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Re: Seismic Design in Guatemala

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Rich
I have worked on several buildings of the exact type you described, in
Guatemala and at a children's orphanage in Zacapa- about 100 miles east
of Guatemala City. In addition to seismic they have huge hurricanes in
Zacapa, since it is much closer to the ocean than where your site is. In
addition we had flooding problems. During hurricane Mitch the water got
up to the tops of the doorways when a dam broke in Honduras.

They use very light roofs which will greatly reduce the seismic loads for
you. But the fact remains that the blocks are poor. Also they use a lot
of 6" block which makes things even worse than you described. I assume
your buildings are to be one story. If two story they use a proprietary 
concrete
system of precast beams and poured in place slab which I can tell you
about. It seems to be good.

I went with their system even though I had questions about it. If you
wish to discuss this further you can contact me at sscholl2(--nospam--at)juno.com

Stan Scholl, P.E.
Laguna Beach, CA

On Wed, 6 Sep 2000 08:07:23 +0000 richard lewis <rlewistx(--nospam--at)juno.com>
writes:
> Greetings,
> 
> I have been off of the list server for several months as I changed
> employers.  It is good to be back.
> 
> I have a question of seismic design for those with experience 
> designing
> in Latin American.  I am working on the design of a one story 
> residence
> building for a children's orphanage.  It is located about 20 miles 
> from
> Guatemala City.  The NAVFAC publication classifies Guatemala as Zone 
> 4
> seismic activity.
> 
> My understanding is that typical construction in Guatemala is to use
> concrete block made from volcanic ash.  The appearance of the block 
> is
> that it is not a structurally sound as concrete block made in the 
> USA.  I
> not sure of the proper way to says this without potential offending
> someone, but from the perspective of a USA engineer who use used to 
> sound
> concrete block, this type of block is very poor.  Along with the 
> concrete
> block a type of cast-in-place concrete system is used.  The block 
> wall is
> constructed first, leaving vertical chases about 8 inches wide for a
> concrete column to be poured later.  Then concrete beam is cast on 
> top of
> the wall to tie the columns together.  The roof framing will be 
> designed
> by a local supplier.  I am not sure if it will be wood trusses or 
> light
> gage metal.
> 
> My concern is with seismic design.  An 8 inch concrete column can't 
> be
> detailed for proper seismic reinforcing.  I have not talked to a
> Guatemala engineer, but I get the impression that they do not 
> consider
> seismic forces in their design, but maybe I am wrong.  Since this
> building will be used to house children I would like to include 
> seismic
> detailing in my design.  Does anybody have experience and can give 
> me
> insight into seismic design and detailing in Guatemala?  Can the 
> volcanic
> ash block be reinforced and grouted to provide a sound shear wall 
> for
> seismic design?  If so, do I need the additional cast-in-place 
> concrete
> system?  If there is another method of construction I should 
> consider,
> please let me know.
> 
> If someone can only answer in Spanish, please send me a private 
> message
> and I will get someone to translate it for me.
> 
> Thanks for your help.
> 
> Rich Lewis
> rlewistx(--nospam--at)juno.com
> 
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