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Turkey earthquakes provide lessons for California

Seismic Design

Turkey earthquakes provide lessons for California

The Golden State has many similar buildings likely in danger of collapse.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | February 27, 2023
Turkey earthquakes provide lessons for California Photo courtesy Çağlar Oskay, via Unsplash
Photo courtesy Çağlar Oskay, via Unsplash

Two recent deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria offer lessons regarding construction practices and codes for California, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Lax building standards were blamed for much of the devastation, including well over 35,000 dead and countless building collapses. Officials have been investigating construction practices and have arrested some builders, with experts pointing to corruption or incompetence.

The Associated Press reported that even though Turkey has construction codes that meet current earthquake-engineering standards, they are too rarely enforced. Although extensive seismic retrofit work has been either completed, started, or scheduled, many southern California buildings are still considered vulnerable to extensive damage from sizable tremors.

Structures built with non-ductile concrete construction; so-called “soft-story” apartments that have flimsy ground floors typically used as a garage, carport, or for retail space; and unreinforced brick buildings are all at risk. Los Angeles has mandated seismic retrofits on many buildings, but there is much work to do with the deadline to comply for some building types set in the 2040s.

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