The first week of July 2019 panicked southern California with two major earthquakes. Jerome F. Hajjar, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern University says, “it’s not a matter of if California will experience a huge, devastating earthquake, but when.” He also added the fact that only a few buildings at southern California is designed to withstand such quakes. The earthquake was recorded as 6.4 magnitude that hit near the Mojave Desert which is 11 miles east of the city of Ridgecrest, California.
The second earthquake was intense that recorded 7.1 magnitude. It was so intense that it left a crack in the earth so big which was also witnessed from space. It was indeed, “A Big One” which left behind a constant mark in the minds of structural engineers like Hajjar. It was not just believed to be a big one but an important issue that needs more attention.
Hajjar says, “a group of engineers are constantly working on it in order to improve building codes that could withstand such intensive earthquakes.”
Hajjar says, “officials have taken certain steps since the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake which struck San Francisco in 1989. Hajjar and other engineers have also involved in taking steps towards improving building codes to withstand disasters. The most important of these are absorbing seismic activity better. The engineers are also working on other areas of the new structural system. Hence involving more engineers and architects to come up with proofs and design that resists disaster.
According to Hajjar, newer building is supposed to withstand a magnitude of 7.0 to 7.5 and some of the older buildings will sustain “substantial damage” at 6.5 magnitude and may collapse at 7.5 magnitude. Hajjar says, the effort towards refurbishing old buildings is to make them more resistant to damage and help them being preventive to major destruction.