The Many Types of Damage Caused by Earthquakes

We live on a shifting, moving, groaning, spitting ball of rock. We want to build solid, unmoving, long-lasting structures on it. To accomplish this feat of construction, builders need the help of an expert in geotechnical engineering. The geotechnical engineer has studied the shifting and moving of our rock ball and gained the knowledge to give advice on how to anchor structures or build them to accommodate what happens underneath.

Earthquakes are among the most common and widespread of potential problems that builders must plan for. Earthquakes can cause many different types of damage, and all must be taken into consideration. The first type of damage that we think of when we hear of an earthquake occurrence is surface rupture. An earthquake occurs when the earth at a fault line shifts in reaction to deep underground pressures that build up as the tectonic plates grind up against each other. When the pressure is released through an earthquake, the land on one or both sides of the fault line moves a little or a lot. This movement can be of several types. A crack may open in the earth as the two sides separate. The shift might be in the plane of the surface, which might shift a road so that it becomes misaligned. There might be a change of altitude, with one side of the fault becoming higher or lower than the other side.

Another possible result of an earthquake might be a landslide. If it occurs in an area of hills or cliffs, the land under the hill or cliff can be broken up geotech report and dislodged and, succumbing to gravity’s pull, come tumbling to the lower elevation. Unfortunately, objects at the edge, whether trees or houses, will most likely also come tumbling down with it.

Still another effect of the quake might be subsidence. This effect may occur when the path of the earthquake takes a bend or steps over the land. When this happens, there is tension in the land, and a land area can settle very suddenly. If the quake occurs on a waterfront area, a portion of the land may quickly find itself under water.

An even larger danger in an earthquake at the water’s edge can be liquefaction. This type of damage is most likely to occur around a port or a dam. Liquefaction is the process of the soil breaking up and being invaded by the nearby water. The result is a sort of soupy mixture that can swallow up roadways and sink harbors. As the land slides into the water, it can also open up other cracks in the surrounding area. This movement of the earth can then undermine any other structures that were built there.

For many reasons, humanity considers these earthquake-prone areas to be the most attractive places to settle. Think about the most popular and admired State in the United States-California. On the other side of the Pacific Rim is Japan, also densely populated. Is it the dramatic scenery that developed as a result of this shifting falling landscape?


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