Mexico earthquake crumbles concrete buildings, sending deadly warning to California

2017 Mexico City Earthquake

Seismic safety experts long have warned that brittle concrete frame buildings pose a particularly deadly risk during a major earthquake.

But a horrifying video taken during this week’s magnitude 7.1 Mexico quake may do more to highlight the risk than years of reports and studies.

In it, sirens blare, utility poles sway. Then in the background, a building wobbles. Concrete starts falling out of a ground-floor column. Then the columns flex, and the upper floors come crashing down, sinking into a cloud of dust.

“¡Dios mío! ¡Dios mío!” a woman is heard saying. “My God! My God!”

The crumbled Enrique Rebsamen school in Mexico City — a three-story structure where at least 25 died, including 21 students — was made of concrete, as were many other structures that fell to the ground.

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Source: LA Times

15,000 buildings need earthquake retrofitting in Los Angeles

After a massive earthquake struck central Mexico, horrifying images of collapsed buildings emerged and had many Los Angeles residents wondering if that could happen here. One expert said yes.

“This is a vivid reminder – these videos we’re seeing – that this could happen here,” said Dr. Ken Hudnut, with the U.S. Geological Survey.

A recent study said 15,000 structures in the city have been identified as vulnerable for collapse during an earthquake. The bulk of the buildings are called “soft story structures.”

 

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Source:  KABC 7 (abc7.com)

City of Santa Monica Releases Seismic Retrofit Video

Santa Monica Seismic Retrofit Video

On August 25th, 2017, the City of Santa Monica published a short informational video on their YouTube channel describing the city’s new Seismic Retrofit Program and the steps needed for business owners and tenants to comply.  Watch the video below:

USGS advances ShakeAlert earthquake warning system

The U.S. Geological Survey is moving its earthquake early warning system into production with a $4.9 million in awards to research partners and $1 million in new sensor equipment.

The system, called ShakeAlert, uses ground-based sensors to identify and characterize an earthquake within seconds after it begins, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. It detects an earthquake’s initial P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage, to estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. It then sends a warning to local populations before the arrival of the S-wave — the strong shakes that cause most of the damage.

Source: GCN.com
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New quake maps could shake up development plans in Santa Monica

New LA Earthquake Maps

The 1971 San Fernando (Sylmar) earthquake killed 64 people, buckled roadways and leveled scores of buildings. Soon after, California passed a law that requires updated mapping of major earthquake fault zones.

But due to a lack of funding, the effort ground to a halt not long after it began and resumed only about four years ago.

The California Geological Survey’s newly released mapping of the Santa Monica Fault could, if approved after a 90-day public comment period, prohibit new construction on top of active sections of the fault and require extensive geological review for proposed development within 500 feet.

“The Santa Monica and Hollywood faults historically have been fairly quiet since the area’s been settled, as far as we know,” says California Geological Survey senior engineer Timothy Dawson. “The major concern is that these faults cover some of the most densely populated areas in the L.A. basin.”

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Source: KQED News

 

Earthquake threat keeps rising as scientists learn more about seismic faults

Mayor Garcetti Addresses Seismic Fault Data

Drive about 100 miles east-northeast of San Diego and you’ll come to the Salton Sea, a quasi-oasis whose surface is so glassy it reflects the sky in exquisite detail.

Don’t be fooled by the serenity. You’re looking at a potential killer.

Beneath the seafloor lie strands of the southern San Andreas fault, a 340-mile system that could rupture all the way to Monterey County.

The result would be the “Big One,” an earthquake that experts said would collapse buildings, destroy freeways, warp rail lines and crack dams. Thousands of people could die.

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Source:  San Diego Union Tribune

 

West Hollywood lets condo owners off the hook for earthquake safety upgrades

West Hollywood Seismic Retrofit

Faced with dozens of letters in opposition and a crowd carrying signs saying “voluntary,” the West Hollywood City Council last night quickly yielded to owners of condominiums who demanded it not require them to protect their buildings against earthquakes.

The letters, many of them from owners of units in the celebrity-famous Sierra Towers on Doheny, cited the high cost to them of preparing their building for safety before the next, and inevitable, earthquake.

The residents argued that their buildings had suffered little or no damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake and that the decision to protect themselves from further danger should be “voluntary,” thus the slogan on their signs.

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Source:  Wehoville

Editorial: It would be reckless to pull federal funding for an earthquake early warning system

Earthquake Early Warning System Funding Possibly Pulled by Trump

Experts can’t predict earthquakes, but they can warn you that they’re coming. For a dozen years, West Coast scientists working with the United States Geological Survey have been developing an earthquake early warning system — called ShakeAlert — that could provide anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes of warning not only about the shaking that’s imminent but also about its intensity.

That’s enough time to stop a train in its tracks, let an elevator open at the nearest floor or warn your dentist to pull the drill out of your mouth. But just as a pilot program for the system is ramping up, President Trump’s budget would eliminate $10 million in federal funding for it and end the U.S. Geological Survey’s involvement in it. That would be a colossal mistake. Pulling federal money and federal scientific support would not just slow the ShakeAlert project, it would likely kill it altogether.

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Source: LA Times

Signs of past California ‘mega-quakes’ show danger of the Big One on San Andreas fault

California Mega Quakes and San Andreas Fault

As Interstate 10 snakes through the mountains and toward the golf courses, housing tracts and resorts of the Coachella Valley, it crosses the dusty slopes of the San Gorgonio Pass.

The pass is best known for the spinning wind turbines that line it. But for geologists, the narrow desert canyon is something of a canary in the coal mine for what they expect will be a major earthquake coming from the San Andreas fault.

The pass sits at a key geological point, separating the low desert from the Inland Empire, and, beyond that, the Los Angeles Basin.

Through it runs an essential aqueduct that feeds Southern California water from the Colorado River as well as vital transportation links. It’s also the path for crucial power transmission lines.

California earthquake experts believe what happens at the San Gorgonio Pass during a major rupture of the San Andreas fault could have wide-ranging implications for the region and beyond.

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Source:  LA Times

More than 2,100 buildings are already being retrofitted under L.A.’s earthquake safety law

Los Angeles Seismic Retrofit Earthquake Safety

Eighteen months after Los Angeles passed the nation’s most sweeping seismic retrofit law, more than 15% of the city’s earthquake-vulnerable wood apartment buildings have begun the process of retrofits.

More than 2,100 buildings have either been retrofitted or are in the process of being strengthened out of about 13,500 that have been identified, city officials said. And that’s six years before the first buildings must be retrofitted under the law.

“We know that this work will save lives,” Garcetti told a gathering of scientists and community leaders who gathered at the mayor’s residence to talk about seismic safety. “We are two years ahead of any other big city in America on the work that we’ve done.”

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Source: LA Times