Chile A Valuable Seismic School

Analyzing the aftermath of a natural disaster is, for structural engineers, the best way to find out exactly how buildings crumble -- or not -- in an earthquake. That’s why four engineers from Los Angeles travelled to Chile for 10 days to survey the damage.

One of the four, structural engineer Anuj Bansal is head of the Los Angeles office of Degenkolb Engineers. In a Q&A article on the Los Angeles Times website, Karen Kaplan asks Bansal what they learned.

The engineers could not glean much from collapsed buildings, because their evidence was hidden under layers of debris. But partially damaged buildings, Bansal said, “are extremely valuable from an engineering perspective.” By looking closely at what remained intact, the engineers could in many cases determine what first failed in a building, or what held some or all of it together. Bansal gives several examples in the Los Angeles Times article.

He said visiting Chile after one of the largest earthquakes in the last 100 years provided a unique opportunity to enhance the engineers’ understanding of the seismic behavior of buildings and structures.

“It’s the difference between reading a report and seeing it,” he said. “There is no comparison.”

To read the article, please click here:,0,523330.story