the case of a tremor occurring.

Technology has been greatly increasing in the past twenty years. Researches in California have been rethinking that way skyscrapers, warehouses, and apartment buildings should be constructed to limit the damage done to them in an earthquake. Seismographs are a technology that dates back to the year two B.C. These instruments are used to measure the intensity of an earthquake. These object can only be used on land, and can not be used to warn people of a tsunami out at sea. By studying the data these machines collect, scientists have a chance at predicting an impending earthquake before it can cause a threat.

In the future, the job of earthquake detection will be sent to space. Scientists are working on satellites that can sense changes in the earth’s electromagnetic climate. Electromagnetic radiation has been proven to be a steady predictor for earthquakes. Scientists say that these technologies could detect areas that will be hit with earthquakes weeks before the tremors begin. This will mean the difference of thousands of lives. The people in the area that is in danger will have ample time to evacuate their homes. Though this technology would be helpful now; today’s scientists still have a few key technologies to develop and tweak for this task.

By Joshua Shane

How Stuff Works

Association for the Development of Earthquake Prediction


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