Engineers could design buildings with better earthquake resilience in future thanks to a pioneering new computer model.
Led by a team at the University of Bristol, researchers have developed a programme which simulates all the effects of an offshore subduction earthquake, which occurs when one tectonic plate is forced beneath another.
In the past, risks posed by earthquakes have been modelled separately. By using one disaster simulation programme to model effects including tsunamis, aftershocks and landslides, it is hoped that engineers will be able to calculate buildings’ earthquake resistance more realistically.
More accurate calculations could lead to reductions in damage to buildings and could save lives.
“For the first time ever, we’ve brought genuine joined-up thinking to the whole issue of offshore giant subduction earthquakes and their links to tsunamis, aftershocks and landslides, taking account of how all of these are linked and how one type of event leads, or ‘cascades’, into another,” said University of Britsol department of civil engineering senior lecturer Katsu Goda.
The model was developed by the CRUST (Cascading Risk and Uncertainty Assessment of Earthquake Shaking and Tsunami) project, which has received around £501,000 in EPSRC funding since it began in October 2014.
The next stage for the project, which is due to finish in September, is for the team to refine the programme and make it more reliable as a predictive tool.