If you live in California, you’re no stranger to earthquakes, and you may worry when the next “Big One” will strike. Are you prepared? When is it likely to occur? How close will it hit? New programs from the University of California will help you find the answers.
With a population of over 18 million people, an earthquake along the San Andreas fault outside of Los Angeles could be devastating. To imagine America without Los Angeles, watch Lucy Jones’ talk as she discusses how a severe earthquake there could affect the rest of the country. While many recent advances in building codes and construction techniques have reduced some of the danger, other features of this densely populated city such as transportation, power facilities, and communication systems have led to increased vulnerability in California and beyond. If they go down, what does that mean for the rest of the country? Watch to learn more.
California isn’t the only state at risk, however. Most people think that in the United States, the area around the San Andreas Fault poses the highest risk for a large earthquake. But the risk for a “great earthquake” and tsunami is highest in the Pacific Northwest. Join seismologist Diego Melgar in The Really Big One to learn about the risks, the geologic forces behind the potential for a truly massive U.S. earthquake, and efforts underway to build warning systems for the western U.S.
For a few months last spring, things were really rumbling at UC San Diego’s Engelkirk Structural Engineering Center, where researchers subjected a five-story mockup of a hospital to the largest earthquake test of its kind.
“Building It Better: Earthquake-resilient Hospitals for the Future,” a UCSD-TV and California Seismic Safety Commission documentary two years in the making, takes you behind the scenes of these dramatic earthquake tests as researchers evaluate their impact on the many complex systems within hospital buildings, including surgical suites, patient rooms and more. The program also reviews the history of seismic safety for California’s hospital infrastructure, and what is being done to secure its future.
Phenomenal is the only way to describe this project. I’ve recorded and produced many programs on tests at Englekirk – from a massive concrete parking structure to an 80′ wind turbine to metal frame buildings and more – but I’ve never witnessed anything like this, and honestly, hope I (and we) never experience a quake as intense, or even half as intense, as this test provided.
While we did our best to capture this intensity, being present at the moment of testing brought with it the visceral uncertainty of whether an entire five-story building will collapse before you. This not only induces an instant of panic, but makes you think more than twice about how prepared we all are for such an event – and how truly outstanding and critically important the work of the California Seismic Safety Commission and the many researchers and partners involved in this test is to our common well–being.
After seeing this project closely from the inside, I am certain that too many of us are unprepared and have no idea just how devastating the “big one” – which will happen – will be. But there are people working together to make sure that when we need it most, our critical infrastructure will be ready, and the data, information and lessons from this project are making and will continue to make immense contributions to that goal.