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Earthquakes, Earthquake Engineering, and Seismic Design

Learn about earthquake engineering and the science of seismic design. Find information about famous earthquakes, learn how buildings are designed to help withstand earthquake damage, see photos of earthquake damage, and browse research and statistics related to earthquakes.

Earthquake Engineering: Introduction
Earthquakes don't kill people — falling buildings do. These photos and resources from our Guide to Geology explore ways the science of earthquake engineering protects buildings and saves lives.

Institutions for Earthquake Safety
In late 1997, the National Science Foundation in the United States funded three institutions devoted to earthquake safety, in California, Illinois, and New York. Our Guide to Geology explains what these organizations do.

Can Any Building Survive an Earthquake?
No structure can withstand the powerful force of a major quake, but for communities on fault lines, monolithic domes are becoming a prudent choice. Just as these concrete shell buildings can withstand tornadoes and hurricane force winds, they appear to provide remarkable strength during earthquakes.

Seismic Design Principles
An introduction to the concepts and principles of seismic design, including strategies for designing earthquake-resistant buildings, from the National Institute of Building Sciences.

Shake-Testing a Full-Size House
In a series of engineering trials, earthquake researchers built a whole house on giant shaker tables, then replayed the 1995 Northridge earthquake on them to see what breaks. Learn more, and find links to the full report from <i>Science News</i>.

Haiti: National Palace
Learn about the earthquake damage at the Haiti National Palace, or Presidential Palace, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Haiti: Port-au-Prince Cathedral
The earthquake of January 2010 destroyed most of the major churches and seminaries in Port-au-Prince, including the Victorian era Port-au-Prince Cathdral.

Building Safer Structures
USGS article on monitoring structures during an earthquake in order to improve design standards. Links to other publications and fact sheets.

Earthquake Engineering: National Information Service
Home page for the National Information Service for Earthquake Engineering, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the University of California, Berkeley. You'll find abstracts, reports, and more.

Earthquake Engineering Research
Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE) conducts earthquake research ranging from on-site testing, evaluation of quake damage, and building codes.

Earthquake Highway Research Project
This project examines the impact of earthquakes on the highway system as a whole.

Impacts of Earthquakes on Buildings
Impacts of earthquakes on buildings based on structure type.

Largest Earthquakes
Ten largest earthquakes of the 20th century.

Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research
Organization that seeks the reduction of earthquake damage and losses through research, development and application of new knowledge and advanced technologies.

Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center
Includes research papers, strong motion database, and seminars.

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program
Includes research, education, largest quakes, and frequently asked questions.

Paper Tube Construction, Hualin Elementary School (2008)
After the 2008 earthquake that devastated southwestern China, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban led an international band of volunteers to build temporary schools with paper tube frames. See photos.

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