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RE: IRAN QUAKE/can we discuss this?

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Title: IRAN QUAKE/can we discuss ths?
You just did a part of light-throwing that I was looking for (...kidding!).
I am aware of the fact that Bam area (province of Kirman) is house to many ancient structures, very famous for vaulted structures (mostly adobe & non-engineered) that have survived previous tremors. I was just curious to know what happened this time around. And, from the news coverage I learn that this time it was disastrous, with +30,000 dead already. At least the very famous historic fort, that once stood with its grandeur, is now gone.
I was also curious to know if the local building Authorities have any seismic Code (engineered or non-engineered) in place and is made mandatory for application in all new construction and for strengthening of all old structures. Also other thing in my mind was some cue on the local geology.
I know from that last quake in Turkey a couple of years ago, 2000? (some where near Bursa in the north-west, if I am not mistaken), where a similar disaster, in terms of death toll & damages to the structures was experienced, and that was mostly to do with: bad design (no consideration for EQ resistant design), bad construction (poor material quality control), poor/loose/no control of building Authorities on local construction activities, coupled with the problem of liquefaction of sub-surface soil.  I was just curious to know what contributed (principle causes) to such a large scale disaster here in Bam, although I am beginning to get an insight in to it already.
About that EERI that you mentioned in your mail: frankly I am not aware of this unless its got to do with the 1990's UN Decade of Natural Disaster Mitigation. I know for sure, the public sector Building Research Institutes in Pakistan, one of them called Council for Works & Housing Research (CWHR) and the academics are alive to seismic issues and are also cognizant with the international activities related to the same. In Pakistani Balochistan area (close to this site of disaster in Iran) we have in place a seismic bye-law, with both engineered & non-engineered seismic treatment for strenghtening of structures (called the bye-law of Quetta Development Authority) developed & promulgated in 1936, immediately after that famous EQ of 1935. This makes manadatory for all new construction in stones & adobe to follow certain guidelines to make the structures seismic resistant. There are guidelines also in place to strengthen the old structures for the same purpose. These are basically empirically established, cost-effective non-engineered treatments for low income housing. For other types of structures (in reinforecd concrete, steel & others) we have a National seismic Code in place also.
I had been to India in 1989 on a training program under SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) sponsored by the famous CBRI (Central Building Research Institute) in the ancient Roorkee University and had a chance to see works of the Earth Quake Research Center there. If I don't forget it was Dr. Arya (an internationally known researcher in EQ) who took us around & briefed us on their activities. I also noticed then that they had similar non-engineered treatments to offer to similar structures built in the north of India.
So, I was just curious to know from any body involved, especially any Iranian friend from this List, if he was aware of any details on the subject from the Iranian perspective. I would still like to know & learn from any body especially any Iranian engineer (and for that matter also from any Indian friend) on reserach activities on the subject (especially non-engineered treatment on old/existing structures) in their respecive countries.
Best regards & thanx in advance,

Syed Faiz Ahmad; MEngg, M.ASCE
Senior Structural Engineer
Saudi Oger Ltd
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Feather [mailto:pfeather(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, December 29, 2003 4:21 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: IRAN QUAKE/can we discuss ths?

I won't claim to be an expert, but what do you want light shed on?  The theories of seismicity are well known and documented.  Earthquakes happen.  The reason for the complete devastation and tremendous loss of live when earthquakes take place in ancient areas, or modern areas still building with ancient methods and technology, is what we call the URM issue.  Un-reinforced or terribly under reinforced concrete and masonry or adobe style structures.  These buildings have a large mass and very little resistance.  If you followed all the discussion on the Paso Robles earthquake here in California the premise is the same, the discussion is centered around compliance with efforts in the US to upgrade older buildings to a higher life safety level.  This has been an ongoing problem for many years, but overall the levels of devastation seen in so called modern nations is greatly reduced from what it would be without the adoption and enforcement of modern building codes.  We learn from every event, and try to apply those lessons to our future building codes.  The EERI is a multi-national engineering organization with symposiums all over the world centered on the seismic issue.  I would be surprised if there are not active members in your area.
I watched closely for news of the earthquake in Iran.  Unfortunately, our media coverage in Iran is limited and only the "sensationalism" really comes through.  I did see enough images to know that the devastation of the buildings would be expected based on their type of construction.  I did hear that several nations have offered assistance to Iran, I do not know if Iran accepted. 
The way I see it, things will not change until countries with massive amounts of inherently dangerous structure types start to incorporate modern building techniques, make an attempt to allocate resources to mitigating the existing dangers, and make serious efforts to improve the infra-structure and emergency response capabilities.  Engineers in Iran and neighboring countries have to make their voices heard and educate the people and the government regarding the dangers and the available methods to mitigate those dangers.  I know this is easy to say, and not so easy to do, but you have to start somewhere.   Study the local building types and construction methods and see if any small steps can be implemented as an initial start to improving the performance of these structures.  Then get the local government to mandate the necessary changes.  The process takes time, but I would love to see numbers like 25,000 dead and 50,000 injured reduced.
----- Original Message -----
From: Syed Faiz
Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2003 12:42 AM
Subject: IRAN QUAKE/can we discuss ths?

Fellow Structural Engineers:

You all know by now that early Friday morning (Dec 26) the historic city of Bam in south-east Iran was hit with a 6.3 Richter Scale quake. Latest figure (BBC/Iran News) stands +25,000 dead and +50,000 injured.

This ancient city is located close to Pakistani province of Balochistan and we know about a FAULT (am not sure of the name)that strecthes from the Caspiabn Sea through into Iran. It then enters into Pakistan, passes thorugh Pakistani Balochistan and through Karachi (southern city of Pakistan) where this fault is known as ALLAHBAND FAULT. This particular fault then traverses through the Runn of Kutch in the south of Pakistan and then enters into Gujrat in India. It is understood frequent quakes in Gujrat (in the recent past and the last devastating one in Bhujj in Gujrat) is infact owing to this particular fault. Karachi has also experienced several minor jolts in the past (the last one was 4.3 Richter Scale in 2000 probably) but remains fortunate to be safe, so far, from any major devastation.

May I request experts on the subject (especially the Iranians, if any on this LIST for whom I extend my hearfelt condolence for this disaster also) to throw some lights on the issue per se?

My thanks in advance for the same to all.

Syed Faiz Ahmad; MEngg, M.ASCE
Senior Structural Engineer
Saudi Oger Ltd
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia