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seismographSeismic base isolation can protect structures and their occupants in an earthquake, says engineering professor Niel Van Engelen.

Engineer explores approaches to minimizing earthquake damage

Some of the most densely-populated areas of Canada have experienced large earthquake events. A repeat could incur more than $60 billion in damage, and that’s not even the worst-case scenario, says Niel Van Engelen.

An assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, he wrote about designing structures to protect life in the 2018 issue of Windsor Engineering (WE).

“It is simply not feasible to design a conventional structure to withstand significant ground motions without damage,” Dr. Van Engelen writes.

“Seismic base isolation is a state-of-the-art approach to earthquake engineering that decouples a structure from strong ground motions…. During an earthquake, the deformation is concentrated at the isolation layer, which can undergo large displacements without any damage.”

This mechanism is effective at preventing damage to the structure and the contents even during large earthquakes, he notes, but thus far Canada has lagged far behind other countries in adopting it.

Read his full article, entitled “Shaking up earthquake engineering.”