A five-person team sent to evaluate damage from the devastating magnitude-7 earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 found no surface evidence of the fault that might have caused the quake, but installed four instruments to measure aftershocks and help pinpoint the epicenter.
University of Washington civil and environmental engineering professor Marc Eberhard led the team that provided engineering support to the United States Southern Command, responsible for all U.S. military activities in South and Central America.
Eberhard is lead author on a report released late last week to the national Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the United States Geological Survey, both of which sponsored the trip. The report is posted at http://tinyurl.com/yl7gtwb.
A main conclusion is that much of the loss of human life could have been prevented by using earthquake-resistant designs and construction, as well as improved quality control in concrete and masonry work. The authors recommend that simple and cost-effective earthquake engineering be emphasized in Haiti's rebuilding effort.
The group also gathered more seismic data. Assessing an earthquake's magnitude can be done from afar, Eberhard said, but establishing the location requires several stations fairly close to the earthquake's center. Such monitoring stations were not present in Haiti. Knowing the location will help understand what caused the earthquake and forecast the likelihood of future quakes in the area, he said.
The team provided a ground assessment of places that were worst hit, including the port in Port-au-Prince, the cathedral, the National Palace, the Hotel Montana and the Union School, attended by children of many nationalities. They photographed damage in smaller towns and assessed the safety of hospitals, schools, bridges and other critical facilities.
A survey of 107 buildings in a heavily damaged part o
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University of Washington