In many areas of the country, it is important to construct the buildings in the area to stand damage from earthquakes. Because most earthquakes are unexpected, the building’s developer cannot depend on an early warning system to prevent harm to the individuals inside the building in the event of an earthquake. The building has to be able to withstand an earthquake that can occur at any time. For this reason, many researchers have compiled mounds of information on the best way to construct a building to stand earthquakes.
Most commercial structures that are built today are comprised out of either concrete or metal. These are the two most popular materials to construct commercial structures out of because of the numerous advantages of using these materials. Both materials are extremely strong and durable, creating a structure that will be sound for a very long period of time. Both materials are inorganic which makes them invulnerable to rot, fungi, termites, and mold. The materials do not break down as easily as some other types of building materials may. But when it comes to standing earthquakes, which material is better; concrete or metal?
Although this may be surprising to many individuals, the answer is metal. Buildings that are designed to stand earthquakes are designed to be flexible and move without breaking. The unyielding nature of concrete means that the building may crack and collapse on its foundation if it is hit with a sizable earthquake. However, metal can be formed to flex and bend without breaking to allow the metal building to sway with the movement of the earthquake, thereby reducing the stress on the building and helping the building to remain solid. By using metal supports in the building, the developer can greatly improve the chances of the building standing an earthquake.
There are several different types of metal that can be used to improve a building’s chances of coming through a strong earthquake unscathed. The most common type of building material used today is steel or steel rebar. Steel is extremely strong as a building material but also has the ability to flex and stretch far beyond what many individuals would expect. By using steel for the supports of the building, the developer lessens the chances that the frame of the steel building will crack or collapse under stress. Although the strength of the earthquake may visibly deform the building, the frame of the building will stand greatly lessening the number of injuries that will occur inside the building as a result of the earthquake.
Many buildings that are built to withstand earthquakes today are vastly different than the buildings built by previous generations. Besides using steel in the construction of the buildings, the building now typically have numerous supports located on the first floor of the building. Previously, the first floor of the building was very open while the higher levels had more walls, frames, and supports. Researchers found that during an earthquake, the bottom floor typically collapsed, ruining the rest of the structure. By adding more support to the bottom floor, the developers lessened the risk that it would collapse damaging the floors above.